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Scoutmaster raises up Eagles from fledglings
by Jessica Mosebach
Feb 13, 2008 | 2914 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy Robert Quirk - Robert Quirk leads Boy Scout Troop #710 on a snowshoeing expedition last winter near Lake Tahoe.
Courtesy Robert Quirk - Robert Quirk leads Boy Scout Troop #710 on a snowshoeing expedition last winter near Lake Tahoe.
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Robert Quirk is interested in producing "useful citizens" for society. Beyond raising his own son to be a responsible, servant-minded man, he's also invested his time and effort into the training of four other teens to think about and prepare for their futures.

Quirk, scoutmaster of local Boy Scout Troop 710, will reap the rewards of mentorship when five of his troop members receive their Eagle Scout rank during a ceremony on Sunday. The scoutmaster has done more than just bond with the boys. He's done his research into what the Boy Scouts program is about and has lived it out based on his own experiences as a scout.

"I've read some older scouting literature and there's a reference to citizen scouting," Quirk said. "It talks about when (the scout) leaves the program and enters society, does it make him better and make him valuable as a citizen?"

Quirk has served as a mentor to the five boys, including son Kenneth, Andrew Hansen, David Wagner, Devin Sumrall and Reed McCue, since they began as young Cub Scouts.

Quirk taught them the skills required to earn the 11 merit badges needed for the scout to complete his program leading up to the crowning moment when the young man finally achieves his Eagle status.

The program offers boys a chance to become well-rounded, Quirk said. Academically, the program exposes young men to science and history, including chemistry, oceanography and aviation.

"These young boys learn to help others, they have to physically be strong, intelligent and be morally clean," Quirk said. "They have to rehearse these things and retain them as a part of their character."

Quirk said teaching the scouts about first aid and CPR teaches them to help people in times of their greatest need.

"I've talked with many young men where they provided a service to someone in desperate circumstances and they think, 'I learned how to have a desire to be helpful,’ ” Quirk said.

Becoming familiar with the outdoors and nature is the most common notion of what scouting is all about because it teaches survival practices.

"If you're in the outdoors and you get lost, you stay put and you don't panic," Quirk said. "You do these things, you leave a trail and make it possible for others to find you."

They've also participated in jamborees, a 500-mile canoe ride at Tahoe, hiking and other outdoor activities. They've had campfires, sung together and learned how to retire and burn the American flag, a traditional rite when the flag is tattered, Quirk said.

After years of participation, when they do finally make Eagle Scout, the parents also receive recognition at the ceremony because of their involvement in the boys' journey to self-realization.

"I have often referred to the pin that the parents receive (at the ceremony) as the 'butt-kicking' award," the scoutmaster said. "After 12 years old, these boys are very anxious to get out of the house. (Scouting) is the fulfillment of all their daydreaming, they go out with friends and participate in skillmaking and competition and they serve themselves.

"But then as they get to be 13, 14 and 15, very few young boys make that (growth) transition on their own. It requires parents to keep them in the program. The parents have to say, 'We're not just going to let you jump out of this. This is something you're going to finish.' They weigh in and provide their influence because kids lose their vision."

Quirk said he had once considered giving up on his own scouting experience in his youth but had an epiphany when he was 17 and was working at a Dairy Queen.

"I was mopping the floor and it occurred to me," Quirk said. "The voice came to me in my head and asked the question, 'What will you tell your son when he asks whether you finished your Eagle Scout?' I decided, 'I'm quitting this job. I'm going to finish that.' And I never regretted that.

"I tell the boys, 'One day you will have a son and you will be the biggest person in the world and you need to persuade by example, and that your advice is worth considering. I'm certain that in 20 years it will be too late for them (to go back and do it again)."

The ceremony takes place at Eagle Canyon Chapel at Church of Latter Day Saints in Spanish Springs at 7 p.m.

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