The Klondike Derby was the troop’s first time starting a project from scratch. Not knowing really what we were going to build and what the final outcome was going to be. But we just started off in meetings doing the planning of what the sled would look like, materials needed to build the sled, and how we all were going to utilize the space inside the sled. We started off with the basics and found an old stroller at the dump and saw how the base of the stroller, which contained the wheels and the rods, would be perfect for the bottom of the sled to hold the materials. During the meetings, we realized we could not finish the sled in time and we had to meet outside of the meetings to finish the sled. Luckily, we had two amazing families volunteer to host it and help us make the sled.
The next step was to make a nice wooden slate to fit perfectly into the curves of the rods on the stroller. We had to use power tools to cut and measure where we needed to fit the wood slate. When we finished making the wood fit, we had to find out how the three crates that would hold the materials fit into the sled. We set that problem aside and realized that we had extra wood and cut that into pieces that we could use at the derby. Other things we had to include in the sled were the patrol flags, skis, and ropes that would pull the sled, following the checklist provided by the derby. We split up the people working on these things and finished the work efficiently.
We had one last meeting which was designated to completing the finishing touches of the sled, finished off with s’mores, which couldn’t have been a better reward for our effort. All this hard work had been paid off at the actual Klondike Derby. Now all that was left was the actual competition.
It was freezing when we arrived at Camp Highroad, where the Klondike Derby would be held. We set up our tents in the midst of bitter, wintry winds whipping the air. We woke up early the next morning to warm weather, and a slight breeze. Perfect for the race ahead. We got to work. We had a lot to do before our start time at 8:30. Our troop always functioned better when we divided and conquered. One group broke camp and took down the tents, another made a nourishing breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes, and a third surveyed and added the finishing touches to our sled. We used the list of criteria as our checklist, making sure we had everything we needed.
And then, before we knew it, we were off. Each of us grabbing one of the ropes tied to the sled frame, we pulled it excitedly towards headquarters, where we would check in and start the race. We got off to a strong start. When the officials made the inspection, we had everything we needed. For this, we received six gold nuggets. Nuggets were the tokens for your performance, and were the criteria to determine the winner of the race. A gunshot shattered the morning stillness and the race had begun. The race was set up with five “towns” littered throughout the dirt paved trails snaking within the forest. Towns were basically clearings in the woods designed with different tasks for the troop to do. Orange ribbons were tacked to trees to signal our path for our race, the Iditorod. Depending on our performance on those tasks, we would receive a certain amount of gold nuggets.
The first town we went to had three different stations; doubling up to race on wooden skis, identifying tree leaves, and creating a fire using at least four techniques provided. We obtained quite a few gold nuggets from that, and continued on to the next town.
The next town focused primarily on navigational skills. We had to reach different markers on a field using a compass and a list of coordinates the adults there had given us. If you followed the coordinates correctly, you would end up beside an ice bin in the center of the field. Afterwards, we needed to estimate the height of a tree using a branch to roughly guess it. Our troop’s navigational skills weren’t the strongest, and we didn’t receive the highest amount of nuggets, as we were across the field, not even close to the ice bucket and were off by a few feet on the tree.
The third town was hard to find. We missed the path cut off to it, and ended up circling the entire race to find out. When we got to it, we learned that it revolved around first aid. The troop broke off into groups to learn different skills, and then had to put what they learned into action on their own Senior Patrol Leader.
The SPL had “fractured their arm badly”, and the scouts had to implement what they had just learned from their fellow scouts. They bandaged the SPL’s arm up, and used a tourniquet to stabilize my limbs. We received a certain amount of nuggets for that, ate a quick lunch, and set off to our last town.
It was a long walk across the stretching pastures of our campsite, and we lugged our heavy sled behind us as we walked. There were different Scouting activities here. Just like in the other town, we broke off into groups. One station was building a teepee in fifteen minutes with a tarp and a branch, another was building a fire, and the last was a bonus challenge, trying to loosen a bag from a branch with a ball. We didn’t perform as successfully as we had hoped, but as we ventured back to headquarters, we couldn’t help but grin. Our first Klondike Derby, and we had done it!
At Headquarters, we had a departing challenge. We had to transfer a scout through a spider formation. We completed our final task, received a few nuggets, and prepared to leave. We had spent hard work and hours on our sled, and it had paid off. With a few adjustments we had made along the way, it’s build was perfect for the rocky, muddy trails. Glowing with pride, we loaded our bags into the cars, and drove home, already dreaming about next year’s race.