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Scouting offers lifelong benefits, skills, experience

Courtesy Photos Scouts from Troop 92 enjoy activities at summer camp this past June.

ALPENA ­– Valuable outdoor survival skills are not the only thing Scouts learn when they join and participate in BSA Scouting, formerly known as Boy Scouts of America.

On Tuesday evening, a special welcome event is taking place at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Alpena, where Scout Troop 92 and Cub Scout Pack 3092 make their home base.

The sign-up event will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, at the church, 727 2nd Ave.

The Scouts normally meet from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, and the Cubs meet from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. the same nights.

“There are lots of benefits,” said Steven Donajkowski, Assistant Scout Master of Troop 92. “We help youth gain confidence in not only themselves, but being outdoors.”

Scouts from Troop 92 get ready to go canoeing this past summer.

He explained some of the lifelong skills the Scouts learn, including first aid, shelter making, cooking, automotive care, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, and much more.

“It’s fun,” Donajkowski said. “There are a ton of hands-on activities they can do while building confidence to be able to do them.”

In 2019, the National Council started allowing females into the Troops.

Cub Scouts are for first- through fifth-graders, and the Scouts are for sixth- through 12th-graders.

The Scouts also get to participate in pinewood derby, and build rockets and birdhouses.

Canoeing is just one of the many activities Scouts from Troop 92 have enjoyed.

“The Eagle Scout is the end goal,” Donajkowski said. “It’s one of the most prestigious awards you can get.”

He added that President Gerald Ford and Buzz Aldrin were Eagle Scouts.

“There are a lot of things they need to learn to use in everyday life,” he said of the Scouts, including public speaking, citizenship, robotics, and dentistry. “There are endless opportunities.”

He noted that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to switch from in-person to virtual, but “it’s hard to get the hands-on experience in a virtual platform.”

They’ve been meeting in-person since March of this year.

Scouting is for all seasons. At right, a Scout interacts with a horse this past March at MKM Equine in Posen.

“One of the first things we did in-person was the horsemanship merit badge,” Donajkowski said.

They went to MKM Equine in Posen.

“We took the kids out ice fishing,” he added. “We only caught one fish, but we had a blast.”

Then, in June, they had a weeklong summer camp at Cole Canoe Base in Alger, Michigan.

“We spend 10 days down there,” Donajkowski explained. “It’s fun. They put up their own tents, cook their own meals, and clean up.”

He said the leaders instruct them, but the Scouts learn how to do things on their own, depending on their peers instead of adults to help them complete tasks.

“We’re always looking for adult leaders,” said Donajkowski, whose 13-year-old son, Mason, is in Troop 92. “The adults don’t even have to have kids in Scouting to be a leader. They just have to want to help out.”

Donajkowski, 40, helps lead with two other Scout leaders, ages 59 and 70. He’d be happy to see more folks step up to help with the Troop and Pack.

“We had a blast this summer,” he said. “We went canoeing.”

They started from Hubbard Lake on a two-day journey, canoeing 22 miles total. The first day, they canoed 14 miles to Indian Reserve Road State Park and camped there for the night.

“The Scouts bring food, shelter, and dry clothes with them in the canoe,” Donajkowski said. “Two weeks before they learned what to pack and how to pack light.”

Every season has a full schedule of fun, he added.

“In the fall, we do a six-mile hike through Huron National Forest and they have to hike all their stuff in with them.”

They end up at Lost Lake Woods, and the following day they get rewarded with lunch at The Mountain Inn restaurant in Black River.

Joining the Scouts is not free, but scholarships are available, and the Scouts do a lot of fundraisers to keep costs down, including raising $18,000 by a bottle drive on East Campus, where they put up a 10×10 dog kennel where people could drop off their returnable cans and bottles.

“We had to empty it once or twice a day,” said Donajkowski, who was very grateful for the community’s support.

Scouting costs about $140 a year, and summer camp is an additional $400.

“So, if we have a Scout that can’t afford to pay, we’ll use that money,” he noted.

Oct. 29 is the annual Scouts dinner, which will be $12 per adult and $6 per child.

They also build a float for the Christmas parade, and on Memorial Day, they help put flags out before the parade.

“We retire old flags,” Donajkowski added.

Troop 92 was founded in 1956.

Another thing the troop does is volunteer in the community.

They recently built a handicap ramp for one of their families, and they do other tasks, such as shoveling snow.

“I don’t have the words to express my gratitude for your help with the snow removal from my daughter’s driveway,” a community member wrote in a note to the troop. “With young people like you, I have faith in the future of our great country.”

Reach Darby Hinkley at 989-358-5691.

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