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Daily Chronicle - Wednesday February 25, 2009 - Page C3

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SCOUTS IN TROOP 33 FILL WINTER WITH ADVENTURE


While many celebrate the approach of spring, Scouts in Troop 33 celebrate a winter that was filled with months of wonder, new experiences, great outdoor activities and exciting adventure.

They started the year in Texas, working in a kitchen helping to prepare meals and working to rehabilitate a home devastated by Hurricane Ike’s storm surge. In addition to all their hurricane relief work, they found time to visit Galveston’s Festival of Lights and tour the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas.

Back in Illinois, Scouts visited the Adventures in Travel Expo, which was held in Rosemont. Besides exploring hundreds of adventure booths depicting many exotic trips from all over the world, Scouts also rode a camel, experienced SCUBA diving in a heated pool and visited hands-on exhibits, which included Andrew Zimmerman, host of the Travel Channel’s program, “Bizarre Foods.”

Their next adventure was in DeKalb County for some cabin camping at MacQueen Forest Preserve near Kirkland, where Scouts cooked up some hearty meals and later enjoyed sledding at Russell Woods Forest Preserve in Genoa. In the single-digit temperatures of morning, frost crystals covered everything.

Another weekend offered adventures along the Illinois River. The Starved Rock Lock and Dam Visitors Center offered a prime location for eagle watching. More than 100 American bald eagles often spend winter on Plum Island.

Eagles could be seen soaring high above the river and diving for fish below. Across the river, Scouts hiked to the top of Starved Rock to enjoy eagle watching from a higher vantage point.

In addition to hiking to the top of Starved Rock, Scouts hiked through the St. Louis Canyon to see a spectacular frozen waterfall and also explored the many educational exhibits at the Starved Rock State Park Visitors Center.

In Ottawa, Scouts visited the W.D. Boyce Memorial, burial site of William D. Boyce, the man credited with bringing Scouting to the U.S. The memorial is marked by a famous bronze statue of the “Unkown Scout.”

The story goes that Boyce was lost in a London fog and an English Boy Scout helped him find his way. From that unknown Scout’s single good deed, the Scouting movement spread across the U.S., reaching more than 100 million boys since 1910. After visiting the memorial, the remainder of their afternoon involved a large sledding hill at Allen Park in Ottawa, located along the south bank of the Illinois River.

In early February, the Kishwaukee District Klondike Derby took place at Sycamore Sportsman’s Club. Scout troops and Webelos dens competed in events like first aid, tomahawk throwing, fire building, track identification, log sawing, sled race, compass course and rifle shooting at an indoor range. More than 170 boys from throughout DeKalb County participated in the event. Some troops camped overnight.

Their last series of winter adventures took Troop 33 400 miles north to Lake Superior over the extended Presidents Day weekend. They began with a snowmobile festival in Minocqua, Wis., called Cruiserfest.

Held on a frozen lake, it boasted exhibit booths and lots of snowmobiles. Snowmobiles were clocked by radar for the fastest speed of the day, 138 mph. Scouts also enjoyed a brat and chili feed at the local Legion hall.

At the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center in Ashland, Wis., exhibits depict the history of Lake Superior, with several examples of native flora and fauna. A short film about American-Indians, called the “The Forest People,” featured the Ojibwa culture native to the Great Lakes region. The center also provided a network of nature trails ideal for snowshoeing. Due to light snow cover, the boys couldn’t do any snowshoeing.

A famous ice bridge linking Bayfield, Wis. to Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands, gave Scouts an opportunity to experience travel to an island usually accessible only by boat.

The ice bridge is more than three miles long and Scouts paused at the halfway point to carefully examine the many cracks and fissures in the ice and to observe both the mainland and the island from the vantage point of a frozen Lake Superior.

Another adventure took them to the north shore of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, onto the frozen ice shelf of Lake Superior where they hiked from Meyers Beach to the famous Squaw Bay ice caves. High sandstone cliffs towered above the Scouts as they explored more than a dozen ice caves decorated with thousands of intricate ice formations.

In Duluth, Minn., Scouts visited the Great Lakes Aquarium, which concentrates on fish species found primarily in the Great Lakes Basin. They saw giant lake sturgeon swimming, among other native fish species. Additional exhibits showcased both freshwater and marine habitats from around the world. One unique element was a room filled with aquariums dedicated to sea horse species. In addition to fish, there were live exhibits featuring an American bald eagle, river otter, assorted waterfowl and reptiles.

Their final winter adventure took them to Paw-Tuck-Away Kennels in Danbury, Wis., 40 miles south of Lake Superior. They learned about dog breeds and sledding from a professional musher, who shared stories of his experiences in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Alaska.

Scouts had the opportunity to ride aboard dog sleds, as well as drive a team of dogs through a mile-long course winding along snow-covered trails through the north woods. The energy level and enthusiasm were equal among both boys and dogs, making for a great partnership.

Their travels this winter ranged from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the frozen ice pack of Lake Superior.

Their activities included dog sledding, camel riding, rifle shooting, scuba diving, hurricane relief work and much more. They visited monuments, museums, a frozen waterfall, ice caves and many more locations, traveling more than 3,800 miles in two months, through Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

While many celebrate the approach of spring, the Scouts of Troop 33 celebrate a winter filled with exciting adventures and now dream of future events in the coming months. Troop 33 has been sponsored by First Lutheran Church in DeKalb since 1925. Visit their Web site at www.troop33dekalb.org.

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Troop 33 DeKalb, Illinois
First Lutheran Church - DeKalb, Illinois 
 
"Always an Adventure"