by Eric Hagen
Matthew Moen of Coon Rapids said when he asks people what Boy Scouts do most they think about camping and tying knots.
These activities are a big part of being a Cub Scout and Boy Scout, but Moen said working together as a group and becoming a leader are the most important lessons he has learned from Scouting.
Kenny McCumber of Boy Scout Troop 609 in Andover used to not like speaking in front of large crowds. At a Feb. 23 fund-raiser for the Three Rivers District at the Courtyards of Andover, McCumber shared his favorite Scouting stories with 208 people.
“Most of my friends are taking a class called public speaking,” McCumber said. “I do not have to take this class because I am already fully confident in my ability to speak in front of a group.”
As the young men and other adults who are or have been Scouts shared their stories, the crowd of over 200 wrote checks that will help keep Scouting affordable for 2,471 scouts in Anoka and Isanti counties.
According to Jamie Lamprecht, director of the Three Rivers District, the breakfast fund-raiser brought in $21,415. This puts fund-raising $2,789 ahead of where it was last year.
The Three Rivers District is part of the Northern Stars Council, which stretches across part of southern Minnesota and crosses into Wisconsin.
Boys can get involved in the Scouting program as early as kindergarten thanks to a Lions club program launched in 2009. First-graders are Tiger Cubs. Second- through fifth-graders are Cub Scouts although fourth- and fifth-graders could become Webelos Scouts.
After that is the Boy Scout program for 11- to 17-year-olds. Young men can still be in the Scouting program after their 18th birthday. They could join the Venturing program until they are 21 years old or they could volunteer to be a den or troop leader.
When Michael Moen Jr. joined the scouts in 2000, Michael Sr. and Sharon Moen heard that Scouting activities may only take a little over an hour each week. They began volunteering more of their time, however.
Matthew was so excited to become a Scout that he became the unofficial mascot of Pack 212 in Coon Rapids in the two years before he could become a Tiger Cub.
Michael, Sr. is now assistant scoutmaster of Troop 212, assistant director of the Three Rivers District and an adviser in the scouting venturing program. Sharon is a Lion den coordinator and a Tiger den leader.
The four members of the Moen family now volunteer anywhere from 20 to 50 hours a week, according to Michael Sr.
“It makes me very proud that my sons want me with them and to participate with them, and that’s all due to the Scouting program,” Michael Sr. said. “It’s been a very familiar-oriented program.”
Michael, Jr. became an Eagle Scout at the young age of 14 and earned 46 merit badges. Matthew, 15, completed his Eagle Scout project and is now waiting to go through the board of review. He has earned 31 merit badges. Both are still involved in the Scouting program.
Lamprecht said most Boy Scouts who earn the prestigious Eagle Scout wait until the last minute before they turn 18 years old, but there is a growing trend of Scouts earning the award at a younger age before the car fumes and perfumes take over.
Everybody has a story
Jamie Bethke, 11, of Blaine’s Cub Scout Pack 522 really appreciates the emphasis Scouts have on picking up after themselves when outdoors.
“I was wondering why people would do this,” Bethke said regarding people leaving trash on the ground outside. “We should help nature, not destroy it.”
Franklin Elementary School student Cole Johnson, 11, of Cub Scout Pack 623 has enjoyed camping trips the most. He also liked staying in the lodge at the Kiwanis Scout Camp by the St. Croix River.
McCumber remembers the leadership the older Boy Scouts showed when he was a young Scout on a camping trip when severe weather approached. He talked about how the older Scouts tried to make homemade Twix bars. It did not turn out the way they expected. It ended up being a glob of peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar. but it tasted really good to the Scouts.
The featured speaker for the Three Rivers District breakfast fund-raiser was Bryan Wood, co-executive director of the Audubon Center of the North Woods. Wood was never in the Scouting program, but he said his parents still took him on camping trips.
Wood said just spending time with your kids and not giving them electronics will create memories that will last a lifetime.
“Sharing experiences or creating experiences is the best gift that you could probably give anybody,” he said. “As we move forward in life the things you look back on and remember fondly are not what you got for gifts at various times. It is the trips you took or those really special moments outside where something unexpected happens and you’re there to appreciate it and take it in with others.”
Wood shared an amusing story from a summer when he was a trip guide for the Boy Scout’s Charles L. Sommers Wilderness Canoe Base in the Boundary Waters.
The first day was not the smoothest experience, but it was a memorable one. He had a Scouting group coming in from Wichita, Kan. He used a compass to try to navigate to Lincoln Island, but he ended up going the wrong direction because the aluminum canoe messed with the compass. Wood joked that he did not tell any of the Scouts what was happening because a guide needs to act like he knew what was going to happen.
As they were paddling to Lincoln Island, they saw a mother bear and two cubs swimming away from the camp they were going to. Those are the only bears he saw all summer.
Unfortunately for Wood, he found out once they got to Lincoln Island that he forgot the beef strips for the fajitas he planned to make for the Scouts that evening. He still played it cool and did not let anyone know his mistake. Instead, he casually asked one of the Scouts to go fishing with him.
As they were fishing, they saw a loon swimming back and forth under their canoe in the clear water.
Loons typically do not get this close to people, so this was a cool experience Wood and the Scout shared.
They caught four smallmouth bass and Wood cooked the fish with peppers, onions and rice. The meal was sizzling and smelled delicious.
He picked up the pan from the camp stove with pliers with the intention of placing the pan on the bottom of a canoe he turned over. Halfway there with everyone watching, the pan slipped out of his grasp and the fish fajita mixture fell on the ground into the pine needles. He obviously could not pretend this was supposed to happen. Instead, they dined on beef stew that night.
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]