SOUTH POINT — Most people look at the Boy Scouts as a short-term after-school activity that at best may last for a few years.
Those people haven’t met Bob Cruickshank. For Cruickshank, working with the Scouts is more than volunteer work, something to do after he left the office. Rather, throwing his time and energy into supporting the Scouts is more like a mission and one that he is proud to promote.
This past February, Cruickshank, a retired engineer from Ashland Inc., celebrated his 50th anniversary with the Boy Scouts as an adult leader. And that doesn’t count the years he spent as a scout himself.
Cruickshank first got involved with the Boy Scouts when he joined a troop in his hometown of Springfield, Ill., when he was 12.
“My Dad formed a troop,” he recalled. “I liked the out of doors. I liked the achievements I was able to do.”
He stayed with the scouts through high school achieving eventually the rank of Eagle Scout.
Then he went to do his undergraduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at Cambridge where he earned a degree in civil engineering.
With that he came to Ashland, Ky.,, joining the then Ashland Oil & Refining Co., later Ashland Inc., in 1957. He built a career at Ashland, retiring in 1992.
But his love of scouting never diminished. In fact, it was as he was focusing on making the Tri-State his new home, that he got out back into scouting.
He was visiting various churches trying to find a home and the day he was visiting First Christian, Disciples of Christ, in Ashland the minister announced the church was forming a Boy Scout Troop.
Soon Cruickshank was an adult leader.
“We had a lot of boys at that time and I just didn’t want to see the thing dropped,” he said. “It has been my real ambition to see that it would continue on — at least for 50 years, as long as I can get support.”
For 11 years he was Scoutmaster. Then, he became a charter organization representative, a post he still works at from his home in South Point.
“My job is to see we have leadership and that they are doing the job and to coordinate with the Tri-State Area Council,” he said. “I do the paperwork. I am on the computer now putting in information.”
Much of the information revolves around the service projects that help the boys advance through the scouting ranks.
“It is the character-building, the outdoor skills and being able to take care of themselves. That’s what they learn in scouting and the discipline to work together as scouts and have fun,” Cruickshank said. “The idea behind scouting is how to get along with each other and work together to achieve a project.”
Moments that stand out for Cruickshank during the years he spent as a leader are receiving the Silver Beaver award, the Wood Badge and attending two national jamborees.
One of the major reasons that many young people can’t stay in the program is the lack of adult leaders. But for those adults who don’t think they want to make the commitment, Cruickshank has a
“It is a lot of fun for adults if the program is run right. A good program set up where we are doing a lot of outdoor activities that the kids like, a lot of service projects,” he said. “It is a good way for the parents to participate with their kids. They are not sitting there watching their kids play baseball. They are out there camping with them and white water rafting with them.”