Unsung Hero: Walt Stinson, a good Scout

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PORTLAND — Walt Stinson was not a Boy Scout as a lad because Clinton, the rural Maine town where he spent his childhood, had no troop.

Today he is on the board of directors of the Pine Tree Council of the Boy Scouts of America, headquartered on Johnson Road near the Portland International Jetport. He is as passionate an advocate for the Boy Scouts as you will meet.

A graduate of the University of Maine at Orono, Stinson spent the bulk of his career as the founder and president of Sebago Technics, a multidisciplinary civil engineering and surveying firm that provides technical services throughout northern New England.

When Stinson and his family lived in Standish, he had his two sons join the Boy Scouts. Both went on to become Eagle Scouts, an award realized by less than 10 percent of the boys who enter scouting. Walt took an active role along the way, attending meetings, going on camping trips and eventually becoming an assistant scoutmaster.

“I had my second childhood,” he said, laughing.

Stinson joined the board of the Pine Tree Council in 2010. The council covers the southern third of Maine and serves about 10,000 boys (Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Explorer Scouts). He is currently vice president of properties for the organization.

In that capacity, he oversees the properties at the council’s four camps, in Belgrade, Sabattus, Acton and Raymond. “We maintain the infrastructure and deal with upkeep and maintenance,” he said.

Stinson’s energetic volunteer work has extended well beyond the Boy Scouts over the last several years. He’s a former member and chairman of the University of Maine Foundation, and a member of the Scarborough Fish & Game Association and the Maine Professional Guides Association.

It could be said, though, that scouting most clearly touches Walt’s soul.

“Scouting teaches leadership skills that stick with you throughout your life,” he said. “You learn the values of community and country. It gives you goals to shoot for, such as earning Merit Badges. When I ran a company, I’d always give an edge to an applicant who had been a Scout, especially an Eagle Scout.”

Stinson believes that the values learned through scouting have never been more essential. “It’s more difficult to be a kid these days,” he said. “Scouting gives kids an alternative to negative peer pressures, the courage to say ‘No.’

“I’ll have people who went on a four-day, 75-mile canoeing trip with me on the Allagash River in northern Maine 30 years ago come up to me today and talk about how much that trip meant to them.”

Some family traditions continue. Stinson has five grandchildren, including two grandsons who are in scouting. In July, he accompanied his grandson Hayden, a Life Scout, on a trip to the Philmont Scout Ranch National Scout Jamboree in New Mexico.

Before that adventure, Stinson discussed his plans. “Old Gramps will fly out with him, drop him off at Philmont,” he said, “and then go do some flyfishing.”

Sidebar Elements

Walt Stinson, a member of the board of directors of the Pine Tree Council of the Boy Scouts of America, outside the council’s headquarters on Johnson Road in Portland.

Unsung Heroes

One in a series of profiles by Brunswick writer David Treadwell about people who quietly contribute to the quality of life in greater Portland. Do you know an Unsung Hero? Tell us: heroes@theforecaster.net.