With almost 40 years as a Boy Scout leader, Tom Ervin of LeClaire said the organization’s overall mission remains simple: Teach young men to be self-reliant and rich in character.

Saturday was one of those life laboratory opportunities for hundreds of young men during the Scott County Boy Scouts’ annual Kittan Klondike Derby at Camp Loud Thunder near Andalusia.

“Many activities that a boy can be involved in have many beneficial aspects for them,” Ervin said, “but this relies on self-reliance and character- building. We want to turn all these boys into good men.”

Others picked up on that theme.

“We have to test our skills,” said 11-year-old Bryan LaGran of Davenport, a member of Troop 103 from Davenport. “I liked it when we got to climb the trees to avoid the flood.”

The ‘flood’ was actually just one of the scenarios the Scouts had to confront during the day’s events that featured various challenges, a sled race  and even a mock rescue. The Scouts also had the opportunity to saw logs to make firewood, start a fire without matches and identify various signs of wildlife, trees and rocks native to this area.

“It’s just fun to go around and do different activities with your friends,” said Luke Hauber, 12, of Bettendorf, a member of Boy Scout Troop 24 from Bettendorf.  

In all, 361 scouts and adults attended the event, most of them from Scott County. Ervin, a co-chairman of the event, said Kittan is a American Indian word meaning “bend in the river,” referring to the Quad-Cities sitting at the only part of the Mississippi River where it flows east and west instead of north and south like the rest of its route.

Scott Heston, 14, of Davenport, is also a member of Troop 103. He was getting their sled ready for the big endurance race. Like every other troop on hand, the absence of snow caused them to add wheels to the sleds.

“Our assistant scoutmaster threw the wheels on,” Scott said. “Our equipment is ready to start.”

Bryan’s father, Frank LaGran, an assistant Scout leader, said all of the activities give the troops the chance to accumulate points toward the scoring totals.

“I enjoyed doing the sled race,” said Sam Wright, 11, of Bettendorf, a member of Troop 82. “We finished the race, but we have more events to do. We already did a rescue and made a fire.”

“I liked using the sleds. I was excited to use that in the race and all the outside skills, like the fire and cutting the firewood,” said Jake Bayles, 12, also a member of Troop 82.”

Ron York of Davenport, a Troop 205 leader, was among some volunteers who helped at the activity stations. He was stationed at the spot where Scouts could saw logs to create firewood. York said his troop was not part of the day’s events, so he and his brother, Harry York, decided to help.

“The faster they do it, the more points they get,” York added. “They also are given points based on teamwork and Scouting spirit. ... I remember doing all of this when I was young.”