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Boy Scouting alive and well in Somerset area

Brad Kupczak sat in the coffee house across the table from Ed Colosky. The two have much in common: they are both fathers, live in the Somerset area and have a deep passion for Scouting.

"We both made Eagle," Kupczak, Scoutmaster for the BSA Troop 144, said. This is in reference to the highest rank within the organization. "Only 2-4 percent of boys who start Scouts finish Eagle."

Colosky, the Committee Chair for the troop for the past 10 years, agreed.

"We've had three boys Eagle within the last 12 months, and two other Scouts are working on their projects at this time."

The Scouts are having a Fall Roundup Tuesday, Sept. 16 at the Somerset Elementary School at 7 p.m. This is an opportunity for any boys ages 5-18 who would like to learn more about Scouting or for adults who would like to get back into Scouting.

The troop currently boasts 25 members ranging from 11-16 years old. Cub Scouts (ages 5-10) meet separately according to their own den schedules.

"There is typically only one troop per smaller community," Colosky explained. "But there are 13-14 troops in the Wild River District."

Camping is a big part of Scouting but it isn't the main thing, Kupczak maintained. Although this troop averages about five campouts a year, it's working on the merit badges and developing leadership skills that are the primary goals.

"Boy Scouts is all about leadership," Kupczak said. "It's about learning how to work together. It's not for everyone, but it's an opportunity for anyone."

"Beyond camping and advancement, all Scouts will gain skills that will be valuable for the rest of their life," he continued.

To that end, the monthly meetings are used to organize the next event, with the adults providing minimal guidance.

"We don't focus on completing the merit badges," Kupczak said, citing the complexity of having 25 boys working on various projects.

Enter the merit badge counselors.

Since there are over 100 merit badges ranging from American Business to Woodwork, Kupczak is recruiting adults who are willing to lend their talents as a merit badge counselor. He explained that they would provide guidance to those Scouts working on that particular badge, either over the phone or in person.

"You don't have to have a kid in the Scouts to be a merit badge counselor," Kupczak stated. "We've plumbers, electricians, different people in the community."

"We just have to tap the resources," Colosky added.

Another big part of Scouting is giving back to the community. Scouts wishing to become Eagles must complete a community service project. Past projects have included repainting the underside of the Apple River bridge, repairing and replacing benches in some of the Village parks, running electricity and installing a light so that the American flag can fly 24 hours a day in St. Anne's cemetery, running water for individuals to utilize throughout St. Anne's cemetery, and doing general maintenance and cleanup at Hillside cemetery to increase its visibility and appeal.

"They put in about 80 hours," Kupczak explained. "They have to come up with an idea, talk to individuals, come up with a plan, get it approved, organize materials, get the work force, document the whole process and summarize what happened and what they've learned."

Kupczak admits that not many people know about Boy Scouting in Somerset because they haven't been that visible.

"We're not in the Pea Soup Days festival because we're usually gone camping that weekend," he said. "We want to get the word out that we're here."

"The Boy Scouts are alive and well," Kupczak continued. "If anyone has any interest in sharing your knowledge with a child to help them become well-rounded individuals, that's all we're looking for."

For additional information about Boy Scouts, contact Brad Kupczak at 651-208-0867 or at