The Boy Scouts from Virgin River Valley District attended summer camp July 14-19 at Camp Kolob near Zion National Park. The theme of the camp was “Honor to God and Country”. The scouts were from Troops 40, 82, 488, 493, 596, 640, 998 in Mesquite, Troop 42 from Littlefield and Troops 41 and 341 from Bunkerville, all sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There were 70 scouts and 15 junior staff members for a total of 85 scouts. The Summer Camp is for Scouts 12-13 years old and the older boys, ages 14-17 are the Jr. Staff. The 11 year old scouts were able to go up on Wednesday and camp overnight. Jon Meierhoff and Art Shaner were Camp Directors and organized the camp and activities and Kyle Memmott was in charge of the merit badge classes.
The scouts worked on the following merit badges – Scouting Heritage, basketry, leather work, camping, cooking, emergency preparedness, first aid, Environment Science, Indian Lore, Orienteering, Pioneering, Rifle, Wilderness Survival, and Woodcarving. The scouts completed 240 merit badges while at the camp. The 11 years old worked on their trail to first class at 10 different stations which included orienteering, observation, compass, knots, emergency preparedness, and identifying native plants. Scouts also participated in a COPE course including a trust fall and water cannon. At the trust fall a scout must trust his fellow scouts by falling backward off a platform and being caught by his fellow scouts. Each scout received a piece of rope and as they completed a memorization and activities, they earned beads to add to the rope. They received beads for requirements at different events such as the rifle shooting. There were camp-wide “War Games” on Friday.
Every morning they held a flag ceremony followed by classes. Each evening a program was presented: the first night the junior staff presented a program. Tuesday evening was a dessert contest with each troop preparing and bringing a dessert to taste. Troop 488 won the dessert contest for their yummy monkey bread and was presented with the prize of a Dutch oven. Wednesday the scouts did a service project to improve the camp by clearing brush for a zip line and the rock climbing wall. The camp hosts complimented the scouts on the thorough job they did in cleaning and piling the brush up. Wednesday evening the scouts did their Wilderness Survival Merit Badge by going out to a spot away from camp, improvising a natural shelter and spending the night alone in the shelter.
The scouts worked on skits, songs and run-ons and presented these at two evening programs to entertain the whole group. Thursday evening the scouts went on the “Honor Trail” which is based on the 12 points of the Scout Law. At each place they stopped to hear a message and story about one of the points of the Scout Law which are Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Clean, Brave and Reverent.
Friday night a closing ceremony was organized by Craig Empey. Led by an honor guard and with Dennis Hangey playing Amazing Grace and the Scottish Folk song, “Marytr,” on the bag pipes, the scouts marched to the grove where several flags were retired. The large battalion size flag was held by Mike Wilson, Justin Goodsell, Rob Stepp and Tyler Hughes. It was a very reverent ceremony as the old flags were held and laid over the fire. The scouts learned about honoring country and respect for the flag. With the Soldier’s Cross on the stage, three speakers talked to the scouts of honoring country; Tuffy Ruth brought his WWII jeep and trailer and spoke of his experiences in the military during the Cold War. He told the meaning of the colors of the flag, the stars. He spoke about what the American Flag means to him and of the friends who were dear to him that gave their lives for freedom. Larry Burns, retired Metro Police officer and the longest serving SWATT Commander at Metro, spoke of his experiences. He spoke of honor for the uniform, honor for our country and honor for God. He told how he was impressed to not kick the thin glass door in but to just open it and therefore he was able to enter without shots being fired. Officer Rob Stepp of the Mesquite Police Dept. and a Navy Reservist who served in Afghanistan dressed in his full military attire and spoke of the meaning of the Soldier’s Cross with the rife and bayonet turned upside down, the empty boots, the helmet and the dog tags and although it is not an official symbol of the military, it has great meaning for those who serve and have served and lost their family member and comrades in arms.
Following this, the scouts watched the movie, “Taking Chance.” Watching this movie about taking a fallen warrior home to be laid to rest in his hometown was a moving experience for the scouts and a very solemn reminder of the sacrifice of men serving our country in the military.
The scouts all agreed that the junior staff made up of older scouts did a great job and really bonded with the younger scouts. Saturday, they all went to Kolob Reservoir and had competitions between troops. There were canoe and swimming races.
The Virgin River Valley District would like to thank all those that gave so generously of the time to travel and help the scouts and present the Friday night program. Thank you to Terrible Herbst for the donation of the large flag for the retirement ceremony.