The Klondike Derby is an homage to the dog sledders of the Iditarod and the Klondike Gold Rush. Each patrol (and we had 2 this year) has a dog sled with tow rope for the "dogs" to pull the sled. The troop is given a list of gear needed for each sled as well as a general idea of the events that the scouts will be participating in. There were seven events this year, and each patrol would participate in three of them - but wouldn't know which ones until the day of the event. The patrols compete in groups of three (two patrols from other troops) and are awarded "gold nuggets" by each event organizer at their discretion. They take into account teamwork, sportsmanship and skill in awarding the nuggets. The nuggets are weighed at the end of the event to determine the winners. First, second and third in each group, so everyone is a winner. And to really torment the scouts, the nuggets are gold wrapped candy.
We spent the last few meetings honing scout skills such as knot tying, fire building and first aid. The sleds were built years ago and are in very good shape.
Because we weren't camping, we had to travel down to the camp on Friday night for a pre-event meeting. And of course, there was a small snow storm. We ended up getting a couple of inches that night with the temperature in the teens. Me, the scoutmaster, Simple J and the Pudge drove down (on some icy roads) to attend the meeting. Fortunately, it's only about a ten mile ride. And it was cold. I felt sorry for those poor bastards at the meeting that were camping.
We gathered the boys at our church bright and early at 7:00AM on Saturday morning. It was a balmy 15 degrees. Opening ceremonies started at 8:00AM at the camp. There were probably two dozen or so sleds entered in the event.
|As soon as we arrived at camp, the boys got the sleds out of the van and started puling it over to the parade field. This was sled #2 with a lot of our younger scouts.
|This was sled #1 with the Pudge (he's the one with the white ski tag on his chest) and the more senior scouts (including Simple J on the far right).
I followed the Pudge's patrol around for the day. Their first event was the frozen lake crossing. They had to use materials they packed (rope, staves, etc.) to build a rig that would allow them to take their sled across the "frozen lake" (tarp) with out the sled touching the lake. The scouts were allow to walk on the lake but it wouldn't support the sled and the scouts at the same time. They ended up rigging a line between two trees.
|The first station was the frozen lake crossing exercise.
|The second station was the archery range. That's the Pudge shooting. He put his first arrow over the dirt backstop.
|The third station was the shepherd's sling. The camp has a wooden "Fort Apache" type fort and this event was inside the fort. I'm on the upper level looking down into the fort.
|Here's the fort from the outside (courtesy of the Southern New Jersey Council site).
|The boys taking a well deserved rest at lunch time.
|Oh My God! Someone save those poor ducks! Relax, they're just decoys.
|See, the ducks are fine.
Then came the final activity of the day - the Iditarod Race. This is a sled race from the lower parking lot up to the parade field. It's about a 1/2 mile with about a 40 foot elevation change. The boys raced in groups of 3. Sled #1 (the Pudge's) race looked like a scene from Ben Hur or Gladiator. Their sled runner got caught with another sled, and that sled flipped over, dumping all of it's gear. One of the other sled's boys got hooked on the side rail of sled #1 and he was dragged several feet. Fortunately, no one got hurt and sled#1 won the heat. Sled #2 came in second in their heat.
|The boys resting up for the dreaded Iditarod Race.
|The boys of sled #1 (on the right) sprinting from the start of the Iditarod race. I'm actually backpeddling as I'm taking this picture because they came at me so fast.
The Pudge and I couldn't stay for the awards ceremony because The Mrs bought tickets to see Heart down in Atlantic City that night. I got home, showered (and thawed - my feet were frozen) and off we went to AC (no ticket for the Pudge). And I'm glad we saw the concert. We had good seats and Ann Wilson sounded great. They encored with Led Zeppelin's Black Dog and that was a great song to end on. I slept pretty good by the time we got home - at midnight. A long day in the Yukon!