OLYMPIA, Washington -- As Sgt. Nicholas Bedwell reached for the top of the rock wall, the sweat from his hands was starting to make him lose his grip, but the cheers from his fellow Soldiers below gave him the energy to ring the bell at the top.The rock climbing event was one of five events designed to test the outdoor survival skills of participants in the Thunderbird Challenge at Camp Thunderbird in Olympia Washington September 7.Slated to be an annual event, the inaugural Thunderbird Challenge was hosted by the Boy Scouts of America and pitted four teams of people from local businesses against each other in competition for bragging rights and a plaque.One team was composed of Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment.
The team, nick-named "Roger's Rangers", competed in a variety of challenges such as archery, canoeing, rock wall climbing and fire making."The idea of the event is to take people who are not necessarily affiliated with Boy Scouts of America and introduce them to our program and show them some of the exciting parts of scouting," said Charlene Miseli, the development executive for the Pacific Harbors Council of Boy Scouts of America. "We say that there is no scouting without outing, so a lot of our emphasis is on outdoor activity and bringing different business teams out here to compete head to head in scout activities shows them some of the ways we use to develop our leaders in our program."The "Roger's Rangers" were challenged from the very beginning, with the first station the team tackled being a combination of orienteering and a timed scavenger hunt."In the military we are used to clicks and meters," said Sgt. Nicholas Bedwell, a squad leader from A Company, 4-23 Infantry. "Here we had to transition to feet so it was a little bit difficult, but we got nine out of ten points so I don't think we did too bad."From there the team went out on the water in canoes to race against the clock around certain points."I would have to say canoeing was the hardest for me because the canoe was so small," said Bedwell. "We rock back and forth and we teeter, so you have to be in sync with your partner as well. I was also in the front and was splashing my partner behind me and didn't even recognize it. It was a lot of fun."From the canoes the team moved on to camping skills, where they had to put together a tent blindfolded, build a fire to a certain height and build a rope bridge.To finish off, the last two events were scaling a rock wall for time and archery, where the team opted to shoot off volleys of arrows at a moving target instead of a stationary one for more points. In the end the decision payed off and allowed the "Rogers Rangers" to come in first place."It is important that the Army participates in community events like this, especially for the Boy Scouts," said Staff Sgt. Nathan Purdue, an infantryman from C Company 4-23 Infantry. "They reach out across the United States, kind of like the Army, we're everywhere and they're everywhere. It was just and easy choice to help out with the Boy Scout program since the Boy Scouts do so much for our community."All of the members of "Roger's Rangers" have previously been in the Boy Scouts and they said it played an important part in their transition to adulthood."I went all the way to the rank of eagle scout," said Purdue. "Being in the Boy Scours has taught me a whole set of invaluable skills that I still find myself using to this day."Overall, camp staff said they viewed the event as a success and three of the four teams went home with a trophy."We've had a lot of fun, knocked off the rust and worked out some of the kinks today and we will absolutely be doing this event annually, said Miseli."