Mentors Making an Impact

In 2010 a group of Camp Fawcett Alumni decided to hold a reunion at Camp Fawcett - a camp out from Friday to Sunday, to include, sons, grandsons and friends. Because of high interest, it was decided to hold an open-to-all BBQ on Saturday. Attendance was about 200, and included adult volunteers, Council employees, the Council President, a few Council board members, former Girl Scouts who were also alumni, and numerous others interested in Camp Fawcett. Organizers of the first reunion became keenly aware at this first reunion that it was far more than just a gathering. It was a time to bond, learn about activities of the council, and meet and greet the Scout Executive, Council President, Council District Executives and board members. But most importantly, it was an opportunity for alumni scouts to mentor and help enterprising young scouts, so as told in the story below.

The bonding of John Keyes Finegan and Benji Rawald has not previously been told, mainly because John Keyes and other alumni are not prone to disclose a helping hand. After considering the passing of John Keyes, Benji and his dedicated scout leader Mom Kat felt it was important to disclose and honor Mr. Finegan.

Mentors Making an Impact

Benji Rawald met John Keys Finegan in 2013 when he was 10 years old at a BBQ at Camp Fawcett in Barksdale, TX. The two of them sat together for lunch, and John Keyes was so impressed by Benji that day that he decided to support his scouting efforts from afar. John Keyes kept saying that he had never met a kid like Benji in his life, and that Benji would need his help. Mr. Finegan started to write letters to us and emails over time, he told us his story and even sent us his books. Mr. Finegan was born in a house about a block from where we live in Del Rio, TX and the two of them had talks about changes in the neighborhood. As the son of a rancher, John Keyes spent most of his life on a Ranch on Dolan Creek on the Devils River. John Key’s grandfather was E. K. Fawcett is the benefactor of the Boy Scout Camp known as Camp Fawcett. Over the next three years, Mr. Finegan wrote us many letters telling us about the many scouting adventures he took with his grandfather at Camp Fawcett.

Above: John Keyes Finegan and Benji Rawald

As a single parent recovering from cancer, scouting was an expensive activity, but it is even more expensive with a son determined to get every Boy Scout award. Mr. Finegan wanted reports on Benji’s school and scouting progress, and we even sent him report cards and scout pictures as Ben progressed. As mentioned before, things were difficult financially and Mr. Finegan helped pay for 6 summer camps, 2 winter camps, 5 merit badge universities, a Scuba PADI Certificate, Sea Base, 2 sets of uniforms (yes, they grow out of them fast) 139 merit badges, and 42 official awards. Mr. Finegan was unable to attend Ben's Eagle Scout ceremony, but sent a $500 college scholarship check to ensure "his boy got a head start on life". This $500 was but a drop in the bucket when considering the thousands paid by John Keyes. Ben is currently able to stay in the dorms for the summer at Southwest Texas Jr. College because of Mr. Finegan’s generosity.

Normally, Mr. Finegan never paid Benji a cent; rather he sent the money to the Boy Scout Shop in San Antonio, or the Boy Scout Camps directly. John Keyes passed away on June 2, 2016, and Benji attended his funeral in full scout dress with other boys from various scout troops from. Mr. Finegan was so devoted to Scouting that his casket was etched with the BSA logo. Ben only met Mr. Finegan once, and by earning the Silver Hornaday Award, Ben will have completed his promise that he would “get them all” – every award, every challenge, every patch, every rank and every medal that a Scout or Venturer all with the help and support of Mr. John Keyes Finegan.

Above: Pork ribs.

Thank you John. Thanks also to the Camp Fawcett Alumni for establishing a venue where a helping hand is available along with mentoring.