The aim of the Royal Rangers, commander Rick Dostal said, is to be the world’s best mentoring program.
Dostal, who arrived in Marietta three and half years ago and set up the internationally-based program then, said the Royal Rangers, founded in 1962 by Texan Johnnie Barnes, is an organization with hundreds of local outposts, as the local groups are called, and a big potential for influence on the next generation of men.
Marietta is Outpost 390 and meets in the River of Life Church on Franklin Street every Wednesday at 6 p.m. This week, two boys attended, guided by Dostal and his fellow commander, Thaddeus Johnson.
Dostal said the group has been as large as 10 boys, but several families moved away during the summer so he’s patiently rebuilding the ranks.
Royal Rangers is a complex but orderly program with a progressive series of merit badges, familiar to anyone who knows Scouting, based on acquiring a broad set of skills, from camping and woodworking to sewing and home-making tasks. Dostal spent 16 years in Springfield, Mo., at the Assemblies of God national general council, and had a part in establishing the curriculum.
Tyler Scarbrough, left, and Josiah Mills get ready to run the soap box derby car they built for a recent competition in Columbus as Thaddeus Johnson and Rick Dostal watch next to the River of Life Church Wednesday night. The boys are enrolled in the Royal Rangers, and Dostal and Johnson are commanders in the program. (Photo by Michael Kelly)
On Wednesday night, the weekly session began with a series of pledges – to the American flag, the church flag, the Bible and the Ranger flag. Johnson asked whether there were any prayer requests, and hearing none, moved on to a quiz about the Rangers and then a look ahead at a fishing trip coming up this weekend.
Dostal held up a photo of a fish, asking, “What fish is this?”
“Bluegill,” said Tyler Scarbrough, 11.
“Right,” Dostal said, noting the blue spot on the fish.
He showed the two boys a photo of Buckeye Lake, where they will go fishing. He held up a magazine with a largemouth bass on the cover, explaining that the big aggressive fish areknown for lurking and then attacking suddenly. The discussion turned to wildlife.
“I saw bobcats at papaw’s cabin, a baby and a momma,” Tyler said.
Johnson led a Bible study based on Jeremiah 3:13.
“it’s about the love the Lord has for us … think about somebody who knows the worst about you but still loves you, the Lord’s love is even greater than that,” he said. “He laughs with you and cries with you.”
Scarbrough said he enjoys the activities and marking his progress from one skill to the next.
“I’ve got merits for bikes and fishing, and like the camps,” he said. “At the powwow in Columbus, I got an FCF (Frontier Champion Fellowship) and we raced our soap box derby car.”
Scarbrough and his fellow Ranger, 10-year-old Josiah Mills, held a balloon-popping race afterward, then got out the soap box derby car they’d built for the competition and raced it around on the Market Street sidewalk next to the church, with Dostal and Johnson doing some of the pushing.
Dostal said community service is part of the commitment for the boys, and recent examples include placing more than 300 flags on the streets of Marietta’s west side for Independence Day, building a dog house for a veteran whose canine companion needed outdoor shelter, and their current project, repairing the accessibility ramp for their church.
“Our mission is to evangelize, equip and empower the next generation of Christ-like men and servant leaders,” Dostal said. “It’s the long haul – I want to show the boys how to do it, and have them show others. We’re there to guide and mentor them in the right direction.”
Further information on the Royal Rangers is available by calling Dostal at 740-885-8151 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Kelly can be reached at email@example.com
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