Scouting worth every penny, county attorney says

by Jim Boyle


Sherburne County Attorney Kathleen Heaney has the unenviable but important task of sending troubled young men to Lino Lakes when they mess up.

It’s costly.

Jim Acers, a member of Friends of Scouting and a Scout volunteer, gave Kathleen Heaney a token of appreciation for speaking.
Jim Acers, a member of Friends of Scouting and a Scout volunteer, gave Kathleen Heaney a token of appreciation for speaking.

The daily rate minimum-security detention is about $146, she says. Those sent to a more secure facility ring up a $236 bill for taxpayers.

The hope is to chart a new path for these young men.

There are more cost-effective measures to set youth on a path for success right from the start, and Heaney considers Scouting as one of the best, she told a crowd of business and community leaders at a recent fundraiser for the Central Minnesota Council of the Boy Scouts.

She was the featured speaker at the April 24 annual leadership breakfast hosted by Friends of Scouting at the Elk River American Legion.

This year’s event attracted 102 people and raised more than $6,200.

Heaney spoke about Scouts from a personal perspective, a community perspective and a national perspective and told why she believes in the program.

She said if you take a young man and give him a moral structure to adhere to and give him a constructive environment where he can learn, lead and laugh, he will do great things.

She said she has had the pleasure working with two Eagle Scout candidates who came to the board room at the Sherburne County Government Center to seek project permissions.

One was building a bridge to go over a county ditch in the Woodland Trails Park in Elk River. The other was reclaiming an old cemetery.

“Both of these kids were Eagle Scout candidates, and that will come as a surprise to no one here,” she said. “Both of these men have left an indelible impression on me.”

They were two of many. There were 68 Boy Scouts who achieved rank of Eagle Scout in 2013 in the Central Minnesota Council.

“If one can make a ripple of difference, think of what 68 can do,” she said. “They create a tide of positive change.”

Indelible impressions

Heaney titled her talk “Indelible Impressions and Legacies for Our Country, Our Community and Our Kids.”

She said these marks are carried in the hearts and minds of Scouts from experiences and persons that pass through their lives. It might be a father, a business person, a troop leader or otherwise.

“They leave with us a lesson, a guideline, a memory,” she said. “These indelible marks that are left with us … become an integral part of who we are.”

Heaney came to know of Scouting through her husband Ed Stoutenberg and her stepsons. When they planned their first date, romance was not the end goal. One of Stoutenberg’s two sons needed to talk to a government official as part of earning a Scout badge.

Heaney and Stoutenberg married and that Scout went on to become an Eagle Scout. The other was also involved in Scouting and Heaney said she has indelible memories of working with both.

She talked of Pinewood derbies, bake sales to raise money for Scouting and the four main food groups for Scouts when camping: “preservatives, chocolate, refined sugar and anything that would burn on a stick.”

Heaney shared her experiences of baking a bunny cake with one of her step sons, carting it 2 1/2 hours to a derby, purchasing the cake for $35 at the event and bringing it home on a 2 1/2 ride before sitting down to eat what could be termed a crunchy masterpiece.

It was a worthwhile expense.

Uncovering presidential ties to the Boy Scouts

Heaney and Stoutenberg, both self-proclaimed history buffs, love to travel and they have uncovered Scout history has presidential roots.

One trip was to Medora, North Dakota, and they visited Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park, the first and only National Memorial Park ever established.

As a president from 1901-1909, Roosevelt pursued conservation policies.

Although Roosevelt was no longer president of the United States when the Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910, he was an ardent booster of the organization. He was a troop committeeman of Troop 39 in Oyster Bay, New York, and first council commissioner of Nassau County Council.

As a former president, he was elected honorary vice president of the Boy Scouts of America. Roosevelt was the first and only man designated as Chief Scout Citizen.

Roosevelt died in 1919.

For many years after his death, several thousand Scouts and leaders in the New York area made annual pilgrimages to his grave in Oyster Bay.

Heaney and Stoutenberg also once went to Hyde Park, New York, the home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was the first president to enter into the White House as an active Scout leader. He was president of the Greater New York Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

“FDR to me was an amazing man,” Heaney said. “He was a man of privilege, but he championed the common man. He overcame polio to lead our country against the evil of ethnic cleansing. He was a person who helped other people at all times.”

And in 1934 he turned to the Boy Scouts.

“You know what the Boy Scouts response was?” Heaney asked. “The Boy Scouts collected more than 1,812,000 items of household furnishings, clothing and other items  for disadvantaged families.”

Fast forward to today.

2013 Central Minnesota Council Scouts collected more than 37,000 pounds of food in 2013 and donated 19,700 hours of community service. The Boy Scout legacy lives on.

There are 4,200 youth in the Central Minnesota program and another 1,580 registered adult leaders.

Scouts: More than just cost effective, attorney says

If you take the amount of money spent on the Central Minnesota Council program and divide it by the number of boys it serves, it only costs about $288 year, Heaney estimated.

“That works out to about 79 cents a day,” she told a crowd of business and organizational leaders from the Elk River area. “It’s clearly more effective to invest in a constructive outlet than it is to deal with a the destructive end. However, those who measure a kid by money have told them they are no longer valued.”

Heaney said the best part about Scouting is it leaves indelible marks on each of the Scouts’ hearts and minds.