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Boy scouts brave cold for Winter Camporee

January 19, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

CASCADE - Thirteen-year-old Bentley Straley had a plan for how he'd sleep outside Saturday night at the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base in Cascade.

The Boy Scout said he and several others from Troop 136 in Halfway would sleep on cardboard, hay and a tarp while zipped up in sleeping bags in a tent.

The National Weather Service called for freezing rain, snow and temperatures in the upper 20s overnight, but Bentley didn't appear to mind.

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"It'll be hot once we're all in there together," he said.

Bentley and about 300 Boy Scouts from the Mason Dixon Council of Boy Scouts of America gathered for Winter Camporee to have fun outside and gain some knowledge about cold weather survival.

"It's a lot better than I imagined," Bentley said. "I thought it would be freezing cold."

The event, hosted by Troop 97 of Waynesboro, Pa., began Friday night and runs through this morning.

Rick Kopp, assistant scoutmaster of Troop 20 in Boonsboro, said he woke up Saturday morning and the thermometer read 14 degrees.

Kopp said seven boys from the troop attended the camporee, and that just one had said he was cold.

"He's fine now," Kopp said.

The scouts participated in a variety of activities, including Eskimo bowling, in which participants rolled bowling balls across tennis courts to try to knock down pins; hoop tosses and Klondike sled races, which boys assumed the role of dogs and pulled homemade sleds.

"It's all fun this time around," said John Hasty, assistant scout master of Troop 18, committee member of Troop 97 and adviser of Venture Crew 97.

In addition to playing games, Hasty said the boys also learn how to dress for the weather.

"I'm learning how to cook and stuff," said Kyle Zittle, 12, of Troop 136 in Halfway.

Kyle was helping out with heating chicken noodle soup and serving ham and cheese sandwiches to his troop members.

He said he camps outs in all seasons and that the cold weather didn't bother him.

Josh Socks, 13, and Spencer Nally, 11, also of Troop 136, said the weather wouldn't be a factor in spending the night outdoors.

Don Gehr, assistant scout master of Troop 136, said they've camped in colder temperatures.

"It's not too bad," Gehr said. "We'll just try to be prepared."

Hasty said many scouts brought portable stove pipes to keep in their tents for heat.

Josh said he brought two sleeping bags with him to stay warm and Spencer was dressed in layers.

"I'm good," Spencer said. "If it was all snow, it would be better."

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