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Countywide : Scouting ‘Dorky?’ Boys Say It’s Knot

Under a hot midday sun, Boy Scout Troop 887 from La Habra faced a daunting task Friday. The Scouts’ objective was to assemble a wooden go-cart using only rope lashings and their skill in tying knots, then to race the contraption down a dusty track without it collapsing under them.

With elbows and dust flying-and only 60 minutes to complete the task--the seven boys, outfitted in customary khaki uniforms, tied the last knot and began frantically pushing the cart and driver. They careened down the track, grinning broadly.

“At first I thought it was a dorky thing to be involved in,” 12-year-old Nathan Houtz said after the race. “But after I joined, it turned out to be really cool.”

Houtz is one of nearly 10,000 Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts participating in this weekend’s immense Jubilee Encampment at Camp Pendleton. The event commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Boy Scouts program in Orange County and the 85th for the Boy Scouts of America. It is the largest gathering of Boy Scouts in the county since 1953, officials said.

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The encampment, open to the public, provides Scouts with the opportunity to test their skills in nearly 80 events ranging from knot tying and rifle shooting to first aid techniques.

“The Boy Scouts is good for kids,” said Chase Carter, 12, of La Habra. “You make new friends and do a lot of neat things, like CPR and what to do in emergencies and all the different swimming strokes. It keeps you out of trouble.”

Nearly 52,000 youths participate in the Orange County Boy Scout program, the eighth-largest Scout Council in the nation, said Devon Dougherty of the Orange County Council.

“I don’t think there’s a single problem that we can’t solve through the Boy Scouts,” Dougherty said, citing the program’s focus on fighting drug abuse, helping the poor and decreasing illiteracy rates.

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As part of the Jubilee, the Scouts will kick off their annual Scouting for Food Drive, which provides the Food Distribution Center in Orange its largest single donation of food each year--enough to supply 1 million meals through nearly 285 agencies.

“In today’s society, where does a boy get a mentor or role model?” asked Craig Reide, the 52-year-old director of administration for the Orange County Council.

“When you think of the millions of boys that have come through the program and the positive impact on those lives, it’s amazing,” said Reide, who has been involved with the Boy Scouts since he was 8.

Ryan Smith, 14, of Buena Park agreed.

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“The Scouts teaches you things you never knew,” Smith said while cooking an egg in its shell over a campfire without any water, a wilderness survival skill. “It gives you confidence.”


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