Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Retired Scout executive stirs crowd at banquet

by on May 10, 2013 10:59 AM

Retired Boy Scouts of America Chief Scout Executive Robert J. Mazzuca spoke Thursday at the 13th annual William Penn Luncheon, captivating his audience of Scouts and supporters with the “magic methodology of Scouting.”

The luncheon was held in honor of the Patchin family of the Royal Oil and Gas Corp.

Mazzuca, who retired from his position as head of the Boy Scouts in August, was the 11th chief Scout executive for the organization. He possesses qualities such as business experience, technical ability, leadership and service, education and social values, according to Michael Surbaugh, Scout executive of the Laurel Highlands Council, who introduced Mazzuca.

The Laurel Highlands Council serves Scouting in Indiana and 12 other western Pennsylvania counties.

“He’s made lifelong learning fundamental and has encouraged other professionals to continue their leadership by learning each and every day,” Surbaugh said.

Mazzuca, who achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in his youth, lived for 10 years with his wife in western Pennsylvania, in what he called the “best 10 years of our life.”

Their home in western Pennsylvania was one of the 18 in which they resided during his years in Scouting.

Mazzuca opened his remarks welcoming everyone in attendance, Scouts and Scout supporters, to “the second century of Scouting,” and the “magic methodology of Scouting.”

“It’s time to reintroduce Scouting to the American people,” he said.

For more than a decade and a half, he said, “we’ve allowed ourselves to be defined by others.”

Mazzuca recalled his many airline trips during his years as chief Scout executive, and told a story of how, whenever he got in his seat, a person next to him would ask, “Oh, is that the Scout pin?” He’d say “yes,” proudly, and the very next question, he said, was always some form of this: “Are they still around?”

“What a heartbreaking question that is,” he said. “It’s still the largest force for good the world has ever seen.”

Worldwide, Mazzuca said, there are 37 million Scouts, and within those Scouts, the Laurel Highlands Council continues to be a role model for councils across the nation.

Indiana County became a part of the Laurel Highlands Council when the Penn’s Woods Council merged with the Greater Pittsburgh Council in 2011.

He was lucky enough, Mazzuca said, during his time as chief to create two new merit badges, in subjects that children are interested in — like robotics.

“What we do, we do very well,” Mazzuca said. “But what we do we do quietly and in the woods where nobody sees us.”

He encouraged Scouts to be proud of what they do.

“We’re humble and modest and we need to stop that,” he said.

Scouts, he said, should brag about what they do in communities in America, something that has never been more important. The Boy Scouts of America is about building the DNA of its Scouts, he said.

“When you feel what it’s like to help people,” Mazzuca said, “it becomes a part of your DNA.”

The 12 magic words of Scout Law, which state that “a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent,” define the organization, he said.

The McCombie Scout Bell was presented by the Laurel Highlands Council to the Patchin Family for the 2013 Distinguished Citizen Award.

The award was handcrafted by John McCombie, of the Crooked Creek Gallery near Clymer. It was presented to the family by Bernie Lockard Jr., of Indiana, incoming president of the Laurel Highlands Council.

Members of the Patchin Family present at the ceremony were Phyllis, Steve, Carl, Lisa, Erica and Ross Patchin, all of Indiana and Texas.

“We need to be partners with every community to get kids off their butts, get them into the woods and get them into the magic of the great outdoors,” Mazzuca said as he closed his presentation. “We own the outdoors. That’s what we are and that’s what we do.”

Ellen Matis is the digital media coordinator and a staff writer at The Indiana Gazette. She is the person behind the Gazette's social media. A 2012 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Ellen has a degree in journalism and public relations. Follow her on Twitter, @EllenMatis, or email her at
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