In Support of the Transatlantic Council
By: Mike Walton (blackeagle)
Posted On: 2019-07-15
Mike Walton/Pioneer Press image
My name is Mike Walton. I have been blessed with membership and service off and on with the Transatlantic Council (TAC) since 1967. In my youth, TAC served basically the League of Nations (later NATO) nations, the exact definitions of the countries served varied from year to year as the political and military landscape of Europe, North Africa, and the Near East changed.
Today, TAC expands through 13 time zones, some 90 countries 15 or so principalities. The Council encompasses ALL of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. TAC serves youth living on military enclaves and housing areas; in cities and towns large and small; within the gates of U.S. and some other nation's embassies and schools; and anywhere else where American families or those with ties to the United States live, work and recreate. We also serve individual Lone Cub Scouts and Lone Boy Scouts along with their adult mentors (called "Friend and Counselors") in 22 countries on three continents. (I was a Lone Boy Scout for a short period of time also.)
Alpine District Hat patch
As a Cub Scout, I was introduced to the fact that Scouting was not an American "thing" early in my life. I traded joining pins with a German Cub Scout, and I would like to think that somewhere in his "treasure box," my Bobcat pin sits alongside his Scouting things from his youth. That friendship -- between a kid I did not remember his name -- and I was one of the more significant takeaways from my Cub Scout experience as a member of Den 2, Pack 63, Ludwigsburg Germany. As a WEBELOS Cub Scout, we went overnight camping with a "Stamm" -- a consolidated German Scouting unit -- in Kornwestheim, Germany. It was the first of many opportunities I had to camp alongside German Scouts and their leaders.
Duplicate Bobcat Pin (enlarged to show detail)
As a Boy Scout, I fell into a Troop which loved to camp. I "crossed over" to their Troop during a National Jamboree year. I was unable to go with other members of Troop 63, also in the same housing area in Ludwigsburg, to the 1969 National Jamboree but my Scoutmaster and some of the Senior boys in the Troop chose to do something equally as exciting and for me, a once in a lifetime venture: We traveled over three weeks and four days to visit ALL of the Transatlantic Council's summer camps as existed. We camped in England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Turkey, Morocco, Spain, and Greece. My passport was full of stamps, visa stickers, and notes from customs people. It was for me the first time I went on such a trip without my parents; I grew up and learned helpful phrases in several languages, and got to do things -- swim in the Med; ride a camel; smell and eat some rather spicy and rich foods; watched as an old woman killed and prepared a chicken for us, ski in the Alps, and went to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Photo of back of vest showing the camps I visited while with Troop 63.
Those camps, those activities, those encounters happened because of three strong reasons, which is to this day why I support THIS Council over the ones where I physically work at in the States. I do participate in some of their activities, help them to raise monies, and serve as a volunteer...but I do those same things three-fold with TAC because, well, I am a product of what TAC does.
Those reasons: a dedicated professional and volunteer team which emphasizes service and support to local units and members. This doesn’t happen in most places Stateside, I'm afraid. It's "us" versus "them," and in TAC we simply do not have time or energy to waste on that stuff...we are too busy doing SCOUTING.
The resources: which is why I am writing this letter of support to you. Nothing happens today without it being paid for, and that definitely includes Scouting. We have done well in my young days by getting a lot of militaries and U.S. Governmental support. We cannot rely on that anymore, as the world has gotten larger and our military and governmental footprint in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East has decreased. We really need you to please help us to allow the next set of Mike Waltons out there to discover and enjoy adventures and opportunities they cannot get Stateside and cannot get them without YOUR assistance, however small that may be.
The third reason why I support this Council is programming. While the Boy Scouts of America provides ALL of its local affiants the opportunities to be involved in national Jamborees, Order of the Arrow events, and Pinewood Derbies -- it is TAC and its volunteers and professionals who make local things happen for local Scouts and Scouters to participate in. Our Normandy event, the InterCamp camping experience, the Messengers of Peace programs, and so many other events which are NOT "national events" but like that badge exchange I took part in as a Cub Scout impacted lives and remind us that Scouting is a world-wide game, and not just one limited to the Americans and their friends.
Photo of me outside Arnold Air Force Base headquarters
I am very passionate about TAC. I use my personal time, treasures, and talents to assist this Council where and when I can. I will continue to support it because it is a very great return on my investment in my time, talents, and treasures. I encourage you to please support us as we move ahead -- FORWARD -- toward making Scouting programs available for more youth, more communities and more partners who feel the same way I and many others do. I invite you to please contact me for additional information as to my continued service in TAC as a young officer, as a junior officer, as a senior officer and now as a civilian employee of the military.