by Harry M. DeBan
International Representative Greater Niagara Frontier Council
Boy Scouts of America
Thirty-five Scouts and adult leaders from Germany wrapped up a successful 12-day visit to Western New York on July 20.
The contingent, hosted by the Greater Niagara Frontier Council, Boy Scouts of America, was composed of members from two parish-based groups in Harrislee and Schobüll that are part of the Ring Evangelischer Gemeindepfadfinder Scout Association, sponsored by the Lutheran Church in Germany.
Arriving and departing via Toronto, the Scouts based out of the GNFC's Camp Stonehaven in the Town of Lewiston, and also spent a night at Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, and at St. James Lutheran Church in Bergholz.
The ground logistics here were coordinated by the Greater Niagara Frontier Council, and brought together hosting units from three different BSA Councils: Troop 833 (Wheatfield), Troop 184 (North Tonawanda), and numerous individuals from the GNFC were joined by Troop 8 (Cambria) of neighboring Iroquois Trail Council, and Troop 2 (Oneida) from Revolutionary Trails Council. Troop 833 hosted a barbecue and provided numerous support assistance during the entire time period. Troop 184 provided a much-welcomed relief from the heat via a variety of homemade water launching devices. Troop 8 also hosted a barbecue and provided a variety of sporting opportunities, firefighting equipment demonstrations, and a classic campfire with some new twists; the Celtic Spirit Pipe Band also performed a private concert for the group that evening. Troop 2 traveled across the state to spend four days encamped with the visitors, and hosted the first All-American barbecue of the trip.
The 1st Selkirk Scout Group (Selkirk, Ontario) Scouts Canada, also ventured here to join in, and greeted the group at the airport upon arrival. Other traveling BSA Scouts from Pennsylvania and North Carolina also had the opportunity to meet the overseas visitors at Camp Stonehaven. In all instances, the Scouts from each country interacted quickly with their new acquaintances, and managed to communicate quite well. The classic outdoors skills and program values which all Scouts share were never more evident than in a situation such as this.
After a guided tour of Niagara-Wheatfield Senior High School, the visitor-experience included attractions on the U.S. and Canadian sides of Niagara Falls. In addition to sleeping in Old Fort Niagara, the group attended the BSA's traveling Centennial Adventure Base 100 Exhibit, the Taste of Buffalo, the Seneca-Allegany Veterans Pow-wow in Salamanca, a Buffalo Bisons baseball game (an 11-inning barn burner at which one of the Scout leaders snagged a foul ball), and a concert at Artpark. A private charter aboard the Spirit of Buffalo capped off the excursions.
By way of a heritage link, a visit to Das Haus Museum in Bergholz provided a window into the daily life of the early North German/Prussian immigrant settlements in the area. The Scouts attended worship service at St. James Lutheran Church and performed two songs at the closing, the first of which was sung so beautifully that it brought tears to the eyes of many in attendance. The congregation then hosted the Scouts at the parish's Summer Social picnic.Everyone in the community who assisted in any way helped make this an unforgettable experience "for the good" on both sides of the Atlantic. This was an example of the Scouting program and the people of Western New York at their very best. Thank you all!