When the temperatures drop in Missouri most people turn up the thermostat and snuggle under more blankets, however the Boy Scouts of our area head to the woods and compete. The final weekend in January annually brings the Ozark Trailblazers District Klondike Derby. The event was held on Jan. 26 at the S Bar F Scout Ranch in Knob Lick. This winter event is meant to challenge not only the scout skills of the Boy Scouts, but also test their ability to perform difficult tasks in winter conditions. Mother Nature does not always provide snow or freezing temperatures for the troops that decide to camp out in conjunction with the Klondike Derby, but this year the temperatures did provide some below freezing nights. Ten troops from surrounding communities came together to test their scout skills and have fun in a “summer camp” themed Klondike Derby, although only a handful of those braved the cold nights and camped.
The Klondike Derby is named after the region of Canada’s Yukon Territory where George Carmack, along with his Native American wife Kate and her brother Skookum Jim Mason and their nephew Dawson Charlie, discovered gold on Bonanza Creek in 1897 and began a run on the area. The first Boy Scout Klondike Derby was held in the Tamarack Council of New Jersey in 1949, honoring the legacy of those on the Klondike Gold trail, and since then they have become an annual tradition for Scouts all across the nation and into Canada. Boy Scout Patrols pull special sleds (called “sledges”) over a course and visit various stations to compete in a variety of events, which change from year to year depending on who is putting on the event. This year’s Klondike Derby was staffed by Troop 471, chartered to the Memorial United Methodist Men’s Club of Farmington.
Troops competed all day Saturday of the event, culminating in a sledge race at the end of the day. Each troop was to bring a sledge and use it to carry certain items, like those needed to survive on the Klondike trail; water, first aid supplies, fire building kits and more. The troops would drag their sledges from event to event throughout the day. Those who won the individual competitions were; Human Knot – Bulls Patrol from Troop 408 (Latter-Day Saints – Fredericktown), First Aid Obstacle Course – Eagles Patrol from Troop 468 (Veterans of Foreign Wars – Ste. Genevieve), Dining Fly Set-up – Diamondbacks Patrol from Troop 403 (Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5527 – Ironton), Fire Building – Timberwolves Patrol from Troop 423 (Esther United Methodist Church – Park Hills), Tomahawk Throw – Weasels Patrol from Troop 468 (Veterans of Foreign Wars – Ste. Genevieve), Scoutmaster Cook-Off – Troop 483 (St. Joseph Catholic Church – Farmington), Best Dune Buggy Sledge Design – Troop 403 (Ironton), and Sledge Race Winners – Troop 403 (Ironton). Every troop competed in each event and was awarded points; those points were added up to present an overall Klondike Derby winner that would take home a travelling trophy. 2012’s Travelling Trophy winners, Troop 483 from Farmington was on hand to present the trophy to this year’s winners; Troop 403 from Ironton.
The Klondike Derby was staffed by Troop 471 out of Farmington. Scoutmaster Don Duncan, along with David and Tammy Anderson, Steve “Kent” Slinkard, and Ruthie Stribbling, provided leadership for their troop. Boy Scout Chris Berowski served as Camp Master and his staff included Cordell Wilson, Matthew Anderson, Jonathan Anderson, Corben Crites, Taylor Crites, Cyrus Carillo, Dorian Carillo, Jordan Duncan, Tyler Duncan, Britton Sanders, Jayson Scruggs, Taylor Degonia, and Bradley McEntire. Steve Roberts, Bruce Forest and Steve Topping were on site for the Ozark Trailblazers District Quartermaster Corps and cooked for the Klondike Derby staff members.
The Ozark Trailblazers District is a division of the Greater St. Louis Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America that serves St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Madison, Iron, Reynolds, and Washington counties in Missouri. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a part of the Boy Scouts of America you can visit the website BeAScout.org to find a unit in your area to get involved with or contact District Executive William Lindman at( 573)644-2221 for more information.