Two members of Fennimore and Boscobel’s Boy Scout Troop 76 have earned the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a member of the Boy Scouts of America’s Order of the Arrow.
Dalton Miles and Rob Rands were awarded the Vigil Honor this summer. Both were celebrated during a Troop 76 banquet Sunday evening in the Fennimore Memorial Building’s Legion Annex.
“Alertness to the needs of others is the mark of the Vigil Honor. It calls for an individual with an unusual awareness of the possibilities within each situation,” explains the Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouts of America website. “The Vigil Honor is the highest honor that the Order of the Arrow can bestow upon its members for service to lodge, council, and Scouting. Membership cannot be won by a person’s conscious endeavors.
“The Vigil Honor is a high mark of distinction and recognition reserved for those Arrowmen who, by reason of exceptional service, personal effort, and unselfish interest, have made distinguished contributions beyond the immediate responsibilities of their position of office to one or more of the following: Lodge, Order of the Arrow, Scouting community, Scout Camp.”
The nominations of Miles and Rands were received by a lodge nominating committee. Rands was nominated by Fennimore’s Mark Strohbusch, himself a Brotherhood member of the Order of the Arrow.
“The Vigil Honor, I have known about practically all my life. My Scoutmaster, near the end of his career, received the Vigil Honor,” Strohbusch said. “That has stuck in my mind because it meant so much to him. We were his family, he didn’t have a wife and children so his Scout troop was his family. I sense that with Rob too. You Scouts and parents have been part of his family for a long time.”
Strohbusch told the crowd gathered at Sunday night’s banquet a group of young men he enjoys coffee with at Hardee’s played a key role in Rands’ nomination.
“I was sitting there – there are about a dozen of us that get together most mornings – I said, ‘Guys, there is this award in scouting,’ and I explained to them how it is different from getting Eagle Scout or all that kind of thing,” he recalled. “I said, ‘We would like to put in a nomination [for Rands]. What do you think of it?’ ‘Do it! Right now! Do it! He deserves it!’ That was the beginning, that was the enthusiasm that got it going.”
Although he was not supposed to know of his nomination, Rands admitted by the time he departed for Camp Lowden, seven miles south of Oregon, Illinois, he was aware.
“How do you get a 61-year-old man to go to Camp Lowden without telling him something is up,” Rands said. “Not knowing what I was getting into, I got on the Internet and I searched. There is nothing on there. It isn’t going to tell you what you are going to be doing or anything.
“It was a great opportunity because [Miles] took his Brotherhood when I took my Brotherhood. Five years ago, I had Dalton and Tyler Heisz come to me and say, ‘Rob, we want to take our Brotherhood.’ So we loaded up in a truck and we drove down to Canyon Camp and slept in the parking lot and worked the weekend and got our Brotherhood.”
Rands shared earning his Brotherhood was a daunting task.
“That was a chore,” he recalled. “I probably forgot more in a lifetime than I remember, and you have to do memory work. I got to this old guy during the day and I tried to practice all night and all day out of the book to learn this stuff.
“He was this close to saying, ‘I think you better go back and try again.’ He nursed me through it and I got through it.”
Rands fought to keep his emotions in check as he recalled a conversation he had during his Vigil Honor journey.
“A leader sat down next to me and he said, ‘I want you to know that I have never reviewed a candidate’s nomination form that was sent like yours,” he said. “A gentleman from Fennimore, Mark Strohbusch, sent this down and it had 31 signatures on it. This tells me how well you have done in your community.”
Rands was happy Miles was honored as well.
“I am very happy this young man was able to get it. He has well earned it,” he said. “He has worked two summers and probably will work another summer at camp. He enjoys doing what he is doing. He enjoys working with the Scouts. He was a good Eagle Scout.
“He set his mind early when he was a young man and said, ‘I want to be an Eagle Scout.’ He followed that path.”
Miles has been selected as Lodge Chief of Wulapeju Lodge 140 of the Blackhawk Area Council. He will attend Lodge Executive Committee meetings the second Saturday of each month. Miles will next week begin his sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
Rands on Sunday night took a moment to reflect on his Boy Scout experiences.
“When you go through Boys Scouts, those of you Boy Scouts that got Order of the Arrow, it is an adventure that lasts a lifetime,” he said. “I started mine in 1968 and I ended it in 2016. That is a long time. When you get to Vigil Honor, it is truly an honor. It was something else. It was an honor. It was truly an honor.”
While Rands’ journey is concluding, Miles’ is just beginning.
“With Rob, I feel like he truly, undoubtably deserves it,” Miles said. “I am still earning it and living up to the Vigil Honor itself.”