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Patriotic Article
Military
By USAF SSgt. Scottie T. McCord

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PRT Member Entertains Cub Scouts
(January 18, 2011)

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Air Force Staff Sgt. Josh Thompson, Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team vehicle driver from St. David, Ariz., prepares to climb into an armored vehicle Jan. 14, 2011. Thompson recently spoke with Cub Scout Pack 102 from Edina, Minn., about his life in Afghanistan and with his work with an Afghan Scout Troop.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Josh Thompson, Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team vehicle driver from St. David, Ariz., prepares to climb into an armored vehicle Jan. 14, 2011. Thompson recently spoke with Cub Scout Pack 102 from Edina, Minn., about his life in Afghanistan and with his work with an Afghan Scout Troop.
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Josh Thompson from St. David, Ariz., native and vehicle driver with the Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team, held an online video conference call Jan. 12 with Cub Scout Pack 102 from Edina, Minn., to discuss life in Afghanistan, his duties as a PRT member and recreational activities for service members.

Thompson described his efforts with a troop of Afghan Scouts, a program modelled on standard Boy Scouts curriculum.

“The chat went really well,” he said. “I got to be interviewed by some of the boys, and the leaders themselves had their own questions. It seemed like they really enjoyed it; I enjoyed it too.”

The video conference offered a unique opportunity for the Scouts

“The boys were enthusiastic, engaged and inquisitive,” said Wayne Kewitsch, Pack 102 Cubmaster. “They asked questions for 40 minutes and would have asked more if we would have had more time. In today's world, capturing a young person's attention for more than 10 minutes is very difficult. Staff Sergeant Thompson had them alert and engaged for 45 minutes.”

Perhaps the most amusing moment of the discussion came when Thompson discussed his free time.

“Some of the boys asked what we did in our off time for fun,” Thompson recalled, smiling. “I said we went to the gym, and we played video games. I mentioned we have a bunch of our soldiers who play Call of Duty, and they screamed and cheered. They really liked that, and I told them they could probably beat all of us because they play it a lot.”
Thompson has dedicated much of his time while deployed to working with his Afghan Scouts, drawing heavily on his own experiences as an Eagle Scout. He contends the program is an excellent means of instilling pride and a strong moral foundation for the youth of Jalalabad.

“‘A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent,'” said Thompson, reciting the Boy Scout Law. “We're trying to put that into the boys here, because in the scouting program in the states, it's really big. Over here, I'm not really sure because it's brand new. So, the boys can mirror what we do and it'd be really beneficial in the future for them.”

Thompson and Kewitsch both agreed that connecting the Afghan Scouts to their American counterparts can have a positive effect on their respective groups.

“When you can meet people that are doing the exact same thing that you're doing on the other side of the world, it makes the world seem smaller,” Thompson said.

“In my opinion, the Afghan Scout troop is a truly great thing,” said Kewitsch. “One of the things we discussed with Staff Sgt. Thompson was the fact that the boys in his troop are learning the same things as the boys in our pack. First aid is first aid, knots are knots, the skills and principles are the same no matter where you're a Scout.”

Thompson and the Scouts of Pack 102 formed a connection that they hope to foster with future activities. Pack 102 has graciously offered to send scouting supplies the Afghans could use, and further video conferences are already in the works.
Article and photo by USAF SSgt. Scottie T. McCord, Nangarhar PRT Public Affairs
Combined Joint Task Force 101
Copyright 2011

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