Colorado scouts practice “reuse is recycling” mantra with used military goods

By Jeff Landenberger Disposition Services

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Boy Scout Troop 444 of Peyton, Colorado, takes the motto “be prepared” very seriously, and its scouts rely on DLA Disposition Services to acquire needed equipment.

The troop has recently used DLA to stock up on backpacks, sleeping bags, safety glasses, goggles, tools and even a small Army cargo truck and Humvee.

“People think of the Boy Scouts as an organization that just does a bunch of camping, but we do a whole lot more than that,” said Robert Herz, the troop’s quartermaster. “We spend a lot of our time doing community service, [we] engage in morale and self-confidence exercises and growing boys into competent adults and leaders.”

Herz has experience when it comes to training young people to be leaders. He retired from the Air Force after 23 years as a lieutenant colonel and his two sons Robert Jr. and Chris are both Eagle Scouts.

He said scouting involves 130 merit badges and rank advancements that prepare scouts for their future. Herz is a Merit Badge Counselor for over 20 Merit Badges, including: Automobile Maintenance, Fishing, Ham Radio, Cooking, Rifle, Shotgun, Archery, Emergency Preparedness, Astronomy, Aviation and Environmental Science.  

“If you can think of a job that one of our boys may hold in the future, we likely have a merit badge that corresponds with it and I try to jump in and help,” Herz said.  

And that is where the items from DLA Disposition Services come in.

“We'll use the vehicles to support our future Automotive merit badges by having the scouts turn wrenches and change oil and complete periodic maintenance,” Herz said.  “We also plan to use them for community service activities to haul gear and equipment in support of future Eagle Scout activities. “

“I have also recently become the troop's emergency preparedness focal point; got FEMA trained and earned the Emergency Preparedness Medal from our Pikes Peak Council,” Herz said. “So, our next focus will be to see how DLA can help us with our emergency preparedness focus in Boy Scouts.”

The troop has already started. Recently, they helped with fire mitigation for the Black Forest fire by removing trees, brush and slash to prevent future tragedy.

And they are getting ready for the next emergency by acquiring items such as generators, backpacks, flashlights and gloves from DLA Disposition Services. Herz stated that they now have the items available to respond, not if, but when there is an emergency, natural or otherwise.

“If you see pictures of our scouts using a tool during a community service event, during an Eagle Scout Project, during one of our many Merit Badge [exercises], it likely came from DLA,” Herz said. “If you see them wearing safety glasses, they came from DLA. If you see them carrying a backpack on a three-day hike into the wilderness, it likely came from DLA. When you witness them digging ‘catholes’ while on a ‘leave-no-trace’ campout, the folding entrenching tool came from DLA.”

“We are very appreciative for the opportunity to have formed this relationship with DLA and are grateful for the items we have acquired thus far,” Herz said, adding that they primarily use DLA Disposition Services at Fort Carson, Colorado. “These items truly exemplify the ‘reuse is recycling’ mantra and we are getting every last mile out of this equipment. Some of the backpacks have holes in them, some of the shovels are bent and rusty, much of the gear does not operate completely as designed, but we are thankful none-the-less, and are happy to patch those items, to get even more use out of them while we partake in our adventures. “ 

Editor’s note:  the following copy was added to this story on August 3, 2017.

Scouts are among the scores of groups that the General Services Administration lists as eligible to receive donations of surplus federal property through the State Agencies for Surplus Property.

According to GSA's website, SASPs are state-run organizations that coordinate the federal program for the donation of federal surplus property to public, tax-supported entities and eligible, private, nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations.

Within that large group are what GSA describes as "Educational Activities of Special Interest to the Armed Services."  Boy Scouts -and Girl Scouts - are among nearly 20 eligible activities that also include entities such as the America National Red Cross, Little League and the U.S. Olympic Committee. 

GSA notes that those entities are designated by DOD and may receive federal surplus items that were formerly Defense Department property.