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Boy Scouts brave cold, enjoy great outdoors in Klondike Derby

Hundreds of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts converged on the grounds of the Carroll County Agriculture Center in Westminster Saturday, braving the cold, windy weather to partake in some outdoor fun at the Carroll District of the Boy Scouts of America's annual Klondike Derby.

Hundreds of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts converged on the grounds of the Carroll County Agriculture Center in Westminster on Saturday, braving the cold, windy weather to partake in some outdoor fun at the Carroll District of the Boy Scouts of America's annual Klondike Derby.

Scouts as young as 6 engaged in a variety of team-building activities from Friday night through Sunday. Because the gathering's theme was the Klondike, a region of the Yukon Territories in northwest Canada known for having very long, cold winters, each team was asked to create their own sleds to travel from different activity stations set up outside, said Bob Betz, a Klondike Derby spokesman.

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In each activity, teams were scored based upon their performance, which was dependent on how well they collaborated as a group, Betz said.

"The focus of this is everyone has to be working as a team," Betz said, "Everything is teamwork and team spirit."

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Throughout the morning, boys trekked through the muddy grass, some pushing while others pulled sleds, to get from one station to the next. Activities included a trebuchet launch, a zipline, a tomahawk throw, a catapult throw, a maze, fire starting, a barrel race and an obstacle course.

"It's always different every year; it's fun to see who knows what and to brush up on information," said Alex Guy, 14, of Boy Scout Troop 395 of Finksburg. Alex ate a lunch of chili and hot dogs with his troop after an eventful morning. "It's a lot of working together."

At the top of a grassy knoll, near a group of trees, boys from Boy Scout Troop 735 of Gamber built a zipline that allowed others to travel down the hill.

"It's really cool running down there and seeing people's faces," said Tyler Seth, a troop member. "They were having a lot of fun."

Tyler, who was running the station, said it was cool to see something in action that he and fellow troop members made.

Jack Bez, a member of Troop 735 who was busy overseeing another station nearby, said he was looking forward to trying the zipline once he was finished.

"I enjoy being able to work with the zipline and my troop, because it's a lot of people's favorite part," said Jack, a freshman at Westminster High School who has been attending the Klondike Derby since he was a Cub Scout in first grade.

Jack's mother, Shawnna Bez, a parent volunteer, said it has become a family tradition.

They were among dozens of Boy Scouts who pitched tents in the grass and camped overnight on Friday and Saturday nights. The scent of burning firewood filled the crisp air.

"It's a lot of fun," Jack said.

Part of the point of the weekend is to provide Scouts a chance to get outside at a time when most people would rather be indoors and to train them for winter camping, Betz said.

"It's sort of halfway through the school year for them, and this is the part where they stop being outside a lot, and we're a yearlong program so this is something that we do," Betz said. "The overall goal is the kids can come out and have fun in the winter."

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