Putting his heart into Scouting

George Kopp provides a special service in Boy Scouts — he trains the adults.

George Kopp provides a special service in Boy Scouts — he trains the adults.

Ever since he was 8 years old, George Kopp has been involved with the Boy Scouts.

It started in his youth growing up in Kansas City and has continued after he moved to Jefferson City.

He has no children in scouting, but continues to serve helping to train adult leaders.

“The reason I’m involved is the mission of the program and what it does for young men and women,” he said. “The affects it has on their character. Not every kid wants to play a sport. Some do both, but for those who don’t, it’s a good way to keep them busy. They have good role models to follow.”

Since coming to Jefferson City 15 years ago, Kopp has been training adult leaders on how the scouting program works, making sure kids have good activities to enjoy and learn to be good communicators.”

“The majority of training is leadership skills rather than scouting activity,” he said. “Real leadership is being able to motivate others to work with you and motive at kids to come out and go camping when it’s two degrees.”

Kopp said he had a number of fun experiences from his time as a youth in Scouts.

“We went to New Mexico and did hiking trails and canoed in Minnesota for two weeks,” he said. “As an adult, I remember winter camping training. It was very cold — 13 below in Minnesota.”

Kopp says one of the things they work with adult leaders on is how to integrate programs with things kids want to do.

“Growing up in inner city Kansas City, scouting was the only thing going on,” he said. “Now there are multiple programs for kids to chose from. It’s good we have activities for them, but it’s also good for kids to have time on their own.”

Kopp said he programs now offered in scouting lets kids to do more of the things they want to do.

“If they want to learn about space travel, camping or cooking they can focus on their area of interest,” he said “I became an engineer after earning my engineering merit badge. I went to college and got my degree.”

Kopp says they want kids to be exposed to many different things, not one single activity.

“We also spend a lot of time on citizenship — how to be a good citizen,” he said. “This includes why it’s important to vote and be a part of political landscape. So many kids don’t vote because they don’t know why it’s important. Some merit badges we now offer show why it is important. A lot of things in done in Scouts are not done much anymore in schools and other programs. We give kids the ability to grow on their own. Every one grows at a different rate.”

Kopp believes the youth who are coming in to scouting now are different than what they’ve seen before.

“One benefit is that we try to modify to meet the needs of those that have been coming in,” he said.

“We recently added activities for environmental issues because there are more kids interested in taking care of the environment.”

Many leaders in the scouting program are there because their kids are there.

However, in Jefferson City there are also folks, like Kopp, who have been with the program over the long term, whether they have a kid in it or not.

“When kids get older, many adults move on,” Kopp said. “It’s good we have a lot of folks, particularly in Jefferson City, who’ve been in the program for a long time, providing direction. We can continually bring in new leadership, but keeping quality up is hard and that’s where training is involved.”

Kopp said training focuses on how to manage and run a troop — and let the boys lead.

“Sometimes it’s hard for adults to realize the program allows kids to run the program themselves,” he said. “Scouting has got a good future and there is a place for scouting in today’s world. What they learn in skills is too valuable to allow disagreements or changes in the world to affect what program is.

“When it first started it was all about camping and the outdoors, but it’s evolved to the program it is today. It continues to change as the world changes and that’s the beauty. It’s a healthy thing.”

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