Record number attend national scouting conference
CIMARRON, N.M.––A record 46 participants learned about scouting ministry during the July 15-21 UM Scouters’ Conference at the Philmont Training Center.
Despite forest fires that forced the cancellation of the traditional backpacking season at the high adventure base, 46 scouters spent a week learning about the intersections of scouting, ministry, service and the church.
“It was a fantastic, busy, hectic, wonderful week,” said course director Cliff Coan. “We had people from Georgia to Alaska; newbies to 50-plus years of experience, and all sorts of positions in the church and in scouting.”
The 46-member class broke an attendance record set in 1998.
Topics in the conference included the new Family Scouting orientation, Church Conference Scouting, the role of Charter Organizations, PRAY (Programs of Religious Activities with Youth) and UM scouting awards, the Strength for Service program, scouting ministry specialists, recruiting and social media.
In a new extra-curricular service project, the class donated some $2,500 of goods and cash to the Shared Table ministry of El Pueblito UMC in Taos. The tiny (average attendance on Sunday is around 45) church has sponsored a food distribution pantry since 1994. On alternate Wednesdays, anyone in need can come and help themselves to food commodities, basic health care items, and even school supplies for children.
El Pueblito collaborates with Taos Presbyterian and Ranchos Presbyterian churches to deliver Shared Table’s services. In 2017, Shared Table distributed free food and items to approximately 14,000 people.
“The generosity of the group was overwhelming,” said Coan. “We just tossed the idea out in an email, and they filled my SUV with donations. People who flew into New Mexico and couldn’t physically bring items donated cash.”
This year’s conference had a record-setting staff, necessitated by the large number of participants.
“I had a ‘dream team’ staff,” said Coan. “Much of what I did was make it possible for them to present and stay out of their way.”
The Rev. Scott Pickering served as assistant course director, with Caroline Rudisill, Chris Karabinos, Debbie Caraway, Susan Lawyer and Susan Park serving as “shepherds” (small group leaders). Steven Scheid, director of the Office of Scouting Ministries, and Phil Howard, chairman of the UM Scouting Ministry Committee, represented the General Commission on UM Men. David Rico. BSA field director, represented the national organization. Other presenters included John Anderson, Bill Chaffin and Jim Marchbank.
Special “drop-in” presenters included Ellie Morrison, national commissioner of the BSA, and Jason Noland, chief executive officer of the PRAY organization.
Wrapped around the classroom activities were traditional Philmont Training Center programs for all ages. Attendees, spouses and children participated in tours, crafts, hikes, special dinners and all-day activities.