Father Knew Best

An essay by Ray Capp, April 17th, 2018

My Dad died 28 years ago today, and this morning I was thinking what a good man he was.

Growing up in Canton, Ohio (home of the Football Hall of Fame) there was really only one universally encouraged extracurricular activity for boys.  Some kids played Little League, but really (we thought) baseball was only for boys who couldn’t take the pounding on gridiron.  I was no exception.  We played football year-round in every neighborhood street, certainly on school teams, and in the off-season on vacant lots. Dad had played football, too, and he was my biggest cheerleader.

My position was right guard.  What I lacked in size, my coaches felt I made up in spunk and grit.  At practice one afternoon, I found myself nose to nose with the toughest, snarling brute on the team, (who was also our captain).  He was three years older, mean as a snake, and outweighed me by 60 pounds.  Our scrimmage coach told me to throw a cross-body block to keep him from ravishing our second-string quarterback.  I did, and it worked!  The coach screamed at him for 20 minutes and made him run laps for the rest of practice.  I was scared to death, but he was actually pretty nice to me after that.

I wasn’t so lucky with David Firrachio.  He was a 300 pound 8th grader who played for the Catholic School across town, and more-or-less just swatted me away to get at our running backs.  Dad spent an afternoon watching him push around his scrawny 92-pounder, who would have had to have used shoe pads to stand 5’2”… Dad wanted me to play football like he did.  He REALLY wanted me to play football.  But after that afternoon across from David (who later became a high school friend), Dad took me for a milkshake. While proud of my mettle and approving my tenacity, he let me know that football might not be the best future for me.

Most sporting kids eventually come to a similar conclusion, sometimes willingly, sometimes in denial and only with parental help.  Some get ground into the dirt enough times that a coach recommends another path.  For bullheaded me, it took my Dad and a collaborating coach to get the message through.

Did I mention that my Dad really wanted me to play football?  But he was a realist and also a great, loving father.  So he encouraged me to get involved in Scouting.  His idea was that very few kids actually “make it” in sports, and that the experiences I would have in Scouting would help build character traits in me that he, my Mom, our church, and school leaders wanted to see blossoming in his diminutive son.

Dad was right. I took to Scouting like a fish to water, and it is where I learned the lessons that still guide me today. On top of that, the next season, the coach asked me to be a manager on the football team, and that was great fun, too!

My Dad was right not to let me, alone, decide what was “good for me” or solely how to use my time. He was also right about Scouting.  Today, I often hear of families with MANY more choices than we had, wrestling with the same issue of how to use discretionary time.  With limited hours, dollars, and ability to shuttle kids from activity to activity, there’s normally a moment like the one caused by David Firrachio swatting me around: a decision must be made.  The kids can’t join the lacrosse team, Little League, Scouts, church choir, band, and the school play without driving themselves and the parents crazy.  There comes a day of reckoning.

Too often, parents turn to an 8-year-old or 11-year-old and say, “Look, you can’t do everything.  What do you want to drop?”  Scouting gets lumped in with soccer as an equivalent use of time.  But allowing a pre-teen to make that decision, as noted by Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh, “is like asking a 9-year-old if he wants pizza and ice cream for dinner again tonight.”

Let me encourage parents to think through such a choice at a deep and abiding level.  While I’m an advocate for Scouting, several youth serving organizations like 4-H, FFA, Boys and Girls Clubs, and church youth groups have an element that is not typically so prominent in sports programs: they focus directly on developing character. Doing so is at the center of the Scouting program.  The values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law are the pervasive, quintessential, and universially accepted American values.

As parents and families struggle with allocating their time and resources, I strongly encourage them to include a youth-serving organization that delivers a program extending over a period of years, has a long-established and trusted national support network for all kinds of children, and which is committed to developing the child over the sweep of time.  Parents who don’t have their kids in a character-development program are taking a risk.

Sports are great, but it’s a false dichotomy to suggest that they cannot exist synergistically with other activities, (like Scouting, for example).  While I was Scoutmaster, I had many Eagle Scouts who were also competing in the state swim meets, had been recognized as the preeminent forward on the best soccer travel team in Nashville, ran on the Yale University track team, or competed as a high school lacrosse All-American.

Young people who reach the varsity or college level in sport usually turn out pretty darn well.  Research tells us that sporting kids develop characteristics including social skills, tenacity, family support, and the foundational underpinnings of teamwork.  But fewer than 4% of kids who enter the world of sports make it to a varsity letter, much less college ball.

Those who fall off the sports pyramid typically do so as young adolescents (12-14).  If the kitchen table conversation on “what do you want to drop” ends with a choice only among various sports, many such youngsters eventually will be left with video games and the uncertainties of social isolation, sedentary habits, and life as an “IN-doorsman.” Parents who do not have their children in a character-development program risk providing no social, spiritual, or developmental support for a little sportster that ends up among the 96% who don’t make the eventual cut.  It’s an outcome that my Dad moved expeditiously to avoid for me, and that I was lucky enough to mitigate in my own children’s lives.

Scouting can come alongside interest in sports and deliver some long-term benefits for children.  Sports is known for developing teamwork, but that can happen only if you’re on the team.  Scouting accepts everyone.  And no one can tell me there’s a better test of teamwork than eight boys in a Scout patrol, choosing a menu, buying the ingredients, packing it into the campsite, conspiring to keep the goodies safe from raccoons,  collecting firewood, cooking it, and cleaning up a meal (sometimes in 37 degree rain).  This goes on in every Boy Scout troop, every month, for a several-year span.

Scouting delivers more than a spirit of teamwork.  Persistence is part of the program.  A youngster who starts at age 6, 8, or 10 can spend more than half of his lifetime before an Eagle Badge is pinned on his shirt.  What other program helps a little child set a goal as far away as their own age, and then stand with them to achieve it?

Parents should look this choice of activities square in the eye and help their children make choices that work out for a lifetime.

Let me point out some things about Scouting that you may not know.

  • Scouting for over a century has delivered value to families and service to communities.
  • Scouting brings over a million adult volunteers to the table to support the kids in our program. These adults simply wouldn’t invest such time and effort without seeing great results they help to bring about.
  • Scouting can last a lifetime (as in my case, and for maybe a thousand other people I know personally and well). These men and women devote a good portion of their adult lives to seeing that today’s youth can have what WE had as kids, and they’re some of the most delightful, helpful, and caring human beings I know.  Longevity in a program like Scouting means value is being delivered.  I know of no other organization that happily fosters the kind of long-term commitment that Scouting enjoys.  Scouting’s men and women are there to give back.
  • Scoutmasters are the head coaches of our movement — life coaches, really. Every Scoutmaster, every week, sums up the values that the Scouts should take away from the experience they just went through in a “Scoutmaster Minute.” They draw out the learning from the group and help them frame the life lessons of their kayak trip, cliff climbing, Dutch oven cookout, or fire-building contest.  It is a weekly, non-preachy mini-sermon.  The boys (and soon, girls) sit quietly at the feet of such leaders in thousands of troops every night all across America to hear the stories woven to reinforce the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
  • Scholarly research confirms Scouting’s ability to develop character, leadership, resilience, and persistence. A bitter snowstorm, once endured, becomes a badge of honor (and years of stories).  The breakfast tipped into the fire teaches with a powerful kick, and yet demonstrates kindness from the neighboring boys who share their French toast.  The accident in the woods calls forth the proper delivery of first aid, reinforcing skills within the rush towards danger, and even the lesson of loving care.
  • You cannot take the “outing” out of Scouting. Scouts love nature and spend their youth rejoicing in it.  Sedentary friends can’t kindle a love of the outdoors they sometimes fear, sometimes eschew, sometimes flee.  But the memories of the smell of campfire, heat from embers burning, songs sung, owls heard, creeks forged, fears faced, all stay with a soul.  Nature is a teacher for those who experience it.
  • All this learning, life lessons, even the hard lessons are part of the fun. Not all classrooms have four walls, or a teacher, or joy.  Scouting’s classroom is the world. Those who enter the curriculum tend to “dig it” over a period of years, with muddy faces, dirty fingernails, and smiling eyes.
  • In Scouting, young people make lasting friends. For the first time in my life I met kids from the “other side of the tracks” (little did I know that we lived on the wrong side).  Kids gain confidence when they sleep soundly through a thunderstorm with the skills they learned, and wake up to cook a breakfast worthy of a lumberjack.  They push their bodies, not in competition with other kids, but as a collaborative team, up the cliff and back down.  They learn in a safe environment that if they don’t do it, no one is going to do it for them.  The Scoutmaster won’t let them starve, but neither will he cook their dinner for them.
  • And it’s a safe place–an accepting place. Everyone is welcome.  In the safety of this accepting environment, risks can be taken, fears faced (with support), failures understood, and persistence toward a goal reinforced.

My Dad was so happy that I stuck with  Scouting, and was even more proud when my Mom pinned my Eagle badge on me.  He encouraged me to participate in National Jamborees where I met kids of all kinds — kids I didn’t even know existed, from places I couldn’t pronounce.  He encouraged me to explore being a staff member at our local camp, because he wanted me to learn to pass along some lessons.  He joined me on some father-son campouts, and together we won a three-legged race!

As it turned out, my Dad ended up happy with my football life, too.  After I became the student R.A. for Notre Dame’s football team, Dad joined me at as many games as he could.  He got a front row seat, and met all the members of the national championship team; he even was sitting right next to me when RUDY, my classmate, was carried off the field!  So I kinda brought it around and made the old man happy.

He made me happy too.  I miss him.

Tips to Promote Friends of Scouting

Did you know it costs $300 each year to provide Scouting to each Scout in Orange County? Troop 727 uses this as part of their motivation to fundraise through Friends of Scouting, Adventure Cards and Popcorn sales. Jim Clements, Scoutmaster of Troop 727, finds it’s crucial to support the Orange County Council because it “allows us to provide quality programming to our Scouts.”

Troop 727 promotes Friends of Scouting through multiple methods. One successful method they employ is a set of 2-3 emails tailored to the information relevant to their Troop’s families. Through these personalized emails, “families see the effort we put into the communication and it lends to the overall importance of the campaign”, Clements has learned. Another simple method is providing all the platforms to give; mail, online, in person, and making them easily accessible to each family. “We also follow-up with every family to make sure they understand the importance of giving and answer any questions they may have.” Parents are not the only ones able to participate. One Scout spearheads a “Spare Change Campaign”, in which Scouts bring in their spare change on the night of an FOS presentation so they can contribute to Troop 727’s goal as well.

Scouting is making a huge difference helping to keep our young people on a positive course in their life’s journey. Please help us shape the character of young Scouts so they can develop into responsible citizens. To support Friends of Scouting: Click Here

OC’s Oldest Eagle Scout to be Honored

Growing up in Long Beach, California, Robert “Bob” Hayden would often watch his older brother go on camping trips and complete various merit badges. “I could hardly wait to turn 12 years old so then I could finally become a Boy Scout” said Bob. He made sure he had all the paper work ready to turn in his registration as soon as he turned 12. From then on, he went on camping trips to hike all around California, from Idyllwild and Round Valley to Long Valley and Mount San Jacinto. Bob even hiked to the peak of Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in California, over a three-day hike with three scouts and six other campers. In 1936 Bob became an Eagle Scout. Since then, Bob has continued to live by the Scout Oath and Law. At the age of 100, Bob is known at the oldest Eagle Scout in Orange County.

Growing up, Bob’s father was a public accountant and after working part-time for him, Bob realized he had the same passion. Following in his father’s footsteps, Bob went to Long Beach Junior College for two years before transferring to UCLA to earn a degree in Business Administration.

After working for a CPA in Laguna Beach for three years, Bob had the opportunity to buy an accounting business in San Clemente. He earned his public accounting license and took over the business on June 1, 1951. In 1956, Bob passed all the state exams and earned his CPA, working there until 1984. He then sold the business to two partners but continues to be involved with the company today.

Bob Hayden has been an active San Clemente Rotary Club member since 1951. He has not only helped to raise tens of thousands of dollars for local philanthropies but has also held every office for at least one year, most for several terms. In 2016, the city of San Clemente made Bob the 35th person to be added to the Wall of Recognition in the lobby of the Community Center. “Few living residents have contributed as much of their time and resources to San Clemente as Bob Hayden,” his plaque reads. Bob and his late wife Carol also have been generous and helping in dozens of smaller, yet important ways that have made San Clemente a welcoming place to live and visit.

The NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout Award is a prestigious recognition granted by the Orange County Council’s NESA Committee to Eagle Scouts who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and whose efforts have made a positive impact in the community. Often, worthy candidates for the NOESA have inspired others through their actions and have devoted a lifetime to their profession, avocation, and community, at great sacrifice to themselves and their families.

2018 Men of Character Honorees

The 19th Annual Men of Character Dinner will be held on April 19, 2018. Click here to purchase your seat or learn more about sponsorship opportunities.

Paul Lange

Paul Lange was born in Racine, Wisconsin and grew up in Rochester, Minnesota.  As an active member of Boy Scout Troup 82, Gamehaven Council, he earned the rank of Life Scout and was the first member of his troop to be elected to the Order of the Arrow. He practiced law for several years in Minnesota but was enticed to move to California to teach law at California State University, Fresno.  There he and his wife June raised three children, all of whom now live in Orange County together with six grandchildren. Since moving to Orange County over seventeen years ago, the Lange’s have been active members of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Aliso Viejo where they teach confirmation classes and are members of the hospitality ministry.

Jeff McBride

Jeff McBride has devoted his career to strengthening communities by focusing on family and youth development. For the past three decades, McBride has served as a standard-bearer of the YMCA movement, including leading YMCA of Orange County as the president since September 2007. He oversees a $42-plus million association comprised of six full-facility branches, five community branches, 70 after school care sites that all positively impact more than 8,000 children and families. In his free time, McBride enjoys spending time with his family and playing golf.

Curtis Reese

Curtis Reese was born in Kanab, UT, and grew up in Las Vegas, NV where he began his participation in scouting at the age of 8.  He was active in all aspects of scouting including the Order of the Arrow and a recipient of the Eagle Scout award in 1979. Curtis is currently the CEO of LePont Healthcare a medical service organization that provides opportunities for physicians to give the best care for patients in nursing homes.  Nothing is more important to Curtis then his family and the youth of the rising generation.  He has been known to do anything and everything to help the youth and their parents come to know Christ and serve the Lord to find happiness in their lives.

John Rochford

John Rochford’s formal education includes a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), and Masters in Business Administration from University of Southern California (USC) where he lectures on the contractor’s role in the real estate industry. After earning his Professional Engineers license designing complex power generating projects, John moved into the construction industry where he worked on large commercial projects throughout California. In 1985 he joined Snyder Langston as a Project Manager and earlier this year became its 3rd Chairman and CEO. In the philanthropic community, John is known for his generosity of time and money. The YMCA of Orange County is one organization that receives the benefit of his support. He is currently its longest-serving board member. John has a very active family life in Irvine with his wife of more than 30 years, Remy, and their two daughters, Brittany and Melissa.

Christopher Wesierski 

Chris Wesierski grew up a Cub Scout and then a Boy Scout achieving the rank of Life Scout where he learned great leadership and practical skills. His father was his Scout Master and his mother was his den leader. Chris is the Founder of Wesierski & Zurek LLP, a law firm specializing in the defense of civil litigation cases. On March 3, 2018, he was awarded the 2018 CAL-ABOTA (American Board of Trial Advocates) Trial Lawyer of the Year. Recognized as the highest honor a California trial lawyer can receive. Chris and his Maureen have been married for 42 years and have 3 wonderful children and 4 grandchildren with a 5th due in June.  He enjoys reading, volleyball, traveling with his family, and volunteering.

Burton Young 

Burton was born on Halloween Day in 1964 in Montreal Canada. Before the age of 18, his family moved 6 times to different cities forcing Burton to adapt to schools and make new friends. They finally settled in Malibu where for the next 20 years Burton met people that will be his friends for life. Soon after high school graduation he left to play professional soccer in Scotland for a first division team called “Hamilton Academical”. After two years there and then attending USC, Burton made his way into his only profession “Real Estate”. He started with Sperry Van Ness in Newport Beach and earned his way from being a “Runner” to a “Senior Broker” from 1990 to 2004 under the ownership of Rand Sperry. Burton loves playing golf, traveling and being with his family. Burton’s upbringing, choices in life, generosity for charities and successes leads to recognition as one of this year’s honorees.


2018 Spirit of Volunteerism Honorees

Established in 1976, Spirit of Volunteerism Awards is proud to be the oldest awards program in Orange County recognizing and celebrating the major involvement of community volunteers, groups and corporations. What started as a small nonprofit awards program has turned into a community-wide celebration with participation across the public, private & nonprofit sectors.

Although the event has grown five-fold, the essence and intent have remained the same – to honor the service of the individuals, teams and businesses that make our community a stronger and more vibrant place to live, work and play. Below are the three volunteers the Orange County Council, Boy Scouts of America have decided to honor for all their hard work and dedication to Scouting programs. They will be honored at OneOC’s Spirit of Volunteerism Luncheon on Thursday, April 26, 2018.


Mike Harrison – Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center

More than ten years ago, Mike Harrison made a commitment to help build the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center. An Eagle Scout and longtime Boy Scouts of America, Orange County Council Board member, he embraced the vision of a facility that would be used to advance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) as well as bring the agriculture and mining tradition of Orange County to life for generations of grade school (and now high school) students. Mike’s leadership and financial support made this vision a reality – a state of the art facility that today serves grade school science camps, youth organization retreats, corporate retreats and team building with educational programs, swimming, hiking, zip lines, archery and so much more!

To quote Mike: “I enjoy contributing what professional talent I have, as well as financial support. I like the challenge of designing and building good projects. Taking a leadership role in the creation of the Boy Scouts’ Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center has been a great experience. It was fun working with the Irvine Company and many of the county’s finest design professionals in a cooperative effort with the county and the Boy Scouts to create this outstanding and unique resource for youth education. The IROEC delivers great hands-on academic learning and outdoor experiences to a wide spectrum of youth not just the Boy Scouts.”

Mike learned an appreciation for giving and the satisfaction it brings as a Boy Scout doing community service projects. Over sixty years later that same spirit still inspires Mike. He says: “We are fortunate to live in a community which benefits from the generous philanthropy of so many. Whether your capacity to give in time, talent and /or funds is large or small, enjoy the camaraderie and satisfaction of joining this effort.”


Jeffrey Simancek – Orange County Council, Boy Scouts of America

Jeffrey currently serves as an Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 606, Merit Badge Counselor, District Committee Member, Webmaster for Rancho San Joaquin District, Service Advisor for Tsungoni Chapter of the OA, and OCC Committee Member.  Previously, he has served as Assistant Den Leader of Pack 3224 in Gerald R. Ford Council, Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 54 and Troop 239 in Clinton Valley Council, and Assistant Cubmaster of Pack 645 in Rancho del Mar District.  Jeffrey attended the 1989 National Jamboree at Fort A. P.

He completed Wood Badge training in 2015, received the District Award of Merit in 2010, and is a James E. West Fellow.  In addition to Scouting, Jeffrey has volunteered to raise funds for Gilda’s Club, Grand Rapids, MI, the American Cancer Association, Locks of Love, Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and 22 for 22, a veteran’s suicide awareness organization.  Jeffrey earned the Eagle Rank in 1990 while in Troop 54 in Clinton Valley Council.  He also has earned four Eagle Palms.  Jim lives in Irvine with his wife Clysta, son Dimitri, a Life Scout in Troop 606.


Cameron Mosher – Exploring

Explorer Lieutenant Cameron Mosher became a member of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Explorer Post #449 in November, 2015. Cameron has served a total of 2,297 community service hours with the post. In 2016, Cameron was given an award for donating the most hours – over 800 – for community service to the post and was also given the post leadership award.

Cameron was responsible in re-starting the Harbor Explorer Division this year, which had disbanded one year ago. Due to Cameron’s hard work and recruiting efforts, the Harbor Division has about 10 Explorers attending weekly.

Cameron is also taking the lead in starting a new Search & Rescue Explorer Division, which will work directly with the Sheriff’s Search & Rescue Team. The Division is set to get off the ground in November and has 20 interested Explorers.


Building Awareness of the Water Crisis in Uganda


Patrick Villasenor of Troop 818 has loved Scouting ever since he joined as a Tiger Scout. Besides attending summer camps, another one of his favorite parts about Scouting is “being able to help a lot of people you normally wouldn’t get the opportunity to help.” Patrick’s Eagle Scout Project is a true testament of this.

After learning how many people in Uganda suffer with illness and death, simply because they don’t have clean water, Patrick decided he needed to get involved. Since fundraising for an organization is not allowed to be part of one’s Eagle Project, Patrick instead focused on educating the community of Orange County about the water problems in Uganda.

He led Scouts in building a hand-held water pump to be used to demonstrate how water can be pumped up from the ground. He then participated at the Mission Viejo 4th of July Street Fair in 2015. He organized four shifts for Scouts to educate the fair attendees about the water crisis in Uganda. Patrick states, “This was done by demonstrating the hand-held water pump, providing listeners with information, having displays of the clean water we drink and dirty water similar to what the Ugandans drink, and having a coloring table for the children to color pictures of water wells in Uganda.”

Even after receiving his Eagle award, Patrick still had a passion to help the Ugandans and the Wells of Life program. He decided to begin fundraising $6,000 which would build a well in a community. He started with asking family and friends for donations and continued with neighbors and companies. It took a little over a year to raise the $6,000 with his last contribution arriving December 2017. Above are pictures of the well being used for the first time and the beautiful smiles of gratitude from the children of Keteredde, Uganda.