Mingo Gritts Scouts

Scouts organizer Mingo Gritts, left, folds a flag with his son, Zeke. Gritts is starting a new Scouts unit in Moab. A recruitment drive will be held at the Grand County Public Library on Feb. 28 and 29. [Photo courtesy of Mingo Gritts]

Moab resident Mingo Gritts said he has been involved in Boy Scouts of America for almost 40 years, ever since becoming a Cub Scout when he was eight years old. 

As an adult, he has been involved in Scouts leadership for 21 years as a scoutmaster, cub master, assistant scoutmaster, Order of the Arrow chapter advisor and assistant chapter advisor.

“I love it,” he said of scouting.

Now, Gritts is leading the way toward forming a new scouting unit in Moab, one that includes both boys and girls. The Boys Scouts of America began admitting girls into its namesake program for 11- to 17-year-olds last year, and changed the title from Boys Scouts to Scouts BSA to reflect the new inclusivity. Gritts said the Moab Scouts BSA will have separate groups for boys and girls while Cub Scouts, for children ages 5 through 10 years old, will be a mix of boys and girls.

A membership drive for both Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA will take place on Friday, Feb. 28, and Saturday, Feb. 29, at the Grand County Public Library (257 E. Center St.). It will go from 2:30 through 8 p.m. on Friday, and 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Gritts is enthusiastic about the inclusion of girls in the program.

“They saw the cool adventures that me and the boys had and always wished they could join in, and now they can,” Gritts said.

In Cub Scouts, the younger children enjoy “lots of fun, lots of games, ” Gritts said, adding that one of the highlights of Cub Scouts is the pinewood derby.

“They have to build a little car and race them,” Gritts said. “There’s lots of prestige if you can win that.”

Gritts said the Cub Scout kids do a lot of crafts, as well as age-appropriate skill-building that is put into practical use via camping, hiking and nature observation and service projects.

Scouts BSA engages in the same sorts of activities, but is “a bit more intensive,” Gritts said, and includes exploring potential career paths as the children get older.

Gritts said that, while the chartering organization and meeting location is in place, the new Scouts groups will need children to sign up, as well as adults to lead the groups, in order for the program to thrive. Gritts said Scouts uses “two-deep leadership,” meaning there must be two adults with the group at all times. He would like to have a group of adults serving as leaders, so there will always be back up if someone can’t make a meeting.

Gritts said there is a yearly membership fee, though his hope is for the scouts to do enough fundraising that future enrollment costs will be covered. However, this time around, participants will have to pay their own fees: $36 for adult leaders, and $60 for scouts. Participants will also have to buy scouting uniforms, although, Gritts said, there are many inexpensive used uniforms and he is working on locating sources in Moab or as close by as possible.

Scouts groups do all of their own fundraising, Gritts said, and he wants to get the new group organized in time to do what has historically been the main fundraiser for local Scouts groups: a barbecue dinner put on during the Easter Jeep Safari off-road recreation event.

Gritts explained that Boy Scouts of America also requires its groups to find their own chartering organization, which could be a school, church, nonprofit or other civic organization that partners with the Boy Scouts of America to deliver a Scouting program. Canyonlands Field Institute, a Moab-based nonprofit dedicated to outdoor education, is chartering the new scouting unit, which Gritts said is a “brand-new, built-from-scratch” program that will, unlike some Scouting units, heavily emphasize outdoor activities.

“If you pay attention to ‘scouting,’ there’s ‘outing’ built into the word,” he said, adding, “This is Moab, we should have the most phenomenal, outdoor-intensive program on Earth.”

Scout meetings typically happen once a week or once every other week. Gritts said the Moab unit will probably start off meeting every other week but ideally will increase to every week.

“Dates and times will be worked out once we get everyone registered,” he said.

Gritts also noted that Scouts policies have been reformed to protect the physical and emotional safety of all involved, including youth protection training and background checks for adults involved with the kids.

Another Moab nonprofit, Our Village, which is dedicated to child-focused and community-building programs, will provide the space for the scouts to meet. Annie Thomas, the director of Our Village, said she reached out to Gritts after hearing he was starting a new Scouts program and offered space at Our Village (721 N. 500 West), which is set back from the road on over 7 acres of farmland and is home to goats, chickens and horses.

“It’s a perfect fit. I’m so excited,” Thomas said, adding that she hopes her 9-year-old son will participate in Scouts.

For more information, Gritts may be reached at 435-260-0871.