Scouts do environment a good turn

October 25, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Morgan Run Natural Environment Area is a safer place for wildlife and humans, thanks to 300 Boy Scouts and their leaders who camped and cleaned at the park last weekend.

The 1,400-acre park in South Carroll was dotted with hundreds of tents. The Scouts teamed up for touch football and competed for prizes (including a medal for best chef), but good deeds played a larger part than fun and games in the 1994 Carroll District Fall Camporee in the park.

Troops from several counties joined the Carroll Scouts in a "good turn for the environment," said Al Hite, the camp chairman who has about 60 years' experience in Scouting and leading.

As they pitched their tents, many Scouts saw deer and wild turkeys running across the fields.

"What we do will help the animals," said Dave Robertson, 13. "We'll pick up the plastic stuff they might eat and get rid of the wire that hurts them. Everybody will do something to help."

The volunteers packed camping equipment and came prepared for work.

Eddie Poist, 11, brought hedge clippers, leather gloves and work boots. "They told me to bring tools," he said.

Along with other volunteer groups, the Scouts spent all of Saturday hard at work. They removed the last of about six miles of barbed wire fence, cleaned old farm sites and filled two large trash bins, borrowed from the county.

Wild animals that inhabit the park frequently became entangled in the wire. Debris from abandoned farms can pose a hazard to equestrians and hikers.

"They did a good job and accomplished everything they planned and more," said Park Ranger Frank Ryan. "They cleaned two building sites, cut all the remaining fence and got rid of all the hazards."

Dave, whose father Ken Robertson leads Troop 630 and helped organize the weekend, had a different view of the event.

"We are having fun and doing community service, too," he said. )) "And we don't have to eat our parents' food."

Dave helped cook hot dogs and instant mashed potatoes on a propane stove for dinner Friday. Green vegetables and salad were not on the young chefs' menu.

Every troop did its own meal planning and food shopping for "major snackery," said 11-year-old Richard Cooney.

"We don't have to be nutritious here," he said.

At a nearby tent, Wade Shaw casually flicked a grasshopper from his dinner roll as he quickly downed a plate of macaroni and cheese with Spam.

"This wouldn't be so good at home," said the 13-year-old Scout. "But it cooks in about 20 minutes and out here it's great."

The Scouts ate heartily and played a few rounds of football, then gathered around a campfire.

"Tomorrow, we'll be destructors," said Josh Velte, 11. "We are going to tear down fences and rip up stuff that hurts animals."

By Saturday evening, the boys had sharpened their appetites enough for hearty servings of beef stew.

One troop baked 10 loaves of bread and roasted a supermarket turkey. They won the cooking prize, one of several donated by 25 area businesses.

The work earned the Scouts community service hours toward their high school graduation requirement and a Carroll District musketeer badge, imprinted with "all for wildlife."

Steve O'Brien, parent volunteer and a former Boy Scout, said the Scouts made the park nicer for their next visit. His own experience tells him the boys will remember their efforts.

The camaraderie and manual work give "a sense of responsibility that gets them ready for life," he said. "This is not tough stuff to do and it's advantageous to their community. It's also an excellent way to pick up community service hours in a way that is not painful."

When he drives along Route 91 with his children, Mr. O'Brien said he often points to the area where his troop planted 1,000 trees and camped nearly 20 years ago.

"It's not a meadow anymore," he said. "Most of the trees grew."

Scouting gives the boys skill and coordination "that come in handy later on," he said.

Scoutmaster Ken Robertson called the weekend successful.

"We did quite a bit more than we expected and it was an outstanding job," Mr. Robertson said.

Ranger Ryan agreed: "This first time was a worthwhile time. I would like to see more working camps in the future."

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