Annual Klondike Derby: A Weekend of Wilderness

During the flag retirement ceremony, Commander Peter LeBeau and Dan Griffin from American Legion Post 29 gave a presentation, and Scouts from Troop 608 Hamden demonstrate flag folding. Photo by Emelia Schiro

By Jim Heavey

Over the weekend, the Greenwich Council of the Boy Scouts of America held their annual Klondike Derby at The Ernest Thompson Seton Scout Reservation on Riversville Road, here in Greenwich. Thirteen patrols made of up six to eight Scouts from the seven Scout troops in town turned out for this annual contest of survival skills in a winter wilderness environment.

Each patrol was tested at each of over a dozen stations in Scout skills including first aid, fire building, land navigation, lashing and knots, fire building, ice rescue, and stretcher building. Scouts moved from station to station, pulling Iditarod sleds equipped to respond to the various challenges presented to them. After the competition concluded, most of the troops practiced their winter camping skills by camping out on Saturday night. They prepared a variety of dinners, all of which were cooked over an open fire.

The Greenwich Emergency Medical Service (GEMS) Explorer Post oversaw the judging of the first aid station and provided medical coverage for the event. The Explorer Post is a co-ed high school-age program of the Boy Scouts that allows participants to explore aspects of the medical professions with hands – on training and experience. Many GEMS Explorers go on to become doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals.

In addition to competing at the skills stations, the Scouts also collected chicken soup for Neighbor to Neighbor. In addition, they participated in an American f lag retirement ceremony conducted by American Legion Post 29. Commander Peter LeBeau and other veterans from the US Army, Navy, and Air Force assisted in this solemn rite. Scoutmaster Emeritus Bob Nelson, a US Navy Veteran and gold star family member from Troop 37, assisted with the ceremony.

On Saturday night, after the meal was cleaned up, the Scouts entertained themselves with a campfire featuring skits and songs, and they held a late-night Cracker Barrel social before finally returning to their campsites for some well-deserved sleep. The “Heavey” rain held off until about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, but it didn’t dampen their Scout spirit on what was a tremendous Scout weekend.

The top scorer was the Mixed Nuts patrol from Troop 10, Cos Cob. Second place was earned by the Apple Cider patrol from Troop 608 from Hamden, CT. Troop 608 is led by Scoutmaster Harold Ellis who earned his Eagle Scout Award as a Scout growing up in Greenwich. Mr. Ellis enjoyed sharing the great camp we have here in Greenwich with his Troop. The Barracuda patrol from Troop 9 came in third.

One of the newest patrols, making their first appearance at the Klondike, came from the newly formed Troop 23, a Scout troop made up of girls from North Mianus.

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Greenwich Police Chief Jim Heavey is a long-time Scoutmaster of Troop 35.

One of the leadership tests presented to the Scouts during the course of the Klondike was the Milk Crate Tower Challenge. Each Scout was only allowed to use one hand, and all had to work as a team to build a tower as tall as possible. The Barracuda Patrol from Troop 9 stacked this year’s highest tower, standing tall at 19 crates.
The Mixed Nuts patrol from Troop 10, Cos Cob, took top honors in the winter skills competition. Photo by Emelia Schiro
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