The Scouting legacy of service

Scouting has been an integral part of Twin Lakes District for in excess of 100 years. Though not the only organization for training/molding our youths today, it is arguably one of the best, if not the best institution that will shape our youthful children and teach them to be productive citizens. Twin Lakes is a six-county district comprised of Webster, Humboldt, Kossuth, Sac, Calhoun and Pocahontas counties within the Mid America Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Mid America Council actually covers 58 counties in Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. For in excess of 100 years, the Mission of Scouting is to prepare Scouting youths to make ethical choices over their lifetime by instilling in them The Scout Oath and the Scout Law. The “vision” of The Mid America Council is to create unparalleled experiences for more youths.

It has often been said that the only constant is change. Since the inception of Scouting over 100 years ago, the emergence of the current Mid America Council, of which Twin Lakes District is a part of, has seen at least 12 mergers. At one time the Twin Lakes District was part of the Fort Dodge Council, founded in 1921, and later changed to The Prairie Gold Area Council in 1947. On Nov. 1, 1947, Jack L. Rhea, became the new Scout executive of The Prairie Gold Council, home based in Fort Dodge. Rhea’s leadership skills were honed in World War II. Rhea was a captain in the infantry and was selected for Ranger Training. A book, titled “The Life and Times of Jack L. Rhea” has been written and edited by William F. Cass. Rhea, who is now deceased, was a young lad during the Great Depression, a very talented basketball player, Eagle Scout, a decorated leader of combat soldiers during WW II, was noted for his great contributions to Philmont Scout Ranch, and held top level positions within the Boy Scouts of America National Office.

Both youths and adults want to be a part of Scouting, although for different reasons. Youngsters are always interested in the Scouting regimen, the opportunity to wear the Scouting uniform, take pride in rank advancements, learn a wide variety of useful skills, and while doing all of this … have fun. Cub Scouts begin at age 6 as Tiger Cubs, and with work, effort, and diligence, advance to Wolf, Bear, Weblos, and then earn the coveted Cub Scout Arrow of Light award.

Cub adults, on the other hand, look at the value of Scouting from an entirely different perspective. Successful adult leaders look forward to being with youths ranging from age 6 to 10. Though hard-pressed to admit it, cub adults really enjoy being a kid again while taking the program to our youths, i.e., teaching kids useful skills of life, shooting water propelled rockets, playing tug of war over a mud hole, shooting water balloons with a giant sling shot, touring the local fire station, going to the zoo, or taking the kids to Des Moines to see the Tyrannosaurus exhibit.

Boy Scoutmasters, though working with youths from age 11 to 18, can take great pride in watching their kids master a variety of skills ranging from first aid, emergency preparedness, athletic ability, swimming/lifesaving, orienteering, cooking skills, financial planning skills, and public speaking abilities, just to name a few. Boy Scouts begin as a Scout, and with determination, persistence, and adult coaching,will progress through the ranks as a Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle Scout. The Eagle rank is the pinnacle of Scouting success. Adult Scouters realize long before their youthful children the huge advantages associated with the scouting program. Scouting has 100 years of history and experience in preparing our youths to become productive citizens. According to national pollster Louis Harris, kids who have been in the Scouting program five years or more, exhibit the following characteristics:

Those youths have higher ethical/moral standards than those not in Scouting.

70 percent made Who’s Who among Leaders compared to 51 percent in a national cross-section.

98 percent high school graduation rate vs 83 percent for non-Scouts.

40 percent college graduation rate vs 16 percent college graduation rate for non-Scouts.

33 percent with household incomes greater than $50,000 per year vs 17 percent for non-Scouts

Scouting backgrounds are prominent within our military academies. Through July of 1994, 36 percent of West Point cadets were Scouts and 10 percent were Eagle Scouts. And through the same time period 28 percent of the Air Force cadets were Scouts and nearly 10 percent attained the rank of Eagle.

In August of 2012, Scouting celebrated the 100th anniversary of our nation’s first Eagle Scout, Arthur Rose Eldred, a member of Troop 1 in Oceanside, New York. Since Arthur Eldred, more than 2 million boys have followed in his footsteps along the Trail to Eagle. Some Eagles, while on life’s journey have changed the world. The Trail to Eagle doesn’t necessarily stop at Eagle. For some it continues to the “Halls of Power” – to the White House and Congress. For others, it leads to the great outdoors – the Appalachian Trail, the South Pole; a president, Gerald Ford, astronaut, Neil Armstrong, filmmaker, Steven Speilburg, athlete, Henry Aaron, explorer, Steve Fossett, Tuskegee Airman, Col. Charles McGee, Medal of Honor recipient Tommy Norris, and many, many, more. For every 100 boys who enter the Scouting program, only 2 percent to 4 percent attain the rank of Eagle Scout.

Talented men, who are Eagle Scouts, reside within our district, most of whom have local roots, who are prominent within their community or who have created the foundation for success throughout their lives: Dr. Nick Drzycimski, dentist in Fort Dodge; Russ Seiler, owner of Seiler Appliance in Humboldt; Steve Hoskins, vice president for agency operations for both Pharmacists Mutual and Pro Advantage Services Inc. in Algona; Dick Seiler, owner of Seiler Appliance in Pocahontas; Eric Meyer, B.S., Ag Engineering from Iowa State University and who resides in Lake View; and Brady Farrington, a Sophomore at the University of Iowa, whose studies revolve around the medical arena.

Every youth who enters the Scouting program benefits himself/herself, their family, their community, their church, our state, and the great nation we all call home … regardless of whether the youth becomes an Eagle Scout.

And finally, all Eagle Scouts who have read this article are requested to provide the following information:

When did you receive your Eagle Award and what is your unit number and location?

Where you currently reside (with address, phone number and email)?

What are you currently doing?

James R. (Jim) Dean is the senior district executive for the Twin Lakes District. He became an Eagle Scout on June 24, 1966. You can contact Dean by email at