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Scouting leader meets pandemic challenges

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Lee Murdoch has shown his abilities and determination to keep the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in Roswell and surrounding areas running during this challenging time.

Lee Murdoch (Submitted Photo)

Taking on the mantle of Scout Executive of The Conquistador Council of Scouts, BSA, he has taken on a difficult job during a difficult time with the many challenges created by the pandemic.

Murdoch and his family have been living in Roswell a little over a year, having relocated here from Indianapolis. Growing up in a small town in Maryland, which he states is about the size of Artesia, as a youth, he was active in the scouting program.

“I did earn my Eagle Scout award,” he states, “and served for 10 summers on camp staff throughout high school and college. It was through scouting that I developed a great appreciation for the environment and being outdoors, which helped shape my studies at college — earning degrees in Parks and Recreation Administration.”

Beginning his professional career working for the Washington D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, before starting his professional service in 2006 with the BSA in Maryland, Murdoch now oversees all BSA activities in Chaves, Curry, De Baca, Eddy, Lea, Lincoln and Roosevelt counties (as well as the council’s camp operations at Wehinahpay Mountain Camp near Sacramento, New Mexico).

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He spoke about the updated recruitment techniques for the Boy Scouts during this pandemic.

“We’ve been doing our best to promote the opportunity to join scouting through social media advertisements and videos, through print advertisements, yard signs and encouraging all of our existing members to promote the opportunities within their networks,” he said.

“We’ve also been fortunate to have local partners, like the United Way of Chaves County and the Roswell Chamber of Commerce, share promotional information, as well as a few of our elementary schools,” Murdoch said.

Moving forward, Murdoch went on to speak about the greatest challenge the BSA is currently facing.

“Because of the pandemic, we’re unable to directly interact with youth and tell them about the adventures they will have in scouting. As hard as it may be to believe, that one recruitment process is our primary marketing campaign.”

However, he also has a variety of ways to address this concern by doing a few additional promotional events in the coming weeks.

“To try and clearly communicate to families what participating in scouting means,” he said, “the week of the 12th, we will be teaching first aid skills, land navigation skills, and knots — which you may find yourself using in everyday life. In the weeks to come, we’ll also be offering training on public speaking, conflict resolution, financial literacy, bullying and drug prevention, emergency preparedness skills, and community service.”

When it comes to schools, there are even more programs available in Roswell.

“With our middle and high school programs, all of our volunteer leaders have joined together to deliver weekly events to members and interested youth,” he said. “Those meetings will be set up to serve our newest members on Monday nights, our tenured members on Tuesday nights, and our very tenured members on Thursday nights. For families that don’t feel comfortable meeting in person, they will be able to access the content from their home on a weekly basis and on-demand, because we’ll be recording the meetings.

“We are also working to launch additional content for our scouting families that will take them on virtual tours of some of the unique places and businesses in Southeastern New Mexico.”

The elementary schools are also part of the process, he said.

“For the younger children, we’ll be offering that same blend of in-person/at-home programming,” Murdoch said. “In addition, we will be working to host another recruiting night here in Roswell on Sept. 16, for any interested family to come out, learn more, and register to participate.”

Murdoch is working diligently to keep all involved in the organization. He explained his own personal favorite things about the BSA.

“There are moments in scouting where I have the opportunity to witness a parent being surprised at the positive actions their child has taken during a scouting program,” he said. “Oftentimes I hear the parent say something like, ‘My kid did what?’ and then an intense look of pride and joy beams from their face.

“I can tell you, when I was a younger man, I could never imagine speaking in front of a large group or giving direction to other people, let alone my peers, to accomplish a task or a goal. Through scouting, I discovered abilities within myself that I would never have otherwise discovered. In fact, I was talking to Bobby Arnett the other day and he summarized the BSA so succinctly: ‘Every meeting and camp-out, scouts get more tools to add to their toolbox that they’ll carry with them for life. They may not know it at the time, but later in life, they’ll draw on those skills to achieve a goal or solve a difficult situation.’”

Scouting in 2020, as it has been throughout history, is the epitome of a ‘group of friends’ that achieve and enjoy much together. From campfires and s’mores to the hikes in the rain to the awards earned, Murdoch praises it all.

“Friendships are formed and bonds built,” he said. “Skills are awakened in our minds and the confidence in who you can be is galvanized in our bones.

“Those are my favorite things because they are shared by all scouts, and their families, as they progress along their scouting journey.”

As the BSA continues serving families, Murdoch recognizes that some of the particulars may be changing, however, he said.

“The moral code installed in our members through the ideals of the Scout Oath and Law remains the same. Our Oath begins, ‘On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country …’ and our law begins, ‘A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful …’

“So, for families looking to help teach their children to live their life with a sense of duty and civic pride, take a look at the Boy Scouts of America,” Murdoch said.

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