Andy Dunlap’s name has become synonymous with Boy Scouts in Iola.
Rightfully so, he has had a hand in it for more than 30 years.
Dunlap’s father, Bob, was in Iola Troop 55 in the early 1920s, and he began with the troop in 1947 as a Cub Scout. His three sons are Eagle Scouts, and he has grandchildren involved with Boy Scouts.
“I feel like my time is well invested with Scouts,” said Dunlap, 74.
Originally from Iola, he moved back with his family in 1977 from Reno, Nev. His oldest son, Chris, received his Eagle Scout rank in Reno. His other sons, Doug and Bryan, achieved the rank with the Iola troop.
Bryan’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony sticks out in his mind.
On a rainy day in Independence, President Gerald Ford shook Bryan’s hand and pinned his Eagle Scout badge on his Boy Scout uniform. Ford was in Independence for another ceremony, and being an Eagle Scout himself, made a point of attending the ceremony. Dunlap said all of the area newspapers were at the ceremony for the six Scouts receiving the honors — including The Register’s Bob Johnson.
The importance of Boy Scouts is recognized across all generations, and through all facets of American culture.
“Scouting broadens the kids’ experiences and contacts,” he said.
Dunlap became Scoutmaster for the Iola troop in 1977, and remained in the position for “10 or 12 years.” He then started working with the Cub Pack in Iola.
“We’ve had a good active Cub Pack ever since,” he said. “You’re troop will die without a Cub Pack.”
Dunlap has served as a committee chair for the Cub Scout Committee, and is on the Boy Scout Committee as well. His wife, Yvonne, is the den mother for Iola’s Cub Pack.
DUNLAP SAID every troop is different, and he believes a small-town atmosphere can help nourish a culture of learning and growth.
“Things are different in a small town,” he said. “You have a better chance to develop a whole life in a small town.
He continued: “That being said, every troop is different. Each group of leaders puts their own coloration on that.”
He attributes his commitment to the Boy Scouts mainly to his boys, which he said “meant a lot to them.” Although, he said he still regularly “peeks in” during Monday night meetings to see how things are going. He said Stacie and Jared Sigler’s involvement with the troop has expanded their capabilities.
“They’re more adept than I ever was (at working with the boys),” Dunlap said. “You can really bring out the best in the kids.”
Dunlap said the committee is vital to the success of Boy Scouts; it helps organize the administrative side of things, and provides training and materials for the troop. He said the Osage Nation District Council — which watches over activities in the nine southeast Kansas counties — is essential for the big picture as well.
“We wouldn’t work without a council,” he said.
As for the Scouts themselves, he said it takes a special person to be in the program — especially in today’s indoors and digital culture.
“I think you can really rescue some people,” he said. “The experiences out-of-doors are great.”
Dunlap said he attended the Quivira Scout Ranch summer camp this year, as he has for many years in the past. His involvement with the Scouts has dwindled slightly over the years, but he will always have a finger on its pulse.
“We have some excellent leadership,” he said.
But, the Scouts should still expect to see him from time to time at meetings and other events.
“I’ll just stop by and see what’s going on, and how I can help.”