This past weekend Boy Scout Troop 36 from Long Valley competed in the Patriots Path Council, Black River district Klondike Derby at Camp Trexlar in Kunkletown, Pennsylvania.
The competitive event involved field demonstration of Scout skills on everything from knot tying and compass use to fire building and woodsman tool use. The event is staged in January so that the scouts can make use of a team-pulled sled resembling that of a dog sled, to carry their equipment from one station to the next.
The stations are spread out around the scout reservation and it takes the best part of five hours for a team to be tested at all 13 stations.
Troop 36, established in 1938 and Long Valley's oldest Troop, started it’s 75th anniversary year by participating in the council's Klondike. The scoutmasters in Troop 36 wanted to get the scouts out and field tested as a way to develop teamwork, confidence and camaraderie.
“Nothing builds teamwork like a shared challenge” said Jay DeBoey, Scoutmaster of Troop 36. “These scouts will talk about this event for the rest of their lives because they did it together, win, lose or draw, and hopefully come back year after year and do it again.”
In many ways the Klondike is a demonstration of what scouting is all about, personal challenges, leadership and character building within a structured program.
Getting started at 10 a.m. and completing their final station at just about 4 p.m., Troop 36 scouts put their skills on display for the station mayors to judge.
For Life Scouts Chris Juntwait, Nick Kontos and Michael Bullock it was most likely their last Klondike, but for Senior Patrol Leader Joe Valentino and the rest of his crew, they are just getting started. Eight of the eleven scouts participating had never been on an event like this before and with temperatures during the day at about 20 degrees and during the night hitting zero, their ability to stay warm and get a good night’s sleep was seriously tested.
Emerging from tents on Sunday morning, scout TJ Mundy only quipped that “the cold is still in me” when asked how he slept. On the other hand, SPL Joe Valentino wisecracked that next time he was bringing his air conditioner because it was a little warm in his tent!
All of these scouts can go to school on Monday morning standing a little taller because they met their challenges and came out the other side stronger for doing so. Of course the Scoutmasters on duty for this event may take a little longer to recover, but they too, had a great time.
Information and photos provided by Jay DeBoey.