Skip to comments.Scouts find mud's worse than snow
Posted on 01/22/2006 6:30:56 PM PST by Coleus
MAHWAH - The hill was steep, rocky and muddy. And members of Boy Scout Troop 334 of Montvale on Saturday had to figure out how they would guide their 100-pound-plus homemade sled down the slope to a paved road.
They tied rope around their waists, they pulled hard, but a series of rocks and logs didn't make their challenge any easier. Instead, it caused one of the sled's skis to snap. "These old skis couldn't take the stress," said Anthony Dobbs, 14.
After about 15 minutes of trudging through water, mud and fallen trees, the team emerged, wet and tired, but glad to move on to the next challenge. "We have the worst behind us," Anthony said.
The obstacle was among several given to hundreds of Webelos Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venture Crews participating in the annual Twin Valleys District Klondike Derby. The derby, held at Campgaw Mountain County Reservation, is survival training, where participants test their skills in orienteering, first aid, shelter building, fire starting, emergency preparations, knot tying and teamwork.
More than 600 children from Bergen County participated, organizers said. A total of 64 patrols competed in six challenges. "This gives them insight into Scout skills," said Vinnie Santaniello, the district's activity chairman. "But the biggest thing they learn is to work as a group."
Before the day was over, the Scouts erected shelters, lighted fires, assembled tripods and carried the injured in boy-made stretchers. The event ended with a sled race in the mud. The derby is modeled after the 1898 Yukon Gold Rush, with Scouts pulling their sleds loaded with basics to survive in the park during all kinds of weather. Their sleds had sleeping bags, tarps, rope, matches and wooden sticks.
During the competition, the teams stop at six stations, where they demonstrate their Scouting skills and earn points for their work. At the fire-building station, several younger Scouts had a difficult time keeping the flames strong. The youngsters fanned the fire and added leaves, twigs and dried pine leaves. For many teams, it took more than 10 minutes to get the fire roaring.
Daniel Bazzini, 9, of Woodcliff Lake found that adding too much wood when the fire is just forming is not such a good idea. "It would smother the fire," he said.
At the first-aid station, Troop 91-349 of Woodcliff Lake and Hillsdale constructed a stretcher using a tarp and wooden poles. The troop then carried one of its members, who supposedly had a broken leg and was suffering from shock, several feet to safety. Michael Killian, 11, of Hillsdale said if someone gets hurt when he's out in the woods, he thinks he is prepared to handle the situation.
"These things are pretty realistic," he said. "You just practice and help the younger kids." The knot-tying station proved a bit rough for Webelos Pack 245 out of Paramus. The team built a clothesline and a tripod that could carry a 5-gallon bucket of water. Unfortunately, the kids got dirt into their drinking water and didn't lift the bucket properly, costing them five points. In the end, the team earned eight out of 20 points in the challenge.
But Denis Padron, 10, wasn't upset over the result. "It was a lot of fun and we had a great time doing it," he said. Most years, the derby is held during freezing weather, and Scouts usually wear layers of clothes and trek through snow. Last year, snowfall even caused the competition to end early. This year, with temperatures in the 40s, Scouts didn't worry about freezing, but had other elements to deal with.
"The mud is making it difficult," said Ron Shock, who was overseeing the shelter-building station, which was on a hill. "They are having more trouble getting up the road." For some scouts, the warmer weather made the day even more enjoyable. "It's less cold, so its a lot more fun this year," said Justin Bell, 14, of Hillsdale.
I figured out that I only like nice hotels while traveling! >>
It's much nicer that way.
For the 1st time in 6 years, I am *not* running our District's Klondike Camporee. Our schedule was like this:
Friday night: Troops that are camping overnight arrive after 6 PM, get set up, come into lodge and register and eat up cracker barrel goodies.
6:30 AM to 7:45 AM - Troops that camped overnight get to buy breakfast for $2 a head. Pancakes, eggs, cocoa. Coffee for adults.
7:45 - 8:00 AM Sled inspection and judging.
8:00 - 8:15 AM Opening Prayer, Flag Raising, Welcome, Staff Introduction, Presentation of the Day's Agenda.
8:15 - 8:25 AM Klondike Stampede; drag race of all 25 sleds present across camporee field. Staff pretends to be able to determine who won, placed, and showed.
8:30 AM - Noon Troops use map and compass to find their first skill station, then proceed clockwise around 1.25 mile loop to the other 5 in turn. Troops that go to wrong initial station are turned away and told to recheck their maps. Skill stations include saw cookies (sawing through 10" log twice with two-man crosscut saw), map and compass (find target buried in snow using compass and bearings), patrol snowshoes (4 or 5 patrol members get on two 2 x 6's and tramp around a course in step), blindfold tent raising (put up tent, all blindfolded except one, and the one can't touch anything or anyone), and other such things. Contestants are judged on competence, teamwork, and leadership and get "gold" nuggets based on their scores.
Noon to 1:15 - Lunch and auction. REI gives us a bunch of prizes ranging from LED lights to packs, tents, and coats. The big stuff is usually returns that they can't resell for full price (busted packaging, minor cosmetic blemishes, etc.). We also have some goodies that we just flat out sell.
1:30 to 2:00 Stand down, everyone relaxes, program staff gets set up for Klondike Derby.
2:00 - 4:30 Klondike Derby starts - Patrol sleds start one at a time staggered 5 minutes. There are 3 stations they stop at to get timed doing tasks such as boiling a cup of water in the snow. They are judged on competence, leadership, and teamwork, but this time they get penalty points if they fail to show them; each point is 10 seconds added to their time (30 point maximum).
4:30 - 5:00 Light up 7' tall pile of oak in the parking lot that a few adults cut down out in the woods while the kids were running the Derby. Hand out leftover food and hot cocoa. Everyone gathers around as sun goes down.
5:00 - 5:30 Hand out ribbons (1st, 2nd, and 3rd for Stampede, Skill Stations, and Derby). Award travelling banner (embroidered, fringed, very nice) to Derby winner; it has trailers that winning Troops get to sew their Troop number onto permanently.
5:30 Troops may go home. Dutch Oven competition presents their contents for judging. After judging, everyone who sticks around gets to eat; this is dubbed the Winter Feast. It's in the lodge and we have a fire going in the fireplace. Ribbons are given out to winners for Breakfast, Dinner, and Desserts.
1:00 AM Sunday; I get home after my wife and I clean the kitchen, pack up all our gear and extra food that will be returned, etc., into our vans.