Friday | November 24, 2017
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Woman of merit: Big Island Boy Scout leader honored for 42 years of service

In 1975, Hilo resident Amy Ban signed up her oldest son, Richard, for Cub Scouts.

Richard was 8 at the time, the age kids back then could officially join Scouts. At one of Richard’s first pack meetings, Ban was asked to become a den leader (an adult volunteer who oversees a den of Cub Scouts).

“Not knowing what that was, I said ‘OK,’” Ban, now 83, recalled Wednesday with a laugh. “And I’ve been involved ever since.”

Ban has been an active Scout leader with the Boy Scouts of America for 42 years. She’s one of the longest-serving female leaders with the Aloha Council’s Big Island Pukahi District, which encompasses youngsters from Hakalau to Ocean View.

In addition to den leader, Ban also has served as a trainer for numerous Scout leaders, directed the Cub Scouts’ day camp program and chaired a variety of Scouting events and trips.

Ban also has mentored thousands of Big Island Scouts through the years, in some cases spanning multiple generations. She’s led youth on overnight camping trips into Waipio Valley and throughout Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. And she’s helped hundreds of Scouts achieve the Eagle Scout rank.

Earlier this year, about 200 of Ban’s current and former Scouts, community members and family members surprised her with a celebration luncheon to thank the longtime Scouting volunteer for her service.

“It was truly a nice surprise,” Ban said.

“I just had no idea. It was so nice to see all the parents and a lot of my former Scouts. They were all grown up and I couldn’t recognize them. But it’s truly been because of the boys and the parents that I’ve really enjoyed the program.”

“She’s been a great resource for the program,” said district director Leelen Park. “We’ve always liked having her wisdom to help us do our program. Even when I first started at the Pukahi District, Amy was the one person who was kind of telling me what to do. She was my guide and my leader. I really appreciate all she’s done.”

There are about 1,400 Scouts islandwide with about 800 in the Pukahi District.

Through the years, Ban said some aspects of the program have changed — for example, she said things have become perhaps more technology-focused, and kids overall seem to have a growing number of options for extracurricular sports and activities.

Certain parts of Scouting, however, have remained the same. The program continues teaching Scouts basic life skills, she said, and it continues to “really teach boys to become better citizens.”

“As Scouts, the boys learn to be confident in themselves and through their mistakes, they learn to do things properly,” Ban said. “I tell parents, every boy has the opportunity to become an Eagle Scout or go to (national events) and I really encourage the kids to do that. I think the boys mature after doing all those things.”

“When I joined, I never thought I’d stay this long but I’ve truly enjoyed it,” she continued. “Through Scouting I’ve really learned a lot and had a lot of different types of experiences. Before Scouting I didn’t know how to have confidence or conduct meetings or how to talk so adults can grow as well. So I truly believe in this program and I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Email Kirsten Johnson at kjohnson@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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