Barbara Majkrzak started volunteering with the Scouts when her son, David, was a Cub Scout.
When David moved on to the Boy Scouts in 1992, she thought her volunteer work with the organization was done. But the Scouts she worked with and other leaders wanted her stay on.
Now with 27 years of scouting under her belt, Majkrzak is still with the organization and serving as assistant Scout master for Troop 161 in Cary.
“It’s a great program. I watch these kids when they come in, and they’re 11 years old, and you teach them a new skill, and you could see it clicking,” Majkrzak said. “I was like, ‘Wow this is fun. I could do this.’ I love working with the boys.”
Majkrzak, the Fox River Grove deputy clerk/administrative assistant, also works with a Venture group for youngsters between 14 and 21, but no longer are in Boy Scouts.
Volunteering with the scouting groups has allowed her to go on trips she never imagined she would do, such as a sailing trip in the Florida Keys and hiking at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.
She meets with the troop of 15 to 20 boys once a week from 7 to 8:30 p.m., working on skills – such as tying knots, planning menus for campouts or practicing first aid – that will help them advanced their ranks.
In the Boy Scouts, the youngsters work their way up the different ranks: Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle.
Even if youngsters don’t stay in the group until they reach Eagle Scout, Majkrzak wants all of her Scouts to at least reach the level of First Class, which includes skills such as being able to plan and cook a meal.
“The theory is, once they get to First Class, they’re pretty self-sufficient,” Majkrzak said. “They can go to the store and shop. They have a budget they follow.”
By First Class, they’re contributing to the troop and can help younger Scouts by teaching them how to tie knots or how to cook and clean up.
“Then they’ve learned everything it takes to be a contributing man in society,” said Laura Domoto, another volunteer with the troop.
Majkrzak is in charge of advancement and membership for the troop. She also has coordinated activities and fundraising, and she helps train leaders within the Boy Scout district.
During her time with the troop, Majkrzak has helped guide 46 youngsters into reaching Eagle Scout rank.
She keeps track of every scout’s accomplishments as they work toward becoming an Eagle Scout. They have to earn 21 merit badges and do a community service project. She will tell them if there are items they are missing, and what other items need to be taken care of.
Domoto’s son, Andy, is now 20 and was in the Scouts under Majkrzak. Andy became an Eagle Scout.
“Barb was the biggest reason,” Domoto said.
Scouts, under Majkrzak’s guidance, have built benches at the Nunda Township office and Prairie Ridge High School, and created an area to do long jump and throw discus and shot put at Sts. Peter and Paul School in Cary.
Majkrzak said she’s not sure how much longer she’ll be involved with the Scouts.
“As long as it’s fun, I’m going to stay,” Majkrzak said. “I really have all these youth. I’m just as proud of them as if they were mine.”