Paullina Boy Scouts to Tour STRATCOM It was tough. After several weeks of correspondence with the Offutt Air Force Base (AFB) officials, the Paullina Boys Scouts and Webelos have been given permission to tour the base.
STRATCOM (Strategic Command) is the new acronym for the now defunct Strategic Air Command which is located at Offutt AFB in Omaha, Nebraska.
Webelos and Boy Scouts from Troop 150 will leave Paullina in the afternoon on August 18 and return August 20. Offutt Officials planned an itinerary for the Scouts which includes: camping on the base at Base Lake. At the lake, Scouts can enjoy fishing, swimming and meeting Boy Scout Troops from other towns. Scouts will then be expected to wake up early and join STRATCOM personnel for breakfast. After brekfast Scouts will board an Offutt AFB bus and begin their private tour of the base.
The tour will include the control tower, fire departmant and other fasilities located on this "City within a city"ÃÂ.
The tour culminates with the Scouts going deep underground to the STRATCOM command bunker where the Scouts will get a look at the Command Center, something most people have only see in the movies. The rest of the day, will be spent touring the SAC Museum and the safari zoo, both located west of Omaha.
After supper in the mes hall, Saturday evening will be spent at Base Lake. If the Scouts have any money left, they can enjoy some bowling at the base bowling alley.
Sunday will start early with breakfast at the base, a hike through Henry Doorly Zoo and a 3-D movie at the I-Max.
The Troop had several obstacles to overcome. One obstacle was their ages. STRATCOM requires a minimum age of 15 to tour the bunker. Paullina's Troop is very young with the oldest Scout being about 13 years old. Another problem was numbers. STRATCOM would like to do a tour for no less than 15 people. Troop 150 has 8-9 members. To overcome the numbers problum the Troop invited the Webelos to go along. Webelos are the Cub Scouts learning to become Boy Scouts and will probably join the Troop within a year.
New Assistant Boy Scout Leader Gary Stangeland was instrumental in gaining permission for the Scouts.
"Somehow, when we hit a dead-end,"ÃÂ explained Webelos Leader John Ihle. "He was able to get to somebody higher up and find out what we needed to do to get a waver."ÃÂ The Troop leeders wrote a letter to STRATCOM officials explaining why the Troop deserves a waver. Some Boy Scouts also wrote a letter explaining why they wanted a tour.
"I think it will be a fantastic trip!"ÃÂ said Ihle. "There is a lot of pressure on our Scouts to be on their best behavior."ÃÂ Stangeland explained that one of the reasons for the restrictions was trouble STRATCOM officials had with discipline at the base when other youth groups have stayed there.
"It only takes a few to ruin it for everyone and STRATCOM won't tolerate it,"ÃÂ explained Ihle. "We have a good bunch of boys in our Troop and I think that we can prove it to them. They'll be judging us and Scouting in general based on how we act."ÃÂ