Even as the sun blazed away yet again, a couple hundred youngsters bounced from one activity to another Tuesday at George Owens Nature Park – just like they the day before and will do again today and the day after.
It's the annual Blue Elk District Day Camp, with about 300 Cub Scouts from across Eastern Jackson County extending to Odessa, plus adult leaders, on hand at the park in eastern Independence.
Monday marked the opening day, and the 30 packs made den flags to begin the week. By midday Friday the Scouts will have participated in 22 activities. Thankfully, some activities are completely shaded, and only a handful (fishing, for example) are completely in the sun.
The activities include some short-range archery, BB gun firing and slingshots, constructing little catapults and bagpipes, a puppet theater, learning about tying knots, first-aid kits, hiking and basic campfire cooking, stepping across a rope bridge – the “monkey bridge,” some call it – to learn balance, and little human foosball court for some teamwork. The activity areas are each run by a Scout leader, some of whom can measure their experience in decades more than years.
For some of the boys (and girls), it might be their first major exposure to exclusively outdoor activities.
“Most of the kids who attend are Tigers,” explained Camp Director Scott Smith, referring to the youngest age or grade group of scouts – age 6 or first grade.
“We start (planning) in September for the following July,” Smith said of the various activities and all the logistics of a week-long day camp. “A lot of work.”
Smith said the leaders found several new activities this year, so there's a mix of favorites among the Scouts, but the BB guns and archery continue to be among the favorites. One eager boy even asked the range officer if he could move aside so he could start firing pellets from his slingshot.
Of course, safety is paramount with such activities. All the range officers, even for shooting rubber bands, must be NRA certified, and many Scouting leaders receive cross-training.
It all adds up to a week full of new thrills and skills that some hot weather cannot deter.
This weekend, George Owens Nature Park will be hosting groups of Girl Scouts for their camp.