When Stacey Carter and her son Thomas, 7, went on their first camping trip more than a year ago, they were less than prepared for the crisp October nights outdoors. Since then, Carter said she's invested in an air mattress and Snuggies and learned to love camping.
On Saturday, she and her son survived their first night at Latrobe Park on Fort Avenue, where their Boy Scout Cub Pack 162 based in Columbia was staying with other Scouts to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.
Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, a former Scout himself, helped kick off the weekend on Friday, camping out overnight with the Thurgood Marshall Boy Scout Troop 193, a troop of about 20 Scouts who helped him set up his tent.
When the Carters arrived Friday night, Stacey Carter said they had trouble setting up their tent, but some Scouts nearby immediately came over and helped.
"I'm brand new to Scouting," she said. But in the tent that night, she said she told Thomas, "One day you're going to be like those big boys and help a lady put up her tent."
During the day, almost 6,000 Scouts crowded onto the grounds at Fort McHenry for activities such as shooting marbles, painting figurines, making rockets and scaling rock-climbing walls.
Carter stood with her son and other boys waiting in line for the PVC Pipe Marshmallow Shooting game Saturday afternoon, where Scouts aimed the pipes at paper ships and tried to blow them down.
"What it does for the boys — that's why I became involved," she said, even after dealing with a rogue baby raccoon that had found its way into their tent during another trip to Broad Creek Memorial Scout Reservation in Whiteford.
While she said it will be up to Thomas whether he continues with scouting, she said he hopes he will continue on that path, which many others have followed.
In the afternoon, Former U.S. Secretary of Defense and Eagle Scout Donald Rumsfeld spoke to adult Eagle Scouts and Scouts who recently earned their Eagle rank from the Baltimore Area Council, which represents more than 35,000 youth participants across Baltimore City and Baltimore, Harford, Carroll, Howard and Anne Arundel counties, where about 400 Scouts attain the rank of Eagle each year.
"All of you here, each of you, have demonstrated the importance of service," he said. Rumsfeld also told the Scouts that long after earning merit badges, scouting "will tell a great deal about you" to others.
Chris Joneckis, 52 and an Eagle Scout, and his son Evan, 10, a Cub Scout in Cub Pack 420 in Westminster, heard Rumsfeld speak, and then Chris Joneckis received a badge for his years as an Eagle Scout.
Joneckis said that after going to college and getting married, he was no longer involved in Scouting until his son joined. Now, the two go on camping trips and other activities with Evan's Cub pack. Joneckis said those trips teach kids how to lead and how to work together, approaching and solving different problems.
He said that last year, his son's pack took a 10-mile hike in Gettysburg, Pa., which they weren't sure they could do, but then "they proved it to themselves."
While Evan has years to go before he can try to reach the rank of Eagle Scout, he's already got a red-white-and-blue Turk's Head Knot, to show his pledge that he would work toward Eagle rank.