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Boys Under the Hood
How some time spent tinkering gives Scouts
the drive they need to succeed.
ONE SATURDAY IN MAY, veteran though the lines between
Scouter Bob Lahmers of Alliance, them often blurred.
Ohio, and 14 counselors trans- When Auld talked
formed a large part of Camp about tires, for example, he
Tuscazoar near the town of Dover showed a cutaway illustra-
into a cross between a repair tion of a tire. But he also
shop, a junkyard, and a mad sci- had an actual tire so the boys
entist’s laboratory. could learn to decipher the
The adult volunteers specifications on the sidewall.
set up stations at the camp “The more you can get
where Scouts could get their them out of their seats and
hands dirty working on the looking at something,” Auld
Automotive Maintenance merit said, “the better.”
badge. Automotive Maintenance,
At one station, Scouts like many merit badge skills,
encountered a freestanding was at least partially designed
engine they could operate by to introduce Scouts to poten-
hand, turning the crankshaft tial careers. But Auld, who
to watch the pistons move up worked his way through college
and down. At another, a rep- as a mechanic and then spent
resentative from Matco Tools, years in the motorsports busi-
an Ohio-based manufacturing ness, recognizes that nearly all
firm, showed off a truck that the boys he counsels plan on
was loaded with, well, a truck- choosing another line of work.
load of automotive gadgets. Still, most all of them will
“Everything we had was great,” them work with the equipment, drive to their jobs in cars or
Lahmers said. “It went off like a bang.” and finally get around to signing off trucks. In fact, Troop 772 meets just
As did a bunch of airbags. their requirements. a few miles from Interstate 5, where
A salvage yard had donated Jack Auld took a similar approach 265,000 vehicles travel every day.
six airbags from totaled cars, and when he taught Scouts last spring at So Auld focuses on teaching
Lahmers’ team deployed them to a merit badge day sponsored by his Scouts to become knowledgeable
show the Scouts how they work. “We unit, Troop 772 in Laguna Niguel, consumers, rather than pushing them
put a bucket on top of one and blew Calif. While Auld didn’t use disem- to become mechanics or mechanical
it about 65 or 70 feet up,” Lahmers bodied engines or inflating airbags, engineers.
said, laughing. he had a modern alternative: videos “It’s a good opportunity to help
The team’s counseling that day, from the Internet. them understand something that’s
part of an annual event featuring fun Using those resources, Auld put a vital part of their lives and not be
and educational activities for area together a comprehensive PowerPoint intimidated by it,” he said. “In my
Scouts called Dover Dam Weekend, presentation to explain a car’s various mind, that should be one of the
might seem over the top. But it dem- systems, from air intake to exhaust. primary goals—to take away the fear
onstrated an effective approach to Dividing his class into two sessions, of the unknown.”
teaching the skills required to earn one in a classroom and the other Add a little grease under the fin-
the Automotive Maintenance merit hands-on, Auld was able to let the gernails, and you’ve got the makings
badge: Get the Scouts’ attention, let Scouts put theory into practice— of a great merit-badge experience. ¿
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