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The Boy Scouts’ Far East Regional Council met enough Scouting standards recently to become a National Quality Council, according to members.

The council is responsible for the Boy Scout organization in Asia. It’s the first time since 1998 the council achieved the recognition.

The Far East Council oversees Cub and Boy Scouts and Explorers and Venturers groups in Japan, Okinawa, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.

“This is an award from the national Scouts to local Scouts for outstanding programs, fiscal management and good stewardship,” said Guy Eichsteadt, Scout executive at Camp Zama, Japan. “It’s a real point of pride and recognition of a job well done.”

To be called a National Quality Council, the group met seven of eight national Scout standards, including expanding the size of the organization in the region, saving money, and meeting individual and group qualifications.

Only five standards are necessary to earn the award. Each reflects the quality of the programs, services and management of the council, Eichsteadt said.

“The Scouting program provided through the Far East Council is every bit as good as any council in the States,” Program Vice President Jay Wentworth from Okinawa said in a statement. “Our Scouts attend very good summer camps, enjoy weekend events such as camporees, and meet the same standards for rank advancement and to become an Eagle Scout.”

The Far East Council oversees 2,400 youngsters and more than 1,100 adult volunteers. Since it began in 1952, an estimated 10,000 boys and girls have been a part of council programs, Eichsteadt said.

The council includes Cub Scouts for elementary school-age boys; Boy Scouts for junior high schoolers; and Explorers and Venturers for high school-age boys and girls. The council runs summer camps and other events all year.

“We accomplish this with a $500,000 budget, and three full-time professional Scouters. Being a Quality Council is quite an achievement,” said Jack Whittle, council commissioner, from Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, Japan.

The council provides traditional Scouting opportunities to youngsters overseas, but it offers unique opportunities as well.

“Where else can you be a Scout and climb Mount Fuji? And pulling a Klondike Derby dog sled across Okinawa’s sand is a unique experience,” Wentworth said.

The region also has its challenges: Unlike in the United States, where adult volunteers stay with Scout groups for years, many volunteers in the Far East leave every few years for a new duty station, particularly in South Korea, Eichsteadt said.

That obstacle, he added, makes the new award even more impressive.

“It’s kind of like going to the Super Bowl,” he said. “Now you’ve got to do it again.”

— For more information about the programs, e-mail: boyscout@zama.army.mil

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