The sergeant stood head and shoulders over the unit in front of him; they were not what he was used to seeing.

The more than 15 members of the squad had formed up in different-colored uniforms. Some had hats on, some not. They stood in a variety of postures - with few that could actually have been considered erect - but nothing close to the position of attention.

Although these circumstances would normally try the patience of any senior NCO, Sgt. 1st Class Eric D. Walker was smiling.

That's because Walker, the U.S. Army Garrison Equal Opportunity Office EO Advisor, was addressing Cub Scout Pack 267 during their meeting at the Eagles Landing Country Club in Stockbridge March 16. The Wheeling, W.Va., native was there to provide special instruction to the young men and their adult leaders.

"Many of our boys have never pitched a tent, packed a backpack, hiked in or had to survive more than a few hours in a remote area," said Mitzi Assing, the 267 charter representative.

Assing said the Scouts had been to Camp Thunder in Molena, but while there they stay in existing tent or cabin shelters and enjoy existing electricity and water.

Although she understood that an Army outdoor excursion could differ from what Scouts would be doing, Assing said she felt those with no experience would benefit from an Army point of view on camping.

Although he'd never been a Boy Scout, Walker said he was happy to help out.

"I was a counselor at a summer camp at Bethesda, Ohio," said Walker.

Walker said that, in addition to enjoying hiking, fishing and mountain climbing, he loved spending time with his 14 nieces and nephews.

His experiences in mentoring youths showed as he held the Cub's attention at their meeting.

Walker showed them how to pack a backpack and walked them through purifying water and fixing meals such as the U.S. military's famous Meal, Ready-to-Eat.

Duro'ile Harris-Haynes, a Webelos (the fourth and fifthgrade level of Cub Scouts), got a chance to pour water into the food heating pouch of a MRE.

"It was easy," said the fifth grader, adding how cool the whole food "thing" was.

Hakum Lartey, also a Webelos, was impressed by Walker's first aid instruction.

"I think it's cool he used the tourniquet," said Hakum, also a fifth grader.

Hakum's father, Michael Lartey, is the 267 Cub Master and said he appreciated the training his boys received.

A former Sea Scout (scouting program based in England), Lartey said it's important that scouting teaches skills the young people won't receive elsewhere.

This type of training rewards the Cubs with a feeling of accomplishment, he added.

"They get an award for what they do," said Lartey.

Lartey said parents were also at the training because many of them were new to camping.

He said it is a requirement that any adult going camping with the pack be well trained.

"They need to know what to do in case of an emergency," said Lartey.

As for Walker, he was all smiles as he left at the end of the meeting, saying he was happy the Cubs received good training and a good time was had by all.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16