October 16, 2012

After years of informal organizing, campus Eagle Scouts nurture new flock

Courtesy of Scouts at U of C

—Editor’s Note: Jon Catlin is a Maroon staffer.

Slowly, almost imperceptibly, a small group accumulated in the lobby couches of the Biological Sciences Laboratory Center. The members’ backgrounds varied widely—one was a practicing doctor, one a junior at the U of C Lab School, another a law student. However, they were united by a singular identity: “We are all Eagle Scouts.”

Second-year Jon Catlin, current chairperson of the year-old RSO, Scouts at U of C, emphasizes the present tense of the mantra. After reaching Eagle Scout status, the highest rank, Catlin said, the scouts acquire a “lifelong commitment to give back to the troops.”

The group, which is a community service RSO open to anyone, aims to fulfill this commitment by offering the vast resources and facilities of the University to younger Scouts in the Chicago area.

Originally formed a few years ago by an Eagle Scout and then-medical student Andrew Phillips and faculty adviser Darrel Waggoner, the first few years of the unofficial group consisted only of medical students. They put together a clinic for Boy Scouts in the area to complete a medicine-themed merit badge, one of many awards given to Boy Scouts for exploring disciplines and skill sets through a list of set requirements.

“Fulfilling the requirements for a merit badge independently can be time-consuming and, frankly, expensive,” Catlin said.  “If I were a Boy Scout now, I would have loved to be immersed with the fantastic facilities and resources the University of Chicago has to offer.”

It was only last year, when Catlin and second-year Adil Tobaa, discovered the unregistered club “through a Google search” as prospective students and began coming to meetings that the group evolved from the confines of the Medical School.

The organization now continues to grow. U of C Charter School, Donoghue campus P.E. teacher Derrick Brill and Director of Family and Community Engagement Todd Barnett approached the Scouts at U of C. They asked for assistance in their formation of a new Cub Scout troop for boys in first through fifth grade. “We don’t know how they found us,” Catlin said, “but we’re eager to help.”