January 24, 2000


More than 300 boys braved 9-degree temperatures Saturday in Redding to participate in the Scatacook District's annual Klondike derby. One of the main goals is to teach Boy Scouts the history of the Alaskan Klondike. Adding a twist to the sled-pushing competition this year: All of the Scouts in a troop, except one, had to negotiate the course blindfolded. The course was made of ropes tied to trees. Above: Tyler Meine, left, and Andrew Vill charge through the arctic cold hauling Troop 49 of Ridgefield's dogsled through the course. The News-Times/Photos by Wendy Carlson

Klondike Derby teaches teamwork

By Peter Hagan


REDDING The snow and ice aren't likely to disappear any time soon if the current cold weather continues. But there were at least 300 boys Saturday at the John Sherman Hoyt Reservation who were glad of it.

The 9-degree weather Saturday was nearly ideal for those boys participating in the Scatacook District's annual Klondike Derby. The snow on the ground was perfect for the sleds the boys had to push around.

"It would be nice if it were about 10 degrees warmer," said Dave Perkins, one of three chairmen of the derby. "But if it gets too warm the snow starts to melt and then you're in trouble. You really can't complain when you've got smooth snow like this and a nice sun."

Two of the main goals of the derby every year are to teach the Scouts teamwork and the history of the Alaskan Klondike. The coordinators of this year's derby tried to combine those two elements when organizing the challenges the Scouts would have to face during the derby.

The sites of the challenges were called cities and were named after actual places on the Alaskan Klondike. The obstacle course the Scouts had to face was located on top of a hill and was named Dinali, which is the American Indian name for Alaska's Mount McKinley.

The obstacle course itself was entirely a lesson in teamwork and communication. All the Scouts in a troop, except one, had to negotiate the course blindfolded. It was the job of the Scout who could use his eyes to make sure that no one fell behind.

In addition to being blindfolded, the Scouts had to move as a pack through the course. The had to form a kind of human train so no one would get lost.

The course was entirely made of ropes tied to trees. The Scouts used the rope to help them stay on the path. Occasionally they would have to duck under a rope to continue on the course. One Danbury troop found the ducking part especially difficult.

"I had a really tough time getting the guys over and under the lines that were in the path," said Alex Csengery, 14, of Danbury, who led his troop through the course. "I tried to communicate to them verbally but at times I needed to communicate to them physically."

While Csengery might have been frustrated by the course, his fellow Scouts had a different experience.

"It was weird being blindfolded; I really needed somebody to lead me," said Michael Ortega, 13, Danbury. "My new New Year's resolution is to not go blind."

Some of the adult participants dressed up as famous figures from the Klondike. Wyatt Earp, who made his fortune in the Klondike, was among those present.

For the Scouts, the derby was more than an exercise.

Division of Ottaway Newspapers,Inc.
333 Main St. Danbury, CT 06810 (203) 744-5100

The News-Times Online Edition is published daily Monday through Sunday. The News-Times provides news for the towns of Danbury, Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Washington, New Milford, New Fairfield, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Sherman and Southbury Connecticut.

All items copyright 2001 by The News-Times unless otherwise noted.

Questions or comments contact webmaster@newstimes.com