For Boy Scouts, a big part of joining is learning different skills. These can range from first aid, how to build a fire and other survival skills. But as the saying goes “practice makes perfect,” and outside of an actual event scouts will not get the necessary practice to help with these issues. But for several area scouts, the winter is the perfect time to practice their scoutcraft.
On Saturday, Feb. 15, Boy Scout Troop 305 hosted the annual Klondike Derby at Adams Park in Fergus Falls. The derby is based on the heritage of the Klondike gold rush, and according to Boy Scouts of America, have had derbies going since 1949.
According to troop leader and derby committee leader Mike Partain, the annual event is a way for scouts to practice the skills they have learned, while also having a bit of fun.
“The winter skills test sees the scouts push around a Klondike sled, similar to a dog sled, from station to station,” Partain said. “Each station has a different skill like first aid, fire starting and others that they have learned in scouts.”
Originally, the troop planned to host the derby on Jan. 15. But due to weather, the group moved the derby to Feb. 15 with roaring success. Over 20 scouts participated in the event with 16 adults helping the groups navigate the course and judge the stations.
The group would begin at 9 a.m. and go until 3 p.m. with teams being rewarded for their skills. Partain explained that each group would receive a “golden nugget” for completing a skill and you could use it to bid on prizes. Prizes ranged from Dutch ovens, compasses, first-aid kits and more, all looking to help out each invidiual troop.
Partain can’t remember when the group began to do their version of the derby, but he remembers doing it as well as a young scout. Asked what the major difference between today’s derby and the one’s that he participated in, the scout leader pointed to the numbers.
“We used to have 11 Boy Scout troops, but now we are down to one. There is just so many activities for kids to do that we have seen a decline in our numbers,” Partain said.
The group did seem to have a great time competing he mentioned and they got to test out their knowledge and skills.
Partain wanted to thank those that donated prizes to the event including Ameripride for the first-aid kits, Fleet Farm, the bank in Dalton and a few private individuals.