Ben Rogers, the ‘go-to guy’ for Catholic Scouting in Moline, receives honor
MOLINE — His father was a cubmaster, and his mother was a den leader, so you might say that Ben Rogers came by Scouting naturally as a kid growing up in Rock Island.
He and his two brothers started as Cub Scouts and worked their way up. While he took a few years off between high school and becoming a father, Rogers has now “seen it all and done it all” and continues to be involved because of the fun, friendship and fellowship he has found with the other adult leaders.
Another key factor is the satisfaction he feels as he watches young people become leaders themselves.
For his commitment to Catholic Scouting at all levels, Rogers received the St. George Emblem at the Diocesan Scout Mass on Feb. 10 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.
Also receiving the honor from Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, was Bob Graves, another longtime leader of Troop 109 at Sacred Heart in Moline.
Rogers was the scoutmaster for Troop 109 for 12 or 13 years and then was assistant scoutmaster to Graves. They have since passed the leadership to others.
That hasn’t stopped him, though. In some ways Rogers has gone back to where he began, serving as Wolf den leader for Pack 311, which includes his grandson.
He’s also the assistant council commissioner and camp cook for the Illowa Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and a district committee member for the council’s Saukenuk District.
“He’s the go-to guy,” said his wife, Joan, who was a cubmaster herself for 10 years and continues to volunteer for big events. She and five or six of the other wives call themselves the “Scout Sisters.”
“I knew he was a Boy Scout when I married him,” she said with a smile.
In fact, there were 75 Scouts in uniform at their wedding 13 years ago and the couple received a personalized patch for their special day.
Their blended family includes his two sons and her three sons, who have given them 14 grandchildren — with a 15th on the way.
THE TRUE “WOW” FACTOR
What makes Scouting so important is the values on which it’s based, Rogers told The Catholic Post. “Whether it’s a Cub Scout, a Boy Scout, a Venturer — it doesn’t make any difference.”
The 12 points of the Scout Law, which has been in place almost as long as Scouting has been in existence, are that a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. The Scout oath has three points: duty to God, duty to country and duty to self.
Each of these points depends on the other, Rogers said.
When asked to speak to one of the points at Eagle boards of review, Scouts often pick “trustworthy” because you can’t be brave if you’re not trustworthy. You can’t be reverent, because you have to trust in God, Rogers said, adding you can’t be friendly if you can’t trust the person.
“We’ll have kids who are active in their religion who will pick ‘reverent’ because without God, none of the rest is possible,” he explained. “When you hear that come out of a teenager’s mouth, you have to keep your composure.”
“We’ll have kids who are active in their religion who will pick ‘reverent’ (as a talk topic) because without God, none of the rest is possible. When you hear that come out of a teenager’s mouth, you have to keep your composure.” — Ben Rogers
“Reverent” isn’t just tacked on to the end of the Scout Law, Rogers said. Duty to God is taken very seriously in Scouting and the religious awards program, which has more than 100 awards from every denomination, emphasizes that.
At National Jamborees, he said, the entire encampment does not open on Sunday until the afternoon because there are 20 different major church services.
“One year they had to move the Buddhist service because all the kids went to see what they do at a Buddhist church or temple,” Rogers recalled.
The services are made possible because chaplains like Father Glenn Harris of the Diocese of Peoria’s Catholic Committee on Scouting and American Heritage Girls, attend and sign up.
Rogers is credited with holding most of the volunteer positions offered in Scouting and has been on the staff for two National Jamborees and two National Order of the Arrow Conclaves. What gives him joy is very simple, however.
“To see two kids get their Eagle Award or to see a little Cub Scout excited because his (Pinewood) Derby car made it all the way down the track,” he said. “To see the 7-year-old or 9-year-old achieve something — that’s ‘Wow!’”