ROCK SPRINGS — Vera Trefethen has been in either Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for more than 40 years.
"One day someone asked our youngest son, Mike, if he was an Eagle Scout. He replied, 'Are you kidding? Do you know who my mother is?'" Vera said.
Over the years, Vera has helped at least 80 Scouts obtain their Eagle Scout ranking.
"Eighty are the ones I know about — there are some who I helped that moved away, so I am not sure how many of them got their Eagles," Vera said.
"Three years ago, a man rang my doorbell. He had his mom in the car with him and they wanted to see me. He wondered if I remembered him. He said his name was Marion Sundwall from Idaho. He was my first Eagle, and he just stopped by to tell me he loved me," Vera said.
She began as a Girl Scout leader in 1966 as a senior in high school. She had 16 girls in her troop. After school they all rode a bus to her home.
After college, her husband Jim Trefethen, was drafted into the military and was stationed in Germany. In 1971, Vera was asked to lead Boy Scouts in Germany.
"In a military ward, Scouting is a tradition," she said.
In 1978, she went back to Girl Scouts when her oldest daughter was old enough to join.
With the exception of four years while in college, Vera has been a Scout leader since her first Girl Scout troop in 1966. She has been both a Girl Scout and Boy Scout leader, simultaneously, and for multiple troops.
FAMILY, CAREERS AND SCOUTING
Vera is from New Plymouth, Idaho, where she was born in a maternity home, grew up and graduated high school.
She went to college at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Oregon, where she studied journalism, which she still uses to this day, writing press releases for Boy Scouts. Vera tells the story of how she changed her major to education.
"I was dating this young man in college, she said. "When he found out I was a journalism major he said, 'Who would marry a news reporter?' On Dec. 3, I will be married to Jim for 53 years."
Both Vera and her husband Jim were born in maternity homes, their hometowns were 5 miles apart and they were in the same Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Ward in New Plymouth. They began dating at 16 and were married at 19. They both graduated from Brigham Young University. The Trefethens live by their motto, " The more you have in common, the easier your marriage is."
They have raised eight children, and Vera is proud of the fact that they all have degrees.
Using her education, but also wanting to be a stay-at-home-mom and help with school functions and parties, Vera was a substitute teacher for 24 years.
The Trefethen family came to Wyoming in 1981, when they moved to Table Rock. Vera was asked to be a Boy Scout leader in Wamsutter, since Table Rock did not have a troop. The family came to Rock Springs in 2000, where Vera continued to be a Scout leader.
"My daughter would criticize me for not using my degree. This same daughter later nominated me for Woman of the Year," she said.
THE NEW SCOUTS BSA
Beginning in January, the Church of Latter-day Saints will no longer sponsor the Scouting program. Trefethen will become the assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 86.
On Oct. 11, 2017, the Boy Scouts announced that girls would be allowed to become Cub Scouts, starting in 2018, and that in 2019, a separate program for older girls will be available, enabling girls to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
In Rock Springs, there is one troop of girls in the Scouts BSA program.
"They choose to have strictly boys or strictly girls. Troop 70 is boy troop. Troop 307 is girls," Vera said.
She said that the Eagle program is why girls should be allowed in Scouts BSA.
"You have to have drive to get your Eagle," she said. "It is so much bigger — there are more than 400 requirements."
"To me, kids are the same; the world is a different place. Now you have to teach youth protection, and how to recognize, respond and report," Vera said.
She recognizes that over the years, the physical abilities of the Scouts have changed.
"Now, they cannot do pullups like they used to, but the biggest change is now we can only have them hike 5 miles — years ago it used to be 5, 10, or sometimes 20-mile hikes," she said.
Vera expresses enjoyment when she talks about her Scouts. However, in those 40 years, it has not been all happy endings.
Vera got emotional while discussing why you do not cheat at merit requirements.
"I had this boy I was trying to teach to swim. He was not learning it, and before I could finish teaching him, he moved. He passed his swimming requirements by his next leader, even though he was not able to swim. He later drowned," she said.
Despite the tragic event, Vera still continues to enjoy leading her Scouts.
"People need to know how awesome Scouting is. Scouting is so broad and they learned so much — far more than they can learn in any other program," Vera said. "The skills you learn in scouting are life skills, something to do the whole rest of your life. I am a very big advocate for Scouting. It is fun to be with peers. The things they do are things they would not normally get to do. We are teaching them things they may not learn any other place. The mission of Boy Scouts is to teach values of scouting, with leaders and role models."