September 14, 2022 at 3:54 p.m.
Local troop looking for new membership
This year is the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Sauk Centre Boy Scouts, not to mention the 25th anniversary of the Sauk Centre Cub Scouts. As the group prepares to celebrate these milestones, though, new leadership within the organization is looking to revitalize the Scouts as their numbers have fallen to the single digits in recent years.
The Sauk Centre Scouts will be holding a Join in Scouts night from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, in the Sauk Centre Elementary School cafeteria.
“This program isn't just for the Scouts; it is for the parents as well,” said Sauk Centre Scouts committee chair Nikki Duchene. “Each parent can be involved in some way or fashion, whether that is being a den leader or simply helping with the day’s lesson. It truly takes a village to make the program succeed.”
Ben Judkins grew up as a Cub Scout in Maple Grove, a larger pack, and he has been the Sauk Centre Scoutmaster since March 2021. Around that time, he and other Scout parents came forward to reorient the group. The Cub Scout program had about 25 students in the early 2000s, but that number fell to five in 2021 and has since risen to eight; there is one Eagle Scout in the current troop, but he is about to leave in the fall.
“A lot of us didn’t feel like the program was really living up to what it should be,” Judkins said. “We really wanted to see some changes in our programming to follow more what the Scout program is as far as boys learning about the outdoors, camping, aspects that are typically part of Scouts. I think, with COVID and everything else, that fell by the wayside, and so it was just time to pick the program up and revitalize it.”
Other officials include Duchene’s husband, Scott, as the organization’s treasurer; assistant scoutmaster Joel Kepp; and secretary Maggie Pahl.
Previously, the Sauk Centre Scouts were not following many of the program’s requirements for advancement, and pack meetings were mostly focused around doing games with the Scouts. Since reorganizing, the pack has done two camping trips, one at the beginning of summer 2022 and one at the end, which the Scouts enjoyed; in general, the new Sauk Centre leadership is focusing on getting back to scouting’s core, the outdoor activities.
Both Judkins and Duchene have children in the Cub Scouts, and they are happy with how their sons have benefitted from the program, especially after the program refocusing.
“My son Garret truly loves the program and the friends he has made,” Duchene said. “The best part is probably the Pinewood Derby races; who doesn't like a good competitive race? Plus, now he is learning skills that will stay with him for the rest of his life. They teach the Scouts about leadership and teamwork, how to problem-solve and make friends.”
Within the Scouts, each grade has a book to follow with both required and extra activities, all age-appropriate, and they can be accomplished alone or in a group. Parent involvement is also strongly encouraged, and anyone who has ideas for things the Scouts can do within the Sauk Centre community is welcome to share their concepts.
“I think that, with the direction we’re headed, it’s going to be a much different program than what we’ve had in the recent past,” Judkins said. “You can already see the difference in the kids’ engagement at the different pack meetings, so we’re really excited for the future.”