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Boy Scouts brave the cold during Winter Camporee

January 16, 2005|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

SHARPSBURG - The strategy was simple enough Saturday for four Boy Scouts from Greencastle, Pa.

They would line up in a row with each foot placed on slabs of wood resembling walking sleds, use ropes to hoist the wood and then try to go a short distance without their feet touching the ground.

"Left up! Right up!" Adam Stouffer, 15, shouted to his teammates lined up behind him on the same two pieces of wood.

Tim Bair, 15, said Saturday was the team's first "walking sled" attempt at this year's Winter Camporee at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.

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The teenagers from Troop 99 stumbled a bit at first, but soon they were moving across a field at the education center with ease.

"That's what happens. All of a sudden, it clicks," said Jay Lauver, of Williamsport Troop 17 of the Boy Scouts of America.

Troop 17 hosted this year's Mason Dixon Council Winter Camporee.

Lauver, Washington County district chairman for the council, said teamwork was the theme of the winter event.

Nearly 250 people - most of whom were youngsters - participated in the annual event, in which the scouts camp outside and use cold weather survival skills they have learned from being part of the organization.

Tim Wertner, 16, of Troop 99 in Greencastle, said he learned how to say warm.

To Adam, his fellow scout, that meant a couple things.

"Clothes, clothes, clothes," Adam said. "Actually, I just used a good sleeping bag (overnight). This morning, it was all clothes."

"Now it's a T-shirt," said Aaron Timmons, 16, of the Greencastle troop, who donned a short-sleeve shirt, pants and boots.

By midafternoon, the sky was sunny and temperatures were in the low to mid-30s, according to the National Weather Service.

Dozens of tents were scattered throughout property at the education center, along with wood burning in half stoves and outdoor fireplaces.

Ryan David, 12, of Williamsport Troop 17, said he and other Scouts used hand warmers and sleeping bags to stay warm.

Lauver said Friday night's temperatures dipped into the low to mid-20s and were ideal for winter camping, but one thing was missing - snow.

"From the cold perspective, it was fine," said Lauver, who has spent more than 20 years with the Boy Scouts and received an Eagle Scout ranking. "We would've liked to have had a little bit of white stuff on the ground."

The lack of snow meant the Scouts would carry out one of their planned events, a sled race, on mud and grass, Lauver said.

The race was one of 15 events planned over the weekend for the camporee.

The Scouts began arriving at the education center about 4 p.m. Friday.

The event ends this morning with a nondenominational prayer service.

"It's just a great program," Lauver said of the Boy Scouts. "It's something I believe in. It's something that (has) so many benefits for kids."

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