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Scouting at the fort

Tri-State area Boy Scouts meet at Camporee

Tri-State area Boy Scouts meet at Camporee

May 05, 2007|By PEPPER BALLARD

CASCADE - At 12 years old, Peter Sorensen was able to plan a weekend's worth of meals - from ravioli to Pop Tarts - and still have time to dart through a Fort Ritchie field filled with pitched tents Friday night.

The Troop 14 Smithsburg Boy Scout also will cook all of the meals for his troop even though he only needs to cook two meals to fulfill a requirement during the Mid-Atlantic Fellowship Camporee, a fun-filled Boy Scout camping weekend that kicked off Friday and ends Sunday at the former military base.

About 450 Scouts and leaders are expected to take part in event, which is sponsored by the Mason-Dixon Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The council, which is made up of troops from Washington County and Franklin and Fulton counties in Pennsylvania, also is hosting the Potomac Council of Cumberland, Md., and the Keystone Council of Mechanicsburg, Pa. for the Camporee, said Don Shepard, director of the Mason-Dixon council.

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The Camporee is geared toward fun activities, such as rappelling, firing BB guns, throwing tomahawks and perfecting archery, Shepard said.

The Scouts will not be earning merit badges, but many new Boy Scouts will be working on learning how to safely handle knives and work on fulfilling camp requirements.

"They will learn to work together as a patrol to accomplish tasks ... It gives the kids an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and show Scout skills," Shepard said. "They cook all their own meals, cut their own firewood."

The troop members also plan the activities in which they will participate.

Troop 19 Scout Andrew Burns, 11, plans to work on meeting his Tenderfoot requirements this weekend. He has been a Scout for a little more than two months.

"I'm excited about the activities, the archery and the slingshots and climbing the wall," he said.

Scouts camp year-round, and Andrew already had been camping with his troop.

So far, Andrew has learned first aid, hiking, camping and swimming with his troop.

Jeff Cordell, 20, attained the rank of Eagle Scout six years ago, but now helps his father, who is scoutmaster of Troop 143 in Mercersburg.

The Scouts in his troop are between 10 and 11 years old. Cordell said it's important that he guides the Scouts, but doesn't take over their tasks. For a lot of them, it was their first time camping as a Boy Scout.

"I taught them how to tie knots and build fires," he said.

"You've got to sit back and let them make mistakes," Shepard added. "They'll learn through trial and error."

"The adults, this is their weekend to sit back and let the kids do it," Cordell said.

New Troop 14 Scoutmaster Roland Sorensen watched over his troop, which includes his son, Peter.

He said he likes camping with his son, but has to make sure that Peter, who is very outgoing, doesn't take over a lot of the tasks.

"He makes it easy," Sorensen said. He has another son, Nic, in Cub Scouts.

Bob Avey, Camporee chairman, said demonstrations and introductions to "our more obscure merit badges," such as model design and building, railroading and stamp collecting, are a part of the programs offered.

Shepard said 27 percent of boys enrolled in first through fifth grade in Washington County Public Schools are in Cub Scouts. Nineteen percent of the school system's Boy Scout-aged boys - ages 11 through 18 - are members in the council's Boy Scout troops, he said.

Fort Ritchie was the site of the council's first summer camp in 1927, Avey said.

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