Cub scouts alive and active in Southeast Minnesota

By : 
Chad Smith
Tri-County Record

The Rushford-Peterson Cub Scouts are alive and well in southeast Minnesota. Though they’re most active during the school year, Scout Master Jessie Smith says area residents will see the blue Cub Scout uniform in a variety of places.

“We do participate in a few events during the summer, especially the local parades,” Smith said. “We march in the Gammel Dag in Peterson. We also march in the Rushford parade. We do a little more at the Rushford event because we have a stand there and sell pop and water to the public. In past years (not 2018), we’ve even set up our Pinewood Derby Track and anyone who bought a car could race it. We’re thinking about bringing it back this summer.”

While Smith is the local Scout Master, he says the Cub Scouts couldn’t function without a great group of adult volunteers that he oversees. The adult volunteers handle a lot of the day-to-day operations, freeing him up to lead the group. Smith schedules and runs all the meetings and is also there to answer questions that the Den Leaders might have.

There are individual Cub Scout “Dens” that all come together once a month to form a Cub Scout “Pack.” The local group is Pack #53, which is comprised of five Dens that contain 22 Cub Scouts. “That number is actually down quite a bit from the last couple years,” Smith said, “just because we’ve had a large number of Cub Scouts graduate and move up to the Boy Scouts.”

Boy Scouts are comprised of kids in Kindergarten up through fifth grade. Once they finish fifth grade, they “cross over” to Boy Scouts. Smith said the Cub Scouts lost 15 boys but that’s not a bad thing at all because they’ve “stayed with it,” moving on to the next level in the Scout Program.

“The Dens typically meet once a month,” he said. “So does the Pack. Each Den has their Cub Scout Handbook and they have to meet five different requirements as a group to earn their next badge. The badges include Lion, Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and then Webelo. A Webelo has a lot to cover before they move on to become a Boy Scout. 

“We do a lot of group and individual activities throughout the year,” Smith said. “We took the group to an apple orchard this year. We did activities like Lego building, as well as making placemats for the seniors who eat at the local Senior Dining Program. We’ve also participated in the spring citywide cleanup event. We also do our Cub Scout Food Drive in the spring as well.”

Smith said one of their most popular events is an overnight camping trip they take in May after the weather warms up. The scouts also took an overnight trip to the Twin Cities to take in the Sea Life underwater exhibit at the Mall of America. The scouts learn a lot through the course of all these activities.

“I think one of the biggest things they learn is teamwork,” Smith said. “The kids work together on their projects and have to learn to get along if they want to be successful. They play together and they work together. The kids also seem to like being out in the community and realize they’re helping people. They have to learn how to stick to things if they want to earn all their badges.”

Though he doesn’t earn any badges, Smith says being a Scout Master comes with its own rewards. “I enjoy watching the kids grow up,” he said. “You’re around them when they’re first starting out and then you see them crossing over to Boy Scouts, it’s neat to see how much they’ve grown and learned through the previous years. I’ve actually got a son (Payton) who’s been in Boy Scouts for three years, which is how I first got involved.

“It’s really a family activity. You see a lot of kids come through Cub Scouts and then graduate on to Boy Scouts. The next thing you know, the younger siblings are coming up through Cub Scouts while the older ones move forward in Boys Scouts. Even in our regular activities, we offer a chance for non-Scout siblings to come along too. We want it to stay a family activity.”