Boy Scout Camporee draws 87 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts to Valley Wells

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Boy Scout Camporee draws 87 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts to Valley WellsLocal Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts enjoyed their annual Camporee at Valley Wells this year, Feb. 15-17. A total of 53 leaders, staff, and parent volunteers came out to supervise the 87 Scouts, ages nine to 18.

Valley Wells is the site of the old Trona swimming pool and recreation and picnic area.

This year’s theme was “Zombie Survival.” Activities focused on a mix of fun and learning, including tomahawk and spear throwing, archery, map and compass courses, first aid, firebuilding, wilderness survival and emergency preparedness.

“The theme was a big hit with the boys,” said Jerry Smith, chairman of the Desert District of the Boy Scouts of America. “Another big hit was building emergency shelters out of a pile of stuff like boards, ropes, tarps and pipes.”

The Indian Wells Valley’s Community Emergency Response Team brought in a trailer and put on demonstrations of emergency preparedness, such as how to turn off the gas in a home, the home emergency kit and emergency plan.

Scouts also had an opportunity to earn their Historic Trails patch. To do this, they had to camp on an historic trail and do a service project. As part of this, approximately 45 Scouts cleaned up the historical marker at Valley Wells, picked up broken glass surrounding the marker and lined the parking area with nice big rocks the adults trucked in.

The Scouts also mortared in some new rocks to replace missing ones on the marker’s base.

“The Scouts all set up their campsites, cooked their own food and cleaned up,” said Smith. “The less the adults do, the better because we want the boys to learn how to do it themselves.”

One activity focused on building a fire without matches by using a bow method — using a piece of string and sticks to generate friction to start a fire. “Only a handful actually got a fire started,” said Smith.

Another activity involved a huge bin of stuff you might have around your house. “The contest was to see how many things could be used for survival. It was surprising how creative they were and what they chose to help them survive.”

Evening campfire programs included skits and songs, and on the last night of the Camporee, the boys officially and properly retired five worn-out American flags in a patriotic ceremony.

Smith said he was impressed with how the Scouts conducted themselves during this ceremony.

“Around the campfire, you can get 87 kids all wound up, all jumping and hollering. It’s hard to get them calmed down and focused. But we told them it was time to get serious and retire some flags. Almost instantaneously, you could see the boys shift gears and get really serious. That’s one of the things I like about the Boy Scouts — it promotes patriotism, community service and commitment to community and country.”

The Camporee was organized by Vince Burns of Ridgecrest, Richard Thayer of Ridgecrest and David Brottlund of California City and was attended by Scouts from the Ridgecrest, California City and Trona areas.

“The organizers did a fantastic job,” said Smith. “It went flawlessly. We got lots of financial support from local businesses and community organizations. That allowed us to pay all the expenses of the Camporee. Each Scout got a T-shirt and patches.”

Story First Published: 2013-03-20