By all accounts, Rob Rands was an irreplaceable leader of Fennimore’s Boy Scout Troop 76. Equally as irreplaceable was Rob’s wife, Karla.
Following Rob’s retirement last year, members of Boy Scout Troop 76 are doing their best to replace the irreplaceable.
“I’d say if anything, Rob has been more of a mentor for everybody,” assistant scout master Shawn McCartney said. “This Troop wouldn’t be doing what we are doing right now if it wasn’t for him being there.
“He pretty much took a Troop that was nothing and made it something. When he started he had two boys and he turned it into this. Now we are trying to keep it going. And it is hard to do, to follow his footsteps.”
Members of the Troop enjoyed their first outing in the post-Rands era with a campout at the Stitzer Sportman’s Club Jan. 23-24.
Nine Scouts attended the gathering, which included a hike, campfire, delicious meals and work toward merit badges.
“We feel fortunate to be able to camp like this, this close to home,” committee chairman Roger Connely said. “Shawn is a member here, which led to the doorstep of getting us into here.”
Phil Friedrich has succeeded Rob as Boy Scout Troop 76 scout master. Pam Conley serves as Treasurer, as well as merit badge counselor. She is also a committee member.
In Connely’s mind, what did Rob and Karla mean to the Scouts?
“In a word: everything,” he said. “Rob did so much behind the scenes. He put a lot of time and effort into it.”
While the leaders have changed, much of what Boy Scout Troop 76 has enjoyed in the past will remain the same.
“We were handed a program that works well and do not foresee making any major changes,” Connely said. “You will continue to see us and the flags in the Memorial Day and Fun Fest parades, as well as other community activities.
“We have always been very thankful for the support of the popcorn sales, sweet corn sales and the aluminum can drop-off at the Century 21 parking lot.”
Both Boy Scout Troop 76 and Pack 76 Club Scouts benefit from the aluminum can collection.
Last month’s campout was one of many the Scouts will enjoy in 2016. Campouts are planned for each month except December.
“Pretty much, these Scouts are set up for camping,” Connely said. “If they want to go camping they need a place and some food. And bring your sleeping bag. In a nutshell, that is what it comes down to.”
“We have everything else,” McCartney added.
Boy Scout Troop 76 meets the first and third Mondays of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Fennimore Memorial Building.
“We are trying to keep things running as smooth as [Rob] had it,” Connely said.