Boy Scouting In Berlin, A Home Away From Home

Cub Scouts at Pinewood Dervby i i

A Cub Scout troop visits the Pinewood Derby. The Scout troops in Berlin have a wide network that extends throughout Europe. Mike Kaiserauer hide caption

itoggle caption Mike Kaiserauer
Cub Scouts at Pinewood Dervby

A Cub Scout troop visits the Pinewood Derby. The Scout troops in Berlin have a wide network that extends throughout Europe.

Mike Kaiserauer

Michael Kaiserauer says the best thing about being in the Boy Scouts is the camping trips.

Michael,12, is a member of the Boy Scout troop 895 in Berlin. Tonight, his troop is meeting to discuss upcoming events, merit badges, and first aid. Michael's dad, Mike Kaiserauer, is the Scout Master of the troop.

Kaiserauer, an architect from Chicago, moved to Berlin 18 years ago with his wife for a work project. They liked the city so much, they decided to stay after the project was finished. As a Boy Scout himself growing up, Kaiserauer encouraged his own kids to join when they were old enough.

"My wife at one point, when my daughter was old enough, decided to start a Girl Scout troop, and told me after about three years of nice camping experiences that as soon as our son is old enough I'm going back in Scouting myself."

The Boy Scouts have been in Germany since the early 1950s, brought over with the American Allied troops. Today there are over 4,000 Scouts across Europe and 130 in Berlin.

Be Prepared

The Boy Scouts traditionally teach leadership and wilderness skills and stress fitness and community service, and it's all done with a very Americana spirit. Most American kids who participate in the Scouts in Berlin have parents in the Foreign Service or military, making the program a sort of home away from home. Kaiserauer says the Scouts can be a great transition for kids who frequently move to different cities or military bases.

"The kids have a chance to immediately come into a group that they are perhaps already familiar with in the United Sates or visa versa. They start here in here in Europe; they get to know a lot of kids here in the Scouting program."

"A lot of our diplomatic families who are maybe only here for three years or so, then they move on, and we try to give them information on Scouting groups in the area they'll be residing in so they can hook up immediately with those groups and the kids can have a smoother transition."

Even though it's a great network for American kids, Kaiserauer says the Scouts in Berlin make a serious effort to recognize different cultures and customs.

"We share the cultures actually. A lot of the kids, they do come from mixed households. Whether it's an American wife or American husband or a German wife or husband, so we do try to use that cultural background to really reinforce and help foster the cultural aspect of the program."

Boy Scouts in Berlin i i

Boy Scout troops from across Germany meet up every summer to attend Camp Freedom in Oberdachstetten. Mike Kaiserauer hide caption

itoggle caption Mike Kaiserauer
Boy Scouts in Berlin

Boy Scout troops from across Germany meet up every summer to attend Camp Freedom in Oberdachstetten.

Mike Kaiserauer

The Scouts also have a strong connection to the Berlin community. They interact with other German scout groups and have a wide network throughout Europe.

Mike Kaiserauer has taken a large role in that network and is even helping plan events for the Scouts' centennial celebration this year.

But, at the end of the day, he says he's supported the Boy Scouts for so long because it takes kids back to the basics.

"It's about being part of nature, it's about having fun, camping, sitting around a camp fire, singing songs, and it's an opportunity to share some time with my son, who, at one point in his life will be old enough where he's like, 'Dad, I've got other interests. I don't want to hang out with you anymore.' So this is our time to be together."

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