Misawa Boy Scouts put their survival skills to the test during Klondike Derby
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Misawa winters are bitter cold; snowfall averages 128.7 inches a year. January and February, the coldest months of the year, average 23 degrees Fahrenheit. For the Boy Scouts from Troops 9 and 14, this is the perfect weather for the Klondike Derby.
The Klondike Derby is an annual event held by the Boy Scouts of America during winter months and is based off the Klondike Gold Rush. It is a time-honored tradition dating back to 1949 and, for Troops 9 and 14, it was a fun challenge.
“The boys are doing a series of events all snow related,” said Kyle Buck, assistant Scoutmaster. “It’s a competition to test the boys’ skills on what they learned throughout the years.”
The two-day event involved knot tying, cross-country skiing and tent setup. They spent time learning basic survival skills like fire building, ice water rescue, first aid and orienteering.
“We learned to work together,” explained Ethan, son of Senior Master Sgt. Jeffery Sipos with the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron, “It’s fun, but the hardest part was the cross-country skiing.”
With some of the deepest snow and freezing temperatures Misawa was the perfect location for the Boy Scouts to practice their snow survival skills.
“Northern Japan provides the roughest environment with some of the deepest snow and bitter cold,” said Staff Sgt. Allchin, NCO in charge of Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape with the 35th Operations Support Squadron. “Instead of just reading about it, or watching videos and seeing examples, you have to practice what you have learned in these cold conditions.”
The event consisted of eight stations from Camp Falcon to the golf course while the team dragged, carried and pushed a homemade sled behind them. Teams tested their Scout skills and leadership abilities, earning points toward a total score.
“This weekend was about leadership and team building,” said Maj. Christopher Meinhart, Scoutmaster and medical director with the women’s health clinic, 35th Surgical Operations Squadron. “They go through multiple activities, both physical and mental, while learning to work together as a team and overcome obstacles.”
After completing the final station, all three patrols competed in a sled race.
At the end of the day, all points were calculated and the Spartan Patrol named the overall winners, but the Klondike Derby meant more than winning for these Boy Scouts. It was about lessons learned, coming together as a team and overcoming challenges.
“We had the opportunity to bring multiple troops together who may know each other from school but here they learn to help each other…to be courteous and kind,” said Meinhart, “Boy Scouts teaches young men to be good citizens and leaders, and contribute back to the community.”