If you're ever looking for Scott Howell Jr. on a Monday evening, look no further than Trinity Episcopal Church just north of the Independence Square.
There you will find the engineering supervisor of the Independence Water Department doing what he has faithfully done for the past 35 years: serving as scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 282, which Trinity has sponsored since 1948.
Scott's lifelong love of Scouting started in 1967 when a friend asked him to join Cub Scout Pack 282.
“I went through Cubs, then through Troop 282 and now I am scoutmaster of Troop 282, he says, exclaiming: “It's amazing! I became scoutmaster in 1983 and have been scoutmaster 35 years.”
Under his leadership and guidance, he has helped 100 Scouts achieve the coveted Eagle Scout award – the highest rank in Scouting and something only 2 percent of all Scouts obtain. The honor of being the 100th Eagle Award recipient was recently bestowed on Tristen Johnson.
Among the 100 Eagle recipients are Scott's two sons, Scott Howell III and Adam Howell, both of whom are still with the Troop 282 and following in their father's footsteps.
“What is interesting is that we have a total of 176 Eagles in our troop and (our father) has 100 of them,” says Scott Howell III, who believes his father will go down at the Heart of America Council as “one of the scoutmasters that people will kind of talk about forever,” such as J.D. Hammontree, who started Troop 282 with five boys in 1948, as well as Bobby Morris, the troop's second scoutmaster, and Paul Arend, longtime scoutmaster of Troop 221 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
“Those are the people I have always talked about, because those are the guys my dad always looked up to. I think he will be a scoutmaster that a lot of people who come after him will talk about him being someone that taught them how to be a scoutmaster,” says Scott Howell Jr.
“When I took over, I had some big shoes to fill,” he says. “Mr. Hammontree was quite a legend in the Boy Scout program, and Bobby Morris was quite a man also. So my goal was: If I could feel their shoes halfway, I felt like I had accomplished something. I want you to know I am still trying to fill the shoes of these two men.”
As for Scott's legacy, “I hope they would say I was a good scoutmaster and was able to lead young men in the traditions of scouting. … It's all about boys. I just hope people will enjoy being in Scouts with me, and hopefully I lived up to the chins of (Hammontree and Morris) by the time I am finished,” he says.
Scott, a 1977 graduate of William Chrisman High School, calls his Scouting experiences “interesting and a life changer.” Interesting, he says, because “it is like a job the way I treat things. I'm very dedicated to it and I want to make sure (the Scouts) have the best program they could possibly have. A life changer, in that his wife Stacy married into the program 32 years ago, and became involved in Cub Scouts with her two boys and served as den leader. Now she's a committee member. So, it's still a family thing with us.”
Asked why he still devotes his life to Scouting, Scott reaches across his desk, places a Boy Scout handbook in front of me, then says:
“There are two reasons. One, is the Boy Scout handbook. And inside the handbook is the Scout law and Scout oath. I believe 100 percent in both of those items in their daily lives. You will be a good dad, a good adult, a good husband, so that is why I stay with it.”
“Plus I am in it now for all the boys I have seen come through the troop. My goal is to prepare them for life outside of Scouting or outside of their families and get them ready for the outside world.”
The second reason, Scott says, is Mic-O-Say, an honors camping program that is a prominent part of many Scouts’ experience at the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation near Osceola.
This program, he says, “has four items you must live up to. It's called the ‘four heart resolutions.’ If you live up to these four heart resolutions, you are going to be one heck of a citizen and an adult. That is why I am here. I want to pass this program on to all the generations.”
Scott 's all-out efforts in molding young men into productive adults haven't gone unnoticed. Last year he was named Scoutmaster of the Year by the Heart of America Boy Scout Council, which covers the Kansas City area and beyond. He also is the recipient of the Blue Elks District’s Award of Merit, the Paul Arend Scoutmaster of the Year Award and the Silver Beaver Award, the highest award the Heart of America Council can give to a volunteer.
But the most coveted award of all was presented to 14-year-old Scott Howell Jr. on Oct. 28, 1973, when he received the Eagle Award, fulfilling a goal he set when he became a Boy Scout at age 11.
As for the future, “I am not going anywhere,” he says, “Hopefully, I can still be the scoutmaster and set examples for them. ... I would be lost if I wasn't tied up with the Boy Scouts on Monday nights. It's just been a routine for 50 years.”
-- Retired community news reporter Frank Haight writes this column for The Examiner. You can leave a message for him at 816-350-6363.