For 7-year old Samuel Virgin and 10-year old Rodrigo Ojeda, the first time they shot a BB gun, held a pocketknife or even caught a glimpse of a wild animal was in Cub Scouts.

In fact, Cub Scouting has opened a whole world of new experiences and possibilities for these boys, who, according to Den Leader Becky Garrett, have had close to zero opportunities.

Both Samuel and Rodrigo come from families, who, due to their parents' immigration status or financial circumstances, have spent their entire lives moving from place to place, never settling for more than a couple years.

"About half of our pack are Hispanic, and they have nothing - if you've seen the trailers they live in, they simply have nothing," said Garrett. "They have zero opportunities - they literally walk from their trailers to school and then back to their trailers, and that's their whole life."

So the opportunity for the Hispanic Scouts to make friends, gain new experiences and develop good values and morals - all for free - is a godsend for many of the boys' parents.

This is especially true because this Cub Scout pack is a little different from any of Madison County's other Cub Scout packs.

Pack 426 is the only local pack not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's a community pack, sponsored solely by the Rexburg Kiwanis Club and funded by local donations.

This distinction has encouraged many of those not of the LDS faith to allow their boys to become involved in Scouting.

"Some of the parents don't let them join because they are Catholic and they don't want to be associated with an LDS group. Others have just had bad run-ins with LDS packs," said Garrett. "That means that there is literally not another pack in the entire district that they can attend.

"If they can't attend, then they can't develop the values, morals or have the opportunities that are given to them because of Cub Scouts."

And it appears that the boys are gaining from their experiences.

The Standard Journal attended a pack activity and spoke to them about what they liked about the pack and what kind of things they were doing.

Nick Garrett, 8, said that the coolest thing he's every seen in Scouts was the "seismograph on the hill," in reference to the Brigham Young University-Idaho geology lab.

Larren Smith, 7, said that he loves day camp, roping and, of course, shooting BB guns. Jared Simon, 9, mentioned his love of the obstacle course and of making Frisbees out of sticks.

But the most noteworthy thing about these Cub Scouts is their admiration for each other, despite differing circumstances and races.

Yet any sense of physical difference disappears as you watch the boys interact and play with one another, whether through good instruction or simply because of friendship the Cub Scouts seem to have exemplified the Cub Scout "Law of the Pack," which says that Cubs should always strive to help their pack, which, in turn, helps the boys to grow and learn.

"I'm happy to be here because we are all in the same group and it's fun," said Samuel.

Rodrigo said he is happy to be in Scouts because he is able to meet new friends.

Many of the current members of Pack 426 joined as a result of simple word of mouth, but Garrett would like to get the word out more and expand their numbers.

The Kiwanis Club pays for most of the Scouting events and for the uniforms in case the families cannot afford them, a fact that Garrett says is a good teaching tool for the boys.

"It is totally free, but I let the boys know that it does cost the Kiwanis Club to put them in. That is why we do service, because someone helps them to be in the program," said Garrett. "The community makes it so they can have the program and because of that we in turn can give back to the community in any way we can."

Pack 426 has been in existence for one year. So far, it has done a number of service projects, including making quilts and picking up garbage along highways.

The pack is also always looking for logistical help such as transportation and does accept donations.

For more information about Pack 426, Garrett can be contacted at 359-5379.


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