You’d expect a bunch of welding experts to forge some strong bonds, but the folks at Lincoln Electric have gone above and beyond.
Their work bringing welding and the Welding merit badge into the Boy Scouts of America has already helped introduce tens of thousands of Scouts to this hot career.
In recognition, the Boy Scouts of America presented Lincoln Electric and three of its key employees with the North Star Award on Wednesday afternoon at the BSA’s annual Top Hands Conference in Washington, D.C.
The award, an eight-pointed, star-shaped medal worn on a black ribbon, is presented by councils on the behalf of the National Court of Honor for nonregistered volunteers who have made a significant contribution to Scouting.
You can consider it to be on same level as the Silver Beaver Award, which is for registered volunteers.
Lincoln Electric as a company received an award, as did three Lincoln Electric employees: Charlie Cross, Carl Peters and Jason Scales.
When Peters saw his medal and certificate late Wednesday afternoon, he was shocked.
“After 30 years here, not much surprises me,” he said. “But this surprised me.”
What hasn’t surprised Peters is the overwhelming response to welding within the Scouting community. Welding merit badge, which released in February 2012, offers Scouts a hands-on look at a career path that practically guarantees a high-paying job. (And if you remember Mike Rowe’s words from the 2013 jamboree, you know that skilled trades are very much en vogue right now.)
“Lincoln Electric is helping Scouts get excited about such career options as welding, engineering and manufacturing in a hands-on way, while earning their badges,” Peters, who serves as Lincoln’s Director of Technical Training, said in April. “They get to explore different career pathways by trying something new. And, they’ll get a sense of accomplishment when they walk away with their own welding project — a specially designed eagle they each welded themselves. You should see the pride these kids have when they weld up that eagle. That really makes it worth it for us.”
That enthusiasm for welding intensified at the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, where young men and women tried their hand at virtual welding, on simulators like the one seen below, and also by trying actual, live welding.
I gave the virtual-reality welding simulator a try today, and it’s a blast. You’re given real-time feedback as you try to perform a perfect T-joint weld. Cross, seen below using the simulator, was a great teacher, and he ensured I didn’t totally embarrass myself on my first try.
So how do you get involved? Keep an eye on Lincoln Electric’s site for some great, coming-soon resources for counselors wanting to teach Welding merit badge. I’m talking lesson plans, informative diagrams and safety tips that will make sure you do it right. Or contact Lincoln to see whether your unit can visit a Lincoln distributor or attend a local workshop.
Councils should contact Lincoln to explore ways to bring welding equipment — both simulated and real — to summer camps and other council events.
And all of us should thank Lincoln Electric for their hard work in creating such a strong Scouting bond.