• April 2019

Preparing for Life
Sioux Council, Boy Scouts of America Launches Community Appeal

By Mike Lynch,
for the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce


Since 1927, Sioux Council, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has served communities by providing programming for young people that builds character, trains in responsibilities of participatory citizenship and develops personal fitness.

Encompassing 61 counties in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, Sioux Council, BSA is one of the largest youth-serving organizations in the area. The council provides direct support to over 10,000 registered members annually. Working with over 2,500 dedicated adult volunteers, the extended reach of family-oriented programming is conservatively estimated to be nearly 50,000 individuals annually across the tri-state area.

In order to maintain gold-standard quality programming and meet the needs of area youth for decades to come, the Sioux Council Executive Board determined that new program areas and major renovations to improve their decades-old facilities are needed. They decided to pursue a $3.2 million capital campaign, which included applying for Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Community Appeals scheduling.

The Chamber's Community Appeals committee endorsed a $1.57 million campaign for BSA. The Climb With Us campaign will provide new and updated facilities and make it easier to market and recruit new members into the scouting family. It runs from April 1-July 31, 2019.

Completion and construction of a 60'x72', three-story Urban Adventure Center, located at 800 N. West Avenue in Sioux Falls, will provide high-adventure activities including rock climbing, archery, rappelling and a nearly 100-foot long zip line–all indoors and available for use year-round. In addition to the benefits of the exciting new program capabilities, infrastructure improvements to the nearly 60-year old Center for Scouting building are also planned. These updates include roof replacement, parking lot restoration, replacing the building's original heating and cooling systems, classroom space, shower facilities and warehouse improvements.

These facility amenities will not only be available for the Sioux Council's units, but also open for public use by those in and around Sioux Falls, including other non-profit groups, churches, schools and even businesses looking for a team building experience.

Sioux Council Scout Executive Tom Smotherman, Jr., says that twenty-first century youth and their parents expect more from their scouting experience than the knot tying, leaky tents and pit latrines from scouting's past.

"They expect dynamic programming in computer design, sustainability and robotics. They expect safe shelters from storms and private latrines and showers with hot water."

Most people are at least somewhat familiar with scouting's traditional programs, which include character building, citizenship developing and co-ed venturing programs; however, some may not know that Sioux Council also delivers programming developed for at-risk youth through after-school programs, as well as a Hispanic initiative program.

The Sioux Council's juvenile diversion programs include Teen Court and Sioux Falls Community Accountability boards.

Working in cooperation with the Minnehaha County State Attorney's office, Sioux Council provides youthful offenders with a positive alternative to the court system. Young offenders participate in structured programs and group interactions which are intended to improve their self-esteem, self-understanding, decision-making, communication, respect, responsibility, caring and honesty. The goal of the program is to divert youth away from the court system and reduce the recidivism among these participants.

Climb With Us Campaign Co-Chair Dana Dykhouse accentuates the value of scouting's intangible benefits and how that carries over into the lives of adults.

"Inspiring life-long positive values, encouraging service to society and community, promoting fun and adventure and instilling love of God and country are as important in the lives of young people today as they were in our lives when we were youth," he said.

"When the Sioux Council, BSA is successful in completing its mission to develop Sioux Falls area youth, entire communities benefit. Inspiring these leaders of tomorrow helps ensure the future of our area will be in good hands for decades to come."

A Harris Interactive Study published in Values of Scouts, A Study of Ethics and Character, reported men who were Scouts for five years are more likely than those who have never been Scouts to graduate high school (91%), earn college degrees (35%), have higher average household incomes ($80,000) and own their own homes (74%).

Smotherman says that based on participation figures at a similar (but larger) facility recently constructed in the Minneapolis area, it is estimated the annual associated economic impact to Sioux Falls and its businesses will be 7,500 visitors from our tri-state area.

Mark Shlanta, campaign co-chair, says that Sioux Council has helped build the future leaders of communities in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun and adventure. "The BSA believes – and, through over a century of experience, knows – that helping youth is key to building a more conscientious, responsible and productive society. It will allow for all Scouts to have the same opportunities of high-quality programming no matter where they live. And most importantly, it will help them be Prepared. For Life!"

The Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce encourages businesses and individuals to participate in the Climb with Us Community Appeals campaign.

Thank you to our Chamber News Premium Sponsors

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