Scouts from Forest Park’s Bear Den look on as leader Drew DePriest demonstrates how to use a screwdriver at the first meeting of the scout season this past Saturday. | Jill Wagner

Although membership for the Boy Scouts of America Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA program has dropped nationally, local Cub Scout Pack 109 has kicked off their scout year with more families and grew by 18%.   Hosting its first meeting of the fall at the Park District of Forest Park pavilion, were scouts and adults this past Saturday. 

The six dens, divided by grade level, are a part of a larger group called the pack.  The dens work in separate groups on flag etiquette, scout handshake, building with tools, teamwork and knot tying.   

Paul Murray, leader of the second-grade wolves, took the first meeting to teach the square knot.  “Hold the rope and raise your right hand,” he said as he led the scouts in the lesson.  After learning the skill scouts repeated tying with different challenges.   One by one scouts jumped in place then raced down the hill with their rope to practice their square knot on the fence of the skate park. 

Bear den leader, Drew DePriest, held the attention of the scouts as he donned a hard hat and safety vest while leading the third graders through a demonstration of tools.  Each scout was then handed a board with predrilled holes, a bag of tools, a carpenter pencil, and the hardware to place in the board.

It was the first time many of the scouts had used a screwdriver, and Baron Cooper said, “We are building toolkits.  Screwing is screwing, measuring is measuring, hammering is hammering, bolting is bolting.”

Many of the new families were looking for activities involving the community and outdoors.  Rose Bozman, new to the pack, volunteered to become the first grade, Tiger den leader. After leading her first meeting, she said, “I just want to be part of the community and be a part of something that is family oriented and fun.”

Giving the Tiger meeting the stamp of approval, Ramona Cross, excitedly explained, “We did games tigers play.  The first one was pretty hard.  We passed a ball without using our hands or feet and then had to move the ball in two hoops then put it in a basket.”

Michelle Costelo, who has fond memories of her days as a Brownie in Girl Scouts, joined the pack with her son Roman this year because, “being a part of the community and getting involved is important to our family.”

Since the scouts are too young for vaccinations, the meetings are all planned outdoors for the next month or two. 

“We are all looking forward to a safe return to all the fun events,” said Steve Rummel, Scout pack master.  “We want to watch the scouts grow together through service, work and play.”