USAG HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea – Build a sled, haul your sled, load it with a bunch of gear, navigate a series of tests and tasks as you strive for the highest score among all Scout troops of the Pacific Region in the annual Klondike Derby competition.
The Scouts of America Troop 159 (girls) and Troop 47 (boys), ranging from ages 11 to 16, based out of USAG Humphreys, competed in the Derby, Feb. 20-21, while camping at the CPX Training Area Camp Site, near Humphreys. With guidance from dedicated FED (Far East District) employees, the Scouts came in first place against troops from locations in China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.
Due to COVID-19, this large event, usually held for over 200 participants Korea-wide, was not held in-person. Instead, each troop chose a local site to demonstrate, and in some cases simulate, each task required for the competition and send their scores in to the Scouts of America Far East Council for judging.
Vincent Lee, a project manager for the Installations Support Branch in FED, has served as the Scout Master for both troops since they were formed, November 2020.
“I think in terms basic life-saving skills, they got exposure to that,” Lee said. “More importantly, they were able to work through the dynamics of pure leadership; learning how to lead and follow. Scouts were able to execute effectively and efficiently. It has been great working with FED to build our scout program.”
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a premiere intellectual space deeply rooted in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math), allowed many opportunities for the Scouts to immerse themselves in it, through: first aid, fire extinguisher safety, fire starting, bear bag throw, and axe & saw events. During these events, Scouts were able to discuss pressures, angles and velocity, leverage, inertia and concepts of force.
A few simulations tested Scouts’ abilities to build an A-framed structure to evacuate an injured Scout, build an emergency shelter and conduct an ice rescue.
The youth also learned weather clues and identification, rope knots, and discussed bullying and mental health.
Participants were responsible for setting up their own campsites (including latrines), starting their own fires, cooking their own food, and ensuring that at the end of the event they left the areas cleaner than when they arrived.
Nikolais Fernandez, chief of the Program Support Branch, Programs and Project Management Division (PPMD) in FED and volunteer scout leader, has volunteered with both troops since he helped establish them last year. He thoroughly enjoys how he positively impacts the youth.
“It was a great community-building event for the children and a great way for the Scouts to see Camp Humphreys’ nature spots.”
Additional FED employees that volunteered their time were; Lee So Cheung, attorney (assistant counsel), and Purevsuren Cline, an internal review auditor who led health and Yoga classes for the Scouts and parents.
Troops 159 and 47 were the first in the Asia region to conduct the Klondike Derby, so they must wait for other troops’ results to be tallied and sent to the Far East Council. Results are expected soon.