This weekend, the Townsend Fairgrounds were marked with flags from Boy Scout troops from around Montana.
About 650 Scouts and Scout leaders were expected there for the Boy Scouts of America Montana Council Camporee.
“This is the biggest event that most Scouts in Montana will attend,” said Josey Quinones, one of the event’s co-chairmen.
The Camporee is held only every four years. Quinones helped coordinate the 2014 event, then returned for this year’s.
“We put on this event because it’s an awesome opportunity for the Scouts,” he said. “I remember when I was a youth, I got to participate in this and I had an absolute blast. So we want to provide that same opportunity.”
Scouts were able to choose from dozens of activities, ranging from sports and games to things like crosscut sawing, rope making and ax throwing.
Organizers also worked together with groups like the Montana National Guard and the Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office to show the Scouts what those organizations do – and highlight some of the future opportunities that could be available to them.
“Our theme this year is, ‘Today’s Scouts, tomorrow’s leaders,’” Quinones said. “We’ve got some great programs that are showing that.”
Broadwater County K-9 deputies demonstrated how police dogs search a vehicle for drugs. The Broadwater County Rural Fire showed how they use extrication tools to rescue someone trapped in a car. The Army National Guard brought in an inflatable obstacle course and gave Scouts tours of a military helicopter.
15-year-old Gavin Wheeler, a member of the BSA’s Order of the Arrow, helped set up the camp. Once the event began, he and his team members helped run some of the Scouts’ activities.
“They’re loving it,” he said. “It’s not that often that you get to see some of this stuff.”
Quinones said the Camporee is a great opportunity for Scouts to both have fun and develop leadership skills.
“This program is something I don’t think you can find anywhere else,” he said. “I don’t think there’s another program that quite matches it. Even with all of our recent changes, I think we’re going to be and still are one of the strongest character development programs available.”
The Camporee has been held at sites around Montana, but this is the third in a row at the Townsend Fairgrounds. Quinones thanked the facility’s leaders for their support and assistance with the event.