Imagine an early morning peek out the window, cup of coffee in hand, being greeted by an orderly row of American flags ribboning a course through your neighborhood. Perhaps this sight inspires your mantra for the day or solidifies an attitude of respect and reflection for a day that’s been chosen to honor our country. Boy Scout Troop 43 of Chatfield is anticipating it’s sixth year of the Liberty Project. Like the world, they are adapting their processes as a result of COVID-19.
The Liberty Project fundraiser began in 2014 and has experienced increasing success. Currently, Troop 43 installs flags in front of residences on annual holidays: Memorial Day, Flag Day, July 4th, September 11 and Veterans Day. I was enamored listening to troop leader, Jens Dammen, describe the logistics of the project and I was reminded of my own kids’ paper routes.
Once all the orders are placed, 5-7 teams (a team is usually a parent(s) and one or two Scouts) are assigned routes designed for efficiency. Dammen said the Scouts become intimately familiar with the layout of town – a great cartography lesson. Flags are out from dawn until dusk, which complies with flag etiquette. Flag etiquette is an integral component of the project and Scouts do their best to honor and respect each flag accordingly. Teams have to work fast to get almost 300 flags placed in less than two hours. Often it’s still dark, maybe even rainy, as Scouts check house numbers (sometimes with a flashlight) and look for invisible fencing that could be compromised during installation. Rebar is pounded into the ground, the flag pole is slid over the rebar and the flag is unfurled. Then repeat for the next, and the next… This project is quite a commitment. Occasionally parents have to take some time off work and sometimes it’s a school day for the Scouts. When one of the flag days is an official holiday from work and school, teams commit to staying close to home. A late November meeting is dedicated to flag repair and maintenance. Flags are washed, o-rings (used to hold the flag in place on the pole) replaced, new supplies ordered and flag kits are packed away until spring.
Traditionally, Scouts have canvassed door to door selling subscriptions to the Liberty Project. COVID-19 will require Troop 43 to take a less social approach. This year, orders can be placed through email and checks can be sent via snail mail. Jens Dammen says they intend to return to the traditional way in the future because part of being a Scout is experiencing human interaction and learning sales – “the Scout does the work – initiates the contact.”
Funds raised make it possible for Troop 43 to attend an annual camp, purchase merit badges for accomplishments like outdoor skills and life skills.
Currently, flags are installed within the city limits of Chatfield. However, residents living outside the city limits are still able to support Troop 43 by purchasing a subscription. These flags will be grouped together for maximum impact at a location along Highway 52 (Main Street). Often flags are purchased as gifts. One gentleman buys a Liberty Project subscription of all five of his adult children. Troop 43 is hoping to increase its sales to 400 flags in the future. The deadline to order your Liberty Project subscription is May 15, 2020. To order, use the form inserted in this issue (for Chatfield residents only) or contact the troop at scoutmasterT43@gmail.com or (507) 272-9650.