Climbing Mountains with HPN’s Brian Muckerheide

Whenever Brian Muckerheide packs a backpack and heads for the wilderness, he’s fulfilling one of his childhood dreams. He’s usually doing a lot for the dreams of others, too.

Brian, the incoming chief executive officer of Hancock Physician Network, has been taking his Boy Scouts of America troop on camping trips for a dozen years—ever since his son Luke joined Cub Scouts 12 years ago when he was in first grade. In addition to creating father-son bonding opportunities, the Scouting trips gave Brian an excuse to hike in the woods, something he once considered doing professionally as a forester.

“When I was trying to decide what I wanted to do out of high school, it was two very different paths: accounting or forestry,” he said. “I went for accounting. I thought it was a more stable career path. But I also love being outdoors.”

Over a dozen years, Brian, Luke, and their Boy Scout troop went on more than 50 trips, including a recent two-week trek to the famed Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. They’ve also gone on overnights in local indoor climbing facilities, camped in local parks around Central Indiana, went snow skiing, caving, and braved Pokagon State Park in Angola in the middle of the winter.

By the time they graduated from high school this year, five of the ten Scouts that joined together, including Luke, became Eagle Scouts—the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts. That’s an unusually big number for one troop and something Brian’s proud of.

“I really enjoy working with the boys and seeing them grow,” he said. “To see these little boys come into Scouts in grade school and then see them develop into young men has been a great experience to witness.”

The troop’s most challenging trip was their last one, in July. That’s when they traveled cross country by train to Philmont, and then spent seven days camping and hiking in the New Mexico wilderness. They hiked up to the peaks of two mountains, threw tomahawks, shot muzzleloader rifles, performed conservation activities, and learned how to camp and store their food  in a way that wouldn’t attract bears.

They also learned about perseverance, teamwork, and tolerance.

“These hikes weren’t easy. They were carrying around 40-pound packs on their backs, and it’s higher elevation. It’s 6,000 feet or higher the whole time. You get winded much quicker,” he said. “They learned that they could persevere a lot more than what they thought they could.”

Now that they’re back home, Luke is preparing to attend Purdue University in the fall as a freshman engineering student. Meanwhile, Brian is considering how he’ll take part in Scouting activities when his son, who has been his adventure partner for the last 12 years, attends college next year.

“I will, no doubt, stay involved because nothing else gives me a chance to get out in the woods and camp,” he said.

Beginning in October, he’ll probably be doing a little less of it, though. That’s when he makes the switch from his current position as the chief administrative officer of HPN into his new role of CEO. But he’ll still be using the leadership skills Scouting helped him develop.

“The biggest transferable skill for both organizations is teamwork,” he said. “Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, so you want to identify everyone’s strengths to maximize the value they can provide to the team.  You also want a balanced team that has different personality types to give you diversity of thought within the group.”

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