March 26, 2014 - By Meg Peters
Review Staff Writer
There were avalanches, gas explosions, hypothermia, drowning victims, boats that broke down, car crashes, a major flood, and hundreds of refugees that needed an evacuation plan.
Boy Scout Troop 128 took care of everything.
Boys from around ten years old to sophomores in high school traveled to the D-bar-A Ranch in Metamora and hunkered down in the Arrowhead Cabin Friday March 21 to Sunday March 23 to be tested for their Emergency Preparedness Merit Badge, one of the nearly ten essential merit badges to achieve before graduating to Eagle Scout.
Scout Master Dave DePauw worked with Tom Houlihan and Rich Dekeyser outside setting up different simulations to teach the core theme of the boy scouts: preparedness.
The overall premise for this weekend was zombie apocalypse and mass evacuation.
"We are learning how to handle refugees, so we have an entry control point where we would assess the people and get their names and addresses and information like that. We try to put families together, we set up a warming stations with dry clothes and blankets," Houlihan listed off. "In a real life situation, boy scouts are perfect for the minor cuts and scrapes, minor fractures, stuff you don't want to burden the paramedics with because we can teach it."
Ultimately troop leaders will send a letter to Oakland County offering Troop 128's services for emergency situations, and that the troop is standing by to assist.
"The reality is we are trying to teach how to deal with the practical stuff at home when it goes wrong," Houlihan said.
Three boys this year will be ready to move up to Eagle Scouts, including one that received his Eagle certification, Matt Everts.
Parker Yocca and Devon DePauw are on their way up this year, with Alex Glenn and Adam Kociba ready by next year, Scout Master DePauw said.
DePauw assists in skill teaching, "I corral these kids," he said. "We take them camping, teach them first aid, how to tie knots, fire building, how to safely use knives, so they can help their friends, their community," Depauw said.
Boy scouts earn close to 130 badges before they move up the ranks to Eagle Scouts, with around ten core merit badges. Citizenship merit badges, emergency preparedness, hiking, camping, first aid, personal management, personal fitness and family life are a few core merit badges scouts must learn.
Once they meet all of their merit badges and advance through the ranks, taking three to five years, the boys become Eagles.
DePauw said many boys desire the Eagle Scout status not only because of their knack for outdoors knowledge, but to assist their community, and also to put on a resume.
"I think it's more driven from with inside. For a lot of these guys this is something they wouldn't get to do otherwise," DePauw said. "Maybe they have single moms, or maybe they have parents that don't get outside. The really great thing is at the core, it teaches these guys leadership."
Once they get first class, which is halfway through the ranks, it all turns to leadership.
"Boy Scouts is actually a boy-run program. The adults guide them but they run the program, so it's all about leadership," DePauw said.
Once they are Eagles, both colleges and employers will notice them more, DePauw said.
Many of these boys stay in the program just to continue to give back to the community, to the wilderness and to themselves.