Luanne Chesley, District Scouters advancement and recognition chair, presented the District Award of Merit to Russell Cahn Sept. 24 during the annual District Scouters’ Recognition Dinner held at Camp Bomazeen in Belgrade. Contributed photo

BELGRADE — Russell Cahn of Augusta received the highest award a local scouting district can bestow upon a scouting volunteer on Sept, 25, when he was presented the District Award of Merit during the annual District Scouters’ Recognition Dinner held at Camp Bomazeen.

Cahn serves as Scoutmaster of Troop 631 at St. Augustine Church, but his Scouting career began when he joined Cub Scouts as a leader in New York Pack 349, where he served as den leader for Tigers, Wolf, Bear and Webelos dens. He was also Little League coach from 2009 to 2014 in Forest Hills, New York.

When the family moved to Maine, he and his family quickly got involved in Augusta’s Cub Scout pack serving as assistant cubmaster and den leader. When his son Tyler was old enough to cross over, Cahn joined Troop 631 in Augusta as an assistant scoutmaster and became scoutmaster in 2020. He also served as the Cub Scout rangemaster for Kennebec Valley District and served as rangemaster for Pine Tree Council since 2017.

Cahn teaches several merit badges and was a member of various merit badge colleges. He also was a member of the 2017 National Jamboree Staff and the 2019 World Jamboree contingent.

Julie McKenney, Cub Day Camp director at Bomazeen and Kennebec Valley District Activities Chair, praised Cahn. “Russell’s knowledge from his previous unit in New York helped shift the way the Kennebec Valley District holds their Pine Wood derbies. His guidance has molded the derbies into a far more enjoyable format for our Scouting families,” said Mckenney, according to a news release from Chuck Mahaleris, district vice chairman for Kennebec Valley District of Scouting.

Cahn’s wife Tracy is the Troop Committee chair and their son Tyler is working on his Eagle Scout project. Both were present when the award was presented to him by District Advancement and Recognition Chair Luanne Chesley of Vassalboro.


Heidi O’Donnell, seated center, received the District Award of Merit on Sept. 24 during the annual District Scouters’ Recognition Dinner held at Camp Bomazeen in Belgrade. O’Donnell was accompanied by her daughter Taylor and son Matthew. Contributed photo

Also receiving the District Award of Merit was Heidi O’Donnell, who volunteers in Scouting with Camden Troop 200.

She has been involved with both Girl Scouts and Scouting since her son Matthew was a Tiger Cub Scout in 2011 and her daughter Taylor first joined Girl Scouts. Both joined her at Camp Bomazeen to receive the award. Matthew is working towards his Eagle Scout rank, and Taylor has submitted her Gold Project award.

O’Donnell has been involved at various levels of both programs, and has also served on Camp Bomazeen staff and worked at several Merit Badge colleges. Like Cahn, she was a member of the 2017 National Jamboree staff and also attended the 2019 World Jamboree.

Outside of Scouting, Heidi has been involved with the YMCA and was awarded its Volunteer of the Year in 2016. She said, “I love being part of the Scouting program — both Scouts BSA and Girl Scouts. It is my hope that my involvement in Scouting has made a positive impact on many. I know it has had a significant effect on myself and my two children, and I am grateful that they were both there to celebrate with me.”

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