Scouter Spotlight: Meet Tom Baltes


The Scouting program relies on volunteers like you to
succeed. We at Cracker Barrel recognize this and enjoy showing off some of the
nation’s best adult volunteers. It’s a feature we call Scouter Spotlight, and
this week it shines on a great volunteer from New Mexico.

You’ll meet him in just a second. But first, why not
recommend a great volunteer who deserves recognition? Simply e-mail us the outstanding Scouter’s name and contact info to get started.

This week we’re spotlighting Tom Baltes of Albuquerque, N.M.
Tom serves many roles in the program: committee member, assistant Scoutmaster,
and unit commissioner—to name a few. He’s been in Scouting for 13 years, ever
since his family returned from 12 years of military duty around Germany. As a
boy, Tom was a Star Scout.

Tom’s son, Mike, 25, is an Eagle Scout and registered adult
leader who worked one year at Philmont Scout Ranch at a backcountry camp. Tom’s
wife, Louise, is a committee member with Troop 166 of Albuquerque and has
enjoyed many backpacking trips with Tom.

Follow the jump below to hear Tom’s take on Scouting.

What is your favorite
Scouting memory? 

I have so many great memories with my son, but by far my
favorite memory is seeing him at his Eagle Scout Court of Honor. We were so very
proud of him and thankful to all those who assisted him along the way.

What does Scouting
mean to you? 

Over time Scouting has meant different things to me. For a
number of years it was the place where my wife and I could spend more time with
our son and help shape his future. Now Scouting is a safe place where we can
work with more youth and meet some incredibly talented and giving adults from
our community. 

What would you say to
a boy who is thinking of joining Scouting? 

I’d say: “There is a great adventure awaiting you with lots
of fun activities, a great group of boys to hang with and some incredible
adults to learn from. You will learn a lot of important skills to help
throughout your life, test yourself physically and mentally, and become a much
better citizen in the process.”

How will you
celebrate the BSA’s 100th Anniversary? 

Having experienced the buzz around being a member of the bicentennial
class at the Air Force Academy in 1976 and having recently gone through a tricentennial
celebration in Albuquerque I know these landmark dates are very important. As
we approach next year I believe I’ll celebrate our nation’s 100 years of Boy
Scouting by rededicating myself to service, use the publicity of that
anniversary to recruit more youth into Scouting, and probably lead a 100-mile
hike or backpack trip during the summer to commemorate the event. 

How would you improve

I have to applaud Scouting for the efforts to keep it
contemporary and relevant to our youth. From past experience I know that
training for our boys helps make them better leaders. So, I’d like to see more
efforts to get youth involved in National Youth Leadership Training and the
National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience courses. At a local level I’ve
seen some good results from partnerships between large and small Troops to
increase opportunities for boys to gain access to leaders, merit badge
counselors, outdoor activities, and high-adventure trips. I’d encourage more
widespread sharing of resources to make more opportunities available to all
boys in Scouting. 

What advice do you
have for a new leader? 

Seek training opportunities through your council, such as
new leader essentials, committee member training and Wood Badge courses. With
knowledge comes confidence to participate as an adult leader and the ability to
correctly teach.

Many thanks to Tom for his insightful responses. We’ll have
another Scouter Spotlight next week. And don’t forget—if you’d like to
recommend a great volunteer leader, e-mail us.

About Bryan Wendell 3106 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.