Edging nearer to the heat of the crackling fire as he gazed into the hot red embers made one Boy Scout especially grateful for the extra wood he and his fellow troop members chopped earlier that day.
The experience was all part of a Boy Scout camping trip.
As temperatures dropped below zero that weekend, simple-made tents were all that sheltered the troop from the elements.
“Let’s just say it was so cold (that) when we woke up around early morning, there was frost inside the tent,” said R.J. Hatt, Boy Scout, Troop 60, Fort Riley.
R.J. did earn his Polar Bear badge though, said his mother, Lisa, a Fort Riley military spouse.
The camping experience was from when R.J. was member of a previous troop, he said.
Now R.J. is a member of Troop 60. R.J. He has only been with the new troop for a couple of months, but based on his previous adventures, he said he is looking forward to doing more with the present group.
“When you’re a Boy Scout, it’s really fun,” he said. “You earn lots of badges, (and) you can do different types of things – learn things.”
Troop 60 is working on an upcoming camping trip. When and where is not certain yet, but R.J. said deciding for themselves is a part of the Boy Scout experience.
“The Boy Scouts plan their stuff – like the actual scouts plan it, not the adults,” he said.
The scouts have to plan everything, including meals, items to bring for the trip and what merit badges to earn, he said.
“They pick what they want to do, (and) they pick the badges they want to do,” Lisa added.
Boy Scouts can earn merit badges, ranging from many activities, including archaeology, entrepreneurship, gardening, robotics and wilderness survival, among other things.
Hiking and biking merit badges are a couple of possible options the troop can earn during its upcoming camping trip, R.J. said.
The boys will run everything, Lisa said, adding that the parents are there for adult supervision, but it is up to the boys to make sure everything gets done.
They will even chop their own firewood at the camps, she added.
“Sometimes, we’ll have camping trips that have competitions involved; you go against other troops,” R.J. said.
A previous camping experience allowed R.J.
to use his scouting skills to make primitive campfires during a campfire-building competition.
They had to catch a string on fire and burn it all the way through, Lisa said.
The string hangs across about two feet above the fire, and it is thick, too, she said.
“So you’ve got to have the flame burn high enough, fast enough and long enough to burn through,” she said.
R.J. won the competition, which he said was a big achievement.
“How many times (had) you been out and in the backyard in the firepit practicing for that competition?” Lisa asked her son.
“Twenty,” R.J. said with a grin on his face.
“Exactly,” she said.
Geocaching is another merit badge that has become a hit with Boy Scouts, Lisa said.
“The (Boy Scouts) do add new badges all the time to keep it interesting, but (geocaching) is one the boys (here) might be interested in,” Lisa said. “It’s like hidden treasure; there’s hidden treasure everywhere.”
The hidden treasure is found through using a GPS, R.J. said.
Boy Scouts work with GPSs a lot now and not just compasses during hiking trips, Lisa said.
“It really helps them with their pace counts, and it helps them understand direction,” she said.
It is a great way to spend time with Family, too, Lisa added.
Parents are encouraged to register along with their sons because scouting is a volunteer-led organization.
Volunteer positions vary in level for parents who have limited time, said Glen Hawkins, retired district executive, Boy Scouts of America.
Parents who register with their sons must take the requisite training required to interact with the troop as part of a youth protection program.
Any adult interacting with a Boy Scout, other than his or her own son, has to be a registered adult and has to have youth protection training, he said.
They need adult (volunteers), especially for troops with a lot of military Families, Lisa said.
“They come, they go, they deploy. You’ve got to be able to step in,” she said. “The boys have so much fun doing this, it is such a great experience for them. That’s the thing – the bigger the troop, the more fun the boys are going to have.”
Troop 60 is led by 1st Lt. Jason Nichols, 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. For more information about joining or volunteering with Troop 60, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Calun Reece
1st Inf. Div. Post
R.J. Hatt, scout, Troop 60, demonstrates how to make a Timber hitch Jan. 11 at his home in the Forsyth neighborhood.
Calun Reece | POST