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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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“Retired Community Volunteer Discovers New Hobby”

They are saying when one door closes, one other one opens, and nothing could possibly be more true for Wilmette’s Mark Dunn.

When this longtime resident retired from his engineering career in early 2024, he discovered time to pursue a passion, challenge his creativity and provides back to the scouting community he cherishes.

Dunn has been involved in scouting since his own childhood and served as a scout leader for Wilmette’s Troop 9, sharing, “I all the time loved scouting each as a toddler and as a parent. Camping, specifically, was all the time my favorite.”

Once Dunn’s own children grew and left the nest, Dunn remained committed to scouts through his volunteerism with The Wilderness Engineering Society. He and other volunteer tradesmen recurrently visit the legendary Camp Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan ensuring the camp’s safety.

Over time, Dunn noticed a scarcity of appropriate boats on the campground, making the once revered rowing merit badge obsolete. Boats from the past were weather-worn or deemed unsafe; the newer aluminum boats didn’t allow for a similar rowing skills to be displayed in an effort to earn the badge.

The situation, nevertheless, was not hopeless. A selected boat referred to as a Bevin’s skiff, would supply the sort of experience a Scout needed for the merit badge and beyond.

Nick Roberts, Southeast Illinois Council Scout executive/CEO said that, “Bevin’s Skiffs are used as training boats for Scouts to learn rowing techniques, boat safety, navigation and other skills required for the badge. As well as, these boats offer versatile and fascinating ways for Scouts to learn watercraft skills, enjoy recreational activities, and foster teamwork and leadership within the outdoor environment of a Scouts BSA camp.”

Armed with this data, Dunn placed on his engineering hat and thought deeply about constructing Bevin’s skiffs himself. First, he learned how one can construct a canoe from start to complete. With this mission completed, Dunn discovered a kit and a plan for making a Bevin’s skiff through the Alexandria Seaport Foundation.

“I’m an engineer, but I’ve all the time been inspired by the craftsman,” he said. “This project definitely challenged a brand new a part of myself. “Most significantly, constructing the Bevin’s skiffs is actually about giving back; I hope my work inspires scouts to offer back to others as well.”

Today, Dunn could be found camped out within the garages of any willing friend who will allow him to layer epoxy and fiberglass, paint and polish onto the boats. He’s currently working on three boats in a friend’s garage and has set a mid-spring date to finish and take the boats to camp.

For Roberts, Dunn’s dedication toward the project is the epitome of altruism and the true definition of a scout.

“Mark gives unselfishly of his time. His many positive experiences on the camp as a youth and parent, clearly had a long-lasting impact by shaping character, constructing life skills, fostering social connections, and instilling values that guide young men and girls toward personal and skilled success and achievement,” Roberts said.

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