Sunday, February 19, 2012

Manistee Boy Scout Troop 167 Camps Out (A Lot!)

boys walking in woods
scouts explore off trail (photo by jhy)

by jhy

"How many campouts have you been on?" I asked 12-year-old Tyler.

"Fifteen," he answered casually. Clearly a seasoned veteran of the outdoors. His buddy, Blake, has only been on three, but he only joined Manistee's Boy Scout Troop 167 this past year.

I was quickly informed that the troop camps out once a month. In an era when even Boy Scouts often spend a lot of time on skills that are suited for the digital age, I was heartened to find a group that embraces the outdoor pursuits which are at the root of the Scouting movement.

With special permission from the Manistee National Forest, the group is allowed to camp at the Big M Ski Area each winter. (Camping is not generally allowed on the property). Since this wasn't a "Polar Bear" campout, the boys and their leaders were using the warming shelter. The wood stove had heated the building nicely, and when I arrived some scouts were cooking or eating breakfast, and others were rolling up their sleeping bags.

Some of the scouts would be completing requirements for their Camping merit badge, and others would make progress on the Wilderness Survival badge. I wondered if the survival skills required were really basic ones, and was told that some of the requirements are: to demonstrate three ways to start fire without matches, to be able to build an emergency shelter with little or no environmental impact, and to understand things like weather, signalling, and making decisions based on life-preserving priorities. Sounds like good stuff to me!

I also spoke with the oldest boy in the troop, 17-year-old Brian. He's a Life Scout, working toward Eagle. His project included collecting over a ton of food for the Salvation Army, and the troop is sorting and boxing it.

Expecting to hear that he'd been a member since Cub Scouts, it was interesting to learn that he joined at the Webelos level- for 10-year-olds. He just thought it would be something fun to do. Brian said that Scouting introduced him to what the outdoors has to offer. He'll be attending Michigan Tech next year with studies in Environmental Science and Plant Biotechnology. He credits Scouting for developing his interest in the natural world. He's also a member of the Order of the Arrow.

boys playing bananagrams
playing Bananagrams (photo by jhy)
After breakfast, some boys headed outside, while others enjoyed the warm shelter and played games or visited. The troop has 24 members, of which eight boys came on this campout. Usually, the participation is 14-16 members.

I came away encouraged to see young people comfortable in the outdoors, even in winter.

Led by Scoutmaster Klaus Kutschke, this active troop is looking for area girls who are interested in Adventure Scouting. At this level both boys and girls can participate.

See Polar Bears in Manistee
See BSA Troop 167
Contact Klaus at 723-7766

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