By Mark Dudley
May 16-18 proved to be one of the best Scouting events the Heart of America Council (HOAC) has ever seen! Twelve thousand Scouts and Scouters took part in a weekend of fun and hands on activities at the Kansas Speedway. Our troop was delivered in the troop bus by Mr. Gramlich around 6:30 Friday night and after unloading and getting our gear in the newly acquired tents, we headed to the speedway to check out some of the activities. Prior to arrival, Mr. Hendren, Mr. Dudley, Mr. Blann (Taylor) and Garth Hendren went out early and set up camp.
Once inside, the troop split into three groups and headed off to events. After a brief setback involving the go-karts, the Scouts tried zip line, bike riding on the actual race track, go-karting and four-wheeling. The evening went by fast and we headed back to camp around 10:00. Mr. Hendren broke out a cracker barrel for all to enjoy and then off to the tents we went to prepare for the next day. Now this being a Scout overnight, sleep was a little late getting started. Between the speedway parking lot lights being on all night and Scouts very excited about the next day (I’m sure that is what they were talking about well after Taps), we were all rested when Revival sounded at 7:00 A.M.
Saturday proved to be a full day. Breakfast at 7:30, the activities (called Pit Stops) opened at 8:30, and we went at it hard all day. Some of my favorites included the “Smokey and the Bandit” movie replica truck, cars and Sheriff; the police, fire fighter and military displays; and just watching the young men in my group have some fun. Remote control helicopters seemed to be a hit as well as putting on complete Army battle gear. There were 13 Pit Stops that included 100 events/activities for the Scouts to try. The volunteers running the events did a great job in allowing hands on experiences for the Scouts. My group’s last event of the day included autographing the official BSA NASCAR with our signature and Troop 282. We went back to camp, regrouped and headed back to the track for dinner and the evening activities.
Saturday evening started with a parade of troop flags and I am proud to say Dillon and Mr. England did the troop proud as they were one of about half the units that abided by the rules and had on full Class A uniforms. After that, we watched three races of 15 laps each from the Petty Racing Experience. Having walked across the high bank of the track earlier in the day, I cannot imagine driving 160 MPH around the oval. It was a blast to watch. After that, all 12,000 of us headed across the track infield for the awards presentation and concert. I must say listening to Baden Powell’s granddaughter speak was a huge treat. She encouraged all the Scouts to recruit a friend to join. Troop 282 Scouts, I hope you were listening to her. Our Scouts seemed to like the retro 80′s band, Zero, that provided the show. After the concert, we headed back to camp for another cracker barrel and sleep. Yes, sleep, as the entire group was pretty worn out. I think Mr. England’s pedometer showed somewhere around 10 miles of walking for his group. I think I added about another 5 miles doing other trips.
Sunday morning included breakfast, church, packing up and heading home. You can again be proud of Troop 282 as all were in Class A at church and participated in the service with reverence and enthusiasm. We even had Devin participate in the collection of the offering. Mr. Norton had the bus at the race track and we loaded up and headed home around 10:30. I hope everyone had as good a time as I did.
I want to thank everyone who helped make this a huge success. While we missed Mr. Howell, I hope he realizes that the boy run troop he oversees handled themselves as true Scouts in his absence. Keep 2018 open as the HOAC is planning an encore event.