Scouting museum idea gets backing

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Cultural heritage > Organization forms to push concept

By Tris DeRoma

Besides being the site of one of the most famous laboratories in the world, Los Alamos is known for being closely associated with something else on a large scale too — scouting.

For almost 100 years, the history of scouting in Los Alamos has been closely woven into the cultural fabric of the town.

No matter where you turn, somewhere in town, an Eagle Scout Project helped build something; a scout-sponsored fundraiser helped someone or some organization that really needed it — and in turn aided that person or organization in returning the favor back to the community at some point.

Also through the years, there have been numerous camping trips, camporees, dinners and other scouting events that have contributed to the history and collective memory of Los Alamos.

A person who’s been a big part of that is Vernon Kerr, who started out as a Cub Scout in Gallup. He was one of the initial organizers of Cub Scout Pack 326 in White Rock in 1963, was an assistant scoutmaster in Troop 326 and was also a post advisor for Explorer Post 326.

He readily admits he did not make Eagle Scout, the highest rank in scouting, but he had a good excuse. “I never made it to Eagle; I only made it to Life, which is the second highest. That was because the war (World War II) came along,” he said.

Kerr is now in his 80s, but he’s showing no interest in slowing down. His latest project involves tying all of Los Alamos’ scouting history together into a museum that he hopes will also eventually encompass all the feats, contributions and facts of scouting from the entire Northern New Mexico region.

“The vision of the museum is to show the philosophy behind scouting and also to define a Boy Scout as Lord (Baden) Powell saw him. A young man who knew how to survive in difficult circumstances, who could lead, was responsible and worthy of trust.”

To that end, Kerr, Robert Thomsen, Kenneth Thomas, Leonard Scheel, Relf Price, Jeanne Hurford and Richard Thompson are trying raise funds for the “Los Alamos Boy Scout Museum.”

Calling themselves the “Los Alamos Boy Scout Museum Society,” they are trying to attract enough people to the project so they can start filling committees to get the project off the ground.

So far, they’ve been chartered and registered as a non-profit with the state, and are currently looking to get the LABSMS certified as a 501(c)3 organization so they can start raising funds, acquiring artifacts and looking for property to house the museum. Kerr said it’s been a goal of his for a long time, one he’s shared with Price and Thomsen.

“Every time we got together we’d talk about founding a Boy Scout Museum,” Kerr said. “Now I want to do something about it; we’ve been talking about it long enough.”

Their first step is publicity and their immediate goals may include putting some scout memorabilia on display at Fuller Lodge (Troop 22 was part of the Ranch School) to get people interested in the museum project.

The group will be meeting at 7 p.m. March 26 at the Los Alamos Church of Latter Day Saints. Those with an interest are invited to attend. For more information, contact Kerr at kerrisma@msn.com or 505-929-1433.