A variety of organizations build a variety of things. Habitat for Humanity constructs houses, while blue-collar crews put up high-rise apartments and towers in big cities.
The ?building? and goal of Boy Scouts, however, is a little different ? it focuses on people and not on things.
Scouting offers a well-rounded approach to building men, said leaders of Boy Scout Troop 487 in Sedgwick.
?And that?s what it?s all about ? we build men,? Scoutmaster Jeff DeGraffenreid said, sitting in the basement of a Methodist church in Sedgwick, where they have their meetings.
Troop Committee Chair Keith Howell said they hope Scouts take the elements they learn in the Scout Law with them as they enter the adult world.
?A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent,? the Scout Law reads.
The Boy Scout Oath incorporates the Scout Law:
?On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.?
Troop leaders have been working hard on shaping the lives of these young men, getting them involved in Eagle Scout projects, camping trips and community service projects. In addition, the Scouts lead their weekly meetings. For the troop?s efforts, they?ve received the Journey to Excellence Gold Unit Award for the past two years. In order to earn the award, the troop is ranked by the Boy Scouts on the national level on 13 criteria.
?We help use that for the criteria for how the troop should be functioning,? DeGraffenreid said.
One of their service projects is Flags Across Sedg?wick, where the Boy Scouts place 3- by 5-foot American flags in the yards of Sedg?wick residents six times a year for a $40 annual donation. This project is a fund-raiser, and flags are put in yards on Presidents? Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Veterans Day from sunrise to sunset.
?Join your fellow neighbors in Sedgwick, KS, in honoring the freedoms that the American flag represents,? a troop flier stated about Flags Across Sedgwick. ?Be part of a beautiful display of red, white and blue in your neighborhood and support our Scouts in their fundraising efforts.? One of the aims of Scouting is to teach our young men about citizenship, and the ninth point of the Scout Law states that a Scout is thrifty.?
When residents subscribe to Flags Across Sedgwick, they help Scouts cover expenses and assist them in learning about thriftiness and patriotism.
When people subscribe, troop representatives drill a hole in their yards and put a 1?-inch PVC pipe in the hole that stays in the ground. Over the top hole, they put a cap to keep rainwater out, Howell said.
As of October, the troop had about 65 subscriptions. Anyone interested in a subscrip?tion can call Howell at 316-772-9054, DeGraf?fenreid at 316-772-5426 or Tony Resnik at 316-648-3719 or email email@example.com.
Flags Across Sedgwick is a recent troop project.
?Memorial Day was our inaugural flag-raiser,? DeGraffenreid said.
The troop has 22 registered members, and at any given meeting, they?ll have 16 to 18 boys there. To qualify for Boy Scouts, a potential member must be in the fifth grade or just finished with the fifth grade, and boys can be in the group until age 18. If a fifth-grader has completed the Arrow of Light Award, he can join Boy Scouts in the middle of his fifth-grade year; otherwise, he?ll have to wait until he completes that grade.
The Sedgwick troop now meets at 7 p.m. Tuesdays at the Sedgwick United Metho?dist Church. They usually meet on Mondays, but during the fall, they need to accommodate schedules for boys who are in sports, saying they?ll go back to meeting on Mondays at the end of the year.
Flags Across Sedgwick isn?t the only community project the troop does.
?We do service projects,? DeGraffenreid said. ?We do at least six a year. The biggest one we do is Scouting for Food.?
With Scouting for Food, which happens in October, the group reaches out to every house in town. All of the food collected is distributed to Sedgwick residents during the holidays.
?We try to collect from every house, and we knock on every door, but not every house donates,? DeGraffen?reid said.
The Scouts also assist the American Legion with its Avenue of Flags on Memorial Day at Hillside Cemetery, and they facilitate a free soup supper on New Year?s Eve at the senior center in Sedgwick.
?That?s always a neat event for the boys because they get to meet a different generation of people in the community,? DeGraffenreid said.
Some of those community members were scouts themselves. All families donate soup or chili for the event; last year, there were nine kinds of soups, said Kelley DeGraffenreid, the troop?s chartered organization representative, who serves as the liaison between the church, troop and Cub Scout Pack 487.
During the meal, Scouts do the serving.
In the past, the troop has helped the Masons with their Valentine?s dinner, although they haven?t done that for a year.
At Christmastime, Sedgwick Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts get together for caroling at the retirement home in Sedgwick, and when camping out, Boy Scouts take part in cleanup projects to go along with the scouting idea of not leaving a trace.
In addition, the troop has an annual chili supper fundraiser in March, and they sponsor a dunk tank at Fall Festival. This year during the festival, the Cub Scouts and a few Boy Scouts marched in the parade.
In addition to community service projects, duty to God is important in scouting as well, said Dan Schrick, Troop 487 Committee member. For example, when they camp out, the chaplain?s aide, a Scout, leads a non-denominational service on Sundays.
The Scouts camp every month, Jeff DeGraffenreid said, and Scouts also attended summer camps. In the past few years, the group has camped in a variety of places, including Harvey County West Park, First Presbyterian Church Camp, Cross Timbers State Park and Camp Hawk, and in Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Dakota. This past June, all the Scouts attended the Quivira Scout Ranch near Sedan.
Going with the boys on their camping trips are Scout leaders, who are there to support, mentor, train and protect the Scouts. The leaders make up the committee.
?The whole idea of the committee is to support what the boys want to do,? Howell said.
A couple of the leaders had varying reasons why they became involved in Scouting.
?You get involved with your own child, and you quickly learn you?re not doing it just for your child,? Howell said.
Jeff DeGraffenreid said he takes part in Scouting for a couple of reasons: first, he had fun as a scout in his youth, and second, he believes in the program and the aims of the program.
The earliest a boy can join Cub Scouts is the first grade, when they become Tiger Cubs. This year, the Sedgwick Pack had 10 new Tigers, making the total Cub Scout Pack at 18.
However, only 3 percent of boys who begin Scouting achieve the highest rank a Boy Scout can earn, which is the Eagle Scout Award.
One of the group?s members, Nate DeGraffenreid, has been working toward his Eagle Award. His project was being in charge of Sedgwick?s Fourth of July celebration. He had games, inflatables, music and fireworks as part of the festivities, coordinating all of the volunteers, activities and food.
Nate DeGraffeneid was slated to possibly get the Eagle Award in November, after completing the Board of Review, which is comprised of six adult leaders. He also put in more than 200 hours for his project.
Another member of the Sedgwick troop, Matthew Schrick, recently earned that distinction. In order to receive the award, a Boy Scout has to give leadership to a service project. Schrick donated more than 200 hours to clean up an overgrown park at a lake at The Hilands at Sedgwick housing addition.
He completed the project in the summer and had volunteers help.
?The idea is the Scout gives leadership to others, which could be youth or adults in a project that helps the community,? Jeff DeGraffenreid said.
The 14-year-old Scout said he built three picnic tables and two benches for an area by The Hilands.
?It was a park before I started on the project,? he said.
They added things to the park and cut down and trimmed vegetation.
?I tried to get as many people as possible (to assist),? Schrick said. ?A lot of people came to help me. I was really blessed with the help.?
Schrick completed the project during a couple of months during the summer, and he had to get permission from The Hilands Home?owners Association.
?They really liked it when it was done,? he said. ?It felt amazing right when I got (the project) done.?
Schrick?s Eagle Court of Honor was on Labor Day, which was the 100th anniversary of the awarding of the first Eagle Scout. However, the Court of Honor is not when a Scout becomes an Eagle; that happens when he receives the Eagle badge and a pin. Just because he received the highest rank in Boy Scouts doesn?t mean Schrick will quit the group. He plans to stay in Boy Scouts, as well as take part in sports, such as track, football and basketball.
Finding a Scout who will stay in Scouts while doing other activities teens take part in is ?really rare,? Howell said.
Photos and Story by?Wendy Nugent