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“If it was not for being an Eagle Scout, I would not be an optometrist. I believe this because of my interest in the First Aid Merit Badge that led me down this road.”

 - Dr. Darrell Groman, Eagle Scout Class of 1972

   

Scouting brings life into focus

Scouting has helped shape a lifetime of serve, both locally and internationally, for Pandora optometrist

     
         THREE EAGLE SCOUTS: Dr. Darrell Groman, who earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1972, stands with his sons, Misha and Christian, who are also both Eagle Scouts.
       

Boy Scouts has a positive impact on those who participate and often becomes a foundation for preparing them for life.

In Scouting, the hands-on experiences and lessons become lasting opportunities for kids to learn. As the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training, Scouting helps young people be “Prepared. For Life.” This Scouting saying is more than just three words, but rather a high-level explanation to what the Scouting organization does and how Scouting helps youth take steps toward becoming a better person, team member and community minded individual.

Since its inception in 1910, more than 130 million young men and women have participated in the Boy Scouts of America youth programs. More than 35 million adult volunteers have helped carry out the BSA’s mission.

Black Swamp Area Council in Northwest and West Central Ohio serves 13 counties: Allen, Auglaize, Defiance, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Seneca, Van Wert and Williams. 

Many may not realize the Boy Scouts of America are part of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM), which is comprised of 172 National Scout Organizations around the world.

As the WOSM proudly states, Scouting provides young people with opportunities to participate in programs, events, activities, and projects that contribute to their growth as active citizens. Through these initiatives, young people become agents of positive change who inspire others to take action.

The Foundation of Scouting
    Scout Oath: On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.  
    Scout Law: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.  
    Scout Mission: The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.  
       

From 20 boys at an experimental camp in 1907 under the direction of Lord Robert Baden-Powell to 500 million across the globe, Scouting is the world’s foremost leader in youth development.

     
Dr. Groman, right, is present a copy of ophthalmologist Dr. Ihor Zachary's 40-year history book of Ukrainian Plast Scouting in Cleveland, Ohio. Pysanyj Kamin, Plast Scout Camp in Middlefield, Ohio 1965-2005. (FYI: Pysanyj Kamin continues to be a Plast Scout Camp in 2021.)      
       
     
Dr. Groman said it was a privilege to talk with the Ukrainian Plast Girl Scouts after their closing ceremony and to offer encouragement to the girls to continue to progress in their Scouting experiences during his trip in 2021.      
       

One never knows when a young child joins the ranks of Scouting what will become of their future. People take different paths and many grow to become active members of their communities.

We have celebrated our famous Eagle Scouts like Neil Armstrong from Wapakoneta, President Gerald Ford, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Sam Walton, Steven Spielberg and Mike Rowe, and thousands of other famous individuals who were in Scouting during their lifetime.

Locally, we have one individual who continues to give back through selfless service because of what he learned as a youth while a Boy Scout in Bluffton.

Dr. Darrell Groman earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1972 and continues to be a catalyst within Scouting through his service and dedication to others, not only in his community, but to others internationally. As a member of the Bluffton and Pandora communities, he has nearly 40 years of Scouting experience that includes extensive involvement with International Scouting.

     

Have Retinoscope,    Will Travel!

Dr. Groman is known to say


 

In Scouting, once the rank of Eagle is obtained, a Scout’s experience is not over, but rather just beginning. Eagle Scouts are the shining example of Scouting and are challenged to continue serving others and giving back throughout their life. 

“I learned so much from Scouting,” Dr. Groman stated. “To help other people at all times. A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind … cheerful … brave…”

Dr. Groman is a Doctor of Optometry in Pandora. He took his Scouting adventures internationally in 1983 when he visited Venezuela and became involved with providing aid and eye care to international countries.

"My life has been multi-faceted with my personal experiences with Jesus, Scouting, stamp collecting and being self-taught in geography, Optometry, Languages, History and having had many opportunities to travel overseas,” Dr. Groman stated.

As a devote follower of Christ, Dr. Groman looks to better those around him. “I learned at an early age, from Jesus. Jesus loves the little children: red & yellow, black & white; they are all precious in His sight. We are to love one another, as Christ first loved us. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

“Our neighbors are not only those who live beside us, but those also who live across the street, across town, across the railroad tracks, on the other side of the county and state as well as those who live in far-away countries around the world,” he added. “When we help to serve the least of His brethren, we are serving Christ. Feed the hungry, visit those individuals who are in prison, clothe the naked and help the blind to see.”

"Have Retinoscope, Will Travel,” he’ll state, and he has done so, all over the world.

He has participated in 12 international vision care missions to offer the best of the pre-sorted used eyeglasses from the VOSH-Ohio Eyeglasses Sorting Center in the basement of the Pandora United Methodist Church. Dr. Groman reports they are now nearing the milestone of donating over 4 million pairs of glasses since 1988.

Dr. Groman’s travels have also led to his family. Meeting his eventual wife Irina in the Ukraine, to the birth of their children Misha and Christian. Both boys are Eagle Scouts like their father and the couple has been married for 16 years.

His International Scouting adventures are fascinating and if you’d like to read more details about his Scouting experiences, the following is a look at how Scouting has helped shape Dr. Groman’s life. He outlined his International Scouting, Scouting Heritage and local Scouting History when asked to share his experiences by Black Swamp Area Council staffer Jim Mason. 

Here's what Dr. Groman shared:

       

Re: International Scouting, Scouting Heritage and local Scouting History

Dear Jim,

I am flabbergasted and humbly honored that you have an interest to learn about my personal International Scouting experiences. In all of my many years in Scouting, including several years as a registered Scouter and serving as a merit badge counselor; and as an optometrist who had served on 12 overseas vision care missions, you are the first individual to ask several critical questions. I had not met anyone “who has more than a fleeting interest” with International Scouting. I will “Do My Best” to answer and discuss your fascinating and multi-faceted questions, which are all fundamental aspects of my life. I do regret that I have not archived significant photos to attach with this letter.

It has taken some time for to recollect my extensive International Scouting experiences, during the past 38 years.  These include the Scouts de Venezuela (1983), of Tanzania (1985), Ukrainian Plast Scouts of Cleveland, Ohio and Plast Scouting USA (ca. 2004? – present), visiting the Michigan International Camporee at Camp Northwoods Michigan (2012) and Plast Scouting in Ukraine (2021).  But, I need to go back a full 57 years, back to 1964, when I had joined the Cub Scouts.

Third Grade was The Best School Year of My Life, 1964-1965. A stellar year which helped establish the foundation of my life: Jesus, Cub Scouts, our school field trips to learn about the local History of our community, Riley Creek and the Presidential campaign of 1964.

  1. Jesus: The Good News Club, conducted by two (seemingly elderly) ladies, met on Tuesdays in the basement of the disbanded Defenseless Mennonite Church, across the street from my house on South Jackson Street.  (I could write much, much more about how He has impacted my Life. There are two fundamental factors which I will mention, below.)
  1. Cub Scouts: (see below).
  1. Local History: My Third Grade teacher, Miss Minerva Hilty, piqued my interest while we walked around our town, learning about the early history of the settlement, those early settlers who had platted the Town of Shannon and incorporated the Village of Bluffton.

Cub Scouts: Third Grade: the fall of 1964. Den 3, Bluffton Pack #256: Bobcat and Wolf

I joined Cub Scouts early 3rd Grade: I was a Bobcat, Wolf Cub & Bear Cub (I quit in 4th Grade. I didn’t like the “nicknames” given to me by my fellow Cub Scouts: “Gertrude” and “Galardy”)

However, two hallmarks from my Wolf Cub experience transformed my life:

  1. Learning how to tie a long tie. I continue to put on a tie every workday as an optometrist.
  1. Collections: Stamps and Coins, particularly stamps. My world-wide stamp collection began to pique my interest to learn about the lands around the world. I had to decipher the printed words on the foreign stamps which were in unique and official languages. I soon learned about geography: where countries are located, on “the world map.”
     
      Be Prepared: Pictured above Dr. Groman is shown with the Troop 256 neckerchief, which was designed by his mother Carol and Leona Weiss while he was a youth member of the Troop. The reason behind the design is "The Bluffton Troop is always ready to eat!" 
       

Boy Scouts: Fifth Grade: the fall of 1966 through high school graduation in 1974.

Despite having quit the Cub Scouts, I soon learned the Boy Scouts were meeting on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. So, I joined Bluffton BSA Troop #256. My Dad, Morris, (an eventual Silver Beaver), soon became involved with the Troop and accepted the role as Troop Scoutmaster. My Mom, Carol, and Mrs. Leona Weiss, the wife of our Assistant Scoutmaster designed the red and white checkered Troop neckerchief still used today. Because the neckerchief looks like a tablecloth, the Bluffton Scouts have since proclaimed, “You know, the Bluffton Scouts are Always Ready to Eat!”

It is so difficult to note here the multi-faceted experiences during Boy Scouts which continued to transform my life to become an optometrist who has offered professional vision care in Pandora, in prison and around the world. A few of the hallmarks from my years as a Boy Scout:

“On my honor, I will do my Duty to God … “ - The First Principle of Scouting.

“A Scout is Reverent.” - The 12th Scout Law, the Foundation upon which the first 11

Scout Laws rest upon, to withstand blowing winds, falling rain.

Stamp Collection Merit Badge. My first of 25 Merit Badges.

First Aid Merit Badge.  I attribute this Merit Badge as leading me towards a career in health care, eventually becoming an optometrist.

Snoopy Patrol Leader} Experiences with leadership opportunities. Making phone calls to Senior Patrol Leader  } patrol members. Snoopy Patrol, 1st place, Klondike Derby, 1972

 

Eagle Scout. 1972

 

Camp Berry, Summer Camp Staff, Kitchen Assistant. Eight weeks of camp, 1973

 

Bluffton High School: September 1970 through May 1974.

    Latin I, II, III and IV.             

 

The Ohio State University: September 1974 through June 1985.

    Bachelor of Science, Zoology - 1978, including Latin 101, 102, 103 and 104

    Doctor of Optometry - 1985, including auditing 9 weeks of Spanish 101

 

Professional solo practice of Optometry: 1985 to the present.

    Bluffton - 1985 to 1988

    Pandora - 1986 to present

 

    Oakwood Forensic Center - the former Lima State Hospital for the Criminally Insane

    Consulting optometrist - 1985 to 2001, vision care at the mental hospital

 

    Volunteer Optometric Service to Humanity - Student VOSH, tOSU Optometry 1978-1985

        VOSH-Ohio Founder, 1st Director 1987

         Leader / co-leader on short-term VOSH missions in:

         Venezuela (1983), Tanzania (1985), Mexico (1987), India (1989),

Guatemala (1991), Nicaragua (1992), Ukraine (1993, 1995, 1999),

Honduras (1994, 1996) and El Salvador (1997).

 

     
      Dr. Groman is pictured addressing members of the American Legion Post #382 in Bluffton which has been the charter partner organization for Troop 256 since 1988-89.

Scout Leader:       

Bluffton Cub Scout Pack #256: 2005-2009 (?)

Bluffton Boy Scout Troop #256 until 2018

Historian of Scouting in Bluffton 1914 to 2010

Including the unchartered Troops in Bluffton 1914-1939

     (I have copies of every charter for Pack #256 1954 – 2007)

    (I have copies of every charter for Troop #256 1939 - 2009)

Merit Badge counselor until 2018:  including Scout Heritage and Stamp Collecting

International Scouting experiences:

            Venezuela      Tienda Scout (the Scout Shop)           Caracas Venezuela,      1983

                                                Scout de Bolivar

             Tanzania        National Jamboree                              Dar Es Salaam,           1985

                                                President’s Scout

            England          Baden Powell House                           London, England           1989

                                    The Scout Shop (first in the world)    London, England           1989

                                                Queen’s Scout

            Ukrainian Plast Scouts in the USA:                                         Cleveland, Ohio          2004

                Plast Scout USA National Jamboree Pysanyj Kamin  Middlefield, Ohio       2004

                                                SKOB (Ukrainian word for osprey)

 

Michigan International Camporee                         Camp Northwoods    2012

                        “moot”? camp of Scouts from 25 countries    MI Scout Reservation

                              

Ukraine   Plast National Headquarters, Lviv, Ukraine, 2021 

    

     SKOB (Ukrainian word for osprey)

My life has been multi-faceted with my personal experiences with Jesus, Scouting, stamp collecting and being self-taught in geography, Optometry, Languages, History and having had many opportunities to travel overseas. 

I learned at an early age, from Jesus:

“Jesus loves the little children: red & yellow, black & white; they are all precious in His sight.”

“We are to love one another, as Christ first loved us.”

 “We are to love our neighbors as ourselves.”  Our neighbors are not only those who live beside us, but those also who live across the street, across town, across the railroad tracks, on the other side of the county and state as well as those who live in far-away countries around the world.

“When we help to serve the least of His brethren, we are serving Christ.” Feed the hungry, visit those individuals who are in prison, clothe the naked and help the blind to see.

 

I learned so much from Scouting:

“To help other people at all times.”

“A Scout is ... Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, ... Cheerful, ... Brave ... “

 

from collecting stamps

and being self-taught about geography, 

becoming an optometrist“Have Retinoscope, Will Travel” on 12 overseas vision care missions to offer the best of the pre-sorted used eyeglasses (from the VOSH-Ohio Eyeglasses Sorting Center in the basement of the Pandora United Methodist Church, now nearing the milestone of the donated 4 millionth pair of glasses since 1988, for our inventories of the thousands of eyeglasses packaged for dispensing to the underserved around the world)

learning languages: formal Latin classes at Bluffton High School and taking Latin and auditing Spanish courses at The Ohio State University, not being intimidated with the local languages during overseas visits in Hispanic America (Spanish), Tanzania (kiSwahili), 15 visits to Ukraine since 1993 (HungarianRussian, and Ukrainian), being Brave  to learn how and to try to order my meals at ethnic restaurants in Cantonese (Chinese) at the former Bethel Chinese Restaurant in Bluffton and Spanish, most often now at Campito Lindo Mexican Restaurant in Bluffton and every other Mexican restaurant which I find along my personal travels.

Others are so happy when “a Gringo” tries to speak Spanish with the Hispanic cook or Cantonese in the hot Mexican or Chinese restaurants' kitchens. They realize that someone (I) have respect for the other individual, despite being of different race or culture,

and a genuine love of History. I had often mentioned to the Scouts at Bluffton BSA Troop #256, “I love History so much, because I've lived through most of History!”


While traveling overseas as an optometrist on the various missions, I “just happened” to find local Scouts along the way.

I have a number of words which are “not in my vocabulary.” One such word is “coincidence.” Honestly, I might say “divine intervention” instead.

  • 1983.   Venezuela. David Morrell served as a local interpreter at the U. S. Embassy in Caracas when our team was invited by U.S. Ambassador George Landau for a Fourth of July celebration for Americans who had been visiting the country. At the time, David was the manager of Tienda Scout, the official Scout Shop of the Scouts de Venezuela. Sometime after meeting him at the U. S. Embassy, David had invited me / drove me to visit the Tienda Scout. David allowed me to purchase the patches for the complete series of  the official Venezuelan Scout ranks: Third Class, Second Class, First Class, Lanza (spear),  Caballero (Knight's helmet) and Scout de Bolivar.  I was able to purchase the community strips of Caracas and Venezuela, the official national neckerchief, a patch for their national (Philmont) reservation and the 1983 commemorative Bicentennial of the birth of Simon Bolivar / 70th Year of Scouting in Venezuela with a yellow piping border flap patch (I may well have the only example of this as I have looked at the Venezuelan Scout Patch Collectors' Association online web pages: the currently-published examples are the edge piping of the other two colors of the Flag of Venezuela tricolors: red and blue), and several other Venezuelan Scout national association patches which I had eventually created an official vintage light-blue Scout de Venezuela uniform shirt. David spoke about his late-night conversations during his week-long role as an interpreter for William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt during Hillcourt's Wood Badge Training in Venezuela in 1982.
  • 1985.   Tanzania. I packed my BSA uniform in my suitcase before heading to the VOSH vision care mission in Tanzania, which began the day after graduating from The Ohio State University College of Optometry. While walking around Dar Es Salaam, the nation's capital, one mid-week afternoon, I came across the national headquarters of the Scouts of Tanzania. I walked in and asked if I could purchase some “Tanzanian Scout Stuff”. The staff member who was present said that I could not purchase any of their Scout items as they were too poor to have items available for purchase. But he invited me to return to the Scout HDQ the following Saturday as there would be a Closing Ceremony for their week-long National Jamboree. I returned the following Saturday, wearing my BSA uniform, to observe the Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and Red Cross/Red Crescent (Moslem) womens’ celebrations and skits to close their National Jamboree. I have a photo, somewhere, where I am standing (in my BSA uniform) among the Tanzanian Scouts (in their uniforms) in front of their tents at the Jamboree. I was then invited to sit on the front row, between two Tanzanian Scout Leaders, who both interpreted the lady member of the Parliament of Tanzania's inspiring 45-minute speech about the attributes of Scouting for the youth of Tanzania. She had spoken in her native kiSwahili language. Unfortunately, I was not invited to speak during their Closing Ceremonies. (Unlike our BSA Closing Ceremonies, they did not have any Flags to lower in ceremony. They likely couldn't afford to have Tanzanian Scout flags nor own an official national Flag of Tanzania. I did not see any tiny flags, either.)
  • 1989. England. With some lay-over time during the day in London, while traveling to our VOSH-Ohio mission in India, I had the privilege to visit the Scout Shoppe, the first Scout Shop in the world, and Baden Powell House. While at those two locations, I bought a good quantity of “British Scout Stuff”: patches, handbooks, Scout memorabilia, an official Baden Powell House necktie and Baden Powell House copper woggle (which USA Scouts would call a “bronzed-metal neckerchief slide”).
  • ca 2004.  Cleveland, Ohio.  I cannot recall the year when I had called Dr. Ihor Zachary at his home in Cleveland. Dr. Zachary was an ophthalmologist who had joined our VOSH-Ohio mission to Ukraine in 1995. My family was staying overnight at a hotel during our older son's YMCA Zones Swim Meet at Cleveland State University. I found Dr. Zachary's home phone number listed in the Cleveland city telephone book in the hotel room. “Hello, Dr. Zachary. You were on our VOSH mission team to Ukraine in 1995. I have some time this evening to ring you up. I am interested to learn about “what keeps you busy” (other than cataract surgeries, etc.)”  He replied, “Scouting.” “Please tell me about your Scouting as I am interested!” Plast Ukrainian Scouting” Dr. Zachary discussed the Ukrainian diaspora after World War II. Dr. Zachary and his family left the Lviv, Ukraine area when he was 10 years old. His family had been active with Plast Scouting for decades. Wherever the Ukrainian families landed, with their personal emigrations, they took their Ukrainian Plast Scouting traditions and movement along with them, to establish Plast “Stanitch” (Ukrainian word for “Branches”) around the world. Plast Scouting had begun in Western Ukraine, near the city of Lviv. Plast Scouting had gone “underground” with their Scout activities “in the (Carpathian) mountains during the nationalist, socialist and communist eras. For decades, Plast Scouting “branches” have been established in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, etc., and the U.S.A. in Buffalo NY, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Pennsylvania, Rochester NY, NYC NY, Washington DC, etc. (see www.plastusa.org).  Plast Scouting follows the principles established by Baden Powell and the Patrol Method. Dr. Zachary mentioned each Stanitch have their own neckerchiefs, so the Scouts can be identified across campground parade fields, etc.  Ukrainian Plast Scouts are encouraged to be “Plast Scouts for Life.”  Adult Plast leaders wear full uniforms, neckerchiefs, bolo ties and Baden Powell “smoky bear” hats.

 

     
      PICTURED: Vintage Scouts de Venezuela shirt (~1983). With rare bicentennial pocket flap to commemorate 70th year of Scooting in Venezuela during the bicentennial of the Liberator of South America, Simon Bolivar's birthday. There were 3 such commemorative flaps with patch edges of Venezuela Tri-colors of the gla, yellow, blue and red. Paramacay is Venezuela's version of Philmont Scout Reservation. The rank patch is Scout de Bolivar, the highest rank of Venezuelan Scouts. 
       

Ukrainian Plast Scouting in Cleveland, Ohio, and all around the world have no interaction with the Boy Scouts of America or other national Scout associations in their locale.

Pysanyj Kamin “Written Stone”. The campground (oselia) for Cleveland Plast is located in rural Middlefield, Ohio. The campground had been a farm purchased from an Amish family in 1965. Dr. Zachary was the editor of a significantly large Ukrainian-language publication (at the time) of the 40-year history of Pysanyj Kamin (1965-2005). The history book contains photos: (black and white and color) of the various year's summer camps and complete lists of the staff members and their individual roles at the camp. Over the years, Dr. Zachary had presented three copies to me.

“SKOB!”  is the Ukrainian Plast Scouting spoken as the first word when salutatory greeting another Plast Scout and the last word when ending their conversation prior to departure. SKOB is the highest rank of Ukrainian Plast Scouting, the word for an osprey, the bird of prey.  The four-letter word also signify the four principles (in Ukrainian words) of Plast Scout, along with the four symbols associated with the four Ukrainian Plast principles :

 - Silno   “strong” as an elm tree

 - Krasney   “handsome” as red berries

- Oberejenya   “careful” to discern if the mushroom is edible or poisonous

- Bistro   “quick” as a lightning bolt

 

  • 2005.   Pysanyj Kamin. My family, mother-in-law (from Berehove, Ukraine) and I attended the Plast USA National Jamboree at Pysanyj Kamin as visitors and guests of Dr. Zachary. There were Plast Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts from Stanitchs around the USA.
  • 2012.   Michigan International Camporee.  Northwoods Scout Reservation, Michigan. My younger son (Christian), another Scout and his father and I, (from Bluffton BSA Troop #256) attended the 2012 MIC (see www.micamporee.org) on Saturday, Visitor's Day, at the conclusion of the week-long international camporee. I wore my vintage Scout de Venezuela uniform shirt. There were Scouts from 25 countries. Each national Scout delegation had a tent awning, offered some of their native foods and offered opportunities to talk about their Scouting experiences. Every Scout had worn their complete uniforms from their national Scout associations, including neckerchiefs.  There had been six MICs since 1997. Starting with the second MIC in 2000, the MICs were held every four years for one week in August. During our visit to MIC 2012, I noticed there were 3 or 4 contingents from the USA from BSA Troops. The MIC 2020 had been canceled, because of COVID. The MIC website has a document which discusses MIC 2022.
  • 2018. Bluffton BSA Troop #256. After a number of years, I stepped away from my post as a registered Scouter. I had been the Troop Chaplain, a former ASM, counselor for numerous Merit Badges. I was an Encourager for the Scouts. Because of health reasons, I could not participate on campouts during the cold weather. I had been a Scout leader for Bluffton BSA Troop #256 during a number of summer camps at Camps Berry and Camp Lakota. As Troop Historian, I had put together the printed programs for the Bluffton Troop's 50th, 65th and 70th Anniversary Celebrations in 1989, 2004 and 2009 and the B.S.A.'s Centennial Celebration in 2010. I have compiled lists of Cubmasters, (women) Den Leaders (I had published “A Tribute to Den Leaders” one year for Mother's Day, published in The Bluffton News.), Scoutmasters, Assistant Scoutmasters,  Bluffton Eagle Scouts (including our Lone Eagle Scout and Eagle Scouts from other community Troops, Silver Beaver recipients, our Silver Buffalo (C. Z. Hardwick, from Bluffton), and leaders from other Bluffton Troops (1914-1939), Bluffton B.S.A. Troop #256 since Feb 1939, the retired Bluffton B.S.A. Troop #82 (mid-1940s) and the retired Bluffton B.S.A. Troop #234 (mid-1960s).
  • 2021.   Ukraine. My two sons (two Eagle Scouts: Michael “Misha” and Christian) were visiting their maternal grandparents (my former parents-in-law) in Berehove, Ukraine for three weeks (May 23 - June 13.)  On May 28, I decided to surprise and join them for the last week of their visit. On Tuesday, June 1, without their knowledge, I bought a round-trip ticket to Lviv, Ukraine. That night, I called my friend in Cleveland. “Dr. Zachary, this is Darrell. SKOB! My sons are visiting their grandparents in Berehove. I will surprise them by “showing up.” I just bought a ticket to fly out on Thursday, June 3 to Lviv. Do you have any relatives or know anyone in Lviv who could pick me up at the airport and drive me to Berehove?” “No, all of my family have moved to Canada or the USA.” “OK! Thank you, Dr. Zachary. I will tell you all about my trip when I return home.”

 

 

 
   
      PICTURED: Oleg Tabun, left, and Darrell Groman at the entrance of the Ukrainian Plast Scouting National Office in Lviv, Ukraine, in July 2021.
       

I looked up the Ukrainian Plast website (www.lviv.plast.org.uato find “Contact Us” at the National Ukrainian Plast Scouting Office in Lviv. I sent an e-mail to Anastasia: SKOB! I am an Eagle Scout in the USA. I know all about Plast Ukrainian Scouting in Cleveland, Ohio. I am flying to Lviv on Thursday, arriving in Lviv on Friday, June 4. Would you know of a Plast Scout Leader who would be willing to pick me up at Lviv Airport and drive me to Berehove? My two sons, Misha and Christian, are visiting their grandparents for 3 weeks. They do not know I am arriving to surprise to visit with them and return to the USA with them. Would you know of a Plast leader who could drive me the 4 hours? We would have great conversations about Scouting. I am willing to pay for expenses. D'yakuyu (thank you) SKOB!”

Anastasia had a quick answer: “Yes!”  I packed my BSA uniform and a copy of Dr. Zachary's 40-year history of Pysanyj Kamin, on Thursday, June 3 drove to the Findlay Scout Shop to purchase some BSA Scout Stuff and Scout Handbooks and continued driving north to park near Detroit Airport to fly to Frankfurt, Germany.

Anastasia had arranged for Oleg to pick me up at Lviv Airport. But I wasn't there. I had some international travel difficulties, had a delay and flew into Kyiv Airport, instead. Oleg quickly arranged for Pavlo, who was visiting Kyiv (the capital of Ukraine) with his wife for the weekend, to pick me up at the Kyiv Airport at 1 a.m., drive me one hour to the train station, Oleg had already purchased the train ticket for me to depart Kyiv train station at 4 a.m. and arrive in Lviv train station at Noon, Oleg, in Plast uniform, picked me up at the Lviv train station, drove me to the Ukrainian Plast National Scout office in Lviv, where I had changed into my BSA uniform in a side room, offered Dr. Zachary's Cleveland Plast history book, gave BSA Scout Handbooks and other BSA Scout Stuff, observed the Plast Girl Scouts (in uniform) conduct their Closing Ceremony and was invited to offer encouraging words (which Oleg interpreted) for the girls to continue in Plast Ukrainian Scouting.

Oleg drove me four hours from Lviv to Berehove in SW Ukraine. I arrived at my former parents-in-laws' house at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 5, to surprise everyone. This was my 15th visit to Berehove since our VOSH-Ohio mission there in 1993. In 1993, Irina, a local interpreter, caught my attention. VOSH-Ohio returned to Berehove in 1995, when I caught Irina's attention. In 1996, I flew to Budapest Hungary on my own, took a train across Eastern Hungary to visit Irina. Three days later, when asked, Irina said, “yes!.” We were married in Berehove in Jan 1997. Irina graduated from Uzhhorod State University in June 1997 and emigrated to the USA in July 1997. We have two sons (mentioned above, both Eagle Scouts). After 16 years of marriage, the two seperated in 2013.  Despite being divorced, my former parents-in-law had been encouraging me to travel to visit with them. During my June 2021 visit, after 3 days, my former mother-in-law yelled at me because I had not parked my shoes properly at the front door of their home. “Yes! Just like old times! She yelled at me. I am welcome to be there!”  I had a wonderful visit in Berehove with my two sons and their grandparents. On June 13, I flew home on the same flights with Misha and Christian.

I do not know when I might meet International Scouts in the future. I am planning to lead a VOSH-Ohio vision care mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo - Kinshasa, in west-central Africa, in July 2022. Out team will be invited by The First Lady of DRC. Her husband, the President, is a cousin of my friend Emmanuel, who lives in Columbus, Ohio. Emmanuel and his wife, Mimi, had escaped the DRC in the late 1990s when the country was governed by a ruthless dictator. In the early 2000s, I had helped Emmanuel and Mimi obtain legal asylum in the USA by helping him to translate his documents from French. I would not be surprised if I meet some Scouts in the DRC next year. As in the past, I am already planning to pack my BSA uniform “just in case ...”  

       

 

In the time of complying information about Dr. Groman’s International Scouting adventures, Russia invaded Ukraine, where Dr. Groman has family living in Ukraine.

Darrell’s youngest son Christian was in Ukraine for an extended Christmas holiday visit with his grandparents.

     
      EAGLE SCOUTS: Pictured are five members of the Groman family who are all Eagle Scouts. From the left: Dr. Groman's brother Dan and his son Joel, along with Christian, MIsha and Dr. Groman.
       

“He went over there knowing that Putin had his army on the boarder, but he wanted to go be with his grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles over the Christmas holiday,” Dr. Groman shared. “They are all still in their homes and doing their best to live a normal life."

Christian departed the country just prior to the Russian invasion as the U.S. government was issuing warnings to U.S. citizens to leave the country.

Dr. Groman's attempts to stay updated on the local situation via social media. He reports Kyiv Scouts have been active from what he can tell from their Facebook page. "They are active in humanitarian efforts, while trying to be as normal as possible in a country where a war is going on. They even have a 110-year anniversary of Scouting display set up to celebrate."

“Our family members are still in their homes, and they are trying to lead a normal life,” he reports. “They go to to the bakery for fresh bread, visit the open markets and grocery stores and do their best to lead a steady life. Then you see friends post photos of some really horrible stuff and it just makes no sense.”

“I do see pictures of people sitting in parks and smiling in front of fountains, which is just incomprehensible, but they are trying to be as normal while all this other stuff in going on in the country.”

As maybe you’ve concluded yourself, Scouting has helped bring focus to the life of Dr. Groman. As an Eagle Scout and a father of two Eagle Scout sons, the family is joined by Darrell’s brother Dan and his son Joel, who are also Eagle Scouts.

Scouting is timeless and continues as we have found out in Ukraine. They continue to meet and keep Scouting alive while serving their people in a time of need.

“You never know where Scouting will take one,” Dr. Groman said. “It’s had a profound impact on me and continues to help so many, in so many ways.”

“One of the two most important things to ever happen to me was becoming a Scout,” he said while sharing a story of a recent conversation with a third grader during an eye examination. “I told him how Scouting played a vital role in my life, and if not for Scouting, I otherwise might not be here today as your optometrist, trying to help!”


If you like to learn more about International Scouting or Dr. Groman's adventures, he can be reached at deg@drgromanvision.com


Scouting in the Black Swamp Area Council began in 1915 when the Scouting program was introduced to the youth people of Northwest and West Central Ohio. More than 5,000 individuals are participating in the local programs of Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing, Exploring with more than 1,100 serving as adult volunteers.

To find a Scout group near you, go to BeAScout.org.

If you have a story to share, please e-mail Jim Mason at Jim.Mason@Scouting.org

Black Swamp Area Council
2100 Broad Avenue, Findlay Ohio
(419) 422-4356