Everyone has a story to tell. My question is, what's yours? Each week, I will explore a local character with a story to tell.
Today, let's meet Walter Josti Jr. who is interested in sharing his love for scouting: what it has taught him and who he is today because of it.
Walter Josti, Mohegan Council member and second generation Scout, jokes that he was unofficially started in scouting the day he was born. Officially, he joined at the age of 8, when he became a Lion Scout. His dad, also named Walter, joined the Scouts in 1933 at the age of 13. Today, Walter Sr. is still a registered member, at age 88, and responsible for four generations of Scouting success.
When Walt Jr. joined the Lions at the age of 8, he could not have possibly imagined where his Scouting affiliation would take him in life. Lions were the precursor to today’s Tiger Scouting and the youngest one who could join the ranks.
"I remember Cub Scouts," Josti said. "I stayed involved through the Arrow of Light, and went immediately on to Boy Scouts. I’m not sure why we were called Lions, but I think the thinking then was lions, tigers and bears, oh my."
Now, 51 scouting years later, Josti has held just about every position imaginable in scouting. In fact, he was so committed to staying involved in the organization he loved, that he even stayed involved as a Scoutmaster and an Explorer post member at the various bases he frequented as a member of the Air Force during the Vietnam War.
"I was in the war from 1968-1970," Josti said. "I was a Scoutmaster and an advisor to an Explorer post throughout that time. Funny story…while I was an advisor at one of my duty stations, I wrote a letter to my base commander (who was also the Scout Committee Chairman) telling him I could not make a campout as my unit was scheduled to be on alert duty. Shortly thereafter, my unit received a call saying we were relieved of duty, and I went camping with the Scouts. From that point on, every time we were scheduled to be on alert duty, someone would jokingly ask me if I had a campout scheduled."
Prior to his time in the war, Josti was actively involved with Explorer Post 52 and Troop 52 both out of St. Bernard’s in Worcester. Walt credits scouting for his successes in life.
"I stay involved as a form of payback," Josti said. "I credit Scouting for all of my successes in life. I had no idea when I was teaching first aid to young Scouts that I would one day be a fifth grade teacher. People call me organized all the time, and those skills I learned through Scouting also. Heck, I’m even a married man because of Scouting."
"Linda (his wife) and I were both leaders of our respective groups and everyone wanted to match us up," Josti said. " Everyone that is, except us. "
Happily, Walt and Linda listened to their friends and did hook up. On Oct. 11, they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary surrounded by their two sons and four grandchildren, all of whom are still involved in Scouting.
Adding a layer to Josti’s accomplishments, the BSA developed a Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience course (COPE) in the early 1980’s.
"When I was in the Air Force, I taught survival and often hung out of planes (gulp)," Josti explained. "When I came back to the states to complete my undergrad degree at UMASS Amherst, and they were beginning Outward Bound, I was most interested. When COPE came out through BSA, I was first introduced through my son Michael who was involved with Troop 227. (Walt was the Scoutmaster for the same troop at the time). From there I went to camp school (or what was the equivalent to it, then) to become a COPE director. The rest, as they say, is history as I am still involved with COPE today as a camp school teacher and a staff member for the rappelling tower at the National Jamboree."
Continuing with Josti’s list of accomplishments would take up too much paper, so suffice it to say that he has held many, many, many positions included but not limited to; council commissioner, unit commissioner, district commissioner, Scoutmaster, assistant Scoutmaster, National Camp School staff, NYLT director, NEI266 unit commissioner and the list goes on.
Four generations, and several members of scouting strong, the Josti family is proud to be a member of the Scouting family and proud to be a story to tell out of Shrewsbury.