A 65-year Boy Scout tradition continued this year at Watchung Reservation on February 8th. The Klondike Derby is a yearly competition between area Boy Scouts that allow them to showcase their scout skills as they travel from town to town in a rustic winter theater. The Klondike Derby is based on the heritage of the Klondike gold rush and the Iditarod sled competition in Alaska.
The Boy Scouts, 150 in all representing 11 local troops, traveled by sleds being pulled by the scouts themselves. At each town the scouts were given a task that required them to perform the many scout skills that they have acquired throughout their scouting life. Veteran and new scouts are joined in their sled teams to allow on the job training for the rookies. Some skills that were tested at the 10 towns are: primitive fire building, with no matches, knot tying and lashing, winter rescue, map and compass skills and cooking. The scouts must pack their sled strategically as they can only use the items on their sled to perform each town’s task. Points are awarded at each town in accordance with their proficiency. After the grueling 6-hour course the points are tallied and the winning teams are awarded medals for their efforts.
Many years the course is done on mud and gravel when Mother Nature has not provided the winter bed of snow that we would usually expect in February. However, the extreme cold this winter provided the Scouts with less friction as they pulled their sleds over plenty of frozen ground cover in the loop area at Watchung Reservation.
Each Boy Scout Troop has a home base set up to support their boys. A warm camp fire and hot food are a welcome reward for the hard working scouts. The event is a strong opportunity for the boys to show team building and leadership as well as their scouting skills. The Kondike Derby is one of many tools that Boy Scouts of America offer their membership as they advance in rank toward Eagle Scout and ultimately become productive members of our communities and society.
For more information about Boy Scouts visit our website at www.troop80-bsa.com/