FRANKFORT, Maine — A first-year Boy Scout is called a Tenderfoot, but the young Scouts from the Katahdin region took to their first weekend camporee like veterans.
The youngsters relished their first night in the woods with their fellow Scouts and couldn’t get enough of the archery and tomahawk throwing that instructors treated them to during Saturday’s sessions.
“It’s awesome,” Penobscot Troop 302 Scout Austin Phillips, 11, of Glenburn said as his pals Steven Soctomah-Holmes, 10, of Glenburn and Dustin Colson, 11, of Castine nodded in agreement. “This is the 13th time we’ve done it in the last three hours, and it’s great.”
Instructor Stan Rediker of Old Town has been in Scouting for 27 years and has the archery class down to a routine. Each group gets to shoot five arrows at the target before rotating back to wait its turn after the entire class of Scouts gets to shoot the bow and arrow. Rediker said the Scouts pick up the skill fairly quickly.
“They’re doing all right and they’re having fun,” Rediker said. “We don’t worry about them getting good until they’ve been doing it awhile. It’s the first time for a lot of them.”
The first tomahawk throw made by Dana Prescott, 11, of Penobscot bounced at his feet and the second hardly reached the target. Prescott was just warming up, however, as his next few throws began finding the mark.
“It was fun once I started to get the hang of it,” he said. “It was sort of strange. I’d never really done anything like that before, but once I did it, I liked it.”
More than 300 Scouts and adults attended this weekend’s Katahdin Area Council Camporee on Loggin Road at the foot of Mount Waldo. Hosted by Searsport Troop 215 and Frankfort Troop 34, Scout troops from 26 communities attended the gathering.
Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops from Waldo, Hancock and Penobscot counties braved the cold to improve their outdoor skills and learn how to work together. Each troop was responsible for buying and cooking its own food during the three-day event. The adults were there to provide supervision and help the Scouts enjoy the rite of passage.
Colorful tents dotted the field beside Doretta Callahan’s home, and firetrucks and other emergency vehicles were stationed nearby at the Frankfort Little League field. Classes for merit badges in first aid and emergency management were offered throughout the camporee.
The Scouts may have been from varying backgrounds and communities, but the one thing they agreed on was that camping out the night before was a lot chillier than their beds back home.
“It was cold,” said Kyle Lane, 11, of Swanville. “It was a lot of fun other than camping out in winter.”
That reply didn’t sit well with instructor Cory Morse, service chief of the Searsport Ambulance Service. “Just remember this,” he advised Lane with a smile. “There’s no poor weather, just poor preparation.”
Morse, who earned his Eagle Scout award in 1988 and is a member of Searsport Troop 215’s Explorer post, has been teaching the Scouts first aid for years. He said the youngsters learn CPR, how to identify and treat various injuries, and how to respond in an emergency situation. He said the Scout teams learn to use what is available in nature and on their person to make a litter and evacuate an injured person from the woods. Some of those teams encountered snow and ice when they climbed Mount Waldo that morning.
“We designed scenarios on the mountain that will call on their knowledge and expertise in dealing with an emergency situation,” Morse said.
Mort Alling, vice chairman of the Katahdin Area Council’s Waldo County District, said camporees are held each spring and fall. The gatherings focus on outdoor skills not only for the Scouts, but also for their Scout leaders. Parents are welcome, and many choose to spend the night at the camps with their children. The event operates under a “buddy system” that pairs each Scout with another to ensure they don’t wander off or lose track of their schedule.
“They not only learn Scout skills but also socialization,” Alling said. “What we do is find a landowner who will let us use their field and we set up camp. It’s a lot of fun for all.”