Each summer eleven-year-old Blazer Scouts, like Jason Stewart and David Mathews of Las Vegas, Nevada, look forward to sleeping in tents and cooking outdoors with other troop members.
One morning last summer David and Jason got up at 5:00 A.M. and met with other Scouts at the meetinghouse for the ride to the mountains. By eight o’clock boys from all over East Stake were waiting at the trailhead for the mile-and-a-half hike into camp. The hike was a skill award requirement. Before camp was over, the boys would earn the major part of five skill awards.
Stake President Kendall Jones greeted the boys and presented each one with a hiking stave. He showed how he had carved his own stave with special designs. Jason and David were anxious to do the same, but for the moment, they were grateful to have even plain staves to help them with the climb.
The boys were to hike in to the Mt. Potosi (Poe-TOE-see) Scout Camp, each carrying a fully inspected pack, sleeping bag, and canteen. Patrol leaders, like David, would also carry the troop flag.
Arriving at the camp an hour later, Jason and David gladly dropped their gear and stood at attention while the Leadership Corps (chosen from last year’s Blazers) welcomed them. After a flag-raising ceremony, each troop gave a rousing patrol yell and displayed its flag.
The real work of the camp began as the boys moved to five different stations for in-depth skill award training. David looked over Jason’s shoulder while President Gary Stewart demonstrated knot-tying techniques. The boys practiced several kinds of knots until they learned them by heart.
At the map-and-compass station, Brother Arden Sampson taught Jason how to locate his position using a compass. After instruction in map skills and pacing, the Blazer Scouts were given a compass course to follow. Those who did it successfully found a hidden treasure.
Lunchtime provided another opportunity for the Scouts to fulfill a skill award requirement. Each boy prepared lunch without using utensils. Then it was on to more skill award stations. At the lashings station, President Jones gave David pointers on how to make a square lashing.
At last it was time to play! David and Jason had been watching through the trees while Scout Troops 160 and 370 spent the day lashing together a huge tower. Now they found out what it was for. Boys ran eagerly to line up for rides down the cable strung three hundred feet across the road to the hill opposite. Once on the lashed tower, they slipped a knotted rope between their legs and jumped off. Down they rode on their own “Mt. Potosi Tramway.”
After dinner David and Jason helped clean up camp; then they set up tents. As the sun set, they headed for an amphitheater to attend a special campfire program. The Scouts sang songs, put on skits, then settled down to listen as Brother Stephen Stoney gave a Scoutmaster’s Minute. Afterward they roasted marshmallows and baked apples.
Early the next morning David grabbed his stave and canteen, wondering how he’d manage the five-mile hike over the rugged terrain. Along the way, the Leadership Corps had established rest points, where the boys reviewed the things that they had learned at the skill award stations.
Back from the hike, the boys ate their final camp meal, took down tents, and met one last time at the flagpole. A game was started, and David, sitting at the end of the line, pulled the other boys down over him in a funny sit-down race. Finally, each boy received a specialized award, watched the lowering of the flag, and prepared to leave.
Tired and dirty, the boys shouldered their packs again for the hike out. When they reached the road, they had completed the hiking skill award begun the day before. Except for a few requirements to complete in their troop meetings, the boys had earned their five skill awards. Whooping at the sight of the waiting trucks, they piled in for the ride home.