Cub, Boy Scout derby is barrels of muddy fun

January 18, 1993|By Maureen Rice | Maureen Rice,Contributing Writer

It was cold, but not too cold. The sky threatened, but it did not rain. There was mud, but not too much mud. In fact, perfect weather for the Klondike Derby.

And it was fun.

The Carroll District Klondike Derby, a multitroop Cub and Boy Scout event, took place at Piney Run Park on Saturday, in the midst of Christmas tree mulching and bird seed order pickups.

"I had the time of my life," said Jack Redmond, grinning wickedly. Mr. Redmond is the leader of Cub Scout Pack 392. "I only wish my wife were here. Maybe next year."

Mr. Redmond assisted the management of the pack's event, called a town.

"Some of the events -- we call them towns -- are here year after year," said Hank Reinhardt, unit leader for Boy Scout Troop 420 and organizer of the derby. "A great favorite is the barrels. The boys have to cross the barrels on a piece of plywood using poles, and believe me, it's not easy."

Impossible, in fact, to accomplish without a great deal of cooperation between teammates, which is the whole point of the derby.

Teaching cooperation is one of the major goals of scouting for boys, and the Klondike Derby is one place where great reward is reaped from lending a helping hand.

"Everybody cooperates, all day long," Mr. Reinhardt said. "The mayors [the adults running the events] model cooperation for the boys, too. They explain how to best complete the event, and help out if a team is experiencing difficulty."

One of the greatest feats of cooperation is the "sledge," which carries all of the equipment the Boy Scouts (who are 11 to 18 years old) will use to complete their tasks, which vary from crossing the barrels to making pancakes in a coffee can.

The sledges are made by the scouts themselves, following directions in their manuals, and are of such quality that they are handed down year after year.

"Pulling the sledge is an event in itself," said Terry Chrisler, a parent. "The boys are penalized if they don't carry the sledge [using their poles] over any paved area. They also have to carry it up steps. Pulling the sledge is forcing the boys to work as a team all day long."

Sounds difficult, but asked what their favorite event was, a cascade of young voices answered, "The sledge!"

On Saturday 1,129 boys practiced cooperation. The winners, whose score is still in computation, will be announced this month.

"We keep the boys busy," said Mr. Redmond. "We keep them moving. It keeps them warm, and it keeps them happy." Happy faces could be seen all over the park.

Each team, called a patrol, keeps score. Good scores are earned by completing the events quickly. Speed is enhanced by cooperation.

"The patrols and the mayors both keep score," Mr. Reinhardt explained. "We double-check the winners, to make sure nobody fudges anything."

Since the boys range in age from 7 to 18, the competitions are broken out into Cub Scout events and Boy Scout events.

The Cubs, ages 7 to 10, competed in 15 diverse towns such as the Yukon Gold, in which teammates pull a sled holding another teammate who picks up bricks representing gold nuggets, to the Kodiak Guess, in which they had to list the items contained under a cover that had been lifted for only one minute.

The general favorite seemed to be Yukon Gold, although many had other favorites.

"I liked the chipwood, the football [Moose Chip Kick] and the ice floes," said Jesse Hughes, 8, while teammate Ryan Chaney liked the fishing -- even though he didn't get to do it.

"I liked the chipwood," said Michael Karl, 8, proudly holding a slice of log. "I GOT the chipwood."

The barrels were the hands-down favorite of the Boy Scouts and final-year Cub Scouts, who compete with the older boys -- as popular as managing the heavy sledge.

"I like the sled. I liked them all!" said Boy Scout Sean Diehl of the towns, and was heartily seconded by his team.

The Carroll District Klondike Derby is open to all scouts in Carroll County with the exception of the very youngest. This year, 100 dens participated in the Cub Scout events, and the Boy Scouts and older Cubs made up nearly 50 patrols.

"There was a mad rush for at least three hours," said Damian Varga, mayor for the Cub Scout Iditarod, "but I've kept count of the dens so far."

The Iditarod required the Cubs to keep their hands on each other's shoulders while running up and down hill around several cones to retrieve a banner. Going too fast, slow, or unevenly resulted in collapse of the team and loss of time.

The derby takes place each year, regardless of the weather.

"We've done this in the pouring rain," said Mr. Reinhardt, who has organized the event three times, "and in snow. Sometimes it's warm, but the boys have learned that weather is something you deal with, and they don't let it stand in their way. They always have a good time -- especially in the snow."

This is, he explains, intended to be a fun event for the boys and leaders, and a good learning experience as well. "The people at Piney Run always welcome us back," said Mr. Reinhardt. "They're truly a pleasure to deal with. It's great to be able to use the facilities, and there's enough parking."

The derby wasn't always held at Piney Run Park, Mr. Reinhardt said. In its 20-year history in Carroll County, it has been held on the grounds of Springfield Hospital Center, Patapsco State Park-McKeldon area and, once, on a farm.

"The farm was a disaster," Mr. Reinhardt recalled. "Of course, that year it snowed. The cars slid, it was muddy, some got stuck -- that really tore up the ground -- we made an awful mess. It was just terrible."

Most of the equipment for the events was brought to the park by Friday because of the early start on Saturday. "All the boys have to be at my house by 7:30," Mr. Reinhardt said. "We're in Westminster, and we have to register along with everybody else at 9."

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