By Wendy Nugent, Harvey County Now
NEWTON—Gusts of arctic air blew onto the 3,000 warmly dressed people attending Trappers’ Rendezvous on Saturday at Harvey County West Park.
It was in the 20s that afternoon with the temperature forecast to go down to 14 degrees that night.
The event was for Boy Scouts and it lasted Friday through Sunday.
For one reason or another, about 1,000 who were going to show up didn’t, but the number of Boy Scouts and leaders out there still could’ve made a small city.
Among those attending were 22 scouts and eight adults with Troop 127 in Newton.
At one point Saturday afternoon, several troop leaders and scouts stood around a fire that cooked a dinner ham for the group. They were surrounded by tents. Everyone was prepared, as the scouts say, dressed in warm clothes. There was talk of long underwear, someone wearing three layers of pants and another in insulated bib overalls. Many of the troop’s scouts were out trading, as that’s one of the activities that goes along with the weekend. There’s no cash exchanged.
The weekend offered a way for scouts to learn.
“[I’ve learned] to be prepared for cold weather and just a different experience,” scout Trek Wedel said. “This is my fourth [time out here] as a scout. I’ve been coming out here since I’ve been pretty young, though.”
The 14-year-old also talked about some of the food they’ve prepared. He said they’ve had chili, “so that’s interesting.”
One year, they put Fritos on a cobbler.
“It wasn’t really liked by a lot of people,” he said. “It was OK.”
Another scout, Caleb Graber, 17, said it was his third or fourth time out there and that he’s learned a few things from the experiences.
“Two sleeping bags in the cold weather really helps,” he said. “Make sure you wear a lot of layers.”
While camping out there, Garber said he’s had soup, casseroles and cobbler.
“Gotta have the cobbler,” he said, which is something the scouts are known for, at least in the Newton area.
Everybody cooks, he said, adding Newton campers are divided into two patrols, each cooking for their own patrol. There’s also cleanup duty.
“It rotates,” he said.
Also at the event from Newton was Roger Darrow, who’s involved with scouting. He dressed up as Jedediah Smith, telling Smith’s story to various scouts wanting to listen.
“We only had nine mountain men because of COVID,” he said, adding there’s usually 13.
Cheryl Hammar with Troop 1000 in McPherson stood near Darrow, telling the story of Sacagawea.
“I have three girls out here and a Webelo,” she said. “I’ve been coming for a while. I came last night and spent the night in that wind.”
She said she used to attend with her three sons, who all became Eagle Scouts.
“This event is a living history of the first Trappers’ Rendezvous,” Darrow said, adding that to that one, 1,200 Indians and trappers attended, and they were all adults.
“They were there for 13 days,” Hammar said.
The mountain men have a purpose at the local rendezvous.
“Each of the 13 characters tells a history of their life,” Darrow said.
Then, they hand wooden coins with their character’s names on them to those listening. Scouts and some of the adults like to collect those.
“This is about being prepared for winter camping,” Darrow said.
Doug Trumble of Newton, who volunteers with Boys Scouts and does first aid training with them, said people were registered for the event from five states.
In addition to camping and trading, other events there included ax throwing and black-powder gun shooting.
Scout Shawn Morton of McPherson had never thrown an ax before Saturday.
“Yeah, it’s fun,” he said. “You’re always nervous throwing a tomahawk and archery.”
Morton said he has a small tomahawk set at home.
Troop 127 Scoutmaster Todd Wedel sent out the following guidelines to parents, mostly for the more inexperienced scouts and their families:
- It is going to be cold and windy with a chance for rain changing to snow. Pack accordingly and pack more than you think you’ll need. Make sure you have a hat, good insulating layers, a good windproof outer layer, gloves, warm socks and good boots. Bring extra socks in case you get them wet. Be smart about packing and don’t worry about bringing too much.
- The nights are going to be super cold. Bring your warmest sleeping bag, a sleeping pad to insulate from the ground and throw in some blankets for extra warmth. It’s going to get down to around 10 degrees, so be ready.
- Bring eating utensils and a mug for hot chocolate. The troop has the hot chocolate.
- Bring a chair to sit on.
- Bring a face covering and review with your son COVID protocols. It’s my job to keep your son healthy and safe, but I need your help reinforcing things with him so he has a great weekend and doesn’t turn up sick next week.
- If you are sick or feeling unwell, DO NOT ATTEND.