By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN It started out like any other day at the beach, but on June 24, 2012, 10-year-old Owen Potter saved a life.
“We were all swimming, and then one of the younger boys got water in his eyes,” recalled Owen, who is part of Cub Scout Pack 273 in Delano.
The boy was struggling to keep his head above the surface, and wasn’t able to swim to shore. Owen immediately raced over, lifting the boy’s head above the water.
“I just saw him and knew that’s what I had to do,” said Owen.
After a few seconds, Maggie Nimtz spotted them from the shore, and jumped in to take the boy to safety.
“Maggie is one of the den moms, and she deserves credit, too,” said Owen’s father, Dave. “They said she just flew off the rocks.”
Dave had been at Baker Park Reserve Campground (at Lake Independence) with Owen and the other Scouts that day, but he didn’t witness the rescue.
“We were camping, and I had gone back to the tent to get some stuff,” Dave recalled.
When he returned, the boy’s father went up to him and said, “You’re not going to believe this Owen’s a hero.”
A rare honor
Owen’s heroic act was recognized with a National Certificate of Merit at the Delano Cub Scout Pack Blue and Gold Banquet Feb. 23.
According to the Boy Scouts website, “national awards for lifesaving and meritorious action are made only for outstanding and unusual acts that demonstrate unusual heroism, skill, or bravery, and reflect Scouting ideals.” The award can be given to a youth member or adult leader who has performed a “significant act of service deserving of special national recognition.”
KARE 11 reported that this type of award is typically given to older Boy Scouts, and it is rare for a Cub Scout to receive this honor.
“We’re really pleased with [Owen’s] decisions,” Dave said, adding that he hopes others will be inspired to watch for service opportunities, as well.
“Owen reads a magazine called Boys’ Life, and in the middle there’s a section called ‘Scouts in Action,’ with different examples of how youth saved lives,” Dave said. “When you read things like that every month, it helps you prepare and know what to do, rather than sit on the sidelines.”
Owen’s swimming ability helped prepare him for the rescue. When he becomes a Boy Scout next year, Owen will begin to earn merit badges, one of which is for swimming proficiency. A few requirements for this badge include demonstrating water rescue methods, proper CPR technique, and swimming continuously for 150 yards.
Dave and Liz’s other two children Kate, 13, and Elias, 14 are also strong swimmers.
Elias and Owen both hope to become Eagle Scouts, the highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve. All Eagle Scouts complete 21 merit badges.
Two of the badges Owen is excited for include sail boating and tracking animal footprints. Owen is also looking forward to Boy Scouts trips to places like the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base in the Florida Keys, and the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.
Owen and his father both got involved in Scouting after Elias joined the troop. Dave served as assistant Scoutmaster the past few years, and recently became Scoutmaster.
“When kids play sports, parents are in the stands, but Boy Scouting is different,” Dave said. “With Scouting, you’re in the field, too. It really is a great time to spend with your son.”