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by mark ray WHAT I’VE LEARNED

Dr. Lyn Graves Why Scouting means the world to boys from another world.

FactSheet Dr. Lyn Graves



CURRENT POSITION: Scoutmaster, Troop 33

DAY JOB: Optometrist and co-owner of a company that provides eye care at nursing homes in 10 states

FAVORITE CAMP: Camp Cedars, Fremont, Neb. I’ve climbed Pikes Peak, but I tell my friends Camp Cedars has the highest mountain I’ve ever climbed. My mountaintop experiences at Camp Cedars have come from getting to spend time with the Scouts of Troop 33.

PROUDEST MOMENTS IN SCOUTING: The little victories that come from watching young men make good choices; also getting to walk the trails of Scouting with my own two sons and my dad—all four of us Eagle Scouts.


WHEN LYN GRAVES’ SON J.J. was old enough for Boy Scouting, the Omaha Eagle Scout decided to become a troop leader. Instead of joining one of the area’s many strong suburban troops, though, Graves looked for opportunities in the inner city. He eventually teamed up with the Mid-America Council’s Scoutreach program and with Leigh Hart, a Lutheran minister working with families served by the Omaha Housing Authority. Twelve years later, Graves

remains Scoutmaster of Troop 33, which consists mostly of first- and second- generation immigrants from South Sudan. Along the way, he has touched count- less lives in Omaha and far beyond, including his first Eagle Scout, Buey Ray Tut, who created a nonprofit organization called Aqua- Africa that drills freshwater wells in South Sudan.

WHY START A TROOP IN THE INNER CITY? I’d been on several short-term missions with my church and wanted to engage in a cross-cultural experience. It’s something I wanted to expose my kids to. They loved it.


DID YOU SPECIFICALLY SET OUT TO SERVE THE SUDANESE COM- MUNITY? Back then I didn’t even know there were Sudanese immi- grants in Omaha. For the first two or three years, the troop was more mixed, racially. But for the past five years, it’s been —other than my kids—strictly Sudanese.

WHAT DIFFICULTIES DO YOUR SCOUTS FACE AT HOME? All of the challenges living in the proj- ects can present: single-parent households, not enough money, loud neighbors, gangs, drugs—all that bad stuff. Some Scouts actu- ally take care of irresponsible parents. Others come from two- parent households where they are genuinely loved and looked after.

HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO AFFORD TO PROVIDE A SCOUTING PROGRAM? The Mid-America Council provided scholarships for these kids to go to Camp Cedars. For outings, we raise money from folks in my church (West Hills Presbyterian Church, Troop 33’s chartered organization). The council donated uniforms. Given the situation the kids were in, we didn’t ask for money from them.

WHAT OTHER CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED? One of the big struggles early on was transportation. How do you get these kids picked up and delivered to

meetings and campouts? There were a couple of guys from my church who pitched in and helped with driving.

HAVE YOU SOMETIMES LONGED FOR A SITUATION WHERE PARENTS WERE MORE INVOLVED? At a camporee one year, I was lamenting to another Scouter that I didn’t have any adult help. He said he had all kinds of adult help but that every Scout he had at the camporee had been dragged there by the ear and would have rather been home playing video games. He was envious of the enthusiasm my kids were showing.


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