The News-Times/Wendy Carlson
Troop 49 of Ridgefield trudges through the ice and snow
yesterday during the Boy Scouts' Klondike Derby in Redding.
Scouts prove their mettle in winter wilderness derby
By Peter Hagan
SPECIAL TO THE NEWS-TIMES
REDDING The snow and ice aren't likely to disappear any time soon
if yesterday's 9-degree weather continues. But there were at least
300 boys yesterday at the John Sherman Hoyt Reservation who were
glad of it.
The cold was nearly ideal for those boys participating in the
Scatacook District's annual Klondike derby. The snow on the ground
was perfect for the sleds the boys had to push around.
"It would be nice if it were about 10 degrees warmer," said Dave
Perkins, one of three chairmen of the derby. "But if it gets too
warm the snow starts to melt and then you're in trouble. You really
can't complain when you've got smooth snow like this and a nice
Two of the main goals of the derby every year are to teach the
scouts teamwork and the history of the Alaskan Klondike. The
coordinators of this year's derby tried to combine those two
elements when organizing the challenges the scouts would have to
face during the derby.
The sites of the challenges were called cities and were named
after actual places on the Alaskan Klondike. The obstacle course the
scouts had to face was located on top of a hill and was named Dinali,
which is the American Indian name for Alaska's Mount McKinley.
The obstacle course itself was entirely a lesson in teamwork and
communication. All the scouts in a troop, except one, had to
negotiate the course blindfolded. It was the job of the scout who
could use his eyes to make sure that no one fell behind.
In addition to being blindfolded, the scouts had to move as a
pack through the course. The had to form a kind of human train so no
one would get lost.
The course was entirely made of ropes tied to trees. The scouts
used the rope to help them stay on the path. Occasionally they would
have to duck under a rope to continue on the course. One Danbury
troop found the ducking part especially difficult.
"I had a really tough time getting the guys over and under the
lines that were in the path," said Alex Csengery, 14, of Danbury,
who led his troop through the course. "I tried to communicate to
them verbally but at times I needed to communicate to them
While Csengery might have been slightly frustrated by the course,
his fellow scouts had a different experience.
"It was weird being blindfolded; I really needed somebody to lead
me," said Michael Ortega, 13, Danbury. "My new New Year's resolution
is to not go blind."
Some of the adult participants dressed up as famous figures from
the Klondike. Wyatt Earp, who made his fortune in the Klondike, was
among those present.
For the scouts the derby was more than an exercise.
"It's just nice to spend a day walking around with friends," said
Rip Quinby, 15, of Ridgefield.