A dedicated volunteer with a lifetime of experiences in the Cub Scouts recently received one of the organization’s highest honors.

El Mirage resident Bob Jones was bestowed with the Cubmaster of the Year award for the Lake Pleasant District, which includes packs and dens stretching from Wickenburg to Scottsdale.

Jones was nominated by his Pack 922 family, a contingent of 36 boys. ages 6 to 11, who take part in weekly camping and other outdoor adventures, and who also compete for awards and badges in various projects that build self-esteem and confidence.

Jones, or “Cubby Bob” as he is affectionately known, launched a Cub Scout program in El Mirage two years ago in a community that had experienced challenges and disappointments in sustaining earlier attempts.

Prior to leading Pack 922, Jones said he knew the scarcity of meeting space and community support was something he would have to overcome to make Cub Scouts successful in the working-class community. Uniform costs alone can run more than $100.

But Jones succeeded right off the bat with sponsorships from People of El Mirage, a nonprofit whose past leaders include Mayor Lana Mook, as well as from local homeowners associations to fund the pack and ensure every child could participate no matter their family’s financial situation.

“They keep scouting alive in El Mirage,” Jones said of the sponsors.

Jones is no stranger to the Cub Scout movement.

Jones “grew up in scouting” and said being part of an organization that teaches children how to become good citizens, strong in character and moral values, helps them in their formative years and into adulthood.

“I was proud to be nominated,” Jones said. “I know a lot of these kids look up to me, but I’m not a hero. These kids are what make it all special. They are the future leaders of America.”

With many children and teens left with little or nothing to do after school in El Mirage, Jones said he knew starting a Cub Scout program would instill in the children a sense of self-worth and value. The children also would learn the value of civic-mindedness and voluntarism with trips to city council meetings, and fire and police departments.

“It’s opportunities like this that kids remember,” he said.

Pack 922 is a “family pack,” where entire families are invited to take part in the outdoor activities and volunteer aspects of the national organization.

Jones said he realized bringing families together in El Mirage would help shape the youngsters and community even more. The pack provided 21 meals to the less fortunate during Thanksgiving and donated 25 turkeys to the Dysart Community Center at Christmas.

“It’s about pulling families together and keeping them together,” Jones said, noting plans are in the works to establish a Boy Scout troop in El Mirage sometime this year.

Pack 922 meets at 6 p.m. every Wednesday at the Dysart Community Center, 14414 N. El Mirage Road. Jones can be reached at 623-455-1213.

Zach Colick can be reached at 623-876-2522 or zcolick@yourwestvalley.com.

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