Boy Scouts from Hooksett’s Troop 292 – Justin Taylor (pulling the sled) and Alex Autenrieth (pushing the sled) – are pictured here performing a rescue mission for a young Cub Scout who had become ill during the chuck wagon, using their Klondike sled (made by Alex and his father, Chris) to transport the boy, with his leader at his side, to meet up with his dad. (Ruth Mariano Photo)
Scouts get rare treat - Storm leads to unusual convergence of Boy Scouts
Despite freezing rain and sleet, hundreds of Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Venturing crews, Scout leaders and parents embarked upon a convergence of scouting challenges likely to never occur again.
Each of these events has occurred in the past, but never together. A major winter storm in February this year delayed the Boy Scouts’ event to April 19, so the weekend was optimistically planned by Scout leaders at the Daniel Webster Council in Manchester.
The plan went something like this: Friday night, Boy Scouts and older Cub Scouts (“Webelos”) arrive at Camp Carpenter in Manchester, with 80 Webelos and 65 leaders participating. Later that night, an Order of the Arrow ceremony would be held. The next morning, reveille would be at 6 a.m., so all Scouts would get moving, eat breakfast and get prepared for the annual chuck wagon derby.
Hundreds of other Cub Scouts and their parents arrived in camp that morning, with a total of 300 Scouts, 150 leaders and parents, and 32 chuck wagons. The derby took place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., upon which time ceremonies were held and Boy Scouts hurried to their campsites to eat, clean up and prepare for Klondike Night Ops, where 210 Boy Scouts participated with 27 sleds or other carrying devices that began precisely at 7 p.m. and ended at midnight. The Boy Scout stations were manned by 60 adult leaders.
Order of the Arrow
The “OA” is described by the Boy Scouts of America as their “national honor society,” which recognizes Boy Scouts and select leaders who best exemplify Scouting values, who have demonstrated respect for camping and the outdoors, who are strong leaders, and who strive to help others.
In the Friday “calling out ceremony,” nominated boys from all over the district were selected as potential OA candidates. In Hooksett, four boys from Troop 292 were invited to join the OA: Dylan Durazzano, Oliver Mack Jr., Collin Burns and Anthony Kokoszka, who may now join Justin Taylor and Joseph Mariano, who are the only two current OA Boy Scouts in the troop. Auburn’s Troop 127 also had one Boy Scout called out to the OA.
Webelos weekend is a much-anticipated event for older Cub Scouts who want to get their first experience with resident camping. In spite of the cold weather forecast, the young Webelos set up camp and prepared themselves for the next morning’s activities.
Chuck Wagon Derby
The chuck wagon is a major event for Cub Scouts.
“It’s one of the only events where young Cub Scouts meet and socialize with the older Boy Scout troops,” said organizer Robert Yelle Sr., who is also the scoutmaster of Troop 24 of Weare.
In the event, boys navigate wagons around the Camp Carpenter lake, stopping at 13 testing stations along the way.
“Some challenges are mental,” said Yelle, while some are physical. “Some require individual skills like BBs or archery, while others are team building like wagon racing or an obstacle course.”
Boy Scouts run each station, so they are given a chance to lead and teach, he said.
With an emphasis on the chuck wagon experience and personal growth, some Cubs might get an award, while the majority of the boys can feel pride in having completed this difficult and challenging course.
Auburn’s Cub Scout Pack 127 may take pride, however, in their second place win. Other local packs that participated included Candia’s Pack 120 and Hooksett’s Pack 292.
Klondike Night Ops
As night descended on Camp Carpenter, it was the older Scouts’ time to embrace the night. In spite of spending the day manning Cub Scout skill stations, each Boy Scout and Venturing Crew team rallied together and headed out with a Klondike-style sled or with a “travois” – a device made with wooden staves on which gear could be secured and carried – to make a trip around the lake as the Cubs had done earlier in the day.
The older Scouts’ stations, however, provided challenges more appropriate for their ages, including fire building, first aid, wilderness survival, a more difficult obstacle course, Frisbee gold and others.
In keeping with the night ops theme, they also had a “zombie paintball” station at the rifle range, using paintballs “to shoot at limbs and heads of zombies,” said Logan Robataille, a Scout with Hooksett’s Troop 292.
“If we shot the head, we lost points,” he said; “if we shot hands or feet, we gained points.”
So true was their aim that Troop 292’s Ground Sloths Patrol won the zombie paintball challenge.
Candia’s Troop 120, Auburn’s troops 127 and 163, and Candia’s Venturing Crew 120 all participated in Klondike Night Ops.
“I wish I could have handed out multiple Spirit awards,” said John Arico, organizer for the Boy Scouts and Scoutmaster of Bedford Troop 5.
“One sled in particular broke down early,” said Arico, “went back to camp, fixed the sled the best they could and continued to participate. They did not finish Night Ops, but their determination to continue was inspiring,” he said.
All the Boy Scouts involved in Night Ops “walked away an inch taller,” he said.