Five Questions: Scoutmaster prepares youth for future

By: Mary Clark The Press Tribune
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Granite Bay’s Troop 121 has produced more than 200 Eagle Scouts as of this year. Each of these accomplished young men selected a project within the community and dedicated 100 or more hours of service to the completion of the task. Behind the success of each of these scouts for the last 16 years is the troop’s Scoutmaster, John Hooten. A former Olympic rowing coach turned cartoonist, swim coach, and unicycle enthusiast, Hooten dedicates his spare hours to the leadership of Troop 121. Hooten’s lengthy tenure has lent stability to an organization usually run by a constant shuffle of parent leadership. To this multi-faceted Scoutmaster, the most rewarding aspect of his position is watching the scouts become leaders themselves — leaders who may someday impact the community as much as he has.


1. How old is Troop 121 and how long have you been a part of it?

Troop 121 has been around since 1968. It has been meeting at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection since the late 1970s. I began leading while my sons were in the troop, and now I’m in my 16th year as Scoutmaster. 

2. What are some of the things your troop does in the community?

The Eagle program requires 100 hours of community service and we have about 10-12 Eagle Scouts per year. For the Eagle projects, the boys search out their own service, but the troop is also approached by members of the community with certain tasks. For the last 15 years, we’ve been cleaning up a trail on Folsom Lake that goes from the beach to Cavitt Middle School. It was amazing how much trash there was; we came away with 10 trash bags full the first time we did it.

3. How significant is it that your troop has produced over 200 Eagle Scouts?

We will be having a Court of Honor ceremony in August for the new Eagle Scouts, but we will also be inviting back all of the past Eagle Scouts to celebrate the 200. It’s something they value the rest of their lives and something that will always be on their resumes. The Eagle Scout award says a lot about a kid.

4. What is the most important thing that you hope your Boy Scouts learn?

The motto of the Boy Scouts is “Be Prepared.” They come away with a mindset of being ready to deal with anything. Especially from the backpacking trips we take in the Sierras and on the coast, they learn that you can’t bring everything you need so you have to be able to look at the tools you have and find the best way to handle any given situation. They learn to take care of themselves and be active citizens.

5. What are some of the most interesting experiences you’ve had as the Scout Master of Troop 121?

Something that is unique about our troop is that we have a unicycle group. We teach the kids to ride and then ride in parades. I’ve seen kids who have been unsuccessful in sports their whole lives learn to do something that looks impossible and that so few people can do. In much of what we do in Boy Scouts, there is a sense of triumph and satisfaction that is equal to any great athletic accomplishment. The best thing about Boy Scouts is that one can reach the highest achievement, an Eagle Scout award, without anyone being beaten. No one has to fail for you to succeed.