Troop 7 Boy Scouts make rain barrels as fundraiser for summer camping opportunities

Published 10:30 am Saturday, May 8, 2010

Boy Scouts of America Troop 7 is ready to help people save for a sunny day.

The Scouts will sell their rain barrels, rainwater collection systems that store rooftop runoff for use later to water lawns and gardens, during the Shades of Jade Regional Gardening Club plant sale at Northbridge Mall on Saturday, May 15. The rain barrels will be sold from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Nick Ronnenberg, committee chairman for the project, said the idea for the project came from his wife, Jennifer, who works at the Soil and Water Conservation District office in Blue Earth.

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“She had made a few and thought they would make a good fundraiser for the Boy Scouts,” Ronnenberg said.

The 55-gallon food-grade barrels were donated by Cargill and the Shell Rock River Watershed District donated the hardware. Ulland Brothers donated the shop space for the Scouts to assemble the barrels and Northbridge Mall has been storing them since.

The barrels come with a faucet, inlet and overflow attachments installed and ready to be used. There is also an instructional pamphlet with each barrel and people can see unique ideas for decorating them.

The barrels will fit in the back seat of a car and the Scouts will even carry them to people’s cars after purchase, Ronnenberg said. They’re lightweight and durable, he added.

The barrels are being sold for $50 each and cash or checks will be accepted as payment. All money raised goes directly to the Scouts to help pay for camping trips and summer Scouting events.

Ronnenberg said it costs more than $200 per child to send a Scout to summer camp. High Adventure Camp for older boys can be as much as $600. “We want every boy to have a high quality camping experience, regardless of financial ability,” he said.

According to Ronnenberg, the reasons to harvest rain water are many. These reasons include:

It saves on water cost. Up to 40 percent of summer water use is for lawns and gardens.

Plants prefer rain water. It is naturally untreated and contains no chemicals.

The practice reduces water pollution. Collected water slows down runoff, which can contain pollutants such as sediment, oil, bacteria and nutrients.

Ronnenberg said the barrels have covers to keep mosquitoes out, as well as for keeping children and animals from falling in. They’re easily emptied as well, he said.

A rain barrel should be located near a downspout. A half-inch of rain draining from a 300-square-foot section of rooftop will completely fill the barrel, he said.

“With a light rain, it doesn’t take long to fill one,” Ronnenberg said.

Those who purchase a barrel will need to have a base on which to set the barrel. This is necessary to keep the barrel level and stable and will increase water pressure running through a hose. This will also provide room to set a watering can under the spigot. The base can be as simple as a few cement blocks, or something more formal can be built.

The use of a rain barrel is not recommended if you use chemical moss killers, zinc anti-moss strips on the roof or if your roof is made with treated cedar shakes. Overflows should not be connected to the sanitary sewer system. Stored rain water should not be used for drinking, bathing, pets or recreation.