The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


February 10, 2013

No child left indoors: The thrill of a Klondike derby

By Bob Garrett

For The Daily Item

Camping in tents in sub-freezing temperatures; preparing breakfast over a fire while trying to shake off the morning chill; mushing through the snow with a patrol of scouts made up of your best friends; practicing scouting skills; solving problems by working together; racing to the summit at the end of day with your tired and half-frozen buddies while clutching onto your handful of "gold" nuggets and memories that will last for a lifetime ...

These are the types of Scouting experiences that would cause Lord Robert Baden-Powell to say, "Now that's what I'm talking about."

Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouting, and his colleague Juliette Gordon Lowe, the founder of Girl Scouting in the United States, described Scouting as a game with a purpose.

Klondike derbies are exactly the types of outings that Baden-Powell and Lowe were advocating for young people more than a century ago to make sure that no child was left indoors. However, it's unlikely that either of these Scouting pioneers ever actually attended a Klondike derby.

Baden-Powell was an Englishmen who assembled the first gathering of scouts on Brownsea Island and was a decorated veteran of African battles. Lowe organized Girl Scouts in Savannah, Ga. These aren't locations known for snowfall or winter games.

The annual winter derby at Garret Mountain Reservation in New Jersey is known as the oldest, continuous event of its kind. First held in 1949, the Klondike derby, as it is now known, is a test of scouting skills and endurance.

At these derbies, patrols of Scouts push sleds that are sometimes called "sledges" over rugged courses that are hopefully covered by a blanket of snow on a cold winter's day. The Boy Scout's local Seven Bridges District held their annual derby yesterday at the Buffalo Valley Sportsmen's Association grounds, north of Mifflinburg. The members of this sportsmen's club have graciously hosted this derby for the past few decades.

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