The Dakota Eco-Scout Challenge, which is scheduled to begin on February 15, 2010 and last for six weeks, presents Boy Scout Troops with an opportunity to further take care of the environment, serve their communities, and win prizes. The deadline for signup is January 15, 2010 and the challenge is limited to the first eight (8) Boy Scout Troops that sign up.

Boy Scout Troops will earn points by recycling aluminum cans, steel cans, and/or electronics. Bonus points can be earned by collecting pop can tabs for the Ronald McDonald House Charity. Depending on the activity, Scouts will also be able to raise funds for their Troops or for their own use. Should the challenge organizer manage to secure compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), participating troops will also have the option of earning points via a CFL-incandescent light bulb exchange.

Each participating troop stands to win one of the following prizes: a Kelty 6650 Backpack (2 available); Texsport 8 Quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven (2 available); Lodge 12” 6 Qt. Logic Dutch Oven (2 available); and Coleman Mantel Dual Fuel Lantern (2 available). In addition, each troop will receive up to 12 prizes, (LED headlamps and Kleen Kanteen Water Bottles) to award to participating scouts. The scout with the highest points will receive a solar headlamp.

The challenge grew out of conversations amongst Scoutmasters Tom Hager and Tom Dahle of Troop 123 and staff at Prairie Stewardship Network (PSN). PSN is organizing the challenge. “The Dakota Eco-Scout Challenge is based on an essential component of the scouting spirit, that of caring for the environment and conserving natural resources. The challenge seeks to bring the practice of ‘leave no trace behind’ and ‘tread lightly,’ which scouts apply to outdoor activities, into the home lives of scouts and scouting families,” shared Scoutmaster Tom Dahle.

“We do a good job out when we are out in nature and engaging in outdoor recreational activities – the youth understand the value of treading lightly and avoiding or minimizing our impact on the land when possible. This challenge helps make scouts aware that we can reduce our impact on our environment in our own homes as well – by the choices we make in how we dispose of waste and the type of light bulbs we use,” noted Assistant Scoutmaster Tom Hager.

One of the principles of “leave no trace behind” includes the proper disposal of waste. “Recycling conserves resources, while placing recyclable material in a landfill doesn’t. In keeping with treading lightly, it would make sense that scouts and scouting families would be interested in recycling when and where possible,” added Hager.

In addition to strategizing ways to earn points and strengthening leadership skills and team spirit, youth will also learn about the benefits of recycling – how recycling conserves natural resources, including minerals, water and energy resources.

The Dakota Eco-Scout Challenge begins February 15th, 2010. Teams must be signed up by January 15, 2010. There is no cost to enter. The challenge is limited to 8 troops and will require a minimum of 4 troops to be launched.  For more information, contact the Northern Lights Council, BSA at 701-293-5011.

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