A local Boy Scout will take on miles of rugged wilderness this July as part of a National Catholic Leadership Program in New Mexico.
William Skelly, 15, of Burnt Hills, was the only local Scout chosen to represent the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany on the 2013 St. George Trek, an 11-day program that will take place in the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Rocky Mountains.
Skelly became a Cub Scout at age six and is now an assistant senior patrol leader of Boy Scout Troop 34, sponsored by Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Church in Niskayuna. He has earned the rank of Life Scout.
The 10th-grader's active role in Scouting and his church made him the ideal candidate for the trip, said Rick Touchette, coordinator of the trek.
Skelly, who is home-schooled and takes classes at Hudson Valley Community College, is a member of St. Joseph's Church in Scotia. He rows with the Mohawk Homeschool Rowing Association and is pondering becoming a chemist some day.
He said he's excited about going on the Scouting trek this summer.
“It looks like it's going to be a lot of fun. I'm going to learn a fair bit about leadership and working with other people and being out in the wilderness for an extended period of time,” he predicted.
Skelly will join about 70 other Scouts from across the United States in Albuquerque for the leadership program. They will then travel to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, where the hiking will take place.
“Philmont is the premier high adventure base for the Boy Scouts of America,” said Touchette. “It's 214 square miles of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Northern New Mexico and they will hike from base camp into the mountains.”
Along the way, the Scouts will visit staffed camps where they will participate in programs including rock climbing, black powder rifle shooting and orienteering.
“I hope that he'll have a great time and he'll experience Philmont Scout Ranch in a way not many people do,” Touchette said. “And also we hope that he will gain some leadership skills, and a better understanding of his Catholic faith, and be able to come back and put those skills to use to within Scouting and within his community.”