Firing a potato cannon is cool. It’s like a hot-wired bazooka that gets its “oomph” from hairspray.
One thing’s for certain, put this in the hands of a boy scout and he’s happy. In fact, about 100 scouts left Camp Secrest with huge grins on their faces following the recent 68th annual international camp.
The scouts (from Salmon Arm to Washington State) took part in many activities, such as target practice with BB guns, wall climbing, zip lining, jousting, and survival skills.
Mike Field, Troop Scouter for the 1st Oliver Scouts, had just as much fun as the kids.
“It was a fantastic opportunity for youth to step away from their iPads, iPods, iPhones, Xboxes and challenge themselves in the great outdoors.”
Field said the international camp is always a fun time to celebrate the diversity in scouting.
“The American Scout program is quite different from the Canadian program, and has some unique traditions which are always interesting to see.”
Although there have been some significant changes to the Canadian Scout program over the years, Field believes it has remained true to the core beliefs of its founder, Baden-Powell.
“In my humble opinion, it remains one of the best programs for youth still operating.”
The big “boom” sounded again as scouts anxiously awaited their turn to fire one of several potato cannons.
Tenth Penticton Scouter Troy Pickering was busy loading the cannons that were rigged with a battery and required a shot of hairspray (as the fuel) in the back compartment.
Boy scout Mathew Waren from Penticton aimed from the hip and clicked the button to launch his potato at the metal target. Even though he missed, he couldn’t wait to do it again.
Scouts Canada area commissioner Annette Lewis said they used Camp Secrest this year for a more rustic experience, without the amenities of toilets, showers and bunkhouses, which Camp Boyle has.
She noted scout camps are formal in the sense of following traditional ceremonies, such as raising the flag. “Apart from that, it’s pretty casual. The kids get free time to meet friends, swap badges, etc. But no . . . no pushups.”
Lewis said technology has its place in scouting with communication training, but kids are not allowed to bring cell phones.
She noted that “pioneering” is still a main part of scouting activities, for example, building log bridges, catapults, cooking tripods and shelters.
“If you don’t use string or rope during a camp, it’s not a scout camp,” Lewis said.
She noted that survival camping (no tents or facilities) really builds character and gets the kids thinking about how they would survive if they become stranded. They learn how to safely use guns, knives and bows and arrows, and how to build fires and shelters.
But that’s not all they learn. Respect, independence, leadership and anti-bullying are also instilled. “These are all life skills that kids learn at a young age and take with them into adulthood,” she pointed out.
Lewis doesn’t have a crystal ball, but she sees scouts doing the same thing in 50 years – enjoying and respecting the great outdoors, and learning life stills that transform them into well-rounded adults.
“What more do you want for your kids?”