Sequoyah Council Cub and Boy Scouts woke up Saturday morning ready to showcase scouting skills at the regional Boy Scout Expo at the Appalachian Fairgrounds.
Many of the Scouts, who came from seven districts to participate, set up camp Friday night in one of three designated campsites at the fairgrounds.
Buffalo Mountain District Executive Mike Depollo, who is over Boy Scout troops in Carter, Unicoi and Washington counties, said the event did not always include all seven districts.
“It’s a lot bigger than when I was a kid,” Depollo said. “When I was a Scout back in the day we did it just in our districts. So, it’s a unity of all scouting in the area.”
Cub and Boy Scouts set up booths to demonstrate various skills and interests.
“It’s all the different stuff they’ve learned throughout the year,” Depollo said.
Booths included, but were not limited to, activities like adventuring, rock climbing, knot tying and an obstacle course.
“It’s a bunch of fun stuff,” Depollo said. “I think there is even someone picking on the guitar.”
Council Program Director Ronald Cameron said he wants the public to witness the Scouts using their skills.
“This is our biggest weekend and activity of the year,” Cameron said. “It showcases scouting and you can see a little bit of everything. It’s great exposure for us, it’s open to the community and gives everyone a chance to see Scouts in action.”
Cameron said 16 counties join together annual for the event.
“It’s really a regional effort,” Cameron said. “We’ll have several thousand people throughout the event.”
Tyler Adams, 14, and Isaac Meade, 11, who are in Troop 301, said they enjoyed the booth they were in charge of Saturday.
“I like working the trebuchet,” Adams said. “We have a catapult at the booth were we work. We let other people shoot it.”
“And, we like the food around here, too,” Meade added.
Adams and Meade said they are looking forward to receiving a patch for participating in the expo.
“You get an event patch beforehand and we’ll get a Scout Expo patch,” Adams said. “Just by being here, we get that.”
Both Scouts said they know participation in the expo and Boy Scouts overall will help them in many aspects of their lives.
“We come every year,” said Adams, who has come for three years straight.
“This is my fourth,” Meade said.
It’s rare for Scouts to get to display their skills to a large audience and the purpose of the event is to include the public, Depollo said.
Depollo said it’s also encouraging for Scouts to have their families see them accomplishing these tasks.
“This gives an opportunity for mom, dad, brothers, sisters to come out and actually see what their Scout is doing,” Depollo said. “It’s kind of a field day for Scouts.”
Boy Scout Expo tickets were sold to members of the public by the Scouts for $1 each.
“For every ticket they sell, they get a Scout buck,” Depollo said. “They can cash it in for prizes.”
Cameron said one of the prizes will pay fees associated with summer camp.
“It’s a great weekend but more than that these kids have been selling tickets since the first of March,” Cameron said. “They are earning money for Scout camp, day camp, a new uniform or a book.”
Cameron said the ticket sales are important because it teaches Scouts teamwork and responsibility.
“Part of being a Scout is to be thrifty and to earn everything that you get,” Cameron said. “If they are going to go to camp, they can sell enough tickets to pay their way through camp.”
“Every dollar they sell ... a third goes back to the scout for a prize, a third goes back to the troop to help them raise money and a third goes to the council to help us,” Cameron said. “So it’s a win-win-win.”
Scouts took time at the end of the day Saturday to elect new members into the Order of the Arrow, which is a service-oriented honor society internal to the overall organization.
“We do this every year — elect new members into the Order of the Arrow,” Depollo said. “It’s a call-out ceremony where scouts will be elected by their peers.”
The Saturday night festivities start off with a camp fire and live entertainment from the local band Rickshaw Roadshow.
By the end of the three-day event, Scouts will disassemble their camps and begin to prepare for summer camp, which lasts six weeks.