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Death in the Pack

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I am writing this mostly for historical reasons, in case anyone has to face what my Pack did. I know I searched when we went through it and found very little help. In May of this year our Cubmaster died in a horrible explosion at work. He was a scouters scouter. He was an eagle scout, his son was also an eagle. Scouting was his life, he had been a scoutmaster for many years and became our Cubmaster when he moved to the area. He was most looking forward to his grandson coming through our pack. I joked with him that he was going to have to move the World Crest to the top of his shoulder if he got any more knots, he had 3 or 4 full rows plus 1. He was also our W2DL


With a death that affects so many people, especially young boys, and the ensuing media attention it generated, it is important to get the word to families quickly and in person. Don't assume anyone knows unless you, or another leader has personally spoken to them. In our case, our CO is a church attached to the school where most of our scouts attend. Most of the boys found out the day of the accident at school, but it was still essential to contact parents so they knew the circumstances and could talk to their sons about it.


Dealing with a funeral is always difficult, but we as a Pack were in a position of not knowing our place at first. None of us were really family, but we in a sense were extended family, and a big part of our CM's life. His wife wanted us to be part of the funeral, and of course we said ok, but there were some in the Pack leadership that were more than a little apprehensive about how the younger boys would hold up. The worrying of the adults was mostly misplaced, the boys seemed to have an understanding that life would go on. They all did fine, even the tigers, and the boys in his den. The adults on the other hand were much more visibly upset. We did the flag ceremonys, a presentation of mementos, and an older Boy Scout that had been a cub under our CM did one of the readings. It was a touching and fitting service. We had representatives in uniform from our council and district, and many area scouters attended in uniform, even former associates from across the country. Since the accident happened on the local military installation, we also had many military in attendance, and I had the commanding general of the base tell me afterward that he had seen many things, but it brought a tear to his eye to see 40 scouts in uniform process in and leave scouting mementos at the front of the church.


I have never been prouder of our scouts, they exemplified all that you expect scouts to be.


I have taken over as CM, and needless to say, I have big shoes to fill.


For your own good, and the good of your Packs, please keep in mind that the worst can happen. Be prepared. Have a succession plan for your pack. If anything bad could be said about our CM, it was that he took on too much. He was CM, W2DL, and pretty much ran the pack committee. I was a tiger DL last year and because it had been over 30 years since I left scouts, I had no idea how much he was doing - because it all ran so smoothly. It is important to make parents and leaders aware of what goes on, some will never volunteer, but there are many who are just waiting to be asked because they don't know how to help.


Our Pack will survive, and we had a good recruiting season. I actually had a question when I started this, but writing this has caused a few tears, so I'll take a break. If anyone in the future has a similar situation and needs to talk, send me a message.


Be Prepared.





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Welcome to the forum. I'm sorry it is under this situation. I am sorry for your CM's family & the Pack's loss.

I know that this advice comes a little late. Anyone involved in Scouting that suffers a loss in their unit, or of a family member of one of their Scouts/Scouters, contact your Council. They may have a grief counseling program set up through their Religious Relations Chaplaincy Program.

This may be of great assistance on helping the Pack & and the family get through a similar tragedy.


Onevoice, you all are in our prayers.


Eric Prathe


Hetuck Chapter Co-Advisor

Buckeye Council Religious Relations Chair

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A Scout Salute to the fine Scouter who has gone home to he Great Scoutmaster of all scouts.


A second salute to you as the fine scouter who will help carry on his work with kids.


Welcome to da forums, and to a wonderful adventure.



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I'm sorry for the loss to the family and the Pack.


One of the things that our committee has discussed and is important to a large Unit especially is having what I have heard refered to as a "bus plan". In other words, what would happen if all of your top unit leadership was killed in a bus crash. We are currently developing written documents that if something happened one or all of us, people unfamiliar with the inner workings of our unit would be able to pick up these documents and finish out the Pack year.

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A similar Situation happened in our pack at the beginning of this year. We lost my cousin, who like your CM held many positions. You never really know how much one means to you until they are gone. And I am not just talking about things in the pack. After he passed, I had to find a new Tax guy and computer guy. not to mention the days of hanging out have changed. I grew up with him so the loss was deeply felt.


When It came to our scouts and parents, I informed all of them about the loss. I told them when the funeral arrangments were. I said that the family said it would be appreciated it they showed up. I also told the parents that if they did not feel that their child was ready to attend something like this, then it would be fully understood, as funerals and deaths are not taken the same way by all.


Oh a lighter note, you never really know how far someone reached out until it is time to pay final respects. At my cousins funeral there were local law enforcment officers, corrections officers (His mother and wife worked for the prison), school officials, our state senator was there, about 40 scout uniforms from tiger Cubs to Scout executives, including DE and District commissioners. My brother came in from Kansas and presented himself in his Dress Blue uniform.


It was a very nice funeral.


I hope your pack is able to do like mine and carry on through the loss. It will not be easy, but it can be done.

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My thoughts and prayers are with this gentleman's family and pack.



When I was a DE, we had a leader from a local pack pass away due to a freak archery accident. He was a college professor, cobra kit car fanatic, den leader, and asset to the community.


It was a beautiful service filled with uniforms of every kind: Explorers, Cubs, Boy Scouts, and military. His kit Cobra was parked out front with a funeral flower piece on the hood. The boys, once they heard of how the accident happened did need some counseling, and we brought in a council board member/retired Salvation Army counselor to assist.



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Thanks for the condolences. Our Pack will go on strong.


I guess my main message is that the scouts weathered things very well. Young boys are probably more resilient than we sometimes give them credit for. Our Pastor told me the boys would take it much better than the adults. I kind of doubted it, but I should have taken the word of someone who has presided at hundreds of funerals. He was right.


The other lesson is that a scout organization can be thought of in one sense as a medium size company. It is important in either to make sure that the functionality exists in more than just the people. A lot of us, myself included, tend to not document as well as we should. Make sure your organization can survive a sudden loss.


It also occurred to me that someone here may have met Jim, because he was involved in scouting for nearly 50 years. He was from South Dakota, and lived in Utah for many years before moving to AL. Below are a couple of news stories about the accident and the funeral.





I do have a question and would like opinions. Our Pack received donations after the funeral, and I don't really have an plan for the money. In some ways I don't feel like we deserve it, and have thought of donating it to his family, but I'm sure they would rather us have it. I feel like we should come up with an idea for something concrete, something that we can look back on and remember where it came from. Anyone have a suggestion?

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First and foremost...my condolences.


With regards to contributions that were made, you could either give them to the family, or establish a fund in his name. Recently, Unami Lodge recently lost our former Section Chief...who was only 19 (and in that short time had earned Eagle, Vigil, the OA Founders Award, and several other prestigious honors). In the obituary, it stated "in lieu of flowers, contributions in his name may be made to the Thomas J. Richards Memorial Scholarship Fund". Losing a member of the Scout family is always hard, especially when they're young. Unfortunately, I did not have the pleasure of knowing this fine young man...but the effect is still the same nonetheless.




I don't want to hijack your thread, but simply want to let you know that you are not alone...and we are all here for each other.


Yours in Scouting,


Ryan Nugent

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Depending on the amount donated, I like Ryan's Scholarship idea. You could create a trust or foundation, invest the money, and use the interest for:

1) A scholarship for youth from the Pack that achieve Eagle.




2) Camporships for WRC.


If the amount is not large enough for these ideas, another option would be to come up with a memorial in honor of the CM, whether it be a plaque, peace pole, garden, etc.


A few years back, we had a youth from our town pass away. He was a Scout in a Troop from the neighboring Council. A few of us from our Troop managed to find out when the procession was to arrive at the cemetary. A couple of us were waiting in uniform at the entrance when they arrive saluting as they entered. Every Memorial Day weekend, our Troop & the local Pack place flags on the graves at the three cementaries in town. I always have a Cub or Scout go over and place a flag on the Scouts grave. Not meaning to hijack the thread, but there are a lot of ways to remember & memorialize the CM.

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Wow - first off, my sincere condolences for the loss sustained by the man's family, his Scouting family, and all those who love and care for him. Second off, my extreme respect and admiration for the way you and your pack handled that situation. Many of your cub scouts might not fully understand what happened, and all its implications. But, maybe some of them now know a little better about what its like to have known a real life hero. And, in another few years, some of them might realize how fortunate they were to have wise adult mentors and role models guide them through this kind of experience.

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With my cousin, his family had asked that any donations be made to the pack. We already had a campership fund for under priviledged scouts. We just changed the name of it to honor him. One of the reasons why we did that is because he was a big supporter of the campership and he helped me spearhead the whole idea of it and get it going.


So yes, a campership in his name would be a great thing. It would be a great way to honor him and let him continue to be in scouting even just by his name helping one scout.

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First off: Onevoice....Wow. I can't think of a harder thing for kids at that age to deal with. Sounds like you handled it masterfully. I'll get to your question in a minute.


Next: Pack212...Great idea. A "bus plan" might feel extreme to some for a voluntary organization like a Scout unit (as opposed to business or government where you usually see them), but now that you mention it, it just feels *right*. There's not just picking up where things were left in the event of a loss, there's matters like "How do you tell the Scouts? *Do* you tell the Scouts?" that should be discussed and agreed upon in advance, where it seems like "Just follow the plan" might be far more doable for a person than thinking on their feet.


My immediate thought on such a matter would be that you want potentially every parent advised of the *existence* of the plan (if you can do that without the kids knowing) *before* an emergency occurs, *as well as* (for example) Charter Organization and Council folks. (And, obviously, have multiple people have copies.)


The way I see it? IRL, I'm training to be a paralegal (Warning: I Am Not A Lawyer. Nothing I post here is intended to be legal advice. I do not intend, am not qualified, and are not licensed to give legal advice. Consult *your* attorney with any specific issues! The Unauthorized Practice Of Law is usually a crime and may be a felony! ...There, I'm in the clear...:)). A "bus plan" for a Scout unit, to me, is like a person having a will. I know how uncomfortable planning the latter can be for the person whose will it is...But I also know how essential it is to have one that's well-done. (And, in both cases, how essential it is to keep *every line* of either up to date. When your lawyer recommends annually (or at least after significant events) drawing up a new will, it's not just to soak you for money. It's because it's vital to make sure the will is legally clear and accurately reflects your wishes; the alternative is typically a very messy fight in probate court if anyone challenges it.) If it were my place to do so, if I were National for example, I'd at least strongly recommend (and would, honestly, require) that every Scout unit, every District, every Council have a "bus plan" of some sort, and furthermore (perhaps along with the recharter process for units) that the unit plans be reviewed (and updated if need be) by the SM/CM, select ASMs/ACMs, the CC, and the COR at a minimum, on a regular basis (at least annually), with District and Council plans being reviewed regularly by folks at those levels. It's uncomfortable, yes. But it's necessary. The way I see it, just as a parent of minor children really owes it to their children to have plans in place (including wills, guardian selections (and getting the assent of the prospective guardian beforehand!), etc.) in case the parents die, Scout organizations owe it to their Scouts to have proper planning for these sorts of things in place and to have those plans reflective of current circumstances.


And now, back to onevoice: The idea of a trust or foundation as suggested by others isn't a *bad* one, but check with a lawyer (and your pack's council). Your state, the IRS, the BSA, etc. may have certain requirements - and it may be an expensive thing to administer. If you are at all unsure about their feelings, though, approach the family, explain the situation, and ask their opinion.


My personal instinct, though, is that people who donated to the pack likely intended the donation to be used *by the pack*, *for the benefit of the pack* in some way. That is key. (I will say (consistent, of course, with my previous warning) that, *as I understand it*, in most states, donor intent trumps family wishes in a circumstance like this. Seeking the family's opinion is still a good idea, but I am not sure it would be of any effect legally.) A campership/scholarship fund is one way you could honor the Cubmaster the donations were made in honor of and also fulfill the donors' intent. If you have a substantial amount of donations, it could be that you could potentially set up an endowment of some sort, investing the principal, and using a portion of the interest (leaving the rest to grow the endowment and maintain the endowment) for Scouting-related purposes. Scouts should pay their own way, yes, but such an endowment could, for example, be dedicated to the rent or ownership (and maintenance and other expenses) of Scout-specific facilities on the part of the pack (if it were a *really* substantial sum), or to cushion against dues increases in the future...Whatever would seem appropriate and financially prudent.


I would definitely approach professionals (lawyers, accountants, etc.) on an informal basis before you do anything with the money, though. They may not need to do anything; they can at least lay out what the options specifically are where you are, and I know most lawyers at least offer a free initial consultation.

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