This year, Holmes to host Scout ‘college’

       After two years at Coronado High, Holmes Middle School, 2455 Mesa Road, will be the location for the third annual Boy Scout Merit Badge Univer-sity Saturday, Nov. 12.
       According to Gregg Graham, assistant scoutmaster for Troop 53, the smaller school may be a better fit than Coronado, where only a third to half of the space was used. “At Holmes, we'll use the whole school,” he said. For example, classes are planned for the computer labs (graphic arts badge classes), the wood shop (woodworking and home repairs) and the gym (CPR/first aid).
       In return for use of the school, Troop 53 has offered to implement improvements on the Holmes athletic field's baseball dugouts (used by Coronado girls softball) and on the football storage building, including painting and paneling work, Graham said.
       “We appreciate what the Scouts can give us in return,” Holmes Principal Rob Utter said, noting that the change in venue happened just a few weeks ago when it turned out Coronado had a conflict. “They can certainly use our building for a great cause like this.”
       Scouts interested in attending need to register soon. Graham said the deadline is Nov. 4. Signups can be taken online at, or Graham can be reached at 633-3186.
       The cost is $30. The classes will start at 8 a.m. and continue to 6 p.m., with free pizza to participants at lunchtime.
       Offered are 70 classes (51 subjects). Early this week, there were still openings in about 20 classes.
       Fifteen merit badge opportunities will be new this year, including railroading (taught by a retired Union Pacific engineer from Denver). Among the other new classes are robotics, plumbing, electronics, chemistry, camping, cinematography, drafting, pottery and sculpture.
       Popular returning classes include auto maintenance, fingerprinting, geocaching, home repairs, inventing, leatherwork and wilderness survival.
       The volunteer teachers mostly come from around the community. “It's a tough battle, blackmailing people to teach these classes,” Graham laughed. “Some are scout leaders, some are teachers, and some are teaching merit badges in other places. Sometimes we have people who know people, and this year there was a helpful gentleman at the Air Force Academy who's helped me find several teachers.”
       Based on signups so far, Graham expects about 515 Scouts. Last year there were 500, and about half that number in 2009.
       About 60 percent of the signups so far are from Colorado Springs and southern Colorado, with about 40 percent from the Denver area.
       In addition to the teachers, the Merit Badge University also typically attracts about 100 adult volunteers, along with donations of various materials.
       Troop 53 is sponsored by the Coronado PTA and meets at Coronado.

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