By Randy Martinez ’20
Scouting has had a deep connection to Paul Smith’s College for decades, a place where both Boy and Girl Scouts fit right in while pursuing an Adirondack education.
Any given year, Eagle and Gold Award Scouts can be found in numbers on and around campus, giving the impression such an honor is commonplace, though it’s anything but—only four percent of all scouts in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) become Eagle Scouts. The process is a rigorous one, including significant time, dedication and a community advancement project.
So why is Paul Smith’s such a magnet? The answer may seem obvious—the campus is unlike any other—but it’s not just the natural setting that draws these men and women to the North Country.
Christopher Harloff, a Paul Smith’s College alum and current Adirondack District Executive for the BSA Twin Rivers Council, spoke with Sequel about how he arrived at the college.
“When visiting campus, the feeling was exactly that of a scouting camp with its lakefront setting and endless outdoors to explore with the 14,000 acres,” Harloff explained. “However, when looking at the college itself and the fact that it fosters an appreciation of the outdoors similar to scouting, I was set.”
Other offerings, said Harloff, included programs like forestry and the ability to experience hands-on learning regardless of the degree choice. Because of that, Eagle Scouts generally do well at Paul Smith’s right from the start.
“Having scouts on campus only adds to the learning experience and culture of all students,” Harloff continued. “Many times scouts bring with them to campus extensive leadership skills, mature character, special sets of skills, and overall just a good head on their shoulders.”
Those qualities translate well not only to campus life, but also to the job market after graduation.
Beginning this semester, Paul Smith’s will begin offering Merit Badge courses that reflect the college’s mission, including work in environmental studies and culinary. The badges, which will be awarded by faculty and staff, will be another step toward the college’s long-term involvement with the BSA.
Paul Smith’s has also become home to the Venture Crew 8012, an opportunity for male and female students to come together and participate in scouting activities at a collegiate level. The troops’ charter organization and Harloff have put their support into effort, which officially begins this upcoming fall semester.
It’s also something that Harloff has wanted to see come to campus since his time as a student.
“Finally having a Venture Crew on campus is great,” he said. “New students who have been participating in scouting won’t have to give that up by coming to college.”
Paul Smith’s College is publishing features from the Summer ’18 issue of Sequel. Stay tuned for more to come! Click here if you’d like to download a complete PDF of the magazine.