Scouting has a long and solid history in El Paso de Robles. It was 102 years ago this month that the idea of having Boy Scouts in the area was conceived and advertised in the local newspaper. In 1948, two surplus buildings from Camp San Luis Obispo were dismantled and moved to a donated parcel at 23rd and Oak.

Rotary was behind the project then, and to this day, they are committed to local scouting’s success.

By the mid-1970s, there were three troops in the greater area that for a variety of sound reasons were consolidated into Troop 60. Under the sequential leaderships of Richard Smithen, a few more men, then Dennis Collins and Steve Von Dohlen, scouting flourished in Paso. Last year, following sustained scouting enrollment, the financial foundation that supports Troop 60 was able to pull together all areas of expertise in the community, including an uber-major donation by the Viborg Family, and constructed a new Scout House on the property.

Steve Von Dohlen is a dynamic community member who has been the Scoutmaster for the past 11 years. He became an Eagle Scout in
1986 in Troop 371 outside San Jose. After graduating from Santa Clara University, he went on to law school and was admitted to the California Bar Association in 1996. Steve became Deputy DA in San Luis Obispo in 2000. As hectic as his job is, his family always took front seat and scouting was the third leg of his chair. Scout mentoring began anew for him in 2003 when his son joined Cub Scouts; once a Scout, it’s really hard to not stay involved.

Today there are 60 boys in Paso’s program and a dozen of them are at the rank of LIFE on their own journey to the Eagle award which will take up to two more years of committed work. Under Steve’s leadership, just shy of 40 have already achieved that rank in the past eleven years. It’s not an easy voyage!

After countless hours of soul-searching with Scouting management, his family, the eight assistant scoutmasters and the various committees and advisers, Mr. Von Dohlen decided it was the perfect time to step aside and turn over the reins.

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon in October, the Scout House was filled with 100 people who shared their thanks, offered their memories and presented citations and plaques from government officials. Folks cheered, applauded and even shed a few tears. John Hamon and Kermit Komm, two very active members in the Troop, acted as the Masters of Ceremonies. One could easily tell that Steve is a lot more than a Scoutmaster; he is an important part of lives, a true friend, a forward thinker, a man of compassion and energy. He is a role model and clearly, he is a mentor in the lives of many young men who will in turn, make great impacts in their communities as they move forward.
The current Rotary President, Ms. Gail Tannehill, Mayor Steve Martin, District 1 Supervisor John Peschong, foundation members and assistant Scoutmaster, Dave Kudija, all took their turn at the microphone. But, it was Steve’s own son Alex who made the presentation of the day. With true love, thanks and affection, he thanked and hugged his dad for the lessons he was blessed to receive. Nary a dry eye in the room!
Scout Master Von Dohlen then had his turn. Reviewing his tenure, offering a thousand thank yous and sharing stories, he said that he knew it was time because ‘things were going too well.”

“Why should I have all the fun?” he said. “It’s time to share that feeling and let new blood find even more ways for improvement. The troop is in good shape and we have tremendous leadership ready to take over.”

And indeed, the new Scoutmaster is such a person. Dr. Eric Anderson has been an Assistant Scoutmaster for the past four years and brings a wealth of leadership in his own rite. Beginning as a veterinarian, Eric, for the past 18 years, is the Animal Services Manager for SLO County. He manages a staff of 21 to oversee this agricultural county of ours which is three times the land size of the state of Rhode Island! His passion for Scouting is waaaayyy up there on the scale of involvement. He and the team he inherited are gonna do just fine!

The formal day’s event was closed with the retirement and presentation of the current Troop 60 flag to Mr. Von Dohlen in appreciation for a job extremely well done! That was really special!

Want to learn more about local Scouting?
Attend a Monday meeting at 7 p.m. at 2247 Oak St. or call 805-239-3494.