Just in time to get us enthusiastic about the Winter Olympics, Rye Troop 2 joined in the Westchester Boy Scouts’ Klondike Derby January 27 at Ward Pound Ridge State Park.
By Chris Parker
Just in time to get us enthusiastic about the Winter Olympics, Rye Troop 2 joined in the Westchester Boy Scouts’ Klondike Derby January 27 at Ward Pound Ridge State Park. The Klondike is a Gold Rush-themed event in which troops from all over Westchester go sled racing. Each team races to six different skills stations, which varied from First Aid to Gully Crossing to Fire Building.
Troop 2 competitors, ages 9-15, left the Rye High parking lot before dawn to be at the park for 8 a.m. registration. So many scouts from Rye wanted to participate that we entered two teams. I chose eight younger Scouts, and led the “Bravo Patrol.” A fellow Life Scout was assigned to lead the “Alpha Patrol,” comprised of the remaining seven. Everyone helped assemble the sleds on site, and each sled carried all the necessary gear. At 10 a.m. sharp, the air-horn was sounded, and off we went!
We dashed to our first station. To earn points, a team must build a fire from scratch, under a block of ice suspended by a tripod. The fire has to melt the block of ice, revealing a small piece of gold inside. This may sound easy, but very few teams actually managed to melt the ice within the 10 minutes allotted. Neither Rye team struck gold, though we received 7 out of 10 for demonstrating Scout Spirit and for starting the fire itself.
Slightly discouraged, but under time pressure, we moved on to Station 2: First Aid. There, we received a rescue scenario we might come across in the wilderness. The “victim” of a plane crash needed to be rescued using an impromptu stretcher. To get full points, he had to be carried 100 meters to the “helicopter pickup” zone. We did everything well, using two bamboo poles and a camping tarp to make our stretcher, and everyone pitched in to carry him. “Bravo Patrol” secured a perfect 10/10.
We all felt Tomahawk Throwing might come in handy someday.
From there, we moved to Shelter Building. Our task was to identify a spot within the assigned woody area where we could construct a shelter, using only what we could find, and the tools we had on our sled. My group found a very large rock, and draped a tarp over the top stretching to the ground. Using rope we brought, we stabilized our shelter by lashing it to near-by trees. Our shelter earned us another 10/10.
After a quick, packed-lunch, we trudged on to Orienteering. It was a really well laid-out course. We had a great time searching for the flags, taking bearings, and counting out our paces. We earned an 8/10 for that station.
Right across the way was Gully Crossing. The task was to get three heavy backpacks across a frozen river. We measured how wide the river was, identified a nearby tree, and measured its height as well. With these two figures, our older Scouts calculated the hypotenuse to find the exact length of rope we needed. We discovered a way to get to the other side of the gully and tied the other end of our rope there. Three scouts had to volunteer backpacks to use. The good news is: All three ended up on the other side, high and dry. Another 10/10!
At the final station we had to demonstrate a skill with great relevance to the daily life of a modern Scout: Tomahawk Throwing. For better or worse, another 8/10 for my group! Although few of us were able to make the tomahawk stick in the target (more difficult than it may sound), we all feel sure that the skill will come in handy someday.
Neither of Rye Troop 2’s teams won the overall competition, but everyone there had a fantastic time, if a few cold fingers. I can honestly say that I can’t wait until next year’s Klondike Derby.
— Photos by Jose Antonio Latorre