Friday, January 20, 2012

Heading to Klondike Derby Again

I am gearing up to head off to another Boy Scout Klondike overnighter event. But for the first time in a number of years, I am not in charge of the event. Those duties passed to another some months ago as I transitioned to being the chapter adviser for the Order of the Arrow in my scout district.

The O.A. has traditionally provided traffic direction services at our district Klondike events. But this year, due to a change in venue, those services won't be required. Instead, we will be handling the evening and morning flag ceremonies and the evening campfire program. We will also provide general staff services, such as cleanup, supporting scoutcraft games, etc.

Today I feel completely different about the event than I have for the past few years. I used to get up on the Friday morning of the event anticipating all of the work I had to do, all of the people I had to rely on, and the fickleness of winter weather in northern Utah. I had no idea whether we would get enough people out to the event to break even. I hoped that, despite hundreds of scouts and adults camping in winter conditions, injuries would be few and good memories would be made.

It felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I knew that I would enjoy many interactions with people, but that I would also face many frustrations inherent in running an event of this nature. I would finally get everything packed up and hauled home on Saturday and would finally have everything cleaned up by evening. I would be physically and psychologically spent.

Looking forward to tonight is a lark in comparison. While I have responsibilities, they are relatively easy. I know how to run flag ceremonies and campfire programs. While I'm not sure how many O.A. youth I will have present, these events can be flexible enough to accommodate just about any number of boys. Moreover, I only have to worry about handling camping conditions for my small group rather than 400 people.

We have had an unusually dry winter in this area. We went through a long bitter cold spell during much of December that was marked by a nasty inversion that limited visibility. That broke just before Christmas. The weather has been unseasonably warm since then.

Just this week a wet and stormy pattern moved into the area. A lot of wet and heavy snow has fallen in the mountains. We have had snow in the valley, but most of it has melted due to warm temperatures and rain. The conditions are ripe for avalanches.

The area where we have traditionally held our Klondike events is relatively flat with few nearby slopes that could host an avalanche. The area where we are headed tonight is closer to slopes that could present dangerous avalanche conditions. (See Utah Avalanche Center for information.)

The campers will be safe as long as they stay in the camping area. Adults will have to keep close tabs on youth to keep them in bounds. The warm, damp weather means that most campers will get a little wet. Some will get very wet. On the positive side, it won't be very cold tonight.

I have long supported overnight scouting events. Last week I slept on the concrete floor of a building in Evanston, Wyoming at one event. I will be camping tonight at our district Klondike event. Next week I will sleep out again with my son at our troop overnighter. I am happy to support these events. But it would sure be nice if they weren't so closely bunched together. My wife and I will be glad when these three camping weekends are past.

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