This month, Cloudera Cares is excited to spotlight Burt Wagner, senior solutions engineer from Alexandria, Virginia. Burt—who joined Cloudera earlier this year— volunteers regularly with the Boy Scouts of America. He started Scouting as an eight year old; it has always been an integral part of his life and something he now enjoys sharing with his son.
“Scouting has been there through every phase of my life, and it’s central to my identity. I can’t imagine it being any other way.”
The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them important values such as being trustworthy, loyal, courteous, and kind. The organization cultivates in kids a love of learning and camaraderie—something that many Scouts carry with them for decades.
Burt supports Scouting in a number of roles. He is a unit commissioner, mentoring and supporting Scoutmasters and other leaders in providing a quality program to their packs and troops. He is the STEM Scout Guide for National Capital Area Council, responsible for leading and growing the new STEM Scout program throughout the Washington, DC metro region, meant to cultivate a love for STEM in young people and a desire to pursue STEM-oriented careers. During Cloudera’s latest unplug week, Burt took on a slightly different role serving as an assistant Scoutmaster for his son’s troop while at summer camp.
Burt used his unplug week this July to volunteer in a way he’s never been able to before: he helped his son’s Scout troop to Rodney Scout Reservation in northeast Maryland. Unfortunately, shortly before their arrival, a third of the personnel at the summer camp were unable to attend to support the campers. Without help, the camp would have had to severely curtail its program offerings, and thus disappoint the hundreds of Scouts in camp that week. Along with several other devoted leaders in camp, he simply said, “Not on my watch.”
As to not disappoint the young Scouts, the summer camp staff turned to the adult volunteer leaders attending camp with their troops to help. Burt and his fellow leaders rose to the occasion, leveraging their Scouting experiences to make the camp a meaningful and successful experience for the attendees.
“As a youth member of Scouts, I served on aquatics staff at summer camp myself, so I offered my services and Camp Rodney asked me to augment their staff. I taught swim lessons to non-swimmers, counseled Scouts working on earning Swimming Merit Badge and Lifesaving Merit Badge, and taught water safety to other Scout Leaders.”
During this short (but exhausting) volunteer experience, Burt also helped 19 Scouts earn the BSA Snorkeling award, and mentored Camp Rodney’s young staff members on how to be effective in their roles.
The experience was “thoroughly exhilarating, extremely rewarding, and completely exhausting,” Burt reflected. And while there were extenuating and non-ideal circumstances that lead to this volunteer experience, he noted he would be happy to do it again. Given his perspective and experience, he felt that not only could he share wisdom with the young Scouts, but with the staff as well—something he rarely has the opportunity to do.
“It made me appreciate the experience more. I really saw the difference between what the 17- and 18-year-old camp staff were able to teach, versus what I was able to bring to classes with 30+ years more experience.”
As Burt concluded his reflections, he added an overarching message that applies well beyond Scouting—but gets at the important and rewarding nature of volunteering with teens and young adults. “I think volunteering with youth organizations is one of the most valuable things someone can do. Youth need guidance and mentoring, and helping them learn lessons and acquire wisdom both ensures the future of our society and gives the person volunteering an opportunity to ensure their own legacy.”
Following this experience Burt utilized Cloudera’s new volunteer incentive program, Dollars for Doers, to further support the Boy Scouts of America. Dollars for Doers allows Cloudera to further support the causes their employees are most passionate about. To learn more about Dollars for Doers and other Cloudera Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives visit our website now.