Roughing it is nothing new to Boy Scouts.
But some roughing it is rougher than others. Weather was the challenge for the troop’s 75th anniversary camporee, Saturday, April 25 at the Vicksburg Historic Village, according to Kevin Borden, Vicksburg’s Troup 251 Scoutmaster.
Cold, rain, and wind greeted the 150-plus campers when they crawled out of their tents after sleeping overnight on the ground in pup tents. They cheerfully gathered for flag raising and breakfast, then launched into their service project for the morning. The scouts were dispersed to the many areas of the Historic Village where they were met by members of the Victorian Garden Club. Members guided the boys in weeding, raking, and cleaning up the grounds during their annual spring clean-up. Later in the day, Borden promised to make this one of the community projects for the scouts as they recognized how much their help was appreciated by the ladies who do this work every year.
The usual roughhousing that boys from ages seven to 17 experience in the out of doors was guided by adult scoutmasters from all over this area. Troops from Schoolcraft, Richland, Battle Creek, Portage, Kalamazoo, and Vicksburg’s Troop 253 sponsored by Lakeland Church, joined in to celebrate the 75th anniversary. One highlight for the scouts was a visit from British Revolutionary War reenactors. They came from Kalamazoo, Indiana and Ohio in costume to educate young and old on what camp life was like in the 1870s. They represented the British Army’s 84th Regiment of Foot that served at Fort Michilimackinac on Mackinac Island.
Capping off the day was a tug-o-war, outhouse races, hatchet toss, branding station, marshmallow shooting, and fire truck display. A dedication ceremony for a scout silhouette and unveiling beside the historic township hall in the village brought all the troops together. The sculpture was created by Landscape Forms in Kalamazoo. It has a flagpole coming out of the extended arm of a scout in silhouette. Jim Willoughby of Kalamazoo, and a legendary scoutmaster in his own right, portrayed Robert Baden-Powell in uniform, including the campaign hat featured in the sculpture, as the founder of Boy Scouting. The scouts and their guests listened with rapt attention to his recitation of how scouting was born and its focus on outdoor activities and survival skills.
The evening featured roast pig for all the campers, a Dutch oven cobbler competition and finally a movie in the Historic Village Pavilion. By Taps and lights out at 11 p.m., not many were stirring anywhere on the camp grounds, according to Kip Young, one of the primary organizers of the event. Leaders of Troop 251 vowed to move the camporee to the Historic Village permanentlyS after seeing how well it was received by campers and the community.