Scoutmaster expanding Boy Scout Winterama

6 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — For the first time in two years, local Boy Scouts will be able to build, and sleep in, their own shelters during the annual Boy Scout Winterama being held Feb. 23 to 25.

Lack of snow led to the prior cancellation of shelter building, but Scoutmaster Vaughn Keaton says that won’t be an issue this year as there is plenty of snow. Because of that abundance of snow and the shelter building, Keaton also is expecting “to have more troops come this year.”

“We were rained out one year,” he said, “and had no snow for another. I’ve been getting calls from scoutmasters and we have either two or three troops coming down to start building their shelters this Friday.”

Keaton said troop members have to sleep in their own shelters on Friday and Saturday night to be eligible for the big trophy. Scout leaders also grade troops on cooking, on their performance in the Klondike Derby, and also on how well they do with new competitions being added to the weekend-long event.

These additions, according to Keaton, will be based on the show “Survivor.” He did not want to reveal the specific nature of the new competitions, as he believes it will work best if the Scouts are presented with the challenges as a surprise.

In addition to a trophy for the troop that wins the most points over the entire weekend, three tiers of prizes will be awarded to winners of the Survivor-themed challenges.

Troops competing for the big trophy need to register on Friday and then stay the night in their shelter, and Keaton said scout leaders will “leave them alone” until Saturday morning, at which point the Winterama truly begins.

“If someone gets real cold,” Keaton said, “or they’re not well prepared, they can come down to the Scout hall to warm up.”

Saturday morning begins with all troops cooking their own meal on the trails behind the 71 Aldrich Drive Scout lodge, but this year even the meal prep has undergone some changes.

“We put a twist on that, too,” Keaton said. “We have two secret ingredients that we’ll give to patrol leaders, and they have to incorporate that into their meal.”

Trophies and awards are to be presented that night, before Scouts spend their last night in their shelters. On Sunday morning, they have the choice to cook breakfast on the trails or to start packing as soon as they wake up.

Overall, Keaton is excited to introduce the new changes and to be able to award a trophy.

“We haven’t given up the trophy in the last two years,” he said, “We gave out Klondike Derby awards, but didn’t give out the trophy because nobody camped out.”

Keaton explained that they only give out the trophy for troops who build shelters because teams from away could potentially come up at the last minute, not have time to build a shelter, and win the Klondike Derby without a shelter, which he said would give them an unfair advantage over teams who ultimately put in more time and work overall.

“If you want to compete for the trophy,” he said, “you need to sleep out here for two days, and you need to make a shelter so everyone is on the same playing field.”