Camaraderie in the cold
AINSWORTH — The single-digit temperatures were just another challenge to overcome Saturday as over 100 Boy Scouts from many area troops descended on Marr Park for the Old Capitol Valley District Camporee.
Organizer Joe Altmeier said that the district goes from North Liberty to Washington and west to Amana and east to West Branch. He said about 10 troops participated in the cold-weather Scouting events. Multiple layers of heavy clothes, face masks and gloves were the order of the day as the Scouts had timed events, races, and an event in the small pond in which they gained experience saving a man who had fallen through the ice.
“We are here to give the boys a day out instead of sitting on the couch,” Altmeier said. “In the winter it is really easy not to want to go out.”
Altmeier said that there are two levels to Scouting. The first is the skill level, which was taught with such things as a Klondike race with sleds the troops built themselves. The other is teamwork and leadership, which was emphasized in all the events.
He said that four troops had arrived in Marr Park Friday evening and had camped out for the evening. Altmeier said that camping out in inclement weather was simply a good test of an advanced Scout’s skills.
“You have to have the skills,” he said. “We publish a whole bunch of tips for camping out on our Web site.”
Tips include not sleeping on bare ground and the number of layers each Scout should wear as well as how thick their sleeping bags should be. It also stresses the use of a tent in the wind.
Other activities included lighting a fire in the cold weather and getting it going enough that it would burn through a suspended string. There were also hunting games with slingshots and a game to raise a flagpole in a certain amount of time. The Scouts also cooked all of their own food, except for lunch. Altmeier said that the Scouts are usually having so much fun at noon Saturday that it seems a shame to pause the events so they can cook.
The event ran through Saturday night, culminating with a campfire awards ceremony. Awards are given for being the fastest in the events and another award is for the best spirit and morale.