By Steve Dunkelberger
School has begun and children and parents are pondering what after-school activities will fill up their free time.
For many, that mix includes Scouting, either Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts or Daisy, Brownie or Girl Scouts, because of their mix of skills building and moral-compass activities.
Emerald Ridge High School senior Rebecca Togstad has been involved in Girl Scouts for 13 years and admits that her Scouting experiences have created the young woman she is today.
“It’s more than just selling cookies, which is what a lot of people think is all Scouting is about,” she said. “It is all the little things that make up the whole experience of Girl Scouts. I will always be a Girl Scout. It is who I am.”
Sure, she gained her self confidence, communication skills and money management by selling the signature edibles to raise money for scouting activities, but those activities have created life-long friendships, formed her sense of self reliance, and boosted her confidence level.
More than a year of fundraising and bake sales taught her budgeting and setting goals, for example, which ultimately enabled her to take a trip to Costa Rica over the summer with more than a dozen other Girl Scouts from around the state.
Now setting her sights on high school graduation, she is also pondering life after Scouting and the age-old question of having her own daughter doing Scouting when she has a family of her own.
“I want her to create her own legacy rather than doing something just because her mom did it,” Togstad said.
Betty Craft is facing the flip side of Tagstad’s decision, since her daughter just graduated high school. The Lakewood resident had been a Girl Scout leader since her daughter, Katie, was in second grade. She is now in college.
“I’m not up for much camping anymore, but I’m up for helping with badges and selling cookies,” Craft said. “It just feels natural to stay involved in Scouting in some way.”
That drive to stay involved in Scouting even after her daughter is no longer active had a rough start.
The first Girl Scout camporee those 11 years ago was a trial by fire of sorts.
It was cold, there were wolves in the area and girls were homesick.
“I had a girl who was crying all night, both nights. But she was laughing the whole time during the day,” Craft said. “Our first camping trip taught us we could survive. It got us out of our comfort zone.”
Boys active in Boy Scouts have similar experiences, starting in first grade as Tiger Scouts. Boys start out with pinewood derbies, rocket competitions and short day hikes but work their way to 50-mile hikes, international jamborees and community service projects that provide boys with leadership and organizational skills.
Michael Fettig’s son Adler brought a flyer home from school three years ago that showed boys camping, swimming and laughing. Adler wanted in on that action, so he joined Cub Scout Pack 234 in University Place.
“We decided to sign up then and there,” Fettig said, noting that his son isn’t much into sports, so Scouting seemed like a great way for him to be active, especially with camping and life skills which were the focus of the first campout that year. Scouts ran through obstacle courses, hiked trails and made s’mores.
“That really sold him on Scouting,” he said.
Fettig first played the role of supportive dad, then he became a den leader and is now the assistant Cubmaster.
“I got acclimated to it slowly,” he said. “I think it has been a great experience.”
If you would like to learn how your child can become a part of a local Scout troop, click here for Boy Scouts, or here for Girl Scouts, and enter your zip code to find the troop nearest you.