On Friday, our troop traveled to Winnebago Scout Reservation in order to participate in the Fishawack District’s Annual Camporee. The theme of this camporee was “Buckskin Games” with an emphasis on woodsman activities from frontier days.
We were blessed with better than expected weather — having expected rain showers throughout the weekend, the major storm front had moved through more quickly than expected.
On Friday evening, we backpacked our gear from the front parking lot to our campsite which we shared with the scouts of Troop 39 from Morris Plains, NJ. After dinner, we worked hard to secure all of our food, trash and anything “smelly” that might attract animals to our site. Unfortunately, both the scouts and adults missed a pair of doughnut packages (powder sugared) and a racoon or possum managed to find the locker, open and rummage until the doughnuts were located and consumed while lounging on the picnic table. Interestingly, the table was covered in white powder (sugar) footprints and tracks. This was a good learning lesson for everyone — we were glad that it wasn’t a curious bear instead. Thankfully, the bears in this area are more garbage pickers than beasties — and therefore are reasonably predictable if we follow the usual rules carefully.
On Saturday morning we assembled for the formal start of the event. After welcomes and instructions we headed to our first competitive station — Shotgun Shooting. Each scout was given three shots at their choice of ground targets or flying clay pigeons. Our troop averaged 1.5 hits out of three shots (ground targets didn’t count towards the score, either).
On the way to the next station, we found a juvenile black bear scavenging for food. Using a long telephoto lens, we managed to get some pictures from a safe distance (we don’t go out of our way to disturb or chase bears).
Next up was the Two-Man Saw event. Scouts had to work in pairs to saw through a 14 inch thick tree trunk. When we arrived, we watched two other teams working on their cuts and learned that the fastest time recorded was around ten minutes. Our scouts love a challenge and managed to cut through the log in two minutes and twenty-five seconds.
Fire building is a key skill to surviving in the outdoors, and it’s a lot of fun for scouts. The timed event had a maximum time limit of 35 minutes and involved each team building a fire designed to burn through a cord suspended three feet above the fire pit. When we arrived at the station we discovered that only two teams had managed to burn through their cord within the alloted time — that most had run out of time without finishing the project. Our scouts worked very hard and managed to burn through the cord in under fifteen minutes.
Our last event prior to lunch was casting at the waterfront. Using poles with only a weight tied to the line, our scouts needed to use five casts to hit floating targets (inner tubes) anchored in the swimming area. It was very difficult and the organizers admitted that all of the teams had been struggling to cast on target.
Following lunch, we returned to the waterfront in order to compete in a timed event — blindfolded row-boat racing. Two oarsmen were blindfolded and their leader provided instructions on how to move the boat. The team had to leave the dock and chart a course to the center of the lake, around a buoy, and return to the dock in under four minutes. Only one team was able to complete the task in less than four minutes and we just missed that mark coming back to the dock in just under five minutes.
Our troop returned to the parade field where we learned about blacksmithing. Four of our older scouts were able to work on their own project with minimal instruction by the smith. They created a decorative leaf out of square iron rod by hammering, pulling, shaping and chiseling.
After creating their leaf, we walked to the rifle range where we met revolutionary war re-enactors. They gave us a detailed review of their weapons — the bayonet and smooth bore musket. Later, each scout had a chance to fire against paper targets with rifles at the range.
Our final stations of the day included tomahawk toss, knife throwing and ninja star toss. This station was “for fun” and not part of the overall scoring process. Many of scouts found this to be the highlight of the day since they’ve had the chance to throw and toss in the past.
Exhausted and having thoroughly enjoyed the day, we headed home.
There are many more photos at our troop’s picture share site — a link and password reminder were sent out to all troop families today.
We’ll see everyone Monday night at the next troop meeting.