Scouts have been building campfires, learning first aid and helping little old ladies across the street for more than a century.
Now they’re fighting hunger, too.
Last night, a bus load of Orono Cub Scouts packed 3,244 meals for Kids Against Hunger in New Hope.
“That amount could feed nine kids for a whole year,” says Debbie Blum, scout committee chair.
Helping others is a hallmark of scouting.
“One of our dens is going to make sandwiches for the homeless through the charity 363 Days,” Blum said. “Another den did landscaping work for Trinity Lutheran Church in Long Lake.”
Other service projects include visiting nursing homes and picking up litter.
Cub Master David Lieberman says scouting prepares young people for life by providing experiences that nurture leadership skills and an ability to think outside the box. Scouts also have regular opportunities to learn about history, nature and their community.
“This year, our den will visit the Mill City Museum, tap maple trees to make syrup and tour a television station,” says Dr. Al Hunt, who leads a den of first graders and is the pack physician.
Scouts also make plenty of time for fun.
The Orono pack has annual bowling and sledding events, an autumn flashlight run through a corn maze and other outdoor activities emphasizing teamwork.
But the pinnacle event for most scouts is the beloved Pinewood Derby, the scout version of the Indy 500 that is raced in February. First grader Charlie Kraus says it’s the best part of being a cub scout.
Despite the national decline in the number of scouts, Orono Pack 206 is gaining numbers. This fall, 46 boys joined the pack, which includes scouts in grades 1-5 from Orono schools as well as Redeemer Lutheran and The Blake School in Wayzata.
“We have doubled in size in the last five years,” Blum said. “We are now over 120 scouts strong.”
So why is scouting bucking the national trend and thriving in Orono?
“There are two factors: results and reputation,” says Lieberman. “Scouting is a great organization. We have good leaders and lots of community involvement. “
“We have amazing den leaders,” she said. “Many have demanding careers but still make time to lead a scout den and make positive childhood memories for the boys.”
The national decline in scouts may be because families feel they need to choose between scouts and sports.
“You can do both,” says Lieberman, who played three sports and ultimately became an Eagle Scout.
He went on to say that boys join scouts for lots of reasons.
“I wanted to be a scout because I like helping people,” says Noah Kovalik, a third grader who joined this fall.
”I like adventure!” says his twin brother Ryan.
“I like camping and canoeing,” says third grader Sam Lieberman. He will have plenty of opportunities.
Camp outings typically include scavenger hunts, hiking, obstacle courses and learning skills such as tying knots.
But there is one thing camping doesn’t include: electronics.
“The boys aren’t allowed to bring electronic games or phones on the camping trips,” Lieberman said. “And guess what? They survive.”