From selling cookies and collecting food for the local food pantry to singing Christmas carols and learning about the great outdoors, youth in Adel have many opportunities to become involved with their community through Cub Scouts, Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Each is part of a national youth development organization that teaches life skills to youngsters with an emphasis on community service.
Approximately 65 boys in grades one through five are part of Cub Scout Troop 152 and Pack 152 in Adel.
“Scouting really tries to engage boys with a sense of adventure,” says Mike Yanacheak, cub master for Adel. “It’s engaging them with adventure to teach them some of these other skills that hopefully they’ll be able to use in their everyday life.”
Cub Scout participation has stayed steady in the four years that Yanacheak has been involved. His oldest son is involved with the troop, and his youngest will join at the end of the school year. His daughter is in Girl Scouts. He says between 55 and 70 boys are usually involved in the organization.
One of Pack 152’s biggest community service projects is to collect food for the Good Samaritan Food Pantry at Adel United Methodist Church. In October, the boys go door to door to drop off fliers about the food drive, and then return a few days later to collect the food.
The pack also works with the local American Legion members to display flags at Oakdale Cemetery.
The Cub Scouts are broken down into smaller groups by grade level called dens. Each den also has projects it performs such as cleaning up at Evans Park or along the trail that leads into town, or planting trees in the community.
Yanacheak says any boy who meets the grade level requirement, has support from his family and wants to participate can join Cub Scouts. He says the Adel pack includes members from Waukee, Redfield, Minburn and DeSoto.
In addition to community service projects, the pack also has its annual Pinewood Derby in which the boys take a piece of wood and make a small car out of it. The cars can be styled and shaped any way the boy wishes, but they’re then raced.
Yanacheak says projects such as the derby are fun while they teach the boys creativity and skills such as tool safety.
Oftentimes projects and activities vary depending upon the grade level. For first-graders, an outing might consist of a tour of a local bank or the fire department. But as the boys get older, it’s more about camping, or how to shoot a BB gun or a bow or how to safely use a knife.
Once boys age out of Cub Scouts, they can become involved with Boy Scouts.
Involved in community
The Boy Scouts of America is a national organization that aims to help develop a youth’s character while teaching him about how to be a good citizen and be personally fit through a mostly outdoor program.
About 30 boys are currently involved with Boy Scout Troop 152 in Adel, which is a consistent participation level with past years, says Kent Hovey, who has served as scout master for the Adel Boy Scout Troop for about eight years. Boys who are in grades six until they turn 18 are eligible to participate.
Hovey says the group is very involved in the community. Each year the Scouts help set up about 265 flags for Memorial Day at the cemetery along with the Cub Scouts and the American Legion. They also help with a local soccer tournament and at their schools, and assist with the annual Adel Sweet Corn Festival.
Each level of Scout — tenderfoot, Second class, first class, star, life and Eagle ranks — is required to do a set number of community service hours in order to achieve their rank. Two members of Troop 152 recently received their Eagle rank, the highest possible in the organization.
Early on, Boy Scouts learn basic skills about what it means to become a Scout, and the Scout law and oath. Initially, they learn outdoor skills from first aid to identifying plants to how to cook in the outdoors without hurting the environment to how to pitch a tent to how to be prepared for various environments and weather conditions. The boys camp out about 10 times a year, depending upon the weather conditions.
“We’re like many organizations that teach citizenship and leadership,” Hovey says. “We do it through an outdoor program.”
He says most Scouts attain their outdoor skills during their first couple of years and through the first three or four ranks. He says boys don’t always advance at the same pace; they advance depending upon how hard they want to work.
Hone their skills
Laura Larkin’s son Andrew, 11, was in Cub Scouts and joined Boy Scouts at the end of last school year when he became a sixth-grader.
“I think he thought it would be fun,” she says. “He likes the outdoor activities, the camping, the learning about nature.”
Larkin previously served as a den leader for Cub Scouts. She helped the boys collect food for the local food pantry and took them to visit the Dallas County Care Facility Nursing Home, where they did a Christmas activity with residents.
She says since her son moved up to Boy Scouts, she’s noticed a lot more emphasis on being a good citizen and the boys being independent and taking responsibility for the service projects they perform.
“I think it really offers an opportunity to learn about community service, to be part of the community, to learn about being a good citizen and also learning self-reliance,” Larkin says. “They learn a lot of skills, survival skills and outdoor skills and taking care of their environment and themselves, leadership skills and public speaking.”
Celebrating 100 years
Adel is also home to eight Girl Scout Troops. Each troop has between eight and 10 girls.
Troops are organized by grade level — girls in kindergarten through a senior in high school can be in Girl Scouts. In Adel, girls in grades kindergarten through five are active, with some grades having two troops, says Sheila Chestelson, the service unit manager who organizes troops for the Raccoon Valley, which includes Adel.
She says first, second and third grades seem to be the most popular age for girls to participate.
Girl Scouts of the USA last year celebrated 100 years and now has a membership of 3.2 million girls and adults, according to the national organization’s website. More than 59 million women are alumnae.
The organization was started in 1912 by Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low, who wanted to bring girls together and into the community to help them develop physically, mentally and spiritually by being outdoors, playing games, going on camping trips and studying first aid, according the Girl Scouts of the USA.
The goal of Girl Scouts is to provide young girls with numerous activities and experiences, where they can have fun, learn friendship and empower themselves while making decisions that help them to become leaders, work with others and help their community.
“These young ladies are learning many life lessons that we take for granted with the onset of new technology,” says Jackie Giles, co-leader of Brownie Troop 505. “They get to explore their world firsthand, and with their little hands, they will be able affect change locally. Every girl is welcomed to be a Girl Scout regardless of ability. Within this organization, they are able to form bonds and a lifetime of sisterhood.”
Giles helped organize the troop when her daughter Piper was in first grade. Troop 505 consists of 10 girls in second grade.
Piper came home from school one day and asked to join Girl Scouts. Giles was unfamiliar with it, though her husband had been an eagle scout in Boy Scouts and told her it was a great way for her to do something fun with their daughter. Giles contacted another mother, and the two formed the troop.
The group meets every other Monday at the Adel Assisted Living Center, where they have the opportunity to interact with the residents. They sing Christmas carols during the holiday season, send Christmas cards to deployed soldiers and do other activities with the residents.
“The girls have had the opportunity to meet local citizens and business people that they may come into contact on a day to day basis,” Giles says.
For example, she says the troop hosts a guest speaker each month that relates to the badge the girls are working toward. Recently, a bank employee met with them as the girls work on their money management badge in time for their annual cookie sales.
“I’m trying to give them the basic tools they will need to respect people and to understand what is out there.”
Brownie Troop 505 is currently working on the journey “It’s your world, change it.” They can earn eight badges, and another seven legacy badges in addition to fun patches, all of which the girls wear on their sashes.
Each grade level works toward different badges. Daises are girls in kindergarten and first grade; Brownies are in second and third grade; and Juniors are in fourth and fifth grades.
“I think it’s great,” Piper says. “It’s an organization where we don’t focus on competition. Everybody feels equal, and everyone can contribute something toward it. The girls are building a sisterhood.”