By CARRIE PITZER
He was an Eagle Scout. She was a Gold Medal Girl Scout. Both reached the highest level of their scouting programs. Together, Kevin and Katy Armbruster have become the faces of the Stanton Cub Scouts — not that either will admit it.
“It’s about the kids. It’s what they’re doing — not us,” Katy said.
Stanton’s Cub Scouts are seen at every home football game, raising the flag before kickoff. They will hold a flag burning ceremony in August at the Stanton County Fair. They were also part of Monday’s Memorial Day program, which is just the second year the youth were asked to hold flags during the service.
“It’s important to me to have the kids involved, so they know the day isn’t about a barbecue or a day off of work,” Kevin said. “They asked us last year to be part of Memorial Day because they are running low on numbers with the VFW, so we’re happy to be there.”
Tracy Yost, senior district executive of the Diamond Dick District, said Stanton’s humble leaders are making a huge difference in rejuvenating Stanton’s troop.
“We hit the jackpot with Kevin and Katy. They are genuinely great people, and I’m glad they’re all involved in scouts,” Yost said. “We have kids who have been together since the first grade who have bridged onto Boy Scouts, which is something I credit to them as leaders. If parents are involved in scouting, the kids are more involved. They’re a big reason why we have parents and kids in Stanton so involved in scouts.”
Married for nearly 14 years, Kevin and Katy are both graduates of Stanton Community Schools. Called “a dynamic duo” by Yost, Kevin was recently named Cubmaster of the Year for the Diamond Dick District — nominated by someone in the community outside of the troop. Yost said although both Kevin and Katy were nominated, the award could only go to Kevin as the Cubmaster.
“Kevin actually modified the award and added Katy’s name,” Yost said with a chuckle, referring to the piece of tape on the award with Katy’s name. “That’s fantastic because they really are such a dynamic duo. It’s phenomenal to watch them in action because what one doesn’t do, the other does. We’re really lucky to have them.”
The Armbrusters said they enjoy scouting because it builds a foundation of lifelong skills and community involvement.
“It teaches a lot of the morals, ethics and skills they may not learn in school anymore or other places,” Kevin said. “Service to the community is something I push a lot because I believe in community service very strongly. We do a service project every month during the summer and several others during the year. Raising the flag at a football game is a small thing, but it’s an important value.”
Kevin began as a Cub Scout in the first grade and worked his way through the levels to reach Eagle Scout in 2000 during his senior year at Stanton. He returned to scouting six years ago when their youngest son, Josh, became a Lion in kindergarten.
“That’s when they started allowing kindergarteners to join the scouts. He was part of the pilot program for the Lions,” Kevin said. “The next year he became a Tiger, and I became the Cubmaster.”
Yost said it’s been a great asset having an Eagle Scout as the Cubmaster in Stanton.
“He brings a lot of experience and knowledge to the position,” she said. “I get a little choked up thinking about having such great people leading them. They are phenomenal people and very humble.”
Having three sons, Katy said it was inevitable that the family would be involved in scouting. Josh, 11, is a Boy Scout; Jake, 9, is a Bear in Cub Scouts; and Sam, 6, will join Cub Scouts as a Lion this fall in kindergarten.
Their son, Josh, was in the first group of Cub Scouts when Kevin became Cubmaster. It began with Josh and Collin Rutten as Lions. Six years later, five Cub Scouts recently transitioned to the Boy Scouts, which tripled the number with the Stanton’s troop.
Many other communities, including Neligh and Creighton, don’t have the numbers for their own troop and commute to Norfolk for weekly meetings. The Armbrusters said having a local troop in Stanton has kept more youth active in scouting.
“It’s hard for parents because of the traveling. That’s how you lose parent involvement,” Katy said. “There are a lot of options for kids these days, besides scouts.”
Katy took on the role of den leader five years ago when Kevin became the Stanton Cubmaster. Yost said it’s not uncommon for couples to share duties because of the amount of paperwork and meetings involved with being in a leadership role.
During her youth, Katy — a 2001 graduate of Stanton — was involved in Girl Scouts and advanced to its highest level. Helping her niece, she volunteered as Girl Scout leader in Stanton for several years until their sons started scouting.
“Everything we do with our kids we do together, so it was inevitable that I’d be involved, too,” Katy said. “We have a very long history with scouting.”
It is the mission of the Mid-America Council, Boy Scouts of America to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the scout oath and law.
Kevin said Stanton meets two Sundays a month as a pack and then breaks into their dens. Some of the older youth help with activities to work on their own leadership skills with core activities. Electives are often completed on their own. Kevin said it’s fun to watch scouts find their niche and excel in those areas.
The Armbrusters said scouting is more than the traditional activities of knot tying and camping — although both admitted the outdoor activities are among their favorites as leaders.
“Anything outdoors — that’s what I like,” Kevin said. “I hunt and fish on my own time, so I enjoy anything outdoors with the kids. I also do some medal working and woodworking, so I try to pass that along.”
Kevin has been a firefighter and paramedic with Norfolk Fire since 2004, so he teaches the first aid. Katy said there’s definitely a level of safety by having Kevin and Scott Rutten, who is a sergeant with the Nebraska State Patrol, involved in Stanton’s scouting program.
“We want the kids to have a fun and enjoyable time, so having Kevin and Scott involved does provide a level of safety, which is awesome,” Katy said. “The parents we have a very involved and realized this is a family-based organization.”
The Cub Scouts spend the winter months mostly working on projects to accomplish their core loops while the summer months include more outdoor activities, including camping trips. The Cub Scouts also try to camp at least once a year with the Boy Scouts.
They are involved with scouting for food, which benefits the local food bank, as well as cleaning up the rural cemeteries and other other community service activities.
While Stanton’s scouting group is growing, Katy said they always welcome new faces and hope the pack continues to grow and see more youth reach toward being an Eagle Scout.
“We’d love to have more kids join,” she said. “It’s a great program that gives them a really great start to being good people. It’s not just about being a good student or good athlete — it’s being a good person. I think that’s something every kid can use. It’s helpful to have scouting, and I don’t want to see it go away in Stanton. That’s why we’re going to stick with it as long as we can with our kids.”