Eleven Scouts and two adult volunteer leaders were awarded the Medal of Merit during a National Court of Honor on Oct. 24, 2020, in Bigfork, MT for their outstanding service to their community.
Created in 1945, the Medal of Merit may be awarded to a youth member or adult leader who has performed an act of service of a rare or exceptional character that reflects an uncommon degree of concern for the wellbeing of others. The action must put into practice Scouting skills and ideals. Of the total population of youth and adults in BSA programs over the years, only .006% have been awarded this medal.
When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in early 2020, the United States quickly recognized that there were shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Among those who volunteered their time, energy and materials were thirteen Scouts and adult volunteers from four Troops and one Cub Scout Pack of the Northwest District.
Medal of Merit Recipients:
Columbia Falls Troops 1941B (boys) and 1941G (girls)
- Kaylee King
- Kyler King
- Sophie Nadasi
- Elaine Reed
- Trey Rice
- Lauren Rogers
- Boon Shanks
- Kira Shanks
Bigfork Troop 1916
- Gabrielle Thorsen,
- Cyndy Thorsen (Scoutmaster)
- Eric Thorsen (Assistant Scoutmaster)
Bigfork Pack 4923
- Madelaine Thorsen
Kalispell Troop 1933
- Korbin Baldwin
Collectively – using 3D printers, soliciting needed materials and recruiting “stitchers” for sewing – these Scouts and adult Scouters provided not hundreds, but thousands of medical protective masks, surgical masks, and medical care masks to area hospitals, retirement homes, veterans homes, doctor offices, veterinary clinics, eye clinics, and post offices.
The Thorsen family turned their art gallery into a three-shift 24/7 PPE production facility to include face shields designed by Eric.
Beyond the Flathead Valley, some of the Scouts provided PPE to first responders as far away as New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis.
“With no thought of award, their actions were initiated purely from a desire to help others in their community from infection by the coronavirus,” said an attending Scout leader. “They care about their families and neighbors, showing great loyalty by their actions. There was a great need expressed, and the scouts responded without hesitation, in the spirit of service and desire to make a difference in the lives of many.”