Metro Lakes & Dan Patch Districts
2005 Spring Camporee
May 20-22, 2005
As you can see above, this one was another joint Camporee with another district. While I am not normally a fan of doing this, it does have the advantage of getting more people to the event, which can give you access to some things you might otherwise not get. 3rd party groups might come for 600 Scouts, where they might not for only 300.
For this event I did something really off the wall. We camped out at a local racetrack, Raceway Park, in Shakopee, MN. The park was great to work with and very accommodating. The nice thing about this track was that they did their races on Sunday evenings, so we could have the place to ourselves Friday evening through Sunday at noon. They had a mainly dirt parking lot so we camped in 2/3rds of the parking lot that was dirt, while we did the events in the 1/3 that was gravel.
The goal of the event was to celebrate everything automotive. We didn't have a fancy theme for the event, but we were planning on having enough cool stuff there to draw the boys in. The fact that it was being done at a racetrack really helped. Hey, what boy does not like race cars???
One of the things we worked hard on was getting stuff for a career expo. Trying to find as many ways of showing boys careers in the automotive industry as possible. We had a local truck driving school bring in a semi, a local tech school brought in a Dodge Viper that they had tricked out (they have a big auto body program), and of course we had the military showing them various MOS's in automotive areas.
For display events we brought in a big bulldozer, a BIG lawnmower, some old street-rods, a real racecar, a whole bunch of military trucks, and others. These were just for the Scouts to sit in, play with the wheels, etc. The bulldozer went over great for this. The Scouts also really liked the military vehicles as well.
We also wanted the Scouts to get 'hands-on' as much as possible. We brought in dozens of various kinds of engine blocks and transmissions for Scouts to take apart and put back together. We had junkers that Scouts could take pieces off and put pieces back on. We did a bunch of oil changes on an old suburban, as well as other preventive maintenance on vehicles like greasing bearings on a Troop trailer. We had small lawnmower engines for Scouts to tinker with, as well as things like carburetors for them to take apart.
Another BIG thing was that we had the Shakopee Fire Dept. come in and tear apart two cars with the jaws of life. In addition to that they torched a mini-van that had been filled with cardboard. Needless to say, the Scouts LOVED that part of the day. Many thanks to the members of the Shakopee FD, as well as our 2 victims who got cut out of the cars.
In another twist that raised eyebrows, we did Scoutmaster Racing on the racetrack. For $150 apiece, various adult leaders from the Troops got to do 8 laps around the track in the Monte Carlo race cars against the other leaders. While the Scouts had fun cheering on the adults, the adults had a LOT more fun doing the racing!
What went good:
The racing was a big hit, as well as the fire department. Of course the Scouts enjoyed climbing on the military vehicles as well. The bulldozer was great, since the boys could climb all over that one (literally). The semi was great because the Scouts could get in the sleeper area as well as the drivers seat, (I had them drain the air for the air horn before we started :-).
We had decided to do a fund raiser for camping scholarships by having Scouts beat on a Mercedes Benz that had been donated as a junker. We all thought it looked way to nice to be donated, but what the heck, who were we to argue. Since it looked too nice to have Scouts work on the engine, we decided to let them beat the heck out of it. This one was almost too popular.
The rest of the hands on stuff went pretty good, although it was tough to keep the Scouts focused on doing the hands on stuff when there were other, 'more fun' things a short distance away.
One other thing that went pretty good was our Skit Competition at the campfire. We had told the Troops that we were going to have a scoring system (similar to ice skating competitions), and each skit would be judged for originality and presentation. I think we had a MUCH higher grade of skits at this event because of that.
What went not so good:
Of course, Mother Nature had to stick her nose into things. Because it poured rain the night before, and part of the time in the morning, we had a whole bunch of people who were supposed to bring show cars, motorcycles, dune buggies, dragsters, etc, just not show up. It's hard to blame them for not wanting to come out and spend a miserable day outside with 500+ kids, but too many didn't show and that had a definite impact on how good the day went. The week before the event I was concerned that we might not have enough space for all of the planned exhibitors we had lined up, but then the day of the event came and very few of them showed up. Grrrrr.......
Because this was an operating track, and the day before a race, the track had to let the real race drivers come in and do their time trials, warm ups, etc. Because we didn't know when we would have access to the track for the adult racing, as well as when the boys could sit in the stands and watch the real drivers, we pretty much had to do 'free for all' type rotations. As in there were no set times when Scouts had to be at one place or another. We just couldn't come up with a way to work them in. Especially that once the firemen started their stuff, EVERYTHING else stopped until they were done. I didn't have a problem with that, it's just it was tough to plan around. Well, needless to say, some Scouts ran from one thing to another, not really focusing on them, and then when they thought they had seen everything, they became bored. And we all know what happens with bored Scouts.
Our worst problem of the day came when some wonderful young lad threw a rock at another Scout, and while that would have been bad enough, he missed the Scout and it went through the back window of the tech college's Dodge Viper. :-( For anyone who is not up on their automotive trivia, the Viper is a VERY expensive car. And the window is VERY expensive to replace. Needless to say we didn't make any friends with the college that day, and I have a feeling that the next time someone from the BSA asks them for something, they are going to get turned down.
We also had a problem where a Scout or two damaged something on one or two of the military vehicles. I didn't find out about this till later when I approached the MN National Guard about assistance with my Fall Camporee and got turned down. I am pretty sure that they were still unhappy about the damage done at the Spring Camporee. The Public Affairs person even made a point about how the Scouts were running around completely uncontrolled, and how some of the adults present watched the Scouts doing stuff they shouldn't have, and didn't stop them. I think I am going to have problems getting assistance from them for a year or two.
Don't let all of the bad stuff fool you. The Scouts REALLY enjoyed this event. If you have a race track nearby it wouldn't hurt to approach them and see what you can do. It's definitely something different.
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