BANGOR, Maine — Heavy rain on Friday night failed to dampen the spirits of Boy Scouts and their troop leaders camped at Bass Park for the Katahdin Area Council’s Centennial Camporee honoring the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.
“Scouting is not hindered by the rain,” council executive director Gary Savignano said Saturday morning. “When it rains, a lot of campers go home, but Scouts get excited and stay.”
With blue skies overhead and a fresh breeze blowing Saturday, about 1,000 Scouts and leaders were busy with a wide range of outdoor activities designed to test knowledge, develop skills and build friendships.
“I like to learn the knots, and I like the games that help you work together,” said 12-year-old Airin Harmon of Troop 179 in Ashland. “It’s all about the teamwork.”
Harmon was one of three troop members demonstrating the “Plutonium Portation” activity, in which a team of boys collaborated to lift a “radioactive” softball off the lawn and drop it into a plastic cup using a rubber band and lengths of white rope. The activity required communication, intuition and split-second timing.
Troop member Peng Cheng, 11, said Scouting has introduced him to traditional outdoor activities such as camping, fishing, whittling and canoeing. He is working on his Nature merit badge, he said.
Jakob Grey-Purvis, 12, said he prefers indoor activities, including managing some of the paperwork that Troop 179 generates. Jakob is working on a merit badge in Family Life, which includes keeping track of chores, family projects and other family interactions.
On the other side of the grassy park behind the Paul Bunyan statue, the Thibeault family of Enfield was making a weekend of it.
Eagle Scout Tyler Thibeault, 17, and his brothers Brandon, 13, and Matthew, 11, were staffing a two-stage activity. The main attraction was a large frame with a rope webwork strung across it. The goal was for each participating Scout to choose one of the many open areas in the web and scootch, stretch, twist or otherwise move their bodies through it without touching the rope.
But first, they had to take a quiz on Scouting history.
“When did Boy Scouting get started in this country?” Brandon Thibault demanded of an eager would-be web-walker, who did not know. The answer, of course, was 1910 — 100 years ago this year.
Tyler Thibeault has been in Scouting since first grade. His Eagle Scout project, completed this year, involved organizing and overseeing improvements to the old Grange hall in Enfield where Troop 64 meets. In addition to his Eagle Scout designation, he has earned three Eagle “palms” signifying his continued leadership in the troop.
A senior at Penobscot Valley High School in Howland, Thibeault said Scouting is not popular among his classmates. Organized outdoor activities, community service and the notion of “doing good deeds” seem to have fallen out of vogue, he said.
“But it helps me accomplish new things,” he said of his participation in Boy Scouts. “And if you get Eagle Scout or beyond, it looks good on a college application or a resume.”
Boy Scouts became a co-ed organization about 10 years ago. In addition to allowing girls to belong to local troops, the organization boasts the Venturing program for youth 14 to 21 years old. Venture Scouts take part in vigorous outdoor adventure programs such as rock climbing, mountain biking and sailing.
The Scouts stayed on site at Bass Park through Sunday morning.