31 August 2012
He is also developing the character of local boys, in his volunteer service with the Boy Scouts of America. This summer, he and other leaders in Troop 519, Sagamore Council of Boy Scouts, gave seven scouts, including his own two sons, the experience of a lifetime, leading a trip to Japan.
"Hopefully it has opened their eyes to the world," Chauret said. "These young people will live in a global world. They need to be aware people live differently than they do. If we want to solve a lot of our problems, we need people who are broad-minded and able to work with a lot of different people."
Chauret first became involved with scouting when his oldest son, Ren, now 14, joined Cub Scouts as a first-grader. Younger son Eric, now 12, also joined when he was old enough, and Chauret started going to meetings and summer camp with his boys. He is now assistant Scoutmaster for their troop.
The idea of going to Japan came up about three years ago when Jim Pressgrove, the Scoutmaster, mentioned that he had lived in Japan a few years while working for Delphi, and it had always been his dream to go back with the scouts and climb Mount Fuji.
"We said, 'OK, let's see if we can do this,'" Chauret said.
They spent two years raising money to cover the $3,000 cost of the trip. Chauret said most of the scouts raised about one-third of their travel expenses. They kept costs low by staying in youth hostels and temples, using public transportation when possible, and eating at restaurants off the beaten tourist track. Pressgrove was invaluable in making plans and navigating through the country, Chauret said.
"I feel like we were really experiencing Japan," Chauret said. "We were experiencing Japan like the Japanese do, rather than staying in the tourist areas. The Scouts gained a better understanding of a very different culture. Even though Japan is a first-world country, it is so different from Indiana."
A highlight of the trip was meeting Japanese Boy Scout at Hiroshima. Some of the Japanese scouts spoke a little English, so they were able to talk and learn they had some of the same interests, like baseball. One of the local boys, who has asthma, discovered that one of the Japanese boys has similar issues, and they bonded over that similarity.
Chauret said a few of the Scouts had taken a year of Japanese at Western High School, but "it's a big jump from taking one year of Japanese to conversing in Japanese. They did better than me. I have zero Japanese."
They visited several temples and shrines, learning about Japanese religions, he said, which is something they had not experienced before. By eating at the restaurants local people eat in, rather than at tourist restaurants, they experienced authentic cuisine.
"They were fine with the food, for the most part," Chauret said. "It was better than they had expected. Even the pizza was different than what we have. There was plenty of beef available."
They also visited the fish market in Tokyo, which is the largest fish market in the world.
One big difference is how crowded it was. The Scouts traveled on Tokyo's subway during rush hour, and they were amazed by how many people they saw. For one Scout, the trip included his first time on an airplane.
They also climbed Mount Fuji, which is 12,389 feet. The climb, on a mile-long trail, took about six hours going up and three coming down.
"We did some training at home, but it's hard to train without mountains," he said. "There is nothing that really can prepare you for that climb. It's brutal on the knees."
At IU Kokomo, Chauret has developed a partnership between the campus and the local Boy Scout council, offering Boy Scout Merit Badge University. During the one-day event, Scouts can earn badges in chemistry, public health, computer science and other areas.
"Obviously, we're well-equipped here with our faculty to offer many merit badges," he said. "It also gives the boys a chance to visit our campus and see what we offer them as potential students. It's a good way to us to build a relationship with them so they will consider us when they are choosing a college. Both sides benefit."
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.