Dashing, scheming, and flaming their way across Longwood Park, boy scouts from the Catawba District tested and proved their survival skills in the Klondike Derby on a bright and brisk Saturday, Feb. 21. The Flaming Chickens (at left) from Troop 51 won the contest for the second year in a row,
While the contest only lasts a day, from around 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the tradition dates back to 1938, according to scoutmaster Kurt Webber, who found plans that took the contest’s parameters out to the streets of Salem.
“We were in our church basement cleaning up and going through stuff, trying to get rid of junk, and we found some stuff from the original Klondikes,” Webber said. That’s why they brought the derby back to Longwood Park. In previous years, it’s been at campgrounds in New Castle and other places around the valley, even at Green Hill Park.
Boy scouts compete in patrols of five to eight members. They build sleds (no wheels) that have to carry survival gear they will use in the competition. In the morning, the scouts have five different towns, or stations, they must complete: first aid, fire building, knots, shelter building, and navigation. They are timed and receive nuggets for completing the requirements of the challenges at each station – nuggets they have to keep up with until the end of the day.
The scouts must cook their own lunch for the challenge, too, and they don’t use hot dogs or marshmallows.
“My son brought a pork chop and some vegetables,” Greg Childress of Buchanan said. “He’ll probably use the silver turtle to cook it through.” They had to build a fire and thoroughly cook a meat and two vegetables for each patrol member in an hour and a half. The silver turtle method is wrapping food in aluminum foil and placing it in hot coals until it’s done.
The final event is the biggest challenge. Each patrol is given an extreme situation and must react and treat it as if they were in the arctic tundra.
“They take all of their survival skills that they used during the morning and really have to apply them,” said Jared Rigby. “One team member will be given a specific injury, one will have to melt so much ice that they’ll be given for a certain amount of water, one will have to build a shelter, a fire,” Rigby said. The scouts have to complete each task (or redo them) in a timed setting.
Next year is the 100th anniversary of Boy Scouts of America. Visit www.bsa-brmc.org to learn more about Scouting in Virginia.
Photo 1: Pictured from left to right; Eric Divers, Marcus Rosti, Todd Edgell, Riley Newsom, Kent Davis, and Joel Webber. They are holding the Frank Chapman Catawba District Award which they won for the second year in a row. The Flaming Chickens began their Scouting experience as Tiger Cubs in first grade with Pack 51. They are now juniors at Salem High School. Pack 51 and Troop 51 are sponsored by the First United Methodist Church in Salem. Photo courtesy of Jackie Divers.
Photo 2: Scouts race through Longwood Park to their first “town” where they will complete a survival task. Photo Miranda Adkins, So Salem.
Photo 3: Members of Salem’s troop #51, (Logan Hall, Matt Kolb and Logan Nunnally) build their shelter in the second “town.”