Q&A with Lou Napolitano

February 27, 2013 

Q&A with Lou Napolitano

City of Residence: Warner Robins

Occupation: Retired, Air Force, Boy Scouts of America volunteer

QUESTION: When did you start in Scouting?

ANSWER: 1946. I was 8 years old and got involved in a Cub Scout program in Roseland, Long Island. My mother was a Girl Scout, and during World War II we’d sit and look at pictures of her when she was a girl out camping and doing interesting things. When I was old enough, I joined Cub Scouts.

By the way, if you’re interested, my mother got the highest award in Girl Scouts, the Golden Eaglet. She got it at the White House from Mrs. Calvin Coolidge.

QUESTION: What’s your role in Scouting now?

ANSWER: I’m a Scout leader: Scoutmaster of Troop 400, chartered by Centerville United Methodist Church. I was Cubmaster for 20 years and have been Scoutmaster for 30 years. During 17 of those years I was both. I’ve also had roles in the Boy Scouts of America’s District Council.

QUESTION: And you’re the six-county district -- the Robert L. Scott District -- 2012 Scoutmaster of the Year, correct?

ANSWER: That’s right. That sort of thing isn’t why I’m in it, though. I do it for the boys. But I’m honored to receive it.

QUESTION: Did you come up through Scouting ranks as a boy?

ANSWER: I enjoyed being a Cub Scout, but we moved to a small town that didn’t have a Scouting program so I never was a Boy Scout. Our neighbors had a farm, and there were plenty of things to do, playing football was my passion, so I didn’t really miss it.

QUESTION: What got you back into it?

ANSWER: My son joined Cub Scouts when I was in the Air Force and we were stationed in Zukeran, Okinawa. I signed on as assistant Cubmaster. As soon as I did, the Cubmaster quit, and I was it.

QUESTION: When did you move to Warner Robins?

ANSWER: We came in 1979, and there was a den up on Quail Run from Centerville UMC. My son went to school with the boys, and I got involved, too.

QUESTION: What’s kept you involved all these years?

ANSWER: I guess it’s parents asking if I would stick around for their son to go through Scouting. My son made Eagle Scout and went on to college, and other boys would ask if I’d stick around until they got done, then the next and the next and the next. We say there’s a little plot outside our Scout building where they’re going to bury me.

QUESTION: What value has Scouting been to you through the years?

ANSWER: Well, I guess you’d say the lasting friendships and rapport with the boys. I’ll meet someone in the street and -- of course they’re adults now and I don’t recognize them -- but I’ll meet them and they’ll say, “Mr. N,” and right away I know they’re from the troop. There are a lot of boys who’ve gone through the troop, and some of them now have boys going through.

QUESTION: That must be rewarding.

ANSWER: We’ve had a boy make Eagle Scout whose father had made Eagle in the troop. It was Jessie Bowling and his father, Jason. That was something. All three Bowling boys were in the troop at one time, and all made Eagle.

QUESTION: How have you seen Scouting change through the years?

ANSWER: One thing is we’ve gotten away from is being outdoor-oriented and doing so many things out and about in the community. Last weekend, it was looking like rain, so we had to decide whether to go camping or not. A lot of parents didn’t want their kids out camping and getting wet. Twenty years ago, we would go no matter what. It wouldn’t have mattered. Another sign is our Boy Scout camp, Camp Benjamin Hawkins, over near Byron was closed. I think it should be opened.

QUESTION: How has it remained the same?

ANSWER: Not long ago we had Scout Sunday, and I talked about how the Scout Law, written in 1910, hadn’t changed in 113 years. A lot of laws in our country have changed, but the Scout Law hasn’t. People in the congregation took that real well.

QUESTION: It does bring to mind current controversies over who can or can’t be a Boy Scout leader.

ANSWER: That’s a policy Boy Scout national will have to address. They have to make an overall decision, and then it’s down to the chartering organizations what they will do. That’s not my pay grade to decide now.

QUESTION: Is there a single moment in your Scouting life that sums up why you’ve been such a dedicated participant and leader?

ANSWER: Sixty-five boys have made Eagle Scout in the troop, and each has been different and rewarding to see go through. That’s out of about 1,500 boys in our program who’ve learned something and gotten something out of the program through friendships and working on merit badges. I’m thankful for each one, and I’m thankful for what Scouting has taught me.

QUESTION: How can people contact Troop 400 or find out more about Scouting?

ANSWER: They can call me at 918-3327.

Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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