Walking the Walk with Dr. Stephen McDonough

Stephen McDonough
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Dr. Stephen McDonough


Years With Scouting

15 years as an adult volunteer; participated in three high adventures with Scouts

Favorite Physical Activities:

Walking my 12-year-old golden retriever (including in blizzards), weight lifting, elliptical machines, jogging, hiking, backpacking, and canoeing

About Me

I am a pediatrician with three adult children. I have lived in the rural state of North Dakota for 31 years. My interests are promoting fitness, hiking, backpacking, outdoor photography, wildlife conservation, and genealogy.

Why the BSA Walk-the-Walk Activity Challenge Is Important to Me

Leaders need to lead by example. We should not ask something of Scouts that we are not willing to do ourselves.

Something Interesting About Me

I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2007 (19,430 feet elevation in Tanzania, Africa). As I was climbing I knew that I would have never attempted it without the skills and experiences that I learned in Scouting.

My Blog: Week 1

I have been involved with scouting for over 10 years and now serve on the district committee of the Frontier Trails District, Northern Lights Council. My son, Nathan, was involved with scouts and we participated in 3 high adventures, two out of Charles Sommers Canoe Base and one to Yellowstone National Park. I work as a pediatrician and know the importance of fitness for both physical and mental health.

I am honored to be one of sixteen national boy scout leaders to do their Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) this summer. I try to exercise every day which includes walking my Golden Retriever 1 mile twice a day, lifting weights three times a week and exercising on a cardio machine for an hour three times a week. I also love backpacking and am training to climb Mt. Rainier this July.

I was going to go backpacking with Troop 123 of the Frontier Trails District, Northern Lights Council to kick off my PALA adventure this summer on the Maah-Daah-Hey Trail in western North Dakota. However, Mother Nature had other plans. Record snow fall and tremendous rains in Montana and Wyoming has brought serious flooding to the Missouri River. I spent nine days in a row helping families protect their homes with sandbags, several days with Troop 123 in this effort as well. Troop 123 will go backpacking later next month and I hope to come along.

Troop 123 is doing PALA this summer this well. PALA is a free, easy to use on-line fitness tool to document your activities and reward your efforts. Anyone can do PALA, all you need to move is Get Moving!

My Blog: Week 2

I am starting my third week of PALA and everything is going good. The website is easy to use and I am able to see how I am doing in comparison with other Scout leaders. I have shifted from 9 days in a row sandbagging to my regular activities and am now doing a lot of gardening. I am looking forward to doing some backpacking with Troop 123 in 3 weeks. We are planning on hiking the Maah-Daah-Hey trail in the rugged North Dakota Badlands. Theodore Roosevelt ranched in the North Dakota Badlands before he became President. The changes he observed while in North Dakota helped him develop his philosophy of preserving our heritage and he became our greatest conservation President. The Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora, North Dakota is named after him.

Troop 123 is a very active troop that strives for outdoor events each month. We were planning on backpacking earlier this month but flooding on the Missouri River required our community’s assistance. Many of the scouts and parents spent countless hours sandbagging to protect homes in the Bismarck/Mandan area. The flooding will last several months but we are hopeful that many homes can be saved.

Troop 123 is also participating in PALA this summer and 58 in the troop have signed up so far!

My Blog: Week 4

I was able to achieve my PALA on July 3, 2011 as I was camping with Troop 123, Frontier Trails District, Northern Lights Council, Boy Scouts of America. They had just finished a 30 mile backpacking trip on the Maah-Daah-Hey trail in the badlands of western North Dakota. I was not able to join them for the backpacking trip as I needed to attend a wedding. I did take my backpack to the Petrified Forest in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which was nearby. We camped at Buffalo Gap campground just west of Medora, North Dakota. The scouts did great and enjoyed the 4 night outing.

This week, I travel to Seattle to participate in a mountaineering class, spend one week on a glacier and hopefully climb Mt. Rainier. I have been training for this for 6 months as I will need to carry a 60 pound pack with 8 days of food at altitude. Mt. Rainier’s summit is over 14,000 feet. I hope I will make it back safely.

Troop 123 has 47 members participating in PALA have accumulated over 700,000 points so far. Way to go!