3rd Scout university ‘best one yet’

       More than 500 Boy Scouts filled Holmes Middle School for Troop 53's third annual Merit Badge University Nov. 12.

Boy Scouts get a chance to tour the inside of an AMR ambulance as part of their First Aid class during the Merit Badge University Nov. 12 at Holmes Middle School. It was among about 60 classes taught during the third annual event, organized by Coronado Troop 53.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Over a 10-hour span, Scouts attended about 60 classes taught by 80 volunteer instructors, and the boys earned - or at least started on - 1,100 merit badges, according to Gregg Graham, Troop 53 assistant scoutmaster and lead organizer.
       One other big number: 215 pizzas (free to volunteers and all Scouts who enrolled) that were consumed at lunchtime.
       Best of all (though uncounted) have been the communications from attendees at the event and since then, “congratulating us and thanking us,” Graham said.
       From an organizational view, he also liked the event. “We thought it was the best one yet,” he beamed. “We kind of ironed out the kinks from previous years.”
       A big improvement was signing in Scouts by troops instead of by individuals (as in the past) on the event morning, which simplified and sped up that process.
       Classes included such subjects as railroading, robotics, plumbing, chemistry, chess, auto mechanics, and geocaching.
       The Scouts had paid $30 to enroll (a little less if they'd signed up early), and the result was enough earnings that Troop 53 was able to donate $1,000 to Scouting's Pikes Peak Council, Graham said. The council had not played a part in the merit college effort, but “we wanted to give back to the Scouting community. We depend on their support.”
       This was the first year for the university at Holmes. The first two had been at Coronado, the school where Troop 53 meets. But Coronado had a conflict this year, so Graham worked out an arrangement with Holmes, which is nearby and somewhat smaller than the high school.
       The Scouts cleaned up after themselves. Meeting with Holmes Principal Rob Utter on Monday, Nov. 14, Graham said he was told that the only issue was chairs being “out of line” in two classrooms. As for the wood shop and art room, where the university had featured major work projects to obtain badges, “they asked us, 'Were you even here?'” Graham reported, proudly.

The Holmes Middle School cafeteria fills up with Boy Scouts during the lunch break at the third annual Merit Badge University Nov. 12, which was held for the first time at Holmes. The boys, with help from their Scout leaders, teachers and other volunteers at the event, downed 215 pizzas, according to the tally.
Westside Pioneer photo

       As a way of saying thank you, Troop 53 has offered to do painting and other work on the baseball dugouts and football storage building on the Holmes athletic field.
       Graham said he and other Scout volunteers felt exhausted after the university, but are already thinking about organizing a fourth annual in November 2012.

Westside Pioneer article