The Scouts in Park Hills, Mo., love to camp and so do their leaders. During the five weekends in May three of those were taken up with camping for the units chartered to the First United Methodist Church.
Cub Scout Pack 3417, Boy Scout Troop 417, and Venturing Crew 2417 each took to the woods for a weekend of camping, service, education and fellowship.
The Cub Scouts were in the woods for their annual Earth Day camping trip, which had to be delayed a couple weeks due to availability at their favorite campgrounds, St. Francois State Park, located just outside Bonne Terre.
During the weekend, which saw cool evening temperatures, the Cub Scouts, along with their parents, learned about nature, did crafts and attended a ceremony where some of their number advanced up to the Boy Scout troop level.
The following weekend, Mother’s Day weekend, a dozen Boy Scouts and their leaders attended the Ozark Trailblazers District Spring Camporee on the site of the old Camp Irondale.
Camp Irondale had once served as the premier summer camp location for the St. Louis area between 1911 and 1965 before being replaced by the then newly built S-Bar-F Scout Ranch. Sold by the St. Louis Council in 1967, the area now hosts many residential homes but many of the old camp buildings and landmarks remain.
Efforts by local Scout leaders Denny Allen and Jeremy Medley, among others, to renovate some areas have resulted in Boy Scouts returning three times since the 2010 Boy Scouts of America Centennial for district-wide Camporee events.
Hosted by Boy Scout Troop 455, chartered to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Farmington, the Spring Camporee followed a STEM program that had typical events like fire building and orienteering mixed with a puzzle cube and model rockets conducted in between rainstorms which blasted through the area that weekend.
Award plaques were handed out at the closing campfire on Saturday night to the troops that won the individual events, with the Scouts in Troop 417 taking home trophies in Best Uniformed Patrol and Best Patrol Campsite.
The final weekend in May saw the members of Venturing Crew 2417 descend on S-Bar-F Scout Ranch to take part in a weekend of service as they helped prepare the John S. Swift Explorer Base camp for their upcoming summer camp season. Crew members from around the Greater St. Louis Area Council assisted summer camp staff in putting up canvas on tent frames, leveling up tents, fixing bicycles and repairing screen windows on the main hall, among other projects before ending the evening with a potluck dinner and climbing and rappelling activities on Sunday morning.
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Rain also figured into the weekend, turning the campsite that Crew 2417 selected muddy with flowing water.
Camping is one of those things that all the Scouts in those units love to do, although some would much rather trade wet clothes and gear for a nice lodge any weekend.
Cub Scouts is for boys in grades 1 through 5. Boy Scouts takes them from grades 6 through the age of 18 and Venturer Scouts is a program for both boys and girls aged 14 to 21.
The Ozark Trailblazers District encompasses six counties in MissouriL St. Francois, Washington, Iron, Madion, Ste. Genevieve, and Reynolds.
By Gene Bannister
Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts work to raise the flags during their opening ceremony.
Rocket launches with Scoutmaster Gene Bannister.
As for the picture identifications:
Saluting (with backs to camera): Alexander Jones and Logan Skiles.
Raising the flags (from left to right):
Bobby Hambrick, Kwinton Burnett, Will Lucy (looking up), Jacob Bannister, Alex Barrington, and Clinton Barrington.