Members of Troop 1 Katonah pose with our original troop flag in the Vintage Campsite at "Scouting Past" area, organized by Asst. Scoutmaster Otto Vondrak.
Troop 1 Katonah has just been through one of the greatest experiences in its 90 year history- the Westchester-Putnam Council 2010 Centennial Camporee! Our troop, along with 1,300 other people, occupied the Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill from April 30-May 2. The trip started out by going on a half hour trip up to Blue Mountain, where we signed in for the weekend. From the parking lot, we went on a twenty foot hike to the campsite. Campsites were side by side to each other, and there were unfamiliar troops from other districts surrounding us.
After setting up camp, the schedule was pretty simple, starting with our Scoutmaster and SPL encampment meeting, where we learned more on the events to come. The troops had been split up into eight encampments, and they would be traveling with each other throughout the day. We finished off the night with encampment vs. encampment games, consisting of a tug-of-war between different troops. Katonah fought well.
Being awoken at 6:30 was not our usual procedure, but the Scouts were up and at it in no time. After a brief flag ceremony in our encampment, all of the encampments were assembled on the Parade Field for the main ceremony. Seeing 1,300 other Scouts gathered together was quite a sight. We started with the camp flag raising ceremony, and then the encampment leaders received further details and instructions on how the day would proced.
Our first activity area was Scouting Past, which featured a vintage campsite and memorabilia, a tent full of patches and Council history, tomahawk throwing, archery, and old-fashioned ice cream making. There were also some vintage cars, including a 1951 Willys, a 1950 Dodge pickup, and a 1970's State Trooper car. This event was an interesting learning experience for all the Scouts, showing them what it was like in the beginning, how the insignia were very different, and how making ice cream became a recreational game! Our Assistant Scoutmaster Otto Vondrak was responsible for putting this area together.
Next, we moved on down to the waterfront for the Aquatics activity area. At this station there activities such as kayaking, canoeing, fly fishing, and a SCUBA demonstration. For the kayaking and canoeing activity, Scouts were sent into the lake to either paddle around or have their own races. At fly fishing, we were able to practice our casting abilities, and we also were able to watch somebody actually tie all of the different flies for fishing. At the SCUBA setup, we got to see all of the different gear that is used in SCUBA diving, which was pretty impressive. When our time here was up, we took a lunch break, and lunch was served to us right there. We each got a ham sandwich, chips, cookies, and a soda.
Our group then moved on to Field Sports, where physical activities were held, including a dodgeball tournament, rock climbing wall, a super obstacle course, three-way tug-of-war, and a trebuchet! Troops within the encampments dueled in an intense dodgeball tournament with teams of sixteen players, and two games going at once. Scouts could also compete one on one in the obstacle course, where they need to run, jump, and crawl to the finish line. They could also test there physical strength, climbing up thirty feet of rocks. How about being able to compete in a tug-of-war game against two other troops.... at the same time! Or maybe even having the urge to have tennis balls catapulted at you so that you could hit the tennis balls back with tennis rackets!
Finally, our encampment moved on to Scouting Future, where Scouts got to take their first ride on the famous Segway, climb a rock wall brought in by the National Guard, go to the Entergy demonstration, or do a geocaching activity with a GPS. The Scouts' favorite was riding on the Segways, where they had to go through a traffic-cone course, sending them out and back around, going in and out of the cones. At the Entergy demo, we got to learn about nuclear energy, and we got to use tools like a Geiger counter to measure radioactive material. In geo-caching, Scouts were sent into the woods with a GPS, and learned how it works, while searching for the geocache location.
Once done, with the events, encampments were sent back to their campsites to get ready for religious services. After that, we were dismissed back to our campsites to prepare dinner. We saw some pretty interesting meals being made throughout the camp. Once again, all eight encampments were assembled at the Parade Field. The SPL's from Katonah Troop 1 made up the evening Color Guard, retiring the American flag. After some brief remarks by Scout Executive Marc Andreo, there were skits, songs, a slideshow of the day's events, and the closing ceremonies for the camporee. Afterwards, everybody was invited to enjoy cupcakes, and a showing of Back To The Future. We called it a night, and we all went to sleep after an exciting day of fun.
In the morning, we had breakfast, and then everyone broke down their camps, and said goodbye. This was an experience that none of us will forget, and many years from now, we will look back, and remember that we were a part of something pretty special.
—Kyle W., Troop Historian