If you think Boy Scouts are just about campfires and canoeing, Lake Forest resident Paul Mondello is hoping to change your mind.
He was recently a contestant on the National Geographic Channel’s Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout, a reality show that pits a team of adults against scouts in a series of challenges. Mondello said the show does a good job of capturing the high adventure spirit of scouting.
“We got to do things we normally wouldn’t, like propel ourselves off bridges,” Mondello recalled. “And there was another day we were whitewater rafting and the adrenaline just sucked all the energy out of me. I run marathons and I don’t think I’ve ever been that tired.”
Mondello lost 13 pounds during six days of filming at Sequoia National Park last June. He said he was “hot as heck” as temperatures hit upward of 100 degrees every day, but would do it all again in a heartbeat.
“For me, this was a chance at redemption. I used to be a scout, but I left it early, when I was about 14 years old. It’s one of the things I regret most in life.”
Although that still eats at him, Mondello has had the satisfaction of mentoring other scouts in the Lake Forest area for more than a decade. In 2012, he was named Saddleback Valley American Legion Post 862’s Scout Leader of the Year and, under his guidance, 15 local youths earned the Eagle Scout rank—including his son Kyler.
“Watching my own son become an Eagle Scout has probably been one of the biggest rewards,” he said.
Serving as a scout leader has also brought Mondello some of his best friends, including Foothill Ranch resident Mike Madory, who also makes a brief appearance on the show’s episode and also has a son, Andrew, who is about to become an Eagle Scout.
Mondello, who currently serves as advancement chairman for Saddle Valley, plans to use the show to launch a local recruiting campaign called “Are You Tougher Than a Scout Leader.”
“I think people are reluctant to get involved with scouting because they’ve never done it before and perhaps they’re intimidated. But they’re missing out. I’m hoping more people will see that I’m a goofy guy, I’m not anything special, and I can do it. And if I can do it, anyone can.”
Mondello's episode of Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout is titled Ninja Scouts and will air Monday, March 11, on the National Geographic Channel. Check your local TV listing for more information.
If you’d like more information about getting involved in local scouting activities, contact the Boy Scouts of America Orange County Council at 714-546-8558, Ext.143, or find the group online at ocbsa.org.
The Portola Hills Troop 623 meets the first and third Tuesday of every month at Portola Hills Elementary. For more information, contact scoutmaster Eric Riggert at email@example.com—or scout and adult leadership recruitment chairman Michelle O’Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org.