Lee Nickles spends a lot of time helping young people achieve goals that prepare them for life.
Those he assists outside his career are younger.
He is the cubmaster of Cub Scout Pack 914, meeting at Cullowhee United Methodist Church, and his encouragement to his 26 young charges to excel recently earned him recognition for excellence within the Scout organization.
Nickles, assistant to the dean for technology and curriculum in the College of Education and Allied Professions, was awarded the Cubmaster of the Year award for 2014 for the four-county Cataloochee District at a ceremony held Feb. 27 in the Blue Ridge Hall Conference Room.
“I was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout myself, though I didn’t progress to Eagle Scout,” Nickles said. “When my oldest son was old enough at age 7, I wanted him to be involved. So I volunteered.”
That was three years ago.
He became a den leader his second year, and now accompanies his son and other scouts on outings where they learn archery, safe firearm skills while shooting BB guns, pick up scouting skills like plant identification and earn badges for achievements such as citizenship or engineering. The events average about one per month during the school year, with a few in the summer as well.
“Last summer, we visited Fontana Dam to see how it operated, but also had a pool party in Sylva,” Nickles said. “There was a trash pickup event at Cullowhee Valley School for community service last fall, and I was very proud of the turnout. The next month, December, we visited a nursing home and sang carols and distributed cards. Service projects are big for me,” Nickles said.
The scouts are now looking forward to a campout at Camp Daniel Boone near Waynesville.
“I really enjoyed scouting when I was young,” Nickles said. “It was outdoors, fun and with friends my age. You learn as a parent that you need to volunteer to give back, and when I saw how things ran, I knew I could contribute even with my skill set. You don’t have to be ‘outdoorsy’ to be in scouting; it takes a lot of different skills.
“One of the big reasons I started doing it, though, was seeing some boys in our pack who were brought by a grandparent or a family friend. Some are shy; some don’t have male leadership to help them develop confidence.”
Nickles is assisted with the pack by den leaders Todd Creasy, associate professor in the Global Management and Strategy Department; Blair Tormey, lecturer in the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resources; and Patrick Hughes, training director in Human Resources. WCU student Alexander Jones, who has achieved Eagle Scout honors and is a recent transfer from Southwestern Community College, also helps with activities as a den leader.
They will be planning summer activities soon. These will be posted on the pack’s site, which Nickles manages, at http://pack914.blogspot.com.
Cataloochee District covers Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. The district is one of five in the Daniel Boone Council, based in Asheville, which provides oversight and support to all area Cub Scout, Boy Scout and Venturing Crew units. All are part of the Boy Scouts of America.
For more information about the pack, contact Nickles at his personal email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Keith Brenton