Finding purpose through scouting

Jefferson Citian Dave Talken has been an active leader in scouting since 1983.

Jefferson Citian Dave Talken has been an active leader in scouting since 1983.

Dave Talken didn’t plan on getting involved with the Boy Scouts of America, but more than 30 years after his son first joined the Webelo Scouts, Talken remains involved with troops throughout Mid-Missouri.

For Talken, who currently serves on the Catholic Committee on Scouting as the religious emblems coordinator, it all began when his son, Dave Jr., joined the Webelos in 1983.

“He came home and said they had projects that they had to do and the parents had to be involved,” Talken said. “I didn’t necessarily appreciate that at the time.”

But soon, he couldn’t get enough involvement in the organization. Other Scouts were invited to Talken’s home to accomplish one of the troop projects, and Talken began hanging around during the scout meetings, leading to his selection as scoutmaster from 1986 to 1991.

“He got hooked basically,” said Talken’s wife, Sharon.

Talken describes the experience as very rewarding, especially one particular instance where seven young men who made up the cougar patrol of Troop 104 all made Eagle Scout, which had never happened within that troop.

“That was a big feather in my cap,” Talken said.

And one that is emblematic of what Talken says is the most rewarding part of scouting — being able to watch boys grown and develop into responsible adults “and knowing you had a little bit to do with that.”

Another scouting accomplishment of Talken’s was beginning a monthly recycling program in 1986 that helped fund Troop 104’s adventure trips, a program still being used today to pay for trips to New Mexico.

“There is money in recycling,” Talken said.

But his favorite memories were the “high adventure treks” to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, a trip he’s taken with scouts seven times.

“You travel roughly 100 miles on foot and you carry everything that you need,” Talken said. “You found out pretty quick who you were … we had to work together.”

The treks took months of preparation to get in shape, hiking with weighted packs to be ready for the experience, Talken said. During treks, Talken said he came across a bear more than once and could always hear mountain lions in the distance, though he was glad they never came face to face.

He hasn’t been out to the Philmont Scout Ranch since 2008 with the Venture Crew, which is for both boys and girls in high school. Talken said the first Venture Crew trek was an experience because of the co-ed atmosphere, especially after years of taking only boys on the high adventure treks.

“It was worth it,” Talken said.

Aside from his work as coordinator for the Catholic Committee on Scouting, Talken has stepped away from some of the more active roles in the scouts. But he hasn’t necessarily slowed down.

In 2010, Talken began to get involved in Honor Flights, which take veterans to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials dedicated to military service. Talken, who became involved at the suggestion of his sister-in-law, has been on 13 flights operating as the personal guardian for 28 veterans.

“That started my next adventure,” Talken said. “That has been very rewarding also … I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do.”

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