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South Valley Journal

Boy oh Boy Scout! Volunteers work to re-establish scouting in Bluffdale

Feb 17, 2020 02:11PM ● By Stephanie Yrungaray

Bluffdale Boy Scout Troop 139 at a recent meeting. (Photo courtesy of Emily Swanson.)

By Stephanie Yrungaray | [email protected]

In Bluffdale, the transition from scouting supported by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to community-supported scouting has had its growing pains, but thanks to dedicated community volunteers, Cub Scout Den 4142 and Boy Scouts of America Troop 139 are chartered and ready to serve Bluffdale in 2020.

For Cheryl Parry’s family, troop 139 in Bluffdale is part of their family history. Her 74-year-old husband, their three sons and four grandsons all achieved Eagle Scout rank as members of BSA Troop 139. Now with their fifth grandson, Kacetin, ready to finish up merit badges and join the Eagles’ nest, Parry said she is grateful that the same troop is still around for him to join.

“I’m thrilled we can continue,” said Parry. “I want to see them all get [their Eagle awards]. I really appreciate all of the people who have helped my boys in scouting.” 

Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts throughout Utah are struggling to get back on their feet after the official Dec. 31 separation from the church serving as a charter or sponsor organization for scouting. 

The end of this relationship meant that scout troops organized through the church were dissolved and needed to be re-established, sponsored and have new leadership put in place. Although the church announced its decision to cut ties with the BSA 19 months ahead of time, many scouting parents weren’t aware of what needed to be done to keep scout troops running once the charter ended.

Bluffdale resident Ron Ulberg has been involved with scouting for more than 58 years and wanted to find a way to help scouting continue in Bluffdale. 

“When the church announced that they would no longer be a sponsor, I looked at options of what I might be able to do to help our community with scouting,” said Ulberg. “I contacted the Lions Club and facilitated an agreement for them to sponsor the troop.”

Ulberg explained that chartering a scout troop is more than just paying the $40 fee to cover insurance. 

“Being a charter means you commit to assist with a facility for meetings and assisting when needed with leadership,” Ulberg said. Ulberg now serves as the charter organization representative and is a go-between to “facilitate goodwill” between the scouts and the Lions Club and plans to assist in scouting however he can.

Other scouting champions stepped forward to get Bluffdale’s den and troop re-established, including Emily Swanson. She was serving as a committee chair for her congregation’s scout troop when scouting changes were announced. Recognizing that her experience starting a scout troop in the past would be helpful and wanting her 11-year-old son to continue scouting, Swanson got to work. With guidance from leaders at the BSA executive level and help from other Bluffdale residents such as Ulberg, she helped secure scoutmasters, den leaders, committee chairs and committee members necessary for both the Cub Scout den and Boy Scout troop. 

Both Swanson and Ulberg said the switch to community scouting requires more parent involvement than people might be used to. 

“In the church, we had resources: members to teach merit badges or to take boys camping,” Ulberg said. “The same thing has to happen in our community and it is going to come basically from the parents of boys that are involved. In order for this to be a success and a long-term program in our community, it’s going to take everybody stepping up and doing something.” 

“We need volunteers to make it work,” said Swanson. “We have what we need right now, but we are running on a skeleton crew of one leader per den. Boy Scouts don’t require as much hands-on leadership [as Cub Scouts], but we need more support as far as resources for activities like camping. We are hoping enough people come forward to make it work.” 

Another change that scout families will see in community scouting is an increase in cost. Historically, registration fees and camp costs were covered to a certain amount by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in their chartered dens and troops. The BSA has doubled registration costs for each scout, and camp costs are more than $300 per child. 

“Some parents aren’t used to the financial end of things,” said Ulberg. “We are making sure to educate families and let them know we are definitely starting from ground zero.”

Ulberg said Bluffdale’s den and troop have access to fewer resources as they start anew. He said donations from people in the community would be a wonderful help. 

“The initial start-up is going to be a challenge,” said Ulberg. “There are all kinds of things people can contribute and help us with as we get off the ground: unused awards, tents they don’t use or pieces of camping equipment. How many uniforms are out there in people’s closets? We would love to put these things to good use and save money for the kids coming in. We are working on it and are excited about the prospects.” 

Swanson said they have already started up a uniform bank to provide previously used scout shirts to new scouts.

“We are trying to keep costs as low as possible,” said Swanson. “We are also working on fundraising.” 

Despite the challenges, the Cub Scout Den and Boy Scout Troop of Bluffdale are officially chartered, meeting and hoping for new scouts and community volunteers. 

“We want people to know scouting is still happening locally, and they should find one that works for them,” said Swanson. 

“The whole premise behind scouting is based on three tenets, building character, citizenship training and personal fitness,” Ulberg said. “I can’t imagine anything better than those three tenets to make sure our young people are learning and growing in that capacity. I think it will be  a blessing for our community to have scouting continue here.”