By Debbie Adams
Scout Troop 42 recognized their members with a Fall Court of Honor for 2020 on November 10 at Living Water Christian Church in Salem. The ceremony was led by Scoutmaster Hawk Hillberry, Assistant Scoutmaster Janette Hunt, and Senior Patrol Leaders Jayden Sink and Logan Pugh. Pugh was installed as Senior Patrol Leader of Troop 42 in an investiture service at the event. Including merit badges awarded to him at the Court of Honor, Pugh has earned all the merit badges necessary to obtain his Eagle Scout rank.
According to Scoutmaster Hawk Hillberry, Troop 42 formed in the summer of 2019 with five members and has now grown to a membership of 12—despite COVID-19. The troop has been meeting virtually for the most part since March. The Troop had been able to celebrate Halloween with a movie night on the back porch of the church. The Court of Honor was held in person, but with masks and social distancing. The young men and their families have bonded over the course of a year and were delighted to get together for the Court of Honor ceremony.
The event began, as do all Scouting programs, with the Pledge, the Scout Oath, the Scout Motto, and Scout Law.
Several troop members were awarded the Tenderfoot rank and the merit badges which they had worked diligently to earn, including Braeden Markham, Noah Weeks, Roger Markham, Joshua Crump, David Kirkbride, Joshua Harding, Nate Wainwright, and William Harding.
Merit badges were awarded to the Scouts, including ones for First Aid, Communication, Fingerprinting, Cooking, Family Life, and Game Design.
Parents and other volunteers with Troop 42B were also recognized “for their contributions to Scouting and commitment to our youth,” Hillberry remarked.
New member Damion Manus was introduced. He is currently holds the Life Scout rank, on his way to Eagle.
Cub Scout Chase Darby from Pack 137 had raised funds to be able to present members of Troop 42 with camping utensil sets during the ceremony.
Coach Rob Cronauer received the Scout Abilities Distinguished Service Award for 2020. He is a high school teacher at the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center (BRAAC) and works with many of the scouts in Troop 42. Gary and Heather Mason were the first to be honored with this award in 2019.
“Our troop would not exist, nor thrive, without exceptionally passionate and dedicated individuals who are giving of their time, talents, and love for all that Troop 42 embodies,” said Janette Hunt. “In order to be eligible for this honor, an individual must help youth with all abilities in a Pack or Troop setting, serve as a mentor or role model, facilitate a group discussion, lead, promote, or assist in an event, outing, demonstration for a rank requirement or one that promotes awareness and acceptance for all youth with all abilities.”
The key leaders and the troop committee meet to discuss and agree on the individual who is most deserving based on the vision and mission of Troop 42.
“A teacher is a compass that activates the magnets of curiosity, knowledge, and wisdom in students,” Hunt said. “Individuals who work with youth in any capacity are just as unique and inspiring as the children themselves. Not only do we feel this individual is unique, but also creative, fun, patient, understanding, and dedicated.”
“The rapport Coach Rob has with the scouts in our troop, as well as the adults, can be seen in how the scouts smile, laugh, and want to participate. His positive attitude, love for the outdoors, promotion of a healthy, active lifestyle, coupled with his large dose of optimism, motivates and inspires,” Hunt noted.
Cronauer gave his time to the scouts despite the pandemic and preparing for an addition to his own family.
“Through your selfless devotion, the scouts experienced pride through success. By believing in their talents, success, and futures through offering purpose-driven lessons, Coach Rob helped to instill a sense of extraordinary life within each of them. For some, this is the only constant in an ever-changing and unpredictable world.”
“Having the unique ability to help all youth thrive and meet their potential by lending your time, friendship, wisdom, compassion, and love, helps grow the leaders they are and the values they will instill in others,” Hunt said.
Scout comments on Coach Rob were that he is “the reason I don’t think school is dumb,” and “when I have a bad day, he is there and notices because he took the time to get to know me.”
The Scouts were presented with Class A Uniform shirts and green sashes during the Court of Honor ceremony—from a “gracious anonymous donor who believes in the Scouting program and believes in each and every Scout in our troop,” Hillberry said. (Merit badges are placed on the sashes.)
The evening finished off with a cake to “congratulate our Scouts, families, and distinguished guests for your monumental accomplishments and overwhelming support.”
Upcoming events for Troop 42 include meeting at the church—outside at the fire pit–to make Christmas ornaments for veterans in observance of Veterans Day—along with enjoying hot chocolate and s’mores. Hillberry is hoping to hold a winter camp for the Troop.
Scout Troop 42 is open to scouts of all ability levels. Local scout leaders realized almost two years ago that there was an unmet need locally in Scouting for children with special needs. That led to the formation of the Scout Abilities Committee—a group of individuals focused on inclusion of Scouts of all abilities to create an environment in which those with limited social, physical, cognitive, and communication skills could come together and work as a Scouting unit.”
.Troop 42 Scoutmaster Hillberry has been involved with Scouting since earning his Bobcat rank in 1965–an Eagle Scout who has served in many leadership positions. In 1979 he started a special needs troop in northern Virginia with 11 boys. Out of those 11, eight went on to become Eagle Scouts.