What is the true spirit of being a scout? On Thursday night the answer became loud and clear. The Boys Scouts of America LaSalle Council hosted their annual Spirit of Scouting Benefit Dinner at Valparaiso’s Expo Center that brought together scouts, their leaders, community members, and a group of speakers.
The night’s focus was not only a spotlight on the scouts within Porter County, but to honor community members who personify the scout’s law of a person that is “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” Sheriff David Lain, the Spirit of Scouting Award Recipient, obeyed the scout’s law. Lain was the evening’s main honoree and received a large bronze eagle award for being the council’s definition of their law, but Lain was just honored to be involved with such an inspirational group.
“I’m really honored and humbled to be thought of for this award, but it’s not me that personifies this award - it’s what the sheriff’s department is out there doing every single day,” Lain explained. “We go into law enforcement for many of the same reasons that many of these tremendous leaders go into scouting - and that’s to nurture the next generation. To see so many tremendous young people come through being a scout over the years really shows us that everything is going to be just fine.”
Those scouts only proved how right Sheriff Lain was. Clinton Welton, of Boy Scout Troop 963, and Reiner Nies, of Boy Scout Troop 904, explained that being a scout is something they are proud of - even as seniors in high school. “It’s been a long journey to become an Eagle Scout but I’m very prideful of what I’ve done and what I’ve accomplished.” Nies stated. “I feel like a lot of these lessons that I’ve learned through Boys Scouts will stay for me for life - it’s not something you can get out of a book like leadership and becoming trustworthy. It’s all changed me as a person for the better.” Welton went on to say that having all of the scouts together, young and older boys, here that night drove the feeling home. “Looking at everyone now you really can see all of them growing from young boys into being men. It’s one of the most life changing things for me is see that and knowing that you helped them move up along the way.”
There was one other award recipient that night, and it was ValpoLife.com’s CEO and Founder Chris Mahlmann. Mahlmann was the recipient of the Community Impact award and was also the special guest speaker for the evening. While standing up at the podium addressing the crowd, Mahlmann talked about the Life networks and how it all got started - which was directly for spreading out good news for groups like the LaSalle scouts. “So when I read your mission I think ‘Why shouldn’t people like that be on the front page of the news?’” Mahlmann stated. “Tonight as I look around the room I think of why couldn’t the Boy Scouts be the rock stars? Shouldn’t everything they’re doing be headline news? Well, folks, in my world you are my rockstars. You make my front page news.”
Besides the two award winners, there were other speakers that took their place under the spotlight. Erik Froelich, the District Chair for Scouting in Porter County, talked about what is happening in the world of scouting, and he was soon followed by Clinton Welton and Reiner Nies who talked about being a scout meant to them. The President of the LaSalle Council Executive Board Rich Urda also took the stand, Bob Westfall - a member of the LaSalle Council Advisory Board - acted as the master of ceremonies for the evening, and Scout Troop 907 Leader Jim Polarek introduced David Lain with a speech of his own.
Overall the true and prevalent spirit of the night was the heart of the scouts and the people who work to better their young lives. All of the attendees at the dinner helped raise funds for troops and their scouts but the night was not focused on money for one moment. It was about celebrating an outstanding and imperative American tradition that is being a boy scout - and the people who admire it.
The LaSalle Council and all of the Scouts in Porter County would like to thank the event’s sponsors: Industrial Revolution, JJ’s Pizza Shack, Wruck Paupore PC, McAfee Animal Hospital, Foundation for Molecular Medicine, M.E. Simpson Co., Inc., BoyConn Printing, GP Strategies, ValpoLife.com, Chandanna Apartments, and the United Way of Porter County.