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 that participated in the annual Polar Bear Camporee were: Northport’s Troop 8 and East Northport’s Troop 52 and Troop 474
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 patrols in each event were from the Northport area were:
Lava Island (Patrol on a box) at this timed event, the Scouts were told: “You and your patrol are being chased by a rapidly advancing lava flow. You run into a small elevated piece of land… however, it’s rather small. You cannot let any of your team members fall off into the lava! You must balance on the box until the lava flow passes! “(Aka every patrol member has to be on the 20-inch-square box all at one time – and stay then there for 15 seconds!) Top patrols are 3rd place Troop 8 (Northport) - Duct Tape, 5th place
At the Midnight on Diamondhead location, each patrol supplied a tent at the Handicap/Disability Awareness tent set-up. With one allowed Scout in the patrol (who had to guide the others) all other members of the patrol simulated deaf or blind youths while setting up the tent in this leadership and cooperation scouting skills event. Top scoring patrols were: 6th place Troop 474 (East Northport) - Hedgehogs 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, 1st place Troop 8 (Northport) - Duct Tape and 6th place Troop 474 (East Northport) - The Hedgehogs Patrol.
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. 1st place 4th place Troop 52 (East Northport) - Pink Panthers
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 included 6th place Troop 8 (Northport) - Duct Tape Patrol.
At the Escape the Rainforest station (aka the Obstacle Course), patrols were scored as each patrol of Scouts had to transport all the patrol members via teamwork and leadership at the obstacle course (over the climbing wall, over the monkey bars, thru the tire wall, etc.): 5th place Troop 52 (East Northport) - Pink Panthers Patrol
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. 1st place Troop 8 (Northport) - Duct Tape
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 3rd place Troop 474 (East Northport) - The Hedgehogs and the “over 14 age” category top six winners went to 6th place Troop 8 (Northport) - The Jimbo Patrol.