The Boy Scouts of the Matinecock District headed locally to find perfect weather for their annual Polar Bear Camporee – and they found it at Baiting Hollow Scout Camp in Wading River during the Jan. 25-27 weekend’s adventures where the temperatures fluctuated between a “balmy” 28 degrees during the daytime and a “cool” 18 degrees overnight.
The 484 youth and their adult volunteer Scouting leaders from 24 Boy Scout troops (including the host troops) in the Town of Huntington and western Smithtown Township participated in the event. Competing at thirteen Scouting skills stations, there were also the opportunities for ten of the adult volunteers to participate in the Youth Protection leader’s training being offered on Saturday.
As the host troops for the Polar Bear, the Scouts of Troop 360 (Huntington) and Troop 403 (Commack) developed and ran each of the station activities, following the weekend’s theme of “Arctic Luau.” Scored by their contemporaries, the Scouts in each of the 45 patrols participated at thirteen different “locations” where they took part in competitions in fire building, pioneering, and knot tying, teamwork, a first-aid and stretcher-carry event, communications, leadership, and an obstacle course – testing Scouting skills and teamwork at each station. While Scouts ran the events, adults were there to watch and help if needed. In each station, cooperation and teamwork received more points than simply completing the task.
The Scouts enjoyed the challenges of the Polar Bear Camporee by being properly prepared. They cooked hot meals at their individual campsites, and all troops–including the host troop - camped in the weather in tents, cabins, or lean-tos. On Saturday night, following Catholic Mass and a Jewish Scout’s Halvdalah (end of the Sabbath Day) service, the campfire program was held in the main dining hall where Scout patrols performed various songs and skits.
The Matinecock District troops from the Commack area that participated in the annual Polar Bear Camporee were: Boy Scout Troop 125, Troop 322, and Troop 403 (Host Troop). Following the flag raising and ecumenical interfaith services on Sunday morning, the district held the recognition ceremony for the top six Patrols at each of the thirteen events. Each Scouting participant received a special commemorative patch. Top six patrols from the area in each event included:
At the “Lava Crossing (buckets & boards)” timed event, the Scouts were told “Using only these materials and your ingenuity you must navigate the winding path across the lava flow in order to escape the entire patrol must all make it back to the other side and time is running out!” You have five various-length planks that you must use to get to safety, all patrol members must make the trek at the same time and no plank can be left behind.” The Scouts had to move boards along safety steps/upended buckets and then transport the entire patrol without falling off the boards over a length of 35 feet. Top scores went to 3rd place Troop 322 (Commack) – Phoenix Patrol
Escape through the Lava Tube (tire pass) was a timed leadership, teamwork, and cooperation event where the patrol members all had to crawl through a tire (and if the cocoanut that is balanced on top of the tire falls off, then they had to restart the relay race ) 6th place Troop 322 (Commack) - The Bulldogs Patrol.
At the “Black Sand Beach location” (aka the Bigfoot event), patrols were told to “use special team skis” Aka –everyone onto the 6-foot long 2x6 boards to “walk” the patrol a distance of 25 feet and then turn around to return to the starting line, using leadership and communications skills, , 4th place Troop 125 (Commack) - Bro Scouts of America,
The Injured Surf Boarder station was the first aid skills station – This translated to “You must assess the victim’s condition, verbally provide correct first aid treatment for an “injured surfer” and then create a stretcher from materials you have on your Klondike sled to transport a member of your patrol for 50 feet through a maze/obstacle course at this timed skills event.” 3rd place Troop 322 (Commack) - Phoenix,
At the Beachcombing Confusion station,” (aka Kim’s Game), Scouts put teamwork skills to use at this timed communications event. Patrols were told “All your collected souvenirs have been spilled in the sand while you were beachcombing. Use your skills of memory to look at all the items on the table and then write a list to report what’s missing.” The patrols reported their findings of the 25-plus items for scoring at this timed event. 2nd place Troop 125 (Commack) - Bro Scouts of America,
The Outrigger Race was the timed knot-tying skills station. Each member of the patrol tied at least one knot, and each Scout had to tie a specific knot (clove hitch, two half hitches, taught line hitch, bowline, and the square knot plus a sheep shank for extra credit). The top winners were 5th place Troop 322 (Commack) – Phoenix Patrol.
At the “Coconut Picking” lashing station, Scouts were tested on their skills as they raced the clock to lash bamboo spars to create a ladder (using only the supplied bamboo and their own ropes) and then one patrol member climbed the 10-foot wall to reach the coconut. Time stopped after the climber was down and ladder taken apart. Top winners were: 1st place Troop 322 (Commack) – Phoenix,
At the “Cutting Palm Trees” station, a two-man-saw timed event, Scouts were instructed to use the two-man saw to cut a 2-inch slice off of the 10-inch diameter log. 1st place Troop 322 (Commack) - Phoenix
At the “Boiled Turtle Eggs” station (aka building a fire) the patrols were supplied with a paper cup, water and told to boil an egg at this timed event. 5th place Troop 322 (Commack) – Phoenix, and 6th place Troop 322 - The Bulldogs Patrol.
The top Overall Patrol recognition was based on results at the individual stations for the entire weekend. Recognitions went to 2nd place Troop 322 (Commack) - Phoenix Patrol. The Matinecock District’s “Great Klondike Sled Race” was held on Sunday morning, with Scouts pulling their entries across the 175-foot length of the parade field, as each group raced the clock in two age categories. “Under age 14” category winners went to 4th place Troop 403 (Commack) – Trolls Patrol.