A NWIndiana Life in the Spotlight: David Clemente

DavidClemente1Before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marched on Washington, they both shared a common experience. They were Boy Scouts.

Although it has been many years since these men were Scouts, Scouting is alive and well both in our country and in Northwest Indiana. Dave Clemente is the District Executive for the Prairie Dunes District. It is one of sixteen districts that make up the Pathway to Adventure Council in Northwest Indiana. His district stretches from Lake Michigan south to Lowell and as far east as Portage.

Clemente brings a lifetime of experience to his position. You could say he started his career with Scouting at the age of six as a Cub Scout. His dad was his Cub Scout leader. But, for the Clementi’s, it was a family affair. Clemente’s mother, two older brothers, grandmother and uncle were all actively involved in scouting.

“Most of my childhood memories involved Scouting,” Clemente says. “Scouting gave me many different outlooks on life. At a young age, I was gaining many experiences that I would have not gotten anywhere else. I was able to shoot a .22 caliber rifle, shoot a compound bow, go on a 20-mile hike, canoe, and cook over an open fire. If you are not an outdoor family, these are activities you would not experience otherwise.”

The highlight of Clemente’s Scouting experience was in attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. This designation is perhaps the oldest, best known and most coveted youth award in the world. Achieving this requires the boy to earn at least 21 merit badges as well as organize, lead and manage an extensive service project. For Clemente, his Eagle Scout project was collecting old bicycles and bicycle parts for an organization that supplied bikes to third world nations. The results surprised even him. In the end, eighty complete bikes and parts for another 15 bikes had been gathered.

“When you do a project like that as a kid, you are contacting adults, creating the project, advertising it, coordinating the volunteers and documenting the process,” Clemente explains. “Some Eagle Scout projects become big community projects that forever change a town. There is a local war memorial here in Northwest Indiana that first started as an Eagle Scout project.

Clemente attended Bradley University in Peoria, IL and graduated with a major in Public Relations. Within a few weeks of graduating, he interviewed and accepted a position with the Boy Scouts.

“Being on the administrative side of scouting, you see more of the bumps in the road. You have to deal with camps that may be filled up or disputes among parents within various troops. There is much more work that goes into coordinating an outing than you would ever imagine as a Scout,” Clemente says with a laugh.

Scouting itself has also changed since he was a youth in the program.

Clemente says, “We used to teach the use of semaphore flags and Morse code. Now, the use of technology is becoming a driving force in many of the programs. Programs now focus more on teaching STEM which stands for science, technology, engineering and math.”

Clemente also sees the downside of technology on today’s youth, but views this as an opportunity for Scouting.

“Kids today are losing physical interaction. They communicate through texts and messaging but are uncomfortable with making a phone call or talking to someone in person. Scouting pushes kids to have these interactions. They have to talk to their fellow Scouts about projects or to their Scout Master about merit badges. Interactions like these give you the confidence to be your own person.”

Clemente points to an example in his personal life to make the point. “At 18, I was the only youth on a committee that planned an event which had 5,000 attendees.”

DavidClemente2Today, Scouting competes with many other activities for the time and attention of both youth and parents.

Clemente explains, “It’s difficult for parents to commit their time. Also, Scouting is not expensive but it is also not cheap. Still, Scouting offers nine months of activities for the same price parents would pay to have their kid in a sport for only two months.”

“With all the negative news in the world, we need more “feel good” stories<’ said Clemente. We need to hear about the sixteen-year-old boy who is collecting bikes to donate to third world nations. I tell people that if you want your son to have quality of character, develop leadership, gain new experiences and meet new people, you should highly consider Scouting.”

If you are interested in finding out more information about Scouting, you may text the word “PrairieDunes1” to 71777. You may visit their website at beascout.org. You may also reach Clemente at David.Clemente.org