Boy Scouts put building skills into action at Spring Camporee

  • Boy Scouts from Wilbraham Troop 359 hoist up the main pole of a crane at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield on Saturday. Staff Photo/CHRIS LARABEE

  • At Saturday’s Spring Camporee, Lily O’Connor, 11, demonstrates the technique of whipping, which is the process of tying a string — or in this case, dental floss — around the end of a rope to prevent fraying. Staff Photo/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Boy Scouts hold up the main support of a drawbridge at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield on Saturday. Staff Photo/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Dean Knott, an 11-year-old member of East Longmeadow Troop 179, tries out the monkey bridge he and other troop members built at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield on Saturday. Staff Photo/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Luke Whalen-Sylver, a 17-year-old member of Wilbraham Troop 359, whittles a wedge for the crane his troop was building at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield on Saturday. Staff Photo/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Members of Greenfield Boy Scout Troop 5 build a lookout tower that they will use when they return to the Franklin County Fairgrounds in September. Staff Photo/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Members of Greenfield Boy Scout Troop 5 build a lookout tower that they will use when they return to the Franklin County Fairgrounds in September. Staff Photo/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Members of Wilbraham Troop 359 hoisted a one-third full 55-gallon drum with their crane they built Saturday at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield. Later on, they lifted the full drum, which weighed approximately 460 pounds. Staff Photo/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Members of Wilbraham Troop 359 hoisted a one-third full 55-gallon drum with their crane they built Saturday at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield. Later on, they lifted the full drum, which weighed approximately 460 pounds. Staff Photo/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 5/15/2022 8:56:54 PM
Modified: 5/15/2022 8:55:06 PM

GREENFIELD — The Franklin County Fairgrounds looked a bit like a wood shop class Saturday afternoon as hand-built structures and simple tools were spread across the lawn.

The bridges, lookout tower and crane that were constructed throughout the day represented the hard work of more than 60 Scouts participating in the Western Massachusetts Council of the Boy Scouts of America’s annual Spring Camporee. With several troops hailing from Greenfield, Wilbraham and East Longmeadow, the Boy Scouts took on the theme of “backwoods engineering” as they tied knots, lashed pieces of wood together and employed simple machines like pulleys to create their structures.

“This is the type of thing memories are made of,” said Camporee Leader Michael Zlogar as the Scouts were cutting ropes and preparing to attach the crane’s boom. “One of our hopes with this is they’ll get excited to do more things like this.”

The Scouts camped at the fairgrounds overnight and spent the majority of Saturday morning and afternoon putting their machines together. Once finished, they left them up overnight and took them down before leaving Sunday. Zlogar thanked the Franklin County Fairgrounds team for being a “great partner” in providing a space for the Scouts to work.

In choosing backwoods engineering and pioneering skills for the Camporee, Zlogar said it was a chance to provide a “special, unique experience” for the Scouts to go through, while also providing practice in real-world examples of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) concepts.

“They’ll be able to take this (experience) and do smaller projects,” Zlogar said, adding that this was a chance for the Scouts to put their skills to use. “To put them into action like this is special.”

The Scouts built three types of bridges: a drawbridge; a friction bridge, which is similar in shape to an A-frame style house; and a monkey bridge, which is a rope bridge supported by wooden poles. Members of Greenfield Troop 5 built a lookout tower, which they will save to use again when they return to the fairgrounds in September, and Wilbraham Troop 359 constructed a crane, which was used to lift a 55-gallon drum of water — approximately 460 pounds of liquid.

Scouts said they were having a blast building the structures and the cooperative setting of the Camporee was conducive to their efforts. Normally, the Scouts said, Camporees are often semi-competitive events where points are awarded to troops.

“It’s kind of nice learning” and not competing, said Luke Whalen-Sylver, 17, of Wilbraham Troop 359. “It’s helping the younger Scouts and it’s helping me.”

He said it was fun to put the skills they’ve learned to use.

“It’s been better than expected, it’s been fun,” Luke said of the Camporee. “I’ve learned a whole bunch of knots and lashes.”

Zachary Perreault, 14, said it was “hot and tiring” working in the blazing heat alongside his Greenfield Troop 5 team, but it was rewarding learning new lashing techniques.

Asa Taggert, a 14-year-old with Greenfield Troop 5, said it was nice to work collaboratively with everyone as they all honed their skills.

“With this, it’s cool we all work together to build pioneering stuff,” Asa said. “You see these (projects) in the Scout book. … To be able to build them is really cool.”

Zlogar encouraged anyone interested in enrolling their children in Boy Scouts — girls have been allowed to join since 2019 — to find more information on the Western Massachusetts Council of the Boy Scouts of America website at wmascouting.com.

“We’d love for more young men and women to join,” Zlogar said, adding that the Boy Scout troops are Scout-driven and adults are there to supervise. “The kids create this, we just provide some kind of guidance.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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