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Celebrating scouting: Nobles County Historical Society exhibit marks 107 years of Boy Scouts

WORTHINGTON -- There may be other holidays which come more readily to mind -- Valentine's Day, anyone? -- or other national observances that take precedence -- Presidents Day, Black History Month -- but Feb. 8 is an important day in the Boy Scout...

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Boy Scouts memorabilia is now on display at the Nobles County Historical Society. (Tim Middagh/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - There may be other holidays which come more readily to mind - Valentine’s Day, anyone? - or other national observances that take precedence - Presidents Day, Black History Month - but Feb. 8 is an important day in the Boy Scouts’ calendar and it is being celebrated at the Nobles County Historical Society throughout the month of February.

2017 marks the 107th year of Boy Scouting in America. On Feb. 8, 1910, Chicago publisher William Dickson Boyce filed incorporation papers in Washington, D.C., to create the Boy Scouts of America. Boys across the nation and their leaders have benefitted from his actions ever since.

Jacoba Nagel has been lending a hand with local scout troops since her son, Carl, began Cub Scouts as a Wolf in 1986. Beginning with Pack 121 and switching to Troop 134 five years ago, Nagel has made a lifetime commitment to mentoring young men and helping them achieve their scouting goals over the years.

Because of her vested interest in scouting and the historical impact of the Boy Scouts of America, Nagel is sharing her personal collection of scout memorabilia with the residents of Nobles County. Well, at least part of it.

“I have about 100 mugs in my collection,” Nagel divulged. “I picked out six to bring in - that’s all we had room for.”

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Mugs are by no means the only scouting item on display. There are patches - some vintage, some new - neckerchief slides, two Pinewood Derby cars and ball caps from various scout camps and events. There are Norman Rockwell prints, jigsaw puzzles, and merit badge books, some from as long ago as the year the organization began. There is even a “My Weekly Reader” from 1932, featuring the headline, “Scouts of the World to Meet,” a serendipitous find that Nagel discovered in a box of special items her mother had collected years ago.

“Whenever we moved, Mom always said, ‘Don’t lose that box,’” Nagel explained. “I’m glad we didn’t.”

And, of course, there are merit badges on display, including the 65 earned by Carl in his scouting days, all sewn neatly onto his sash. Just a few of his earned badges include music, salesmanship, life saving, environmental science, citizenship in the nation, basketry, Indian lore, gardening, communications, canoeing and swimming. There are many others possible, some on display and some not, ranging from bird study to dog care, cycling, disability awareness, painting, coin collecting, photography, animal science, sports, woodworking, fishing, archery, camping, orienteering and stamp collecting - just to name a few.

Also on display are belt buckles, paperweights, key chains, scarves, awards, pins, uniform shirts, and Boys Life Magazines, the magazine which all registered scouts receive throughout the scouting year. Order of the Arrow sashes and paraphernalia are included as well.

“The troop votes you in for the Order of the Arrow,” said Nagel, who, along with her son, earned this prestigious award. “You go for a weekend of camping. You take to the woods, and there is no talking all night. You sleep out under the stars, and you have to keep the fire going all night. The eats are scant, and you do work projects. There’s a ceremony in the afternoon to be inducted.”

Camping is something that Nagel is good at and she enjoys. She is just three nights shy of earning her 250 nights patch. That’s 247 nights she’s spent sleeping outside - tents are allowed - over the 31 years of her involvement with the scouts.

Scouting doesn’t just benefit individuals, however, it also benefits the community to which the boys belong. Some of the Eagle Scout projects which Nagel remembers over the years include Carl’s in which he washed and polished the entire Worthington Fire Department’s fleet of trucks in preparation for their 100th anniversary celebration in 1992, as well as Duane Schreiber’s work of planting trees on the north side of Pioneer Village in the early 1990s. She also recalls Todd Nordell and Eric Peterson creating the sign at Chautauqua Park which, on one side, relates the history of the park, and on the other, the story of the Amazing Worthington City Band. And then there’s the picnic table and grill, each at the height for wheelchair access, also at Chautauqua Park, made by Cody Ingenthron.

“I have worked with 30-plus kids to become Eagle Scouts,” said Nagel, “as well as countless others at Lewis and Clark Camp (near Yankton, SD). But it’s not about me,” she emphasized, “none of it would be possible for the boys if not for the support of the community. They buy the popcorn and the wreaths and go to the pork chop supper. We couldn’t do it without community support.”

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Anyone wishing to have more information on local scout troops may call Nagel at (507) 370-3727. Anyone wishing to lend a personal collection for display at the museum may contact a staff person in the Historical Society office during office hours. The scouting display will be on view for the month of February. Museum hours are 12 - 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, or call 376-4431 for a special appointment. The Historical Society Museum is located in the War Memorial Building in the basement of the Nobles County Library at 407 12th St., Worthington.

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