BSA: The race is on

This year’s Fall Camporee for Boy Scouts of the Tomahawk District is being hosted by Minot’s own Troop 425, held today and tomorrow at Mt. Carmel Camp between Granville and Towner just off of U.S. Highway 2. Games, camaraderie, awards and a big bonfire await.

“A lot of the boys are very excited about it,” said Kevin Mehrer, Professional Scout Executive for the Tomahawk District, which encompasses the dozen troops in Ward and its neighboring counties.

For those unacquainted with Boy Scouts of America, a “camporee” is similar to the perhaps more familiar term “jamboree,” but more local in scale. “This is just the Minot area,” Mehrer explained. “A jamboree would be a lot larger,” bringing in Scouts from around the nation or even beyond its borders.

“All the Boy Scouts in the district get together in the fall,” said Troop 425 Scoutmaster George Smith, one of several such gatherings during the year. Troops within the district host the events on a rotating basis, getting the honor to do so every five years or so. They each have a particular them about them, and this year’s autumnal outing will be “The Amazing Scouting Race,” with activities loosely based on the television program the theme alludes to.

“On that theme there will be a lot of activities planned,” said Mehrer, with troops breaking down into patrols of six to eight Scouts to participate in team building excersizes and confidence courses.

“This group elected not to do merit badges” for the gathering, focusing instead on team building activities. The district has its Traveling Tomahawk Award, which goes to the troop that accrues the most points during the camporee. “There’s a criteria for that,” Smith explained, with points awarded for top-three placements in competitive activities and for various inspections during the course of the camporee. “Placing and doing your best helps.”

The event will have a host of volunteers, parents and staffers working behind the scenes to feed, monitor, and facilitate fun for the Scouts. Even six Eagle Scouts will be coming along to assist. “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle,” Smith remarked. Fifth-grade Webelos will join in as well, preparing for their graduation into full-fledged Scouting in February.

At first planned for next weekend, the camporee was pushed back a week due to potential conflicts from an upcoming high school home game. It has made for a busy weekend for neckerchief-wearers of all sizes, as the Cub Scout troops of Tomahawk District celebrated their recent fall recruitment with an event of their own last night at the North Dakota Game and Fish facilities located on the State Fairgrounds. At least 125 youths were preregistered, with plenty of friends and siblings tagging along for some guided outdoor learning activities. The small horde of children were split into four groups at 5 p.m., spending half an hour apiece at fishing, archery and pellet rifle shooting, science and crafts tables, and kickball stations.

It was a flurry of activity. Begoggled range officers from the Minot Rifle and Pistol Club explained the three fundamentals of firearm safety at the site’s target range. Volunteers in civilian dress from the 5th Civil Engineering Squadron at the air base helped them draw a bowstring or cast a line, while science teacher Elizabeth Kelly from Central Campus taught kids the basics of the scientific method while they pursued the timeless question: How many water droplets fit on a penny? And at the arts and crafts table, a pair of beleaguered volunteers prepared paper shopping bags with scissors to be made into decorative vests.

This morning the Cub Scouts will continue the fun with a trip to Roosevelt Park Zoo, where they will conduct a service project building toys for zoo animals. They will also get to interact with one or more critters, the specifics of which have been kept a surprise.