Why Should My Scout Troop Attend Klondikes?
Michael Hall from the Orem District shares why he thinks Klondikes are a must.
“The Klondike Derby is an annual event held by BSA and Canadian Scout Districts to commemorate the Alaskan and Yukon Klondike Gold Rush that took place between 1896 and 1899. Klondike Derbies have been going on since 1949. But, perhaps we should view the Klondike from a Latter-Day Saint perspective.
The Klondike Derby could be a great setting to help educate Latter-Day Saint Scouts about the hardships and challenges that the Saints faced when driven from Missouri during the winter of 1838/1839, and what the “Willie and Martin Handcart Companies” and the “Hodgetts and Hunt Wagon Companies” experienced during the winter of 1856. The Klondike provides a safe and controlled environment to talk about, practice winter survival skills, and experience conditions that many of their ancestors might have endured.
Let’s look at the various activities and see how they might relate to what the Saints experienced:
.22 Rifle Shooting and 3-D Animal Archery Shooting: Many young lads were responsible to acquire food when the opportunity presented itself. They had to be well adapted to the weapons of the day in order to acquire food when the opportunity arose, especially during winter conditions.
Knife and Tomahawk Throwing: Many young men crafted “throwing sticks” in order to secure small game, such as rabbits. Having the skill and ability to throw a weapon accurately was sometimes the difference between starving and surviving!
Team Bucksaw Competitions: The young men were expected to gather and prepare the firewood for the evening meal and campfire. To successfully, accomplish the task they had to work as a team!
Snow Shoeing: Well those Latter-Day Saints probably didn’t have snowshoes back then, but they had to learn to practice correct travel skills while on their treks.
Zip Lines: Image the zip line as the lifeline to traverse roaring streams, creeks, and rivers. Proper navigation often meant the difference between life and death.
First Aid Stretcher Races: Often the young men were required to carry their younger siblings across the plains and the various obstacles that were encountered.
Fire Building Races: Building fires whether, for meals or warmth, it was essential to build them quick and efficient. The luxuries of fire building material that we have today were not present then!
Klondike Sled Racing: As the Saints fled Missouri, and then cross the plains to Utah, often times the young men and boys of the companies had to walk and assist the wagons and handcarts through thick and often unforgiving mud and terrain. The wagons and handcarts were often weighed down with the sick and injured, making the task that much harder. Teamwork was vital to be able to accomplish the arduous task at hand.
Camping: The Saints had to camp in less than ideal conditions, and had to learn on the fly skills to keep warm. In the safe and controlled atmosphere of the Klondike Derby, today’s young men can learn vital survival skills that might come in handy when they serve their missions!”
– Michael Hall, Orem District
Author: Julia Thompson | Marketing and Fund Development, Utah National Parks Council, Boy Scouts of America