COLUMN: The impact of being present

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the leaders and scouts in Helena’s Scout Troop 2. While I never personally participated in scout activities, its not hard for me to see the important impact that these organizations have on young kids.

The entire world seemed to stop when the COVID-19 pandemic kicked into full gear. People who were well-off financially were suddenly lined up at food banks and searching social media high and low for cleaning supplies, clothes, diapers and other things.

Just when people were slowly starting to recover hurricanes and tornadoes impacted the area and set people back even further.

When these things happened, I was contacted by scout leaders, not to receive recognition or attention, but to spread awareness about collection drives and distribution events that they were offering.

One particular example happened when the first set of tornadoes came through on Jan. 26. Many areas in the state were deeply impacted and one person was left dead. Troop 2’s Scoutmaster Lane Tolbert reached out to me to let me know they set up a last-minute collection drive to get necessary supplies for people.

“We had about 12-14 scouts there during the day, with help from Troop 532,” Tolbert said at the time. “The best thing about this is the spirit of helpfulness. You see someone down and you want to do what you can to help them, and the scouts were all about doing that. There’s not a whole lot they were doing physically, but their presence out there was important.”

That is one of the biggest things I have learned from the organization: the impact of being present. Getting out in the community and letting those who are struggling know that you care about them can be a sign of hope in what seems like a path of demise.

I’ve also had the opportunity to meet with various scouts completing their various Eagle projects. I’ve seen some scouts construct sheds, arbors, flag retirement centers and informational signs. These were all done with the intention of providing some sort of service to the local community.

While I was never personally a scout, I can see how the organization prepares children and young adults to be present and think outside of their own experiences, which the world needs a lot more of these days.