By Brianna Mathias
COKATO, DASSEL, MN Behind the campfires, the tents, and the badges is a man who leads his troop through any challenges they may encounter.
From identifying plants to learning how to climb, the Scoutmaster is there to help his boys attain badges, and gain leadership skills.
Keith Dahlseng stepped down from being Scoutmaster after six years of leading young boys of Dassel-Cokato Troop 253.
“I’ve been involved with Scouting for about 15 years,” Dahlseng said. “I started with my oldest son when he was in first grade, and now he’s a junior in college.”
Because his job became more demanding and included a lot of travel, Dahlseng decided to let someone else take on the challenge of guiding the troop.
Terry Gebrelcik decided to take over as scoutmaster after his youngest son advanced from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts.
“I look forward to seeing how the boys mature and take on leadership roles to better themselves and learn to trust in themselves,” Gebrelcik said.
Dahlseng said his favorite part of having been scoutmaster was the chance to see growth in the boys.
“This organization gives the boys the opportunity to learn leadership and hone their leadership skills,” Dahlseng said. “You watch them come in as 11-year-olds. They are scared to go off to their first full-week scout camp, and their parents are scared to see them go. Then they come home and tell their parents all about what they got to accomplish at camp.”
The pride the boys come home with after their first camp is one thing Dahlseng said is amazing to witness.
“It’s a blast to see them start from that and then grow up and get their Eagle,” Dahlseng said. “I have a lot of great memories.”
One favorite memory Dahlseng recalled was when a boy said his least favorite part of camp were the stairs leading up to the dining hall, and his favorite part was doing the Iron Man relay, in which he had to run up the stairs.
“I’m going to miss the summer camps the most,” Dahlseng said.
Though he will no longer be the scoutmaster, Dahlseng is still going to be involved with Scouts as the committee chair.
“It won’t be daily, weekly, or directly, but I’ll still be able to facilitate this program that helps boys to grow,” Dahlseng said. “The most important part about being the chair is being able to process the paperwork as they are getting their Eagles.”
Gebrelcik has been part of the Scouting program since 2006, but has only had leadership positions since 2012, when he started leading the Cub Scouts.
“My favorite part about Scouting is being able to see how the boys accomplish things they might not think they are able to do, things they might not be sure about, or are frightened of, like rappelling or climbing,” Gebrelcik said.
One main factor behind Gebrelcik’s respect for the Scouting program is the growth he’s seen in his own children.
“Scouts has shown my sons how to be self-sufficient, how to take care of their business without being told what to do all the time, and how to be responsible for themselves and their equipment,” Gebrelcik said. “It’s allowed my sons to go do things we probably wouldn’t do as a family, like our second high adventure hikes.”
Gebrelcik said Scouts gives boys opportunities to step out of their comfort zones and try new things.
“Scouts lets them do things they might not do at home,” Gebrelcik said. “There are so many merit badges offered, so they are exposed to so many different things. They can take things like electronics and orienteering, which are skills they may never use again, but it’s good for them to have some background in those things.”
Dahlseng said there are certain things he’s learned that he would like to pass on to the new scoutmaster.
“Give the boys enough room to learn who they are on their own,” Dahlseng said.
Leadership and exploration are only a small part of what boys discover through Scouts, according to Gebrelcik.
“The friendships the boys make are so strong,” Gebrelcik said. “A handful of the boys started together as Cub Scouts and are still together in Boy Scouts, and are now getting ready to work on their Eagles. They are friends outside of Scouts. It’s all about the relationships they make.”