Firefighters help scouts earn Heart Saver, safety badges

Becky Vargo • Jun 11, 2019 at 9:00 AM

SPRING LAKE TWP. — Scouts from four Spring Lake and three Zeeland troops spent their first day of summer vacation — and it was a beautiful, sunny Saturday — inside, but it was all for a good cause.

The 22 girls and boys, along with two scoutmasters, completed a Heart Saver course taught by Spring Lake firefighters J.P. DeLass and Scott Bennink at the Spring Lake Fire Station No. 2 on Old Grand Haven Road.

They also completed requirements for a first aid merit badge and worked on some of the requirements needed to earn emergency preparedness and safety merit badges. A mock emergency event will be staged in the fall to allow the youth to complete those badges.

“Those kids showed up at 9 a.m. and we did not leave until a quarter after five,” said Troop 14 Assistant Scoutmaster Travis Babcock, who is also a Spring Lake firefighter and Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office deputy. “These kids were inside working on life-saving skills. They love to help others. That is a phenomenal testimony to scouting.”

Working side by side with the boys were two girls who joined new troops formed after the Boy Scouts of America changed its name to Scouts BSA and started admitting girls to the program in February.

Both Anna Hultman, 14, of Troop 3G, Spring Lake, and Reagan Besteman, of Troop 2G, Zeeland, followed their brothers into the scouting program.

The Zeeland troop has 16 girls. The Spring Lake troop has five girls.

“She wanted to do a little more high adventure stuff and get more into the outdoors,” Scoutmaster Eric Hultman said of his daughter, Anna.

Anna recently earned a Silver Award in Girl Scouts and plans to stay with that program, as well.

“It’s all doable,” her father said.

The girls in Scouts BSA are in separate but linked troops. They share the same leadership and meeting space, but break out into individual patrol times during meetings, Eric Hultman said.

“They can do separate events or they can choose the same events,” he said, such as the life-saving and emergency-preparedness programs taught Saturday.

Hultman said the boys have been accepting of the girls in the program.

“In regards to my daughter, at the end of the day, she’s just one of the guys,” he said. “She’s just another scout.”

Hultman said girls had already been involved in Boy Scouts for many years through Venturing, a co-ed program offered for ages 14-21. Now all age levels accept girls.

Although Troop 3’s last meeting for the school year was Monday night, Hultman said they continue to actively recruit girls for the troop sponsored by All Shores Wesleyan Church. Anyone interested can contact him by email at [email protected]

For more information, or to locate Scout BSA programs in your area, you can contact the Gerald R. Ford Council at 616-785-2662, or go online to michiganscouting.org and click on the “Join Scouting” link.

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