Conner Gould negotiates the bump in the climbing tower on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010 at the Centennial Camp to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. More than 2,500 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Scout leaders from across northern Kansas came together for the event. (photo by Jeff Cooper/ Salina Journal) | Buy Journal Photos


Email A Friend

Tents for the Centennial Camp sprawl across sports fields at the Salina Family YMCA on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010. (photo by Jeff Cooper/ Salina Journal)

A Blackhawk helicopter lands near Tri-Rivers Stadium during the opening ceremonies of Centennial Camp on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010. The camp is to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. (phot by Jeff Cooper/ Salina Journal)

Logan Erichsen from Pack 84 in Ellsworth gets instruction from Phil Hatfield of Renegade Paintball on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010 at the Centennial Camp in Kenwood Park on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010. (photo by Jeff Cooper/ Salina Journal)

Thousands of Boy Scouts converge on Salina for weekend camp-out

By GARY DEMUTH | Salina Journal

Climbing a 35-foot wooden tower would have been easy for Boy Scout Conner Gould if it hadn’t been for that the bump in the middle.

“I’ve climbed two other towers, but this was harder because of that bump,” said Conner, 13, a member of Boy Scout Troop 149, from Lebo.

The “bump” Conner referred to was a triangular section of wood that stuck out from the tower to make the climb a bit more challenging.

Luckily, that section was covered with hand holds, as was the rest of the wall, that allowed Conner to eventually make it to the top and ring a cowbell.

“You have to find the best grippings so you don’t slip and fall,” he said.

Bradley Rilat, 10, had no problem scaling the tower in less than a minute. The second year Webelos, a member of Troop 260 near Fort Riley, considered himself a natural climber.

“I’m just like a monkey,” he said. “I get a lot of practice climbing things like trees, rock walls and fences.”

Conner and Bradley were among more than 2,500 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Scout leaders who converged on Salina this weekend for a Centennial Camp to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.

Coronado Area Council

Campers arrived from a 32-county region that comprises the Coronado Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, organizers of the event. The region, stretching from Manhattan west to the Colorado border and from Interstate Highway 70 to the Nebraska border, serves more than 4,500 youth and 1,000 adult volunteers.

More than 100 activities and events were scheduled through the weekend at locations that included the Salina Bicentennial Center, Oakdale and Kenwood parks, and Evans Playing Field, south of the Salina Family YMCA.

“It’s an incredibly exciting opportunity to come together with other troops in the area,” said Don Sheppard, executive officer of the Coronado Area Council. “It celebrates our wonderful history of service to youth, as well as launches us into the next century with enthusiasm and mission.”

Setting up camp

Campers started arriving in Salina at noon Friday to register and set up camp. By that evening, hundreds of multicolored tents had sprung up on the Evans Playing Field.

Opening ceremonies for the Centennial Camp commenced at 9 a.m. Saturday with the arrival of a Blackhawk helicopter at the Tri-Rivers Rodeo Arena near the Bicentennial Center.

Disembarking from the helicopter was Salina Mayor Aaron Peck and Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz. The two men, both Eagle Scouts, presented the American and the Kansas state flags while audience members recited the Pledge of Allegiance, Scout Oath and Law, and Cub Scout Promise.

“When I was a Scout in the 1970s, I never thought I’d still be involved in Scouts today,” Schulz said. “But now I’m on the executive committee for the (Coronado) Council and my son Andrew is an Eagle Scout. That makes today even more special.”

Peck said the coming together of so many Scouts from so many counties is great for the council and for the city of Salina.

“I can’t think of anything that would be bigger than this in Salina or the county,” he said. “My dad was a Scoutmaster, so it’s exciting to see so many parents and volunteers out here today.”

Nearly 200 volunteers were involved in organizing and operating the weekend Centennial Camp, which included parents and family members of Scouts.

“It really takes a lot of volunteers to keep all these activities going for these kids,” said Chance Williams, a volunteer from Troop 22 based at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 111 W. Magnolia. “A lot of Cub Scouts have brought their families. It’s been a great opportunity for different packs and troops to get to know each other, and I’m always for that.”

Throughout the day, Scouts could participate in events and activities that included pinewood derby races, carnival games, archery, scuba diving, swimming, rappelling, laser shooting, axe throwing and mountain biking.

Also onhand were arts and crafts demonstrations, U.S. Army Hummers from Fort Riley, the Salina Fire Department’s Fire Safety House and a demonstration of professional BMX biking.

Saturday evening Scouts were invited to attend an concert headlined by 2009 “American Idol” finalist and country music recording star Danny Gokey and popular teen actress/singer Jennette McCurdy.

The camp concludes today with breakfast, a church service at the Eric Stein Stage in Oakdale Park and clean-up activities.

A centerpiece of the weekend’s events was the climbing tower, built by an Oskaloosa-based company called Challenge Options. The tower was commissioned as a collaboration between the Coronado Council and the Salina Family YMCA and was unveiled Saturday as part of daylong camp events.

Seth Thompson, a Cub Scout in Pack 7 in Salina, thought it was one of the best towers he’s ever climbed.

“I made it all the way to the top,” said Seth, 9. “It was kind of scary, but mostly it was fun as long as you didn’t look down.”

Paul Gunder, also in Pack 7, made it just 10 feet up the tower but said he had fun anyway.

“I’ll try to make it to the top next time, but probably not today,” said Paul, 10.

Inside the Bicentennial Center, Nathaniel Gale, 13, was thrilled that his pinewood derby car won its two-car race by a couple of lengths.

“A few years ago, I won my pack race, but I didn’t get to go to regionals,” said Nathaniel, a member of Troop 40 in Abilene. “You have to make them the right weight to make them fast.”

Alex Bathurst, 13, also a member of Troop 40, was ready to ditch the pinewood derby races and move onto more exciting activities like archery, the climbing tower and a hunting stimulator.

“There’s a lot to do, so it’s going to be fun,” he said.

Branden Notter and Kade Millsap, both members of Troop 56 from Belleville, planned to walk around the Bicentennial Center and campsite area until they found interesting things to do.

“We did tug of war and played on the slides for an hour, and we’re thinking of doing the climbing tower next,” said Branden, 11.

“Archery is pretty interesting, too,” said Kade, 12. “They have a lot to keep us busy all day, but we’re mostly just walking around.”

Ken Edgett, a Scoutmaster for 26 years from Great Bend, said the Centennial Camp has been a great way to bring Scouts together in one location to teach skills and social interaction that will serve them well in the future.

“One-hundred years doesn’t happen all the time, so it’s a really neat event to be part of,” he said. “These boys have had a lot of excitement this weekend. They should go home tired.”

nReporter Gary Demuth can be reached at 822-1405 or by e-mail at [email protected].

Email this story to a friend:



Sender’s email (required):

Enter text seen above: