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Scouter Spotlight: Meet Larry Cunningham

Cunningham,-Larry

We bet you know that the BSA launched Venturing in 1998 to
help older youths, 14- to 20-year-olds, advance their skills and knowledge. But
do you know whom the organization recruited to make it happen?

Adult volunteers like Larry Cunningham, who served in the
front lines of the process. So read on as we get to know a little bit about Larry in
this week’s Scouter Spotlight.

Tenure in Scouting: No involvement as a youth, but 35 years
as a volunteer, including his current position as chairman of the
national-level Awards and Scholarships task force. He also serves as assistant
advisor for Crew 2012 in Amarillo, Tex.

Scouting family: Two sons, one who’s 39 and the other who’s
41. Both are Eagle Scouts. Larry's wife of 44 years is also involved in Scouts and received the Silver Buffalo in 2003.

What’s your favorite Scouting memory?

I have two. The first was serving as an Exploring advisor with
my wife when, in 1988, we accompanied a group of Explorers from the U.S. to the
Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. The second was in 1997 when we were on
the national committee that developed Venturing. We got to help with the development of the Ranger Award, write the syllabus for the Powder Horn adult training, and develop the Quest Award.

What would you say to a boy or girl who’s thinking of
joining Scouting?

Scouting has allowed me to do things I never thought
possible. I’ve visited foreign countries, attended three jamborees (in 1985,
2001, 2005, and the one coming up in 2010), made friends all over the world, and given direction and
fun to countless youth. The fun is limited only by their imagination. Our first
Explorer post had to be led to think beyond the normal activities, but they
finally caught the vision. We went to Scotland twice, went to the Florida Sea
Base on SCUBA trips three times, and some of them attended the Olympics in
South Korea and Barcelona, Spain.

What would you say to a boy or girl who is thinking of
dropping out of Scouting?

“Don't drop out until all goals have been reached.” Telling
people that you’re an Eagle Scout automatically gets respect. Sometimes
Scouting becomes “ho-hum,” and that is when it needs to become more youth-led.
If you are a youth in Scouting, speak up. Tell the leaders what you want to do.
Then be prepared to take charge and lead the unit to accomplish those goals.

How do you make Venturing relevant to youth when there are
so many other demands on their time?

As a leader, I realize that not all boys and girls should be
in Scouting. We do not have a magic organization for all youth. In the
Venturing program we can concentrate on providing a program of interest to a
select group. My Venturing crew, for example, is a shotgun-shooting crew. We
don’t do camping or hiking or cooking; we shoot. The way to be relevant is to
offer a program young people want.

What advice do you have for a new leader?

All new leaders need to know that “it only takes an hour a
week.” Just kidding. In reality, it takes commitment to youth and belief in the
program. My sons are still good cooks because of what they learned in Scouting,
and they still have leadership skills they learned in the program. They’re
teaching Scouting’s principles to their kids.

Thanks to Larry for his contribution. Scouter Spotlight
returns next week.

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