DeKALB – It may be the middle of August, but 17-year-old Isaac Truckenbrod isn’t preparing to go back to school.
Truckenbrod, who is home-schooled, is readying for a three-month stay with a group of motorcyclists in Oklahoma. He will pick up where he left off last month with recovery efforts after tornadoes ravaged part of that state.
“I was talking to my parents and decided that I would rather help the people down there than sit in DeKalb,” Truckenbrod said. “My parents said that as long as I could maintain my studies, it would be fine with them.”
Boy Scout Troop 33, which is based out of the First Lutheran Church in DeKalb, returned from a week’s worth of recovery efforts near Moore, Okla., on July 7, but it left Truckenbrod behind for an additional two weeks.
When the group, which included eight boys and two adults, first reached Oklahoma, its members found they could have the most effect away from the Moore area that garnered the most headlines. A tornado the day before had deeply hit a mobile home neighborhood called Steelman Estates near Shawnee, Okla.
“Out of 94 homes, 83 were destroyed,” Scoutmaster Cliff Golden said. “... All the agencies came to their aid, but then the very next day the Moore tornado hit, and everyone left because they needed to. ... Whatever we did, we wanted to do something that would have the most impact. That was definitely the place.”
The Scouts met up with a motorcycle group called the U.S. Defenders that had set up a relief camp.
“We drove up, and they applauded our arrival,” Golden said. “I was surprised by that. ... They were expecting a semi very soon, and until we got there, they didn’t have a crew to unload it.”
The troop handed out gift cards to those in need, helped demolish homes using safety gear donated by 3M and assisted with cooking duties. Not long into their stay there, the bikers took Truckenbrod under their wing, and two days before the Scouts were to depart for home, the Defenders asked Truckenbrod to stay.
“In a day’s time, I managed to convince my parents that it would be safe for me to stay with a group of bikers in a disaster zone,” he said. “It’s not usual to leave a Scout behind 800 miles from home.”
The bikers took to calling Truckenbrod by his new nickname – Scout – and tasked him with cooking to help feed between 50 and 200 people daily, unloading trucks and various odd jobs
Golden said his troop has never thought twice about traveling to help others. Members of his troop have taken trips to help after Hurricanes Ike, Katrina and Sandy.
“Typically you think of Boy Scouts as out backpacking, climbing mountains or scuba diving – those things,” Golden said. “And we’ve traveled a thousand miles or whereever to do those things, but we thought, well, if we can travel to do those things, then we can travel to do these things.”