Nearly 40 Girl Scout and Boy Scout leaders from parishes and schools throughout the Diocese of Orlando gathered to learn and exchange ideas at the Diocese of Orlando’s first Scouting Summit, held on Aug. 17 at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Winter Park. The focus of the Summit, presented by the Secretariat of Evangelization and Family Life, was to show how scouting can enkindle a deeper faith in young people.
“We want scouting to be seen as an integral part of our parish ministry outreach,” said Dennis Johnson, Jr., Secretary for Evangelization and Family Life. “Bishop (John) Noonan is very supportive of scouting because of the value it brings to the families, not just the young people, but the entire family.”
Johnson announced that the diocese is in the process of forming a scouting commission at the diocesan level. The team of about six members will work with leaders in national scouting offices to offer input on religious awards and other activities as they pertain to the Catholic faith, as well as plan diocesan scouting events and activities.
To illustrate how scouting impacts one’s faith life, Deacon Bill Timmes of St. Margaret Mary Parish and Sister Kathleen Power, shared their experiences at the summit.
Timmes said one of his most memorable moments in scouting happened in 1974, when he participated in the first Catholic scouting campout. During the retreat, a priest talked with the boys, associating scouting laws with Scripture.
“That was the first time, as a 14-year-old boy, that I associated the two together – scouting and faith,” Timmes said. “I have not lost that concept since then. You can’t have scouting without some sort of faith.”
Sister Power spoke on how scouting helped her grow by allowing her to try new things. She recalled getting her new Girl Scout manual and pouring over the multitude of badges she could earn.
“When I was in Girl Scouting, that experience of Scouting supported all of the values and the way of life of my family and Catholic school environment,” she said. “Everything the sisters taught us at school and everything our parents taught us at home was all at peace with Scouting. My mind expanded because here was a place I could learn new things and experience new things.”
“It was a good, solid part of our growth as young girls,” she said. “I think that is the way God works. God works through scouting to help young girls and boys continue to have an integrated growth in faith.”