Boy Scouts took over the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Saturday, June 24, 2017, to camp on the outfield, but before they pitched their tents, the organization honored a long-time mentor to CBC’s Explorer Posts. Ken Bland received the William H. Spurgeon III Award, the highest honor given by the Boy Scouts of America within its Exploring Program, from the Occoneechee Council. He received the honor at a ceremony in the PNC Triangle Club before the game, and then in a special on-field presentation.
For over 30 years Bland has been instrumental in leading the Durham Bulls Explorer Post 50 program while serving as an advisor and mentor to WRAL-TV’s Explorer Post 5 program participants. The William H. Spurgeon III award honors an outstanding volunteer leader with the Exploring program who exemplifies the values found in the Scout Oath.
“Ken is the Cal Ripken – the Ironman – of Post 50,” said Capitol Sports Vice President George Habel. “He’s the founder and sustainer of the program. Ken is at the ballpark game in/game out, as a great role model and encourager to the 75 teens in our program. He ‘serves without condition or restraint,’ a great description I borrowed from my Bible study.”
Explorer Post 5 and Explorer Post 50 are members of the Learning for Life program, a subsidiary of the Boy Scouts of America, and are associated with the Occoneechee Council of Boy Scouts in Raleigh. Youth between the ages of 14-20 are eligible to participate in Post 5 to learn about broadcasting.
The students of Explorer 50 have been producing a closed-circuit broadcast for Bulls’ home games since 1999. In the 2001 season, the Bulls and FOX 50 expanded the program to broadcast 32 home games on WRAZ-DT, FOX 50’s digital channel. Explorer Post 50 were nominated for a Student Production Emmy by the Midsouth Region for their work in producing Bulls games that inaugural year.
During the on-field presentation, the Bulls announcer told the crowd:
Through his many years of dedicated service, Ken has mentored young students each summer at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, giving Minor League Baseball’s most iconic franchise one of the best television broadcasts in the industry – rivaling those broadcasts put on by professional crews.
Boy Scouts of America Southern Region President Tom Yarboro presented the award to Bland in the pre-game ceremony in the PNC Triangle Club.
“Perhaps more impressive though is Ken’s ability to connect with participants on an individual level, creating relationships that last not just through a student’s tenure in the program, but once the individual has moved on from the program as well,” said Yarboro. “While it’s easy to measure the success the Explorer Post 50 program has achieved under Ken’s guidance, the true success lies in the growth of the students who have taken part in the program with Ken at the helm.”
Thanks to BSA’s Desmond Miller for these capcom photos.