With the upcoming anniversary of the Apollo 11 Mission, the Calcasieu Area Council, Boy Scouts of America could not have received a more "space"-tacular surprise — an anonymous donor has donated property on the moon to the organization.

The property being donated is located in the Lunar Alps, also known as the Montes Alpes. The piece of the moon is described as "situated high on a sweeping peninsula that separates the ‘Sea of Cold' from the ‘Sea of Rains' and located northeast, overlooking the famous Apollo 11 landing site of the ‘Sea of Tranquility.' "

The property is located about 7,874.016 feet above sea level and provides "some of the most breathtaking views of the of the lunar surface." The proceeds from the land claim help support a variety of programs for the Luna Society International such as providing funding for scholarships and educational programs for students and funding the first nongovernmental mission to return humans to the moon.

According to Mike Beer, CEO and chief scout executive for the Boy Scouts of America Calcasieu Area Council, the Boy Scouts of America and space exploration have an organic connection.

Beer has worked professionally with the Boy Scouts of America for 18 years, and in Southwest Louisiana for five years. He has two children that are involved in scouting — a daughter working on her Eagle Scout badge out of Westlake and one younger son scouting out of Sulphur.

"I wanted to be an astronaut," said Beer, laughing as he recalled he was almost too tall to be one back in fifth grade and figured he'd find another career.

"It's neat to see how strong the connection's been between both scouting and space, and especially with astronauts. In a time of all these challenges and struggles, everything going on, it was a nice little light-hearted piece there."

Beer said his grandfather was an engineer at NASA and worked on the Apollo projects.

More than two-thirds of all astronauts have been involved in scouting. Out of the 312 pilots and scientists selected as astronauts since 1959, at least 207 have been identified as having been scouts or active in scouting, and of the 24 men to travel to the moon on the Apollo 8 and Apollo 10, 20 were scouts, including 11 of the 12 moon-walkers and all three members of the crew of Apollo 13.

Neil Armstrong was an Eagle Scout, and carried with him a World Scouting Patch as he took his famous first steps onto the lunar surface, while Buzz Aldrin was a Tenderfoot in the Boy Scouts of America.

"There's just that strong connection. There's just something about the scouting program that plants these seeds and gets them engaged in what's going on in the community. When someone references scouts ... the whole visual is that we're there to lead and bring people through. We have to engage and do something to make the world better. You really learn to search yourself, which I think also has something to do with the correlation," explained Beer when asked why so many astronauts happen to be Scouts.

He said scouting has the ability to stretch limits and allow those young men and women later in the program to take charge and explore the world around them.

"We have several different merit badges for the older scouts and cub scouts that deal with astronomy and space, so we'll work on that and be able to look online and learn more about it ... it's about expanding their horizons," Beer said.

The Boy Scouts are planning to hold a naming contest for their property on the moon as part of their 100th anniversary celebration of the Calcasieu Area Council, which was organized in 1920.

Since 2015, more than 900 more scouts have joined the Calcasieu Area Council, and now they total more than 2,000 Scouts registered in Southwest Louisiana.

"It's always been just, the dream. What can we do? Scouting creates that environment of stretching yourself in a safe environment and trying new things and really seeing what becomes your niche or hobby... How can we kind of make things here on earth become more boundless?"

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Online: www.calcasieubsa.org

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