Like many things in 2020, a new venture in Escalon started off with high hopes.
But COVID-19 has put a damper on the efforts of a Scout Pack to gain a foothold in the community.
Still, the new pack is working hard to recruit additional members and is looking forward to being involved in some new and fun activities.
Scout Pack 263 – which is sponsored by the Escalon American Legion Post 263 – was formed earlier this year and is a Cub Scout Pack, open to both boys and girls. Currently, members of the pack are putting on their popcorn sales – with multiple varieties and sizes available, both popped and unpopped – and are set up outside MarVal Main Street Market on McHenry Avenue. Sales are going on each Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon and on Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“We’re raising money for our programs and the money stays here in Escalon,” said Cubmaster Shawn Strohman of the proceeds from the popcorn sales.
He noted that more than 73 percent of the cost for each item comes back to the pack, making it a good return for them to help support activities.
Strohman admitted it has been hard to do recruitment when most in person events have been curtailed.
“We did meet at the American Legion Hall because we are chartered under them,” he explained of getting the pack started earlier this year. “But because of COVID, we can’t meet there right now. We are working with the city, trying to do some programs, either at Hogan Park or maybe the Main Street Park.”
Escalon did have a Boy Scout Troop previously but Strohman said the active scouts in that troop aged out, so they are building anew, starting with the Cub Scout Pack with the hopes of eventually adding the Boy Scout Troop as well.
“Pack 263 started in January and the idea is to bring scouts back to Escalon,” Strohman said.
Right now, there are a dozen Cub Scouts involved, and the pack is open to those from kindergarten through fourth grade. The popcorn sales, in time to set some aside for holiday gift giving, is not only a fundraising tool but Strohman said they also have information available for potential scouts, as they are in a recruiting phase as well.
Manning the sales table for a shift on a recent Saturday, young Lux Smith was busy asking shoppers exiting the store if they wanted to purchase any of the products. Mom Lori was also on hand to assist with set up and sales.
“Because I’ve always wanted to do something like it,” Lux said of why she got involved in the new scout pack. “I’ve gotten to go to the train place (museum) in Sacramento and we carved things out of soap. It’s fun.”
The nine-year-old is a fourth grade student at Van Allen and is looking forward to more adventures, as well as earning additional merit badges.
Pack leaders said they had been planning for a ‘Bridging Ceremony’ in which some of the Cub Scouts would be moving up to the rank of Webelos, but that has been put on hold due to the pandemic. Strohman said they will keep tabs on the situation and host it as soon as they can, in accordance with social distancing guidelines and safety protocols.
The scouts have been active in the community for a couple of events; they were on hand for the Opening Day of the city’s Little League season – a season that ultimately was cut short by the pandemic – and some scouts also assisted the American Legion members with placing flags on the streets for July 4.
For more information about the new Cub Scout Pack, the popcorn sales or scouting in general, contact Strohman at Pack263Escalon@gmail.com; they are also on Facebook.