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SENIORS : A Scout Forever : Working with the Boy Scouts or similar groups lets volunteers share their experience with youths.

January 03, 1991|ROBYN LOEWENTHAL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Hollis R. Spindle, grandfather of 11, retired last week. But he'll be a Boy Scout forever.

As part of a 38-year career with the Boy Scouts of America, Spindle, age 60, was Scout executive and chief executive officer of the Ventura County Council for nearly 22 years. He also served as the senior Scout executive of the nine-state Western Region of the BSA, which consists of 70 Boy Scout councils.

"I had a real fine experience as a Boy Scout," said Spindle, who was both a Sea and Eagle Scout.

The day he graduated from college, a friend who was a Scout executive invited him to work for the organization. After nearly completing a master's degree in psychology, Spindle decided that his life belonged to scouting. He began his career in 1953 in Colorado. "People who like scouting stay in it 'til their 80s and beyond," said Spindle. "But there doesn't seem to be enough older people who want to get involved."

He would like to change that. Spindle believes that older people can be strong role models in youth leadership and can have a tremendous positive influence on young lives.

He emphasized that not every volunteer has to be a den leader or lead hikes. There are many ways to get involved without actually participating in scouting. Both men and women can hold any volunteer leadership position in the Boy Scouts of America. Volunteers can assist in training adult leaders. Moreover, some people do not even wear uniforms. They can participate in fund-raising projects or lend their expertise at the den level all the way to the executive board.

Mary Roberts has been a member of the volunteer Executive Board of BSA for nine years. The 63-year-old resident of Camarillo finds school and church sponsorships for Scout troops and helps promote the program. She explained that people can make and donate crafts to the annual holiday auction fund-raising event. Or they can procure the items, make calls or help with mailings."Life is short," Roberts said. "You can't waste that energy. What you can contribute today will benefit someone later on."

Spindle points to the contributions made by volunteers such as Clyde Madsen of Simi Valley. "Clyde will continue as long as he can--'til he drops," Spindle said.

Madsen, who is 74, laughed. "I'm just a recycled teen-ager," he said.

Madsen became an Eagle Scout in 1932. Now he is a member of the executive board and serves as a merit badge counselor. Madsen is credited with having helped more than 300 boys complete the requirements for Eagle Scout.

One of those boys is 18-year-old John Torres III, a senior at Moorpark High School. Like many teens, Torres was not sure he wanted to finish the Eagle requirements because school and work took so much of his time. Thanks to Madsen, he finished the remaining communications and citizenship badges and reached Eagle three weeks ago.

Madsen is modest about his volunteer efforts. "It's better than sitting around watching the boob tube. There are a lot of good kids out there. All they need is somebody to help them a little bit."

The 1990 motto of the National Scout Assn. reads: "There is no end to the Eagle Scout trail." Back in his office at the Hal Watkins Scout Center in Camarillo, Madsen talked about the legacy he and others who work in scouting leave behind.

"With leadership of youth, you don't end your influence with your death," he said. "The benefits go on forever."

* FYI

For information on scouting or Spindle's retirement dinner to be held Jan. 11, contact the Ventura County Council office, Boy Scouts of America, (805) 482-8938. United Way of Ventura County can identify youth services organizations in your area, including the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, YMCA, and Girl Scouts. Call (805) 485-6288. Most religious institutions also sponsor youth groups that would welcome your help.

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