As of Feb. 1, there is a new look to Scouting in Slater’s Troop 163. The troop now has 36 boys and four girls active in the Scouts BSA program. Two leaders are now leading the groups in Slater. Fonda Darter oversees the boys and Misty Palek oversees the girls, who all have come together to form the new group.


The two women have been involved with Scouting as their own children moved through the ranks. Fonda Darter is the boy scoutmaster. She began her leadership when her son was in Cub Scouts as a parent and assistant den leader for four years. When her son moved into Boy Scouts, Darter served as assistant scoutmaster for two years and is now the scoutmaster.


Palek began helping when her son joined Boy Scouts two years ago as a parent leader, and then became assistant scoutmaster and now is the girl troop scoutmaster.


Girls involved in Scouting are considered Scouts in the Scouts BSA program. Darter explained that Scouts BSA is the traditional Scouting experience for youth in fifth grade through high school. Service, community engagement and leadership development become increasingly important parts of the program as youth lead their own activities and work their way toward earning Scouting’s highest rank as an Eagle Scout.


“Scouts BSA is a year-round program that provides fun, adventure, learning, challenge and responsibility to help the Scouts become the best version of themselves,” Darter explained. “In Scouts BSA, young men and women go places, test themselves and have one-of-a-kind adventures that can’t be found anywhere else. And for the first time in its 100 plus year history, the program of the Boy Scouts of America is open to young women as well as young men.”


The appearance of girls into the Slater Troop is considered a “linked Loop,” which means they will share the Chartered Organization, Slater Bethlehem Lutheran Church, and the existing troop committee.


“Girls will have their own Scoutmaster and form their own patrol,” said Darter. “They will all start out as ‘first year’ Scouts and begin to earn the rank of Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class all the way to Eagle. We have many girl siblings who already attend meetings and events, so inclusion will be a natural step for our troop. We will rely on our knowledgeable older Scouts and assistant scoutmaster from the boy troop to help teach our girl patrol the many skills of the early ranks, just like we do for the first-year boy patrols.”


Currently there are six life rank scouts in Troop 163 working to earn their Eagle Scout rank, with an additional 10 Scouts who are First Class or Star Rank, who are also working towards their Eagle rank.


Service projects have recently included helping to plant trees in the city of Slater, helping Slater United Methodist Church serve their noodle dinner and the Trinity United Methodist Church serve their community soup supper, helped the Slater Ladies Auxiliary serve their chili supper and helped gather food and personal item donations from the communities of Slater, Huxley, Kelley and Cambridge to fill the local food pantries.


The Scouts are looking forward to several camping and adventure outings that will take place on the average of once a month.


“Based on the season, it might be tent camping, skiing, cabin camping at the Mitigwa Scout Reservation or a lock-in at a local church,” told Darter. “We plan a week-long outing each year, and this year we will be going to Lake of Three Fires in southwest Iowa. We try to alternate between in-state and out-of-state each year. In July, we will be participating in Summer Camp at Mitigwa Scout Reservation and in September we will participate in a Mid-Iowa Council Fall Camporee in Boone.”


Scouting is an affordable organization for those wanting to be Scouts.


“Our unit charges $70 annually, which will cover the $33 annual fee from the BSA. Scouts can cover these fees by selling wreathes during our fall fundraiser,” said Darter. “We do not have any other weekly or monthly dues. The cost of each monthly outing varies, depending on the location and the activities, but generally, a weekend outing might range in cost from $10 to $20, plus some food money.”


“Troop 163 is fortunate to be in a community as great as Ballard, where the community really supports our efforts to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout oath and Law,” concluded Darter.


Be sure to check out the Scouts when they are selling breakfast burritos during the Slater citywide garage sale, and then in July at the Slater Fourth of July celebration, where they will be selling roasted corn on the cob, ice cold water and pickles. These fundraisers help purchase camping supplies, such as Dutch ovens, tents, trailer tires and other gear that is needed on a regular basis.