Tiger Cub Tristan Crittenden of Den 1, Pack 5239 chartered to VFW Post 239, places a flag upon the grave of Staff Sergeant Paul A. Linder, US Army, World War II at Miller-Woodlawn Cemetery on May 23, 2015, in honor of Memorial Day. Photo courtesy Keith Ciancio
BREMERTON — Cub Scout Pack 5239 is young, but it’s growing and active.
Keith Ciancio, chartered organization representative for the pack, said the pack only got its charter two years ago.
"Two and a half years ago, we saw a need for a Cub Scout pack in West Bremerton,” Ciancio said. "There were only two other packs in the area at the time, and they weren’t doing so well.”
So Ciancio, a member of VFW Post 239, made a motion at the post meeting that they charter a new scouting pack. The motion passed.
"It took a while to recruit leaders, especially a cub master,” he said. "Once we did, we got chartered on March 1, 2015, and we started off with six youths.
"In that time, we have grown to 20 scouts, and they are a very active pack. We are now the only pack in all of West Bremerton.”’
Now, Pack 5239 will be joining every other Cub Scout pack in the U.S. in celebration of the anniversary of scouting.
"Scouting was founded in America on Feb. 8, 1910,” Ciancio said. "In 1916, the Boy Scouts of America was granted a charter by the Congress. We celebrate that anniversary in a number of ways.”
The first way is called "Scout Sunday,” or "Scout Sabbath,” for denominations that worship on Saturdays, Ciancio said. On that day, Cub Scouts "are encouraged to participate with their churches, to show that a scout is reverent.”
The second celebration is for completing a major service project.
Ciancio said Pack 5239 will be doing a project they’re calling "Scouting for Food,” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 18, at the Safeway in West Bremerton, 900 N. Callow Ave. They’ll be collecting food to donate to the food bank at Olympic College.
"We tend to do that, Scouting for Food, in March instead of February, because historically March is where the donations tend to be the lowest,” Ciancio explained.
Ciancio was himself a Cub Scout when he was a kid. Now he’s involved in two packs — Pack 5239, which he helped found, and pack 4539 in Brownsville, where his son got started and Ciancio is cubmaster — and he’s having a lot of fun.
"It’s a lot of fun, and a great way for my son and I to do something together,” Ciancio said. "It’s a great way to share with other people the fun I had as a kid.
"I guess some people would say I get to relive my childhood,” he added, laughing. "When I lead a pack meeting, I get to be a big old kid up in front of other kids. Who wouldn’t sign up for that?”
But Cub Scouting is not just about having fun.
"Scouting provides youth with opportunities and experiences that teach them community leadership, peer leadership and selfless service,” Ciancio said. "These are things that you don’t get from a sports team. These are things that you don’t really get taught in school. Where do kids learn leadership? A lot aren’t learning at home because either they don’t have the right examples or their parents don’t know how to teach that.
"Where we are different is that we have a core set of values that’s embodied in the Scout oath and law, and we inculcate those into the kids to give them a foundation they can rely on for the rest of their life.”
Cub Scouting is for boys in first through fifth grade; the boys are then divided into dens based on what grade they’re in, Ciancio said. Then, each den works on their adventures, which he said are about a month long, and follow a theme.
For example, Ciancio said the Webelos (fourth and fifth graders) could learn about first aid under a "first responder” theme; the Bears (third graders) could learn about camping, hiking and the outdoors under a "bare necessities” theme.
"They do these adventures as a way of learning, but also they work toward their rank advancement,” Ciancio said.
Rank advancements are given to the Scouts who complete their seven requirements for a rank badge, which is then awarded to them at a special ceremony.
"These adventures teach them things like self-confidence, self-reliance, working with others, leadership, appreciation for the outdoors and good stewardship of resources. Advancement is one of the tools we use to encourage the boys to learn about these things.”
Cub Scouting also emphasizes community service, Ciancio said. His pack has laid wreaths on Memorial Day; done spring and fall cleanups around the VFW post; trail and field cleanups; and, in the winter of 2015-16, the pack "put together care packages and hung scarves on trees in Bremerton so that the homeless could try and keep themselves warm,” Ciancio said.
"We all have a responsibility to our community to do what we can within our means and our abilities,” he said. "The larger lesson (for the Scouts) is that they learn about selfless service. Do something without being asked and without hope of reward.
"Too many times, we look at something and we say, ‘Somebody should do something about that,’ or ‘the city really ought to fix that,” Ciancio said. "The reality is, the government doesn’t have all the means to do everything. A lot of stuff can be done just simply by picking up a piece of trash and putting it in a trash can.
"When we teach our Scouts the importance of being responsible citizens, and they take these throughout their lives. Some of them may lead to community leadership positions. Some may lead to being paid for their work in environmental stewardship. Some of them will just teach it to somebody else, and pay it forward.”
To learn more about Cub Scout Pack 5239, visit www.facebook.com/groups/pack5239, or contact cubmaster Ryan Shipman at email@example.com or 360-277-7691. Sign up online at www.beascout.org; search for Cub Scout packs in area code 98312.
Michelle Beahm is a reporter for the Central Kitsap Reporter and Bremerton Patriot. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.