Written by Ann Grote-Pirrung, Special to your Catholic Herald Thursday, 01 December 2011 10:38
Bob Freville spent just three years of his youth as a Cub Scout. However, he’s dedicated the last 25 years of his adult life to scouting, serving in many capacities – locally, district-wide and nationally. His embodiment of the scouting code, along with his involvement with scouting in the Catholic Church, was recognized last spring when he was presented the prestigious Silver St. George Award.
Literally the equivalent of the Academy Award, Emmy or Grammy for Catholic Scouters, the Silver St. George Award was first presented as adult recognition in 1997, and only 76 people have been awarded this honor since. Freville received the award at the biennial meeting of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting in Phoenix.
Freville, of Sheboygan Falls, credits his re-involvement with scouting to his two sons. After his short tenure as a Cub Scout (the pack died from lack of a leader in his hometown of Brandon), Freville re-entered the scouting life in 1986 when his sons showed an interest in it.
“I told them, ‘I’ll make sure you have a leader at least,’” he recalled. “I ate my words, and I’m still involved.”
He freely admits that in the beginning he was simply “a parent that helped out.” In a short amount of time he went from helping to leading the pack.
Occupation: Project manager, Kohler Co.
Church: Blessed Trinity, Sheboygan Falls
Book recently read: “Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000,” by L. Ron Hubbard
Favorite movie: “Favorite category is when the little guy has to overcome adversity, so to a certain point, some of the Harry Potter movies. Again, I like science fiction movies. I like ‘Alien.’ But I also like ‘chick flicks.’ Very strange. I like sci-fi, gritty movies like ‘Alien,’ but then I enjoy feel good chick flicks.”
Favorite quotation: “Scout Law … because to me that says everything.”
(Catholic Herald photo by Tracy Rusch)
“I went up through the ranks with my son,” he said, going from leading Cub Scouts, Webelos and eventually Scout master. “I took a lot of training.” He eventually became the council training chair.
That is just one of the positions he’s held through the years. His other leadership positions include Assistant Scoutmaster for a National Jamboree troop and Council Jamboree Coordinator. He has been chairman for the Bay-Lakes Council Catholic Committee for the Milwaukee Archdiocese, and for the past nine years has served as the Region 7 Chairman, to name just a few.
The Boy Scout Law says a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Freville took all the tenets to heart, but none more so than “reverent.” All major religions have religious recognition awards like the Silver St. George Award, and, according to Freville’s wife, Marlene, he made sure the scouts affiliated with other religions in his locale were aware of this. “He didn’t just emphasize the Catholic award. He got information and made it available to all the boys for their particular religions,” she said.
He added, “I was kind of the unit religious guy.”
According to Freville, one of the basics of the Boy Scouts is that the individuals believe in a Higher Power.“An atheist cannot be a Boy Scout,” he said.
In Freville’s case, his Catholic faith dictated the bent he chose to impart in his troops. “I wanted my boys to be exposed to that aspect,” he said. “I was raised in the church; I had strong feelings in the church; my wife has strong feelings in the church. So I wanted my boys exposed to that because, again, there are Boy Scout units that don’t emphasize the religious part of it at all, and I think they’re missing something. Because when you look at what scouting is supposed to be, the reverent part is all the way through it. And without emphasizing that, you’re missing some of the nuances of scouting. When you start tying in the religious part of it, it brings a little bit more of it to the front. It’s hard to describe. The Boy Scouts are really founded on religion. And I kind of wanted that for my kids.”
Freville has done much for scouting, but what has scouting done for him?
“The biggest thing I’d say is time with my sons,” Freville said. “I’m teaching them something. It’s hands on, but scouting is also very good at teaching leadership. It puts boys in a situation where they can try and fail in a safe way and then try again and succeed at an early age. And that is very important.”
Scouting, along with his faith, has also dictated how he comports his life.
“My faith is the basis of my life, really,” Freville said. “I’ve been married to Marlene for 34 years. She had artificial hips when I met her, and ‘for better or worse’ really meant something. My religious background helps set that. When you go into something, you’re going to go into it and stay with it. My faith has only gotten stronger through the years.”
His wife added, “When we got married, we didn’t know if I could have kids, so we put it in God’s hands. I’ve had lots of surgeries. We both really try to live our faith.”
While Freville is still involved with scouting at a national level, and is a member of the district level at large, he no longer leads a local pack. However, he has a grandson who lives in the nearby town of Cleveland. If the need arises, “I’ll be driving to Cleveland,” he said.