By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
Curtis Utley is amazed at how the communities of Portales and Clovis are rallying behind him as he makes his way to the 2013 National Scout Jamboree next week in the nation’s capital.
“These people opened up their hearts, and they don’t even know me,” said Utley, a sophomore-to-be at Portales High School and resident of Portales for about a year.
When he was nominated to attend the jamboree, Utley said he was honored to represent Portales but the obstacle of raising half of the trip’s $3,200 cost on his own stood in the way of his dream. According to a troop official, Portales hasn’t sent a scout to the jamboree in 15 years.
He reached out to area organizations by mail, sending more than 30 letters to groups such as the local Veterans of Foreign Wars, Kiwanis clubs, the American Legion and area churches.
Utley received more than $1,600 in return despite having little local name recognition and not having a single face-to-face meeting. He said he plans to rectify that when he returns by thanking everyone in person.
“It felt great that these people who don’t even know me have helped out,” Utley said.
Utley has been scouting since he was in first grade, but only came to Portales recently because his parents are Air Force veterans who moved to Portales for work. Soon after arriving, Portales Troop 18 became his new family.
He said his scout master told him about an opening to attend the jamboree and due to his ranks and leadership skills, his troop nominated him to go based on the necessary requirements. A scout since he was a first-grader, Utley currently serves as Troop 18’s senior patrol leader and is one step away from being an eagle scout.
“It will open so many doors for him,” said Utley’s mother Celeste Utley who hopes more boys join the scouts after seeing her son break out of his shell. “They learn such valuable skills.”
Utley said the trip will be his first to the east coast, and he is excited to be among the sea of 50,000 boy scouts.
“For me, it feels like a big responsibility,” Curtis said. “I’m representing Portales. I want to make us look good and do everything right.”
He added that his father has been his biggest supporter since he began scouting and wants to earn his eagle scout status for him.
Utley is one of four older scouts in his troop and they act as leaders and big brothers to the younger scouts. Utley says in addition to his interest in the military, he’s considering a career in media arts after developing a passion for it in his media arts class at PHS.