Scoutmaster Earns Award For Service

January 30, 1995|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writer

Few things matter more to George Baker than making a difference in the lives of boys.

"I believe we were put here for God's will," said the scoutmaster of Ellicott City's Troop 874. "To set a godly example and set them on the road to manhood."

That dedication has earned the Owen Brown resident a Silver Beaver Award, the highest honor bestowed on adults in scouting.

"He's kind of the heart and soul of the group," said Donald Rascoe, Troop 874's committee chairman. "He works extremely well with boys."

Under Mr. Baker's 13-year leadership, the troop has grown from 20 Scouts to 125 last year, making it Howard County's largest troop and one of the biggest in the metropolitan Baltimore area.

A former Boy Scout and an elder at Chapelgate Presbyterian Church on Marriottsville Road, Mr. Baker regained interest in the activity when his son Jason joined a Cub Scout pack in the mid-1970s. When Jason moved on to Boy Scouts in 1981, Mr. Baker moved with him, taking over Troop 874 when the scoutmaster retired.

Although his 25-year-old son no longer participates in scouting, Mr. Baker's interest has scarcely diminished.

"It's still very exciting to me," said Mr. Baker, who became an Eagle Scout in 1959. "It's also very rewarding."

Each Thursday, Mr. Baker meets with several troop leaders and the boys at Glen-Gary United Methodist Church off Route 108 to discuss camping trips and other activities.

Mr. Baker oversees the troop and its 75 adult leaders. He also counsels the boys of Troop 874 along the path to adulthood.

"What matters is making a difference in the life of a boy," he said. "It's one of my personal ministries."

And one of his central tenets is letting the boys discover life for themselves.

"My role is coaching," he said. "We'll let them succeed and fail and hopefully teach them how to accept both with equal grace."

Mr. Baker was nominated by Mr. Rascoe and selected by the Baltimore Area Council Boy Scouts of America as one of 10 recipients. He has a hard time coping with the spotlight cast by the award, which recognizes "exceptional and noteworthy service to boyhood."

"I'm very uncomfortable receiving this award," Mr. Baker said. "That's not what I'm about. I'd just as soon this award go to everybody else [in the troop]."

Mr. Baker would prefer to stay in the background, taking command only when needed.

"When things go fine, get in the background. When things go bad, get out front," Mr. Baker said.

That leadership style has worked well with both boys and adults, say troop members.

"He's very polite; he doesn't yell," said Brent Miller, a senior patrol leader from Ellicott City. "He always takes time to listen . . . and he's my best friend."

Comments like that gratify Mr. Baker.

"You never know what one word . . . one gesture will reach out and connect with one of the Scouts," Mr. Baker said. "You have to be constantly aware of planting a seed."

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