Pequot Lakes Cub Scouts show appreciation for community helpers by making, delivering gift baskets
As part of Cub Scout pack's service learning project on community helpers, they learn these helpers include more than firefighters and police officers
Learning about community helpers took on a whole new meaning this year for a Pequot Lakes Cub Scout pack, and area teaching staff and a hospital intensive care unit received heartfelt gifts as a result of the pack’s service learning project.
“With the pandemic going on and me being a teacher, I’ve seen firsthand how a lot of our community entities have been stretched,” said Erin Traxler, a first-grade teacher at Eagle View Elementary School and Cub Master for Cub Scout Pack 102 of Pequot Lakes.
Citizenship is a big part of Scouting, and when looking at requirements for the pack, one was talking about community helpers, including how they contribute to the community and why they are needed, Traxler said. It seemed a perfect time to undertake this service learning project.
In tackling the project, leaders started by asking the Scouts - the Pequot Lakes pack includes about 20 Scouts ages 6-10, including two girls - to name different community helpers. They identified firefighters and police officers.
“We brought in the conversation to talk about the nurses, the teachers, the doctors, the postmaster even, people working at a grocery store are still helping us,” Traxler said. “We wanted to stretch their thinking of how many people it takes to have a community. In reality, we all contribute in some way.”
They tailored the discussion to the types of community helpers each family uses.
“In a small town, we have parents that are on the fire department and parents that are nurses,” Traxler said.
Next, the Scouts made appreciation baskets filled with goodies, which they chose to donate to staff at Eagle View and Nisswa elementary schools, and the ICU floor at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd.
“We just thought that would be a nice way to stop and acknowledge how much these entities are doing for us,” Traxler said.
The COVID-19 pandemic widened the Scouts’ thoughts of community helpers, and it threw a curveball at their original plan to make the appreciation baskets as a group. The plan was for all families to bring basket items to a pack meeting, and then have each Scout choose what to include in their baskets from those items.
Then the governor restricted gatherings because of the surge in positive COVID-19 cases, so the pack had to alter plans and turn this into an at-home family project. Some families made baskets on their own; others did it together via a conference call.
“For our family, it turned out to be a nice thing to do,” Traxler said.
The young Scouts enjoyed it too, according to the following comments from three Scouts that Traxler shared via email:
Calvin Traxler, 7, a Tiger Scout in first grade: “I know the nurses and doctors are community helpers and they are trying their best to keep us all safe and healthy from the COVID germs. That's a really big job right now. The teachers are community helpers because they teach us great stuff so we can be whatever we want when we grow up. I chose hand towels and the scrapers you use to lick the bowl at the end of making cookies so the teachers could have a pretty kitchen while they make cookies. I put in chocolate and coffee so they could take a break (like the relaxing kind, not the time-out kind). I felt excited to give my basket to one of the adults at school. It's hard work with us kids all day.”
Brady Olson, 8, a Wolf Scout in second grade: “Community helpers are important because they help people. I chose a coffee mug and some other goodies to put in my basket. I felt happy making my basket.”
Kaleb Whitted, 9, a Webelo Scout: “Why are community helpers important? They help you and others. What did you choose to put in your basket? Iced tea, chocolate cake mix, candy. How did it make you feel to make your basket? Good because I'm helping someone too.”
Before COVID-19 restrictions were enacted, the Pequot Lakes Cub Scout pack had a busy fall learning the outdoor code at Camp Foley, selling popcorn, learning sportsmanship skills at the Community Bowl & Pizzeria in Pine River, and learning about citizenship and flag etiquette at the Pequot Lakes American Legion.
Pack meetings now happen via conference call.
“It was a bummer, but with a little creativity, we are still able to have Scout meetings and provide the values Scouting teaches,” Traxler said, adding that in combination with the community helpers appreciation baskets, the pack also rang the bells at the Salvation Army’s red kettle at Schaefer’s Foods in Nisswa on Saturday, Dec. 5, as a service project.
Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.