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Exploring Alumni Relations at Philmont

Exploring Alumni Relations at Philmont

At age 29, Eagle Scout Shane Miller has been involved in Scouting for two-thirds of his life. But he never really thought of himself as a Scouting alumnus until this past June, when he attended the Reconnecting Scouting's Alumni conference at the Philmont Training Center.

"The BSA's definition of alumni is incredibly broad," he said. "It's really anyone who's ever been positively impacted by or supports the Boy Scouts of America."

As chairman of the Mountaineer Area Council's Alumni Relations Committee, Miller plans to use that definition to reach alumni back home who aren't the usual suspects (Eagle Scouts and lifelong members, for example). Among the possibilities he's exploring are holding a meet-and-greet event before a West Virginia University home football game, offering a "gentleman's merit badge" program on topics such as golf and men's fashion, and forging a connection with his council camp's new staff alumni association.

Miller said interacting with Scouters from other councils at Philmont gave him a new perspective and, perhaps more importantly, new connections. "Crowdsourcing that group has been a great benefit of the conference," he said, adding that he learned valuable lessons from others in attendance, lessons he'll be able to draw on as he works to build up the alumni ranks in his council.

Those connections are continuing, according to Ryan Larson, the BSA's associate director of Alumni Relations and the National Eagle Scout Association. "They're still keeping in touch with one another," he said. "They're able to share their good ideas, their successes, their failures. They can hold each other up and keep going forward."

Larson pointed out that the Philmont experience involves more than just classroom time. Spouses and family members of all ages can participate in parallel programs that involve hiking, horseback riding, crafts, tours, and much more. And there's plenty of time in the evenings for conference participants to enjoy activities with their loved ones, including a buffalo barbecue and campfire programs. "You know how Baden-Powell talks about 'fun with a purpose'?" Larson said. "This is very similar. It's like a vacation with a purpose."

For his part, Miller is already planning a return trip to Philmont in 2014, this time to take Wood Badge training. "I'm truly glad I went—for the connections, for the ideas, for the resources," he said.

Registration is now open for next year's Reconnecting Scouting's Alumni conference, which will be held August 10–16. For more information, visit http://www.philmonttrainingcenter.org .

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