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Weathering a challenge



Published: Sat, January 22, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



It's really all about leadership and teamwork training.

Josh Frances' recipe for getting a great co-op job with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration:

One stick.

One bow.

A little tinder.

About 10 minutes.

And a few really cold and snowy days at a Boy Scout winter survival camp. While Saturday's snowstorm canceled many events in northeast Ohio, it was the perfect weather for Scouts out to show what they've learned.

Frances, a 20-year-old from Warren, who is spending his days at NASA's Glen Research Center in Cleveland working on rocket launch computer coding, was among 390 campers Saturday tying knots, crafting sleds -- and building fires with flint and steel, sticks and bows.

The Boy Scout Winter Event 2005 at Camp Chickagami, a short mush north of Parkman, with its unforgiving weather and 10 emergency preparedness and survival skill training stations, ignites something else in the 10- to 20-year-olds stomping through the ankle-deep snow from one exercise to the next.

Important lessons

"It's important to learn things that are difficult sometimes, even if you never use them," said Kenneth D. LaPolla, who chaired the event this year. The organizers bill the weekend as the year's largest gathering of Trumbull County Scouts.

"You put someone in a difficult situation, and they find out they can do it," the Warren dentist said. "That's why our Eagle Scouts do well in college, do well in the military, do well in life."

Confidence gained

For his part, Frances, a winter event survivor at age 11 and knot tying his way through his 11th year as an assistant scoutmaster this weekend, attributes his NASA co-op student status to the interview for the job.

He credits his success at the interview to the confidence he gained from doing things such as starting fires with sticks -- and teaching others to do it, too.

"The things we do out here are all about learning how to be a leader and how to interact with people," he said, as "spirit" shouts echoed from one of the 23 troops in the woods.

"It's how to sit down and talk with somebody, work with them, about being a team player. You have to have the confidence to go into an interview and impress them. That's how I got the job at NASA. I'm a team player," he said.

Teamwork is important in the University of Cincinnati sophomore's co-op student work.

He's huddling with a group of "advanced concept" scientists generating new ideas on ways to get rockets to the moon or Mars.

Frances spends his days at a computer.

"We're developing a code that sizes the launch vehicle," he said. (His team's quest is a "magic" formula that takes into account the hundreds of factors that determine "how much you have to get off the ground.")

But this weekend, he's a Scout in a tent pitched in the snow sleeping with "three snoring people" and building fires with sticks.




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