It was a good turn that brought the Scouting program to the United States after a Scout helped newspaper publisher William D. Boyce navigate a foggy London neighborhood and refused pay. Boyce picked up some literature about Scouting in England and founded the Boy Scouts of America, which will celebrate 100 years of good turns in February 2010. And even though Scouting numbers are declining nationwide, good turns abound this summer, with service projects designed to benefit not only Utah, but also the rest of the nation.
Mitch Park, a Scout from Sandy, is organizing a bone marrow drive in August to help people join the national bone marrow registry.
Park's father died of leukemia in 2004 while trying to get healthy enough for a bone marrow transplant. A suitable donor couldn't be found within Park's family, so doctors began to look at the national registry and found a donor from Minnesota. But that's as far as the process got.
Park said the heartbreaking experience led him to pursue signing up more donors for the marrow registry.
On Aug. 9, people who wish to join the registry can go to the Albertsons at 11400 S. State in Draper to have a cheek swab performed.
"Some people are worried that it will hurt or that they have to give blood," Park said. But once he explains that a marrow donation isn't being performed, people are willing to sign up.
According to the national registry's Web site, marrow.org, a marrow transplant is painless and performed under anesthesia.
Park will be asking for donations to cover the cost of typing donor cheek samples. He and the registry also are seeking minorities, because there is a shortage of minority donors.
Park's project is an example of what teenage Scouts can accomplish for service projects, a requirement to attain the rank of Eagle.
Then there are the hundreds of Scouts and volunteers who spent a week in the Manti-La Sal National Forest in June. They have long since packed their bags for home, but in their wake, they left miles of pristine streams.
The streams once had been home to an invasive species of ornamental shrub, called tamarisk, which had been introduced into Utah's wilds. Tamarisk consumes about 300 gallons of water a day, said Jake Wellman, 17, chief Scout of Scouting's national honor society, Order of the Arrow.
"We're turning water usage back to the environment that's been taken away," Wellman said recently.
Wellman is in the midst of coordinating the largest service project Order of the Arrow Scouts have ever undertaken, a five-state, five-week, 5,000-Scout project to help the U.S. Forest Service with various projects in five national forests.
The project is called Arrow Corps 5 and began June 7 in Missouri's Mark Twain National Forest. A week later, Scouts swarmed into Manti-La Sal to remove tamarisk. A week after that, Wellman and company were off to Virginia's George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.
On July 12, the project arrives in California's Shasta-Trinity National Forest and finishes the week of Aug. 2 in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest.
It makes sense that one of the project's legs would be in Utah, which is home to three of the largest councils in the entire organization and is a place where Scouting numbers are on the rise.
From 2006 to 2007, enrollment in Utah's three councils Trapper Trails, Great Salt Lake and Utah National Parks increased by an average of 1.5 percent. Nationally, enrollment for traditional Scouts was down 13,130, or just under 1 percent.
But you might not know it to see thousands of Scouts working six-hour days removing invasive trees, removing old fences, restoring ecosystems, building trails, repairing bridges and improving campsites.
And the Arrow Corps 5 was just one project Scouts were undertaking this summer.
It all goes back to doing a good turn daily. And Scouts say it goes to show that the program is still strong in a world of many possible distractions.
"Kids must understand why forests are so valuable so they will grow into citizens who support conservation," said Forest Service chief Gail Kimbell.
Wellman says hundreds of Scouts and volunteers have been participating in each leg of the Arrow Corps 5 project, and though the goal of 5,000 Scouts might not be met, the project is a huge success, he says.
All of the projects had been identified by the U.S. Forest Service as necessary projects, but with such a heavy load, it would have taken years for the government to complete them all, Wellman said.
The Forest Service had estimated that 1,000 Scouts could clear 33 acres of cedar in the Mark Twain National Forest in a week.
"We had under 600 Scouts and cleared 134 acres," Wellman said.
In Utah, it was a similar story. The Forest Service estimated the Scouts could clear 25 miles of tamarisk, salt cedar brush and other invasive species. But 550 Scouts and agency workers managed to clear 33 miles.
The creek beds, which had been crammed with brush, are expected to return to naturally flowing creeks, Wellman said.
As Scouts and former Scouts from age 14 to 70 toil away in the summer heat, Wellman said, they get some relief at the end of each day.
Various activities have been planned to showcase features of each national forest, so participants have gone whitewater rafting, canoeing and had other recreational activities.
"We work hard, and we play hard," Wellman said.
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