Boy Scouts aim to galvanize support for center

During the launch of a capital campaign for the Boy Scouts’ Chester County Council, a well-known West Chester attorney described a defining moment when he served in the Navy.

An artist's rendering shows the proposed

An artist's rendering shows the proposed Program, Activity & Resource Campus (PARC) in Exton.

Jim McErlane, a member of the Chester County Council Advisory Board, said that during an interview for a coveted position, he was asked what set him apart from the competition. During his awkward pause, the officer looked at his application and answered for him: “You’re an Eagle Scout.”

McErlane, one of several speakers who praised the impact of the Boy Scouts, said he got the job a week later. “That position was a game-changer,” he said.

Harry Alberts, president of the Chester County Council, recalled serving as a Scoutmaster in Unionville for a troop founded in 1924 by Pierre S. du Pont, also known as the creator of Longwood Gardens. Alberts said he learned early on the value of what he termed “Scout power.” Last year, 212 boys earned Eagle Scout honors, representing 33,000 service hours, he said.

Former Eagles Coach Dick Vermeil addresses a crowd at Milestone Events in West Chester, where the Boy Scouts launched a capital campaign for a new center.

Former Eagles' Coach Dick Vermeil addresses a crowd at Milestone Events in West Chester to  launch a capital campaign for a Boy Scout center.

“There’s nothing the youth in Chester County can’t do when they put their minds to it,” Alberts said. But he acknowledged that the Scouts could use some assistance as the Chester County Council embarks on an ambitious plan to build a new Program, Activity & Resource Campus (PARC) in Exton.

The center, which will sit on a 28-acre, donated parcel of wetlands, woodlands, streams and expansive  green space on Business Route 30, will feature environmental education, outdoor living skills development, team-building and leadership enhancement activities as well as recreational opportunities such as fishing, hiking, sports and fitness.

The 15,000-square-foot facility anchoring the campus has been conceptually designed to include a green roof, rooftop solar panels and geothermal energy as both building elements and educational features. It will house a Leadership Development Center, a Resource Center, and even a Scout Store to support the ever-evolving interests of young people.

Former Eagles' Coach Dick Vermeil (right) is shown with Chester County Commissioners' Chairman Terence Farrell.

Former Eagles' Coach Dick Vermeil (right) is shown with Chester County Commissioners' Chairman Terence Farrell.

PARC is being designed to support advancement opportunities for Scouts, including more than 40 current merit badges, education initiatives such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and career education programming, according to the Chester County Council.

The project has the support of state Sen. Andy Dinniman, who said he has seen countless examples of Boy Scouts who have benefitted from the “virtues, civics, and patriotism” the organization espouses, values that have gotten lost in today’s world.

“I’ve learned how valuable, how important Scouting is,” Dinniman said.

Charlie Rogers, Scout executive of the Chester County Council, said he’s been involved in the organization since the age of 8 and believes that the new service center will ensure a productive future for Scouting. “We change lives; that’s what we do,” Rogers said.

And the cost for that ability? The same as a 30-second Super Bowl commercial: $5 million, Rogers said, adding that almost half of that amount has already been raised.

Rogers’ football reference was apt since the program’s keynote speaker was Dick Vermeil, former head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Vermeil attributed his coaching success to principles he gleaned from the Boy Scouts. “You help kids learn how important it is to care about something … and provide them with good examples,” he said, adding that he worked to get his NFL players to care about the team.

“Hard work is not a form of punishment; it’s a solution,” Vermeil said. “I’ve never coached a football team that didn’t bitch.”

But letting players know that people care about them makes a positive difference, Vermeil said. And although he admitted that he doesn’t wear his Super Bowl ring much, he called it “a symbol of what people can do together.”

Vermeil has been running a golf fundraiser for the Boy Scouts for the past 24 years. He said the first year it raised $12,000, which he thought was pretty great. Now it brings in $190,000.

This year Vermeil said he’s going to enlist assistance from his former quarterback Ron Jaworski, hoping to continue the upward trend. “Ron always made me look good as a coach,” Vermeil explained.

“The future belongs to you,” Vermeil said. “Treat it with great respect.”

The audience of nearly 100 responded with a standing ovation.

For more information about the PARC project, including a narrated fly-over video of the property, visit www.CCCBSA.org/PARC. Those interested in a guided tour of the site can make a reservation through the website or by emailing PARC@CCCBSA.org.

Since 1919, the Chester County Council has been chartered by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to deliver the comprehensive youth development programs of Scouting through partnerships with community organizations in Chester County and in the northwestern corner of Cecil County, Md. Approximately 2,800 men and women volunteer in a variety of leadership roles so that 5,700 boys in grades 1-12 and girls in grades 9-12 can enjoy the benefits of Scouting.

 

 

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