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John Cass Army veteran serves Scouting overseas.

FactSheet John Cass

SCOUTER SINCE: 1986 CURRENT CITY: Stuttgart, Germany

CURRENT POSITION: Scoutmaster, Troop 324

DAY JOB: Department of Defense civilian employee; retired staff officer, United States European Command

JOHN CASS QUIT Cub Scouting in the third grade, only to return a couple of years later to join Boy Scout Troop 200 in Toledo, Ohio. A stern warning from his mother (“If you quit this, it will be the last thing you join.”) kept him motivated, as did a 1984 Philmont trek and the 1985 National Scout Jamboree. At that jamboree, which marked the BSA’s Diamond Jubilee, Cass vowed to return for the 100th Anniversary jamboree. And he did, serving as Scoutmaster for the Transatlantic Council’s jam- boree troop last summer. During a 24-year Army

FAVORITE CAMP: Pioneer Scout Reservation, Erie Shores Council. That’s where all my youth Scouting memories were built. I still hold these memories sacred.

PROUDEST MOMENT IN SCOUTING: Helping a Scout who was afraid of heights and from a troubled home reach the peak of Old Rag Mountain in Virginia. When we reached the top, he looked at me and said, “Mr. Cass, this is the best day of my life.”

career, Cass held positions ranging from den leader to district committee member in a half-dozen councils. Now an Army civilian worker in Stuttgart, Germany, he leads a troop that serves military dependents and children of American businesspeople.

HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE CHALLENGES OF LEADING A BSA PROGRAM OVERSEAS? This really depends on your point of view. If you look at the challenges—lan- guage barriers, unknown terrain, rotational Scouts,

and parents—as opportunities, the positives far outweigh the potential


negatives. Language barriers are a problem, but I would say there are few troops in Europe that don’t have a native speaker among their resources. Unknown terrain is a challenge, but Europe is built for outdoor enjoy- ment; maps, guidebooks, etc., are easily accessible. Having parents and Scouts rotate out on an annual basis presents some challenges, but it’s also an opportunity to keep the program fresh and take in new ideas every year.

HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH FAMILIES ROTATING IN AND OUT EVERY YEAR? The problem is synchronizing what other troops do and how our troop operates. We offset much of this by offering a “Troop 324 101” session every September that orients Scouts and parents about how the troop camps, as well as our policies and procedures. Additionally, we offer September and January troop orienta- tions that coincide with the major rotation cycles. We also place a great emphasis on troop leadership training to ensure all Scouts are on the same sheet of music.

ARE YOUR SCOUTS USUALLY INVOLVED IN SCOUTING BEFORE AND AFTER THEIR TIME IN GERMANY? Many of the Scouts who rotate in do come from a Scouting background. They range in rank from Tenderfoot to Eagle Scout. You never know who will show up. It’s kind of fun. Most who return to

the States stay in contact and are often grateful for their experiences in Europe.

DOES YOUR TROOP INTERACT WITH SCOUTS AND LEADERS FROM GERMAN SCOUTING ASSOCIATIONS? Living in Europe gives you a real sense of world Scouting. Most camporees include German troops. They are very open and willing to engage with Scouts of other nations.

WHAT KIND OF CAMPING OPPORTU- NITIES DOES YOUR TROOP HAVE? Camping in Europe is incredible. You can do incredible outings from canoe- ing on a river with locks to climbing 7,000-foot peaks. We build snow shelters in the Swiss Alps, do moun-


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