Boy Scouts, leaders will present program MondayLocals to talk about history of group in Mitchell.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
The Boy Scouts have a long history in Mitchell, and current Scouts and leaders plan to present that history Monday.
February is Boy Scout Month and the Mitchell Area Historical Society will feature two Scouts and three leaders for its free monthly program at 7 p.m. at the Carnegie Resource Center.
First Class Scout Ben Tegethoff of Troop 72 and Life Scout Daxx Wiebelhaus of Troop 75 will share their journeys in Boy Scouts. Presenting a history of scouting in Mitchell will be David Kline, former regional executive director of Boy Scouts; Pat Oleson, Scout master for Troop 72; and Tim Wiebelhaus and Greg Hildebrandt, assistant Scout leaders for Troop 75.
Boy Scout memorabilia will be on display during the program.
Troop numbers remain rather steady in Mitchell, according to Oleson and Dave Zapf, Scout master for Troop 75. About 20 boys are active in Troop 75 and 26 boys are active in Troop 72.
“For me, it’s down,” Oleson said of Troop 72. “Over the years, I’ve had up to 45 and as a low, 21. The numbers always fluctuate.”
Oleson has been Scout master for Troop 72 for 13 years. Through that time, he’s watched many Scouts grow and advance in rank, and many boys achieve Eagle Scout status.
During his year and a half as Scout master for Troop 75, Zapf said he’s watched boys help their community through Eagle Scout projects.
“The labor pool they (Eagle Scouts) tap happens to be their troop,” Zapf said.
Scout projects have affected and enhanced Mitchell for nearly 90 years. The Boy Scouts originally had a presence in Mitchell between 1915 and 1918, according to Daily Republic archive articles. The group disbanded after the first World War, but was chartered again in September 1925.
While many troops have formed and disbanded through the years, the city now only has two troops — 72 and 75.
“Both have been here since 1928 and 1929,” Oleson said. “They were chartered by church organizations in town.”
During World Wars I and II, it is documented in archive articles that the Boy Scouts helped in the war effort. “Boy Scout paper drive — The need for paper is critical,” read one 1946 article about Boy Scouts raising funds to contribute to the war effort.
In more recent years, Boy Scouts have been known for service projects, benefitting both the community and nonprofit entities. Scouts hold an annual Scouting for Food campaign to fill the shelves of the local food pantry. They go door-to-door collecting nonperishable food items.
Most notably, however, the Boy Scout troops churn out several Eagle Scouts each year. The Eagle Scout is the highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve. Projects around Mitchell are a testament to the boys’ hard work.
Daily Republic archives hold examples of Eagle Scout projects from recent years still visible in the community. Boy Scouts working toward Eagle Scout status must complete a project for which they raise funds, organize and design.
In November 2009, Nathaniel Vendt built bat houses and placed them in local parks to help control the mosquito population.
In 1997, three Boy Scouts from Troop 72 were recognized by then-Gov. Bill Janklow for their outstanding service.
Andy Mentele did landscaping at the Mitchell Activities Center. Matthew Dice constructed a trophy case for the MAC. Richard Blaalid refurbished playgrounds at the local Catholic schools.
Other Scouting projects are less visible in the community, but still make a large impact.
In 2007, Jacob Pecenka created Compassion and Care in a Bag for cancer patients at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital. He made fleece blankets and filled denim bags with care products. He spent 200 hours planning his Eagle Scout project.
In 2003, a Troop 75 Eagle Scout earned his top honors at age 14. Nick Hayen was the mastermind behind a 9/11 commemorative plaque that hangs at the Mitchell Public Safety Center.
More recently, last year, Andrew Chenoweth of Troop 75 built a boat dock and placed it in Lake Dimock by Ethan. Donald Brady, also of Troop 75, held a winter coat drive for his Eagle Scout project. He donated the coats to The Salvation Army to distribute to needy people, Zapf said.
“The projects kind of go across the whole board,” he said.