Under the bright sun, the boys in uniform knew people were waiting impatiently. So they scurried around faster, whipping out curt orders to one another.
“Brad, check on the meat and vegetables.”
“Hey! Take the cinnamon rolls out of the oven.”
“Get some more coal to keep the fire going.”
Not far from these homemakers, a set of younger boys was getting ready to launch into space. They strapped on their seat belts, turned on the monitors and began their countdown.
The simulated space shuttle launch and the art of cooking over coals were among the displays showcased at more than 350 booths at the annual Scout Fair at Anaheim Stadium on Saturday, which also celebrated the Boy Scouts of America’s 80th anniversary.
Before the day began, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts’ Orange County Council predicted more than 30,000 people would attend this year’s celebration. By midday, with throngs of adults and children lining up in front of booths vying for position to either watch or participate in the various activities, he changed his mind.
“They exceed our estimation,” spokesman Devon Dougherty said. “The turnout is just tremendous. This is the best one I’ve seen yet.”
The bottom line to Scouting is to let the boys have fun in any way and form, Dougherty said.
On Saturday most of the youths did just that.
Troop 51 of Orange spent the entire day over a hot stove, but the boys said they didn’t mind. As fast as they could take out hot cinnamon rolls from their cardboard-and-tin foil “oven,” the rolls disappeared amid murmurs of approval. The troop’s other specialties included a meat and vegetable dish wrapped in foil, eggs and bacon fried in a brown paper bag, and hamburger in an onion--all cooked over coals.
The Scouts’ hard work paid off when they received the blue ribbon in cooking at the end of the day.
“It was real hard winning this,” said 11-year-old Brad Paulsen, wiping a black smudge off his face. “It took a lot of planning. We let people look at what we do, and how we present (the cooking demonstration) makes us better than the rest.”
Several lots away, the boys of Pack 287 of Huntington Beach were letting Cub Scouts from other packs operate their project--a seven-foot wooden space shuttle mock-up, equipped with a computer keyboard, five TV monitors and blinking lights. The boys, under the guidance of their scoutmaster and parents, had built the shuttle themselves in six weeks.
After the simulated flight, one of the pilots, 8-year-old Aaron Schooler of Huntington Beach’s Pack 223, said he liked being in control of the shuttle, but the ride “was too bumpy.”
Basic skills such as tying knots and building fires from wooden branches are still taught by troops and were featured by many booths at the fair. But the Boy Scouts of America has come a long way since the days when survival skills were heavily emphasized, Dougherty said.
“The key is that Scouting continues to be contemporary,” he said.
Modern changes were what attracted Donovan Andrews, 16, to the Boy Scouts two years ago, he said. His Troop 360 of Santa Ana also participated in activities such as food drives and fund-raisers, but the troop’s first love is trick skateboarding and biking, he said.
The annual fair gives the troop’s members “the chance to show what we can do . . . to show that skateboarders are not a bunch of criminal kids, getting in trouble,” Donovan said.
That’s not to say the Boy Scouts’ tradition of enjoying the outdoor has been phased out by modern trends. On the contrary, many of the booths at the stadium featured back-to-nature themes.
The Scouts of Troop 316 of Santa Ana constructed a 28-foot wooden climbing wall to demonstrate the art of scaling mountains.
Several booths away, young lumberjacks from Pack 295 of Cypress balanced themselves on an 8-foot wooden log and began to run on the spinning log to keep from falling off into the “water” of mattresses.
Their ingenuity won them a blue ribbon.
“It really surprises me that we won,” 10-year-old Ryan Mills said. “Some of the (other competitors) are really good.”