Help Scouts improve an American Indian reservation

Can a single click of your mouse change lives?

Yep. That’s all it takes to help Connecticut Crew 63 and Troop 63 assist impoverished American Indians in South Dakota.

Unemployment on the Cheyenne River Reservation is 95 percent, per capita income is just over $9,000, and families there lack basic necessities like warm clothes for the region’s harsh winters. The reservation’s 9,000 residents are spread over an area the size of Connecticut, making it difficult for them to access critical resources.

The Scouts in Crew/Troop 63 have the time and desire to help these people — all they lack is money. They’re hoping to get that from the Pepsi Refresh Project, which already has awarded $20 million in grant money to “refresh the world” through revamping local parks, enhancing after-school programs, saving mistreated pets, and hundreds of other worthy projects.

Who gets the grants? Well, that’s up to voters like you.

At the time of this writing, the Connecticut Scouts rank 36th in their push to receive $25,000. They want to use that money to run a summer camp and make vital home repairs on the reservation.

Scouts would pay their own way to get to South Dakota, meaning all of the Pepsi money would go toward purchasing the necessary supplies and materials to conduct service projects that will leave behind a lasting impact.

I’m sold. Are you? To vote, simply click here or text 109630 to Pepsi (73774) from your mobile (standard text messaging rates apply).

Want more of the story? First, check out the video proposal from the Troop 63/Crew 63 Scouts:

Then, read this letter I received from Scott Redfern, crew Advisor and assistant Scoutmaster:

My Troop and Crew have both been very active in our community for years. We made the commitment long ago that if we were to be known for anything, it would be for our service to others. We have made and served meals for literally thousands of homeless and “working poor” people over the past few years for local food kitchens and shelters like The Thomas Merton Center and the Bridgeport Rescue Mission, run clothing drives and made personal hygiene kits for Covenant to Care and the people in the shelters.

My wife and I have also been personally involved with an organization called Simply Smiles which is founded and run by an incredibly inspirational Eagle Scout named Bryan Nurnberger, and now co-run by another Eagle Scout (and the former Scoutmaster of our troop and a close friend of mine) Rev Peter Allen. Simply Smiles runs projects to help groups of people that society has forgotten in the jungles of Mexico, in Mexican dumps (yes families actually live in dumps in Mexico), and now on a Lakota Reservation in the poorest county in the US. My wife Jan, and my awesome Crew 63 Co-advisor, has traveled with Bryan and Pete to Mexico and SD many times over the last few years and has seen first-hand how badly these good people need hope.

About a year ago I proposed a crazy idea to Bryan: To take my Troop and Crew’s service involvement to a new level and travel to South Dakota to work with Simply Smiles on the reservation for a week and to try and grow that concept to bring more Scouts, more Crews, and more Troops into the project over time. It is my dream to see all Scouts actively involved in service to others, and offering such a phenomenal program like this to Scouts will help many of them see what life is truly like for so many children, individuals and families outside of their warm comfortable homes, without Xbox or PlayStations. It also my dream to have Scouts be there helping to bring smiles and hope where none exists today.

It is very expensive to run a project like this, and I have made it clear that “A Scout is Thrifty” so they must pay their own way to get to South Dakota, but we are hoping that winning the Pepsi Refresh Project will cover the large expense of us working with Simply Smiles to improve residents homes, run a summer camp for children daily while we are there, serve a community dinner to spend time personally getting to know the residents, and finally helping our new friends with gifts of badly needed supplies.

You can learn more about Simply Smiles at and I have attached the brochure for our trip as well. I would welcome inquiries from Troops and Crews around the country who want to get involved and attend our project next summer, we welcome the involvement!

Good luck in your efforts, Scott and the rest of Crew/Troop 63. I’m pulling for you!

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.