Being prepared / Klondike Derby tests Scouts’ knowledge, survival skills

Boy Scout Troop 1783 of Southgate used gigantic straws and soybeans to shoot at hanging targets during the annual Klondike Derby at the Carleton Sportsmen's Club.
Boy Scout Troop 1783 of Southgate used gigantic straws and soybeans to shoot at hanging targets during the annual Klondike Derby at the Carleton Sportsmen's Club.
At this fire building station, Scouts from Troop 508 of Carleton keep warm. Provided by Reese Bowling
At this fire building station, Scouts from Troop 508 of Carleton keep warm. Provided by Reese Bowling
More than 125 Boy Scouts participated in the Klondike Derby on Saturday at Carleton Sportsmen’s Club, 14100 Sumpter Rd. Scouts pulled their handmade sleds along the snow-covered path and stopped at stations to prove their knowledge of preparedness. Provided by Reese Bowling
More than 125 Boy Scouts participated in the Klondike Derby on Saturday at Carleton Sportsmen’s Club, 14100 Sumpter Rd. Scouts pulled their handmade sleds along the snow-covered path and stopped at stations to prove their knowledge of preparedness. Provided by Reese Bowling
Scouts from Troop 538 of Ida identify animal hides and plants at the Ponderosa station. Provided by Reese Bowling
Scouts from Troop 538 of Ida identify animal hides and plants at the Ponderosa station. Provided by Reese Bowling
At station Travel Log, Scouts from Troop 1537 of Plymouth learn about direction using a compass. The troop has 80 Scouts, seven participated in Saturday’s Klondike Derby. Provided by Reese Bowling
At station Travel Log, Scouts from Troop 1537 of Plymouth learn about direction using a compass. The troop has 80 Scouts, seven participated in Saturday’s Klondike Derby. Provided by Reese Bowling
Scoutmaster Sonny Strimpel (left) of Boy Scout Troop 508 of Carleton; Louise Malvitz, Running Waters Unit Serving Executive and Alice Strimpel, Assistant Scoutmaster, stand with awards to be presented at the Klondike Derby. Sponsored by Running Waters District, more than 125 Scouts gathered to participate in the winter event geared for troops. Provided by Reese Bowling
Scoutmaster Sonny Strimpel (left) of Boy Scout Troop 508 of Carleton; Louise Malvitz, Running Waters Unit Serving Executive and Alice Strimpel, Assistant Scoutmaster, stand with awards to be presented at the Klondike Derby. Sponsored by Running Waters District, more than 125 Scouts gathered to participate in the winter event geared for troops. Provided by Reese Bowling
Boy Scouts competing in the Just Like My Father’s Klondike Derby on Saturday at Carleton Sportmen’s Club received a patch for participating in the winter event.  Provided by Reese Bowling
Boy Scouts competing in the Just Like My Father’s Klondike Derby on Saturday at Carleton Sportmen’s Club received a patch for participating in the winter event. Provided by Reese Bowling

Frigid temperatures and a blanket of snow made Saturday’s weather perfect for Boy Scouts competing in the "Just Like My Father’s" Klondike Derby.

Sponsored by Running Waters District, more than 125 scouts gathered at Carleton Sportsmen’s Club, 14100 Sumpter Road, to participate in a winter event geared for troops.

Scoutmaster Sonny Strimpel and his wife, Alice, of Maybee chaired the daylong event. Sonny secured the location and recruited staff and together the couple developed the program.

Strimpel, who leads Boy Scout Troop 508 of Carleton, has been involved in Scouting for nearly 55 years and has two adult sons, Jason and Matthew, both Eagle Scouts, that grew up in the program.

“It's been a great program for me. I’ve been a Scoutmaster going on 16 years. Right now, our troop has about 17 members. COVID hurt us bad last year,” he said. “Running Waters District serves the youth of Monroe County and the communities of Milan and Flat Rock. Klondike Derby is a winter event for troops to pull sleds to different stations testing their knowledge and their skills.”

Based on the Klondike Gold Rush and the struggles encountered by the men and dogs crossing the Klondike in search of gold, the Boy Scouts of America began hosting Klondike Derbies in 1949.

This year’s derby consisted of 14 stations scattered along a wooded, two-mile-long course and troops, made up of Scouts known as patrols, pulled their handmade sleds along the snow-covered path.

Using their survival skills, patrols stopped at each station to prove their knowledge of preparedness.

“Part of the judging will be on their Scout spirit, by presenting their patrol yell, having a patrol flag, and how well they work together as a team using their knowledge and skills,” Strimpel said. “Each patrol has a leader and he needs to lead his patrol by sharing information.”

Station leaders, many former Eagle Scouts, judged each troops’ performance and awarded gold nuggets based on their success.

Scoutmaster Joseph Thompson and Scouts from Troop 1783 of Southgate brought their sled made of PVC pipes, skis, and wood to the derby.

“On the sled, they’ve got plenty of water, a couple of camping stoves, some Mountain House freeze dried meals for lunch, a Scout handbook and first aid kit, some rope, and fire starting materials,” Thompson said. “I packed some Clif bars and some Nutra-Grain bars so that they can eat a little bit and some emergency chocolate.”

Thompson, a Wyandotte resident, started as a Scout with Troop 1783 more than 30 years ago and has been Scoutmaster for seven years. Ponderosa was the first stop on the course where Scouts identified a variety of plants and animals based on hides and photographs.

Other stations included fire building, first aid, compass work, ice rescue, and navigating at night. Strimpel said some modifications were made to the shooting station.

“To be able to do archery or shoot with a rifle, you’d have to have a certified instructor so we went with something a little different,” he said. “The Scouts are using gigantic straws and shooting soybeans at the targets.”

Following the course, the Scouts competed in a sled race and winners were determined by their fastest times. The top three troops with the most gold received an award and each Scout took home an event patch.

Boy Scout Troop 547 sponsored by River Raisin National Battlefield Foundation in Running Waters District of Monroe had the fastest sled and placed first. Second place went to Troop 367 sponsored by St. Joseph Catholic Church in Three Fires District of Howell and Troop 897 sponsored by Clements Circle Civic Association in Sunset District of Livonia secured third place.

The top three overall event finishers were Troop 547 sponsored by River Raisin National Battlefield Park Foundation in Running Waters District of Monroe; Troop 538 sponsored by Ida Civic Club in Running Waters District of Ida and Troop 550 sponsored by St. Paul’s United Methodist Church of Monroe respectively.

It’s been several years since a Klondike Derby has been hosted at the district level.

“Recently, the council volunteer leadership moved programs back to the district level from a statewide model to provide a more convenient opportunity for Scouts, families and volunteers to participate,” Strimpel added. “This decision was also made to harness volunteer engagement and utilize community resources at the local Scouting level. We’re very grateful to the Carleton Sportsmen’s Club for allowing us to use their facility to make this possible for these kids. This event is a great opportunity for all Scouts to showcase their teamwork, leadership and Scouting skills.”

Lisa Vidaurri Bowling is a contributor to The Monroe News.

This article originally appeared on The Monroe News: Klondike Derby tests Scouts’ knowledge, winter survival skills