A lifetime of Scouting for Antrim man

  • Scout master Brian Beihl helps boys scouts from Troop 2 build a cart that they will use to haul out survival equipment into the wilderness during an upcoming derby on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2017. Beihl is retiring from his position as a scout master to pursue new endeavors and allow for a new person to step up as a group leader. (Abby Kessler / The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...

  • Scoutmaster Brian Beihl helps Boy Scouts from Troop 2 build a cart that they will use to haul out survival equipment into the wilderness. Beihl is retiring from his position as a Scoutmaster to pursue new endeavors and allow for a new person to be group leader. Staff photo by Abby Kessler.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, February 09, 2017 6:40AM

Boy Scouts from Troop 2 – that includes Hancock, Bennington and Antrim – spent a recent evening in the American Legion building carts designed to haul their camping gear into the wilderness for an upcoming derby.

Brian Beihl, who has been the troop’s Scoutmaster for about 14 years, stood over a group of boys shoulders as they worked, helping them finish the cart.

It’s one of the last times Beihl will be that figure for the boys, as he transitions out of his role as Scoutmaster after years of heading the troop.

“Being a Scoutmaster is a very time consuming but a very rewarding volunteer position,” Beihl said. “There are logistics of getting boys here and there, but you’re really a role model for the kids in the troop and you’re kind of a father figure, someone who is helping with the global parenting of kids. You have to be constantly modeling behavior of what it’s like to be a good parent, a good worker a good citizen.”

He said the decision to step aside will allow him to pursue new endeavors and create space for a new person to assume a leadership role. Mike Redmond, whose own boys are members of the troop, will take over the position.

“He’s been great,” Edmond Hebert, who has been involved with the boy scouts for most of his life and was the Scoutmaster for Troop 2 in the late ’70s and into the ’80s, said of Beihl. “One of the things about Scoutmaster is you have to get along with all of the boys and earn their respect and Brian was able to do that.”

Troop 2 started in 1913, just three years after the Boy Scouts of America became an organization in the United States. It’s one of the oldest troops in the country.

Participation in the troop has ebbed and flowed over the years. When Beihl joined, there were just six Scouts, and now there are 22. The uptick has defied national trends that are moving in the opposite direction. Herbert said declining participation could be a result of the increasing popularity of technology. Behil said troops have always had to compete with school sports, which always puts a dent in participation.

Since Beihl has been at the helm, he has seen six scouts receive Eagle Scout recognition. About 4 percent of scouts are granted the rank nationwide. Beihl said the recognition takes about 12 years to complete and requires 21 merit badges. If a Scout does complete the process, they enter a cadre who are 76 percent more likely to hold a leadership role in their local community in the future. 

And while witnessing scouts receive Eagle Scout confirmation has been a source of pride, Beihl said one of his favorite parts about his time with the troop are the trips.

“You’re not getting paid for all those hours, but once in awhile you have a moment when you say, ‘gee this is why I’m doing this,’ Beihl said. “We go to an island owned by ATC (Appalachian Trail Club) once every three years and every time I got there I remember why I do what I do.”

He said the island, which ironically is called Beal Island, is a beautiful place with all kinds of wildlife roaming across the scape. The boys are allowed to explore nature and run in the wild. They’ve seen eagles and porpoises from the area.

The last trip to Beal Island, the Scouts rowed out to a lobsterman and bought fresh catch straight off the boat.

Outside of the American Legion Building in Antrim on a recent Wednesday night, a group of Scouts standing in a dirt parking lot reminisced about the island trip. Conor Simmons, a Scout from Bennington, said his favorite memories are from Beal Island. Simmons said the group canoed out to the island last fall, a weekend that happened to coincide with Hurricane Matthew, a Category 5 Atlantic hurricane. The weather stirred conversations about packing up and heading home, but the Scouts from Troop 2 decided to endure. Instead Simmons said at low tide he and his friends went out and flung mud at each other.

“You should have seen Danny, he came out from behind this rock and Mr. Beihl was like ‘what is that?” And then Danny was like ‘errg’ and Mr. Beihl was like what?” Simmons said. “It was so fun.”

Simmons said he really likes Beihl because he’s always optimistic and positive. He said Beihl will be missed, but that he is also excited for Redmond to assume the role.

Beihl said he will still be a Boy Scout Roundtable Commissioner, which means that although he won’t play the same predominant role that he has for so long, he will still be around. Right now, he is in the throes of organizing a group called Venture Crew, a co-ed adventure group aimed at teens.

“It’s time,” Beihl said of the transition.

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com.