Jason Whittaker began his involvement in Scouting as a young boy, after his parents signed him up. He worked his way through Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, culminating in becoming an Eagle Scout, the highest rank a Scout can achieve.
At age 17, he began focusing on college. For many years, his busy life made no room for him to remain active in Scouting.
But now, Whittaker is back in familiar territory. This time, however, he is no longer a child seeking ranks and badges, but as the Cubmaster in charge of about 70 boys in Cub Scout Pack 400. He is doing it for his two sons, 10-year-old Caden and 8-year-old Blake. They and the other estimated 70 boys in Pack 400 inspire him to lead with purpose.
Whittaker was born in Alabama into a military family. He spent his childhood and adolescence relocating every two years.
He met Lea in high school. They attended Florida State University and got married in 1998. Whittaker received a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering in 1999 and began working as an engineer while his wife finished nursing school.
Whittaker also got involved with the campus ministry at Florida State. Eventually, he took time off from the ministry to join the National Guard. After his training and graduation, he went back into the engineering field full-time.
The Whittaker family relocated from Tallahassee, Florida, to Tennessee. They moved again when Whittaker became a structural engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Savannah. They put their roots down in Richmond Hill and began to develop relationships. They eventually signed their boys up for Scouting, just as Whittaker’s parents had done for him.
After getting through the first year, Whittaker became the pack’s cubmaster when spot became available. He said he needed to step up not only for his own sons, but for all the boys in Pack 400.
He said Scouting is about so much more than campouts. Most importantly, it’s about character. Pack 400 meets once a month for meetings and holds monthly events. What separates the pack today from when he was young is the family involvement.
“When we hold events, the entire family comes,” Whittaker said. “It isn’t just father-son anymore.”
From August to May, the Scouts are growing in their relationships with each other and character as they embark on building skills to move ahead to the next rank. From Jekyll Island to Yorktown or the haunted trail in Springfield, the Scouts are exposed to life-changing experiences.
“The lessons they learn are two-pronged: Do your best and live out the Scout law,” Whittaker said. “If we can teach boys to grow into men who are trustworthy, loyal, kind, courteous or reverent, then we can have made an impact on the next generation.”
Whittaker strongly feels that many people have gotten away from the importance of instilling character in youth. Kids these days are used to getting everything they want. In Scouting, he said, they have to earn and learn at the same time.
All Boy Scouts strive to live by the Scout Law — “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent”— and oath: “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
To meet their goals, Boy Scouts are given the opportunity to grow and learn through camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, playing sports and games, tying knots, learning to use knives and tools, building fires, learning to cook, building and competing in a derby race car challenge, community service projects, learning the history of the community, gaining respect for the American flag, practicing conservation and learning to respect and care for the environment and nature, learning about money and budgeting, developing leadership skills and learning how to interact and be respectful of other people — all while having fun along the way.
For more information on the Boy Scouts of America, go to www.scouting.org/Home/BoyScouts, and for Cub Scouts, go to www.scouting.org/Home/CubScouts. For more on Cub Scout Pack 400, go to richmondhill400.mypack.us.