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Issue 145 – Update: Iraqi Scouting

This summer, I had the pleasure and honor to meet Captain John Green personally. Turned out that, quite by coincidence, we were both attending the International Scouting conference at Philmont Training Center… if you believe in “coincidence,” that is! Thanks to a huge response from readers like you, John was able to fulfill his financial support commitment to the volunteers of the GREEN ZONE COUNCIL in Baghdad!

John is now stateside, and I received further word from him that I’d like to share with you…

Dear Andy,

I got word the other day a new BSA council has formed in Iraq—This one is based out of Camp Victory, which is about a 15-minute helicopter flight from Baghdad. Their goals are the same as the Green Zone Council, but they’re able to provide Scouting to Iraqi youth near their camp who can’t get to the area covered by the Green Zone. You can find out more by going to (John H. Green, Jr., CPT, U.S.Army)

Shortly after this, Mike Bowman and I received this update from Greg Hembree:

Dear Andy and USSSP,

I’m a deployed commander in Iraq. I just read the letters posted on Andy’s web page about the Scouting program here in Iraq. John Green and Mike Gerson have ended their tours here, and many Scouters have stepped in and taken up the torch—they continue to support and improve this marvelous program!

I’ve involved my company with supporting the Green Zone Council in an effort to improve the social condition of the Iraqi people. The program is flourishing and continues to grow in a very healthy way, improving the lives and character development of the young men here in Iraq. Earlier this year, the Green Zone Council held the first ever Pinewood Derby!

The growth of the Green Zone Council has spurred the formation of the VICTORY BASE COUNCIL! These two councils—both started by volunteer Scouters from the military and civilian sectors—have divided Baghdad into workable areas and are now the tangible beginnings of a national Scouting program.

Significant support for this wonderful growth has come from Indiana’s Crossroads of America Council, which, with help from Spirit of America—a California-based not-for-profit organization—has collected and shipped 1,000 Pinewood Derby Grand Prix racecar kits. My unit just recently forwarded those kits to the two Baghdad councils, assuring that they will be able to continue this new tradition and build their membership around positive events that promote responsibility and good, wholesome fun. The Crossroads of America Council has also sent a variety of arts and crafts supplies that help build a foundation for Scouting’s continued growth and success in reaching out to Iraqi youth and involving them in community service at a young age, so that these boys will build a habit of doing a “Good Turn Daily” for their communities.

This has been a tremendous success and Scouts from throughout Indiana have contributed to this cause—proof-positive that our American Scouts can accomplish powerful achievements that help the global environment in the form of organized and energetic Scouting efforts in a place you’d probably not think possible! I encourage anyone interested to become a part of this getting involved. The positive results are overwhelming, and demonstrate the unlimited potential of our own Boy Scouts of America movement!

It’s also been pretty emotional (yes, I admit it) seeing how a small idea blossomed and exploded into a huge project that has re-energized the Green Zone Council and spawned the birth of the Victory Base Council. It’s amazing to see the positive impact we can have when we combine our efforts and use our energy to improve the lives of those sharing this world with us. (First Lieutenant Gregory Hembree, U.S.Army-Iraq)

I’m going to write to Greg today. His email address (Yes, he says it’s OK to use his military address!) is

I’m also going to make a personal contribution buy buying some of the VBC patches (they’re great Scout gifts!), here:

How about YOU?


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(August 19, 2008 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2008)

Letters to AskAndy may be published at the discretion of the columnist and the editor. If you prefer to have your name or affiliation withheld from publication, please advise in your letter.


About AskAndy

Andy is a Board Member of the U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc.

Andy has just received notification by his council Scout Executive that he is to be recognized as a National Distinguished Eagle Scout. He is currently serving as a Unit Commissioner and his council's International Representative. He has previously served in a number of other Scouting roles including Assistant Council Commissioner, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Den Leader, and--as a Scout--Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. His awards include: Kashafa Iraqi Scouting Service Award, Distinguished Commissioner, Doctor of Commissioner Science, International Scouter Award, District Award of Merit (2), Scoutmaster Award of Merit, Scouter's Key (3), Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award, Cliff Dochterman Rotarian Scouter Award, James E. West Fellow (2), Wood Badge & Sea Badge, and Eagle Scout & Explorer Silver Award.

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