Passionate Pursuits: Scouts learn more than their way out of the woods

The purpose of Excelsior Life’s Passionate Pursuits is to shine a light on faculty and staff successfully balancing work, home and family – just like our students.

During the day, Deb Harris works in Human Resources at Excelsior College. Outside of work, she volunteers for the Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts. Today, she shares her passionate pursuit with Excelsior Life.

Deb HarrisExcelsior Life: Can you tell us about your involvement in Boy Scouts of America & Girl Scouts?

Harris: My involvement with the Boy Scouts has been in a few roles. I have been assistant scoutmaster for our Boy Scout Troop 528,  advisor for our Adventure Crew 528, merit badge counselor, and eagle coach. I am a daisy leader with the Girl Scouts, since my three nieces asked me to be their leader.

Excelsior Life: What type of projects have you worked on?

Harris: I have organized fundraisers such as a haunted house, wreath sale, community dinners, candy sales, and gift baskets. I have also provided adult coverage for weekend outings and week long overnight camping trips. Some of my volunteer highlights include helping with the five Eagle projects listed below.

  • Bedroom makeover with a sports theme at St. Catherine’s Center for Children, Copson House;
  • Bedroom makeover in a Racing theme at St Catherine’s Center for Children, Copson House;
  • Putting road signs in a local cemetery;
  • Cleaning a pond at our elementary school in preparation for a dock;
  • Building a covered pavilion for our Charter Representative the Sullivan Jones VFW Post.

When it comes to community service projects, I have assisted with:

  •  Marking veteran’s graves with flags on Memorial Day;
  •  Baking goods for families at the Ronald McDonald House;
  •  Visiting elderly folks at a nursing home;
  •  Helping to organize merchandise at Veterans Miracle Center.

These projects really help scouts to advance in rank as well as teach merit badges.

Excelsior Life: How long have you participated? What motivated you to get involved?

Harris: I have been a volunteer with scouting for more than ten years. Since we live in a rural area, I decided I wanted my son to be in the Boy Scout program and find his way out of the woods if he ever became lost.

I quickly learned it provided more than just finding your way out of the woods. For those not familiar with the Boy Scouts, with projects you earn rank advancements as well as merit badges. Rank advancements include topics such as how to use a knife, build a fire, pitch a tent, orienteering, cooking, planning outings, tying knots and identifying which knot to use for a specific purpose. In addition to the rank advancements, boys are exposed to a wide variety of topics.

In order to become an Eagle Scout you need to earn all 13 required merit badges and 8 others of your choosing.  There are more than 120 merit badges to choose from. As an Eagle Candidate you identify a project and manage that project from start to completion. Scouting isn’t all work we also have fun.  We go camping, hiking and have adventure activities like whitewater rafting.

Excelsior Life: Can you explain what volunteering means to you personally?

Harris: Being involved in scouting has given my son the opportunity to have positive male influences and role models.  It is rewarding for me to watch the boys learn and grow into young adults.

The scouting program prepares them for life and helps them realize things they may not have every tried, and also builds confidence and leadership.