ANDALUSIA — The frozen woods of Loud Thunder Boy Scout Camp became a classroom Saturday for dozens of Venture Scouts, who were tested on their outdoor skills, leadership abilities and team building.

More than 50 Scouts involved in the co-educational scouting program of the Illowa Boy Scout Council participated in the second annual Venturing Klondike Derby.

Working at various stations scattered throughout the 300-acre Scout camp, the Scouts — ages 14 to 21 — tested and honed their outdoor survival abilities. Ina Pearsall, a crew adviser, said the Scouts were tested on fire building, first aid, physical skills, building a makeshift bridge and how to maneuver using a GPS device.

“This gives the older youth a place to get together with other youth their age and have some good, constructive fun,” she added.

Just in its second year, the Venturing Klondike has tripled in size and attracted venturers from across the Quad-City region and as far as Waterloo and Dubuque, Iowa.

“This is really about teaching them problem solving,” said Greg Kowitz, a Scout leader working a creek crossing station. “We give them some instructions and materials, and they have to solve the problem.”

At two different creek crossings, the teams of Scouts were provided with logs that were cut too short to span the crossing and nylon roping. They were instructed to get the whole group over to the other side. As part of the scenario, if participants fell from the log onto the frozen creek, the team had to treat the situation as if they had fallen in the icy water and needed medical help for hypothermia.

“Each group has done something different to get across, but each group has made something cool,” said David Buckley, another Scout leader volunteering at the event.

Twenty-year-old Caleb Koch, a Venture Scout from Crew 119, Moline, said the event helps the Venturing Scouts get to know one another better. Rather than work with their own Venture Crews, the crews were mixed together and split up in new patrols.

“You really get to learn what people’s strengths are,” he said, adding “This creek crossing is a more challenging one. But venturing is supposed to be high-adventure activities.”

Nicole Cooper, 14, of Crew 4242 in the Galesburg, Ill., area, said Klondike is helping her to complete a first-aid training award. “It’s fun. I get to be hanging out with my friends that I don’t get to see a lot because they are from different crews. And we get to figure out how to survive all (these situations).”

Joe Tarnow, of Milan, who recently earned his Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts and is a member of Crew 119, said besides the fun, “the goal is to be more competitive and test our Scout skills.”

As Jordan Delp, an adult adviser and former venturer, supervised the two-man saw station, he said, “It’s interesting to watch the different groups. Some are louder. Some are more active and others are real quiet.”

The event, in its second year, was hosted by the Illowa Boy Scout Council’s Venturing Officers Association, which is made up of Venture Scouts. In fact, in another move to build leadership skills in the youths, the event was planned and organized by two Scouts, Joey McAllister of Bettendorf and Anthony Killion of Orion, Ill.

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