Fairfield, CT - Visitors to Sandcastle Playground Sunday, Feb. 21, were treated to quite a spectacle. Instead of the usual under-10 yr. old crowd, the park was populated with nearly 40 boy scouts from Fairfield’s Troop 199. The challenge of the day was to build a 10-foot high structure made of locally harvested timbers, manila rope and the classic scouting knots. The “lashing tower” was deftly executed through the leadership and knowledge of the scouts. The task helped the boys hone their skills in pioneering and teamwork. The construction project was also planned as a way to attract new members to the troop.
Two crews alternated between assembling the tower and using the troop’s 30-year-old Klondike Derby sleds for racing on the snow-covered ground. Both activities were led by senior-ranking scouts while adult leaders remained on the sidelines. Unlike Cub Scouts, where adults are in charge, Boy Scout troops are run by the scouts. Sunday was the perfect opportunity to introduce kids and parents to this time-honored philosophy.
According to Scoutmaster Dave Hinkle, “The day was part of our ongoing efforts to keep the troop active during the winter months. Our group is too large to gather inside for our weekly evening meetings, so we’ve shifted to weekends when we can take care of troop business, work on rank advancement and add a challenging outdoor activity.” The troop has taken numerous hikes within Connecticut, held an outdoor field day (including hatchet throwing, tether ball and cornhole), took an outing to Burr Pond State Park for ice fishing in January and completed several socially distant campouts.
“Scouting is all about navigating the outdoors -- in all conditions -- so moving the majority of our activities outside came naturally to our troop,” noted Hinkle. While Covid has prevented many organizations from functioning over the past year, Troop 199 has thrived, a testament to the Boy Scout motto “Be prepared.”