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Leader of the Pack: Ennis gets rare Scouting award

Chuck Ennis (right) is presented his Silver Beaver Award by Greg Scheder during ceremonies on March 22 at the Northern Star Council’s Recognition Dinner.

Chuck Ennis organized a Boy Scout troop in Somerset in 1978. Ever since, Ennis has been a driving force for Scouting, not only in Somerset, but all over western Wisconsin.

For his 36 years of service, Ennis was honored with Scouting’s highest volunteer award. At the Northern Star Council’s Recognition Dinner on March 22, Ennis was presented the Silver Beaver Award. Ennis was one of 19 volunteers honored from a pool of nearly 20,000 volunteers in the Northern Star Council district.

“To be honored with people like that is a great honor,” Ennis said. “They do so much for the Council.”

Ennis currently serves on the Eagle River District activities committee, serving the western Wisconsin area. The District covers St. Croix, Pierce, Polk and Burnett counties. His work with Scouts includes leadership as a scoutmaster, cubmaster, assistant den leader, merit badger counselor and crew advisor. He was selected to serve as a leader for two National Scout Jamborees, in 1985 and 1993, and he has served at many Scout Expos, Klondike Derbies and camporees.

Ennis has completed Scouting’s highest volunteer adult training, The Wood Badge, and he is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, which recognizes honor campers and service. As a leader he has earned the Cubmaster and Cub Scouter Awards, the Scouter’s Key and Scoutmaster Award of Merit, and he has received the District Award of Merit.

After 36 years, Ennis is as involved as ever in Scouting. He may possibly be even more involved, after retiring three years ago from his position as the health care provider at the Somerset Elementary School.

Ennis estimated that he’s volunteering at Scouting events one-third of the weekends each year, plus attending one or two meetings a week, plus all the legwork he does for the numerous Scouting activities in which he’s involved. He still goes on camping adventures with the Scouts. He did make one concession this year, when his troop went on a winter camping adventure. While the Scouts slept outside in snow quinzhees they made, Ennis found a place indoors to sleep. The boys slept outside, even though the temperature reached -21 degrees.

“They stuck it out, they stayed all night,” Ennis said. “I’m proud of them.”

Scouting has continued to evolve as kids’ interests have changed.

“Kids are different than they were 20 years ago,” Ennis said. “They have different ideas on excitement. Sometimes they’re more gutsy, sometimes they’re more safety conscious. They are more mature.”

The Scouting activities have changed to reflect those interests. Among the new activities is the spring Expo, which has been held at Trollhaugen the past two years. Scouts get to do high ropes courses, zip lines, orienteering and pioneering.

“The kids just love doing that. Last year each kid did six different zip lines,” Ennis said.

Another sign that Scouting has changed is allowing the Scouts to bring cell phones to the different activities. Ennis said this has proven to be great advertising, as the Scouts post photos from the activities announcing all the fun they’re having.

The Scouts can use the GPS in their phones for activities like orienteering and geocaching, Ennis said.

Ennis is part of a group of Scout leaders looking to bring back more high adventure activities for the Somerset Scouts. He said plans for this summer include canoeing the Namekagon River and making a trip to the Porcupine Mountains.

“I do want to shoot the Brule (River) and do the Boundary Waters, that’s in the future plans,” Ennis said.

He said a visit to the Grand Teton Mountains is another possibility for the future.

“I don’t see any slowing down,” Ennis said of his future involvement. “I’m committed for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts.”

Anyone interested in more information in Scouting can contact Ennis at 715-760-1875 or

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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