Thousands flock to Dover for Boy Scout gathering

 

DOVER — Dozens of children gathered around the edges of a large pond, casting fishing rods in hopes of reeling in something big. Nearby, a few boys tried to catch a frog at the water’s edge, and in the pond itself, several people paddled canoes around.

Elsewhere, children tore through an obstacle course, rode four-wheelers and shot paintballs, taking advantage of a sudden break from more than a week of dreary weather.

This was the scene Saturday morning at the Akridge Scout Reservation in southern Dover, the site of the 2016 Galaxy Games Jamboree.

Thousands of Boy Scouts, parents and troop leaders from across the Eastern Shore came for the event, the largest scout assemblage on the Delmarva Peninsula.

About 2,600 people from 120 troops and packs were expected, Del-Mar-Va Council Director of Support Services Ray Teat said Friday.

The council, which covers 14 counties, holds the jamboree once every four years. 2016 is the second time it has taken place at Akridge, which was just completed a few years ago.

“This is the fifth year of membership growth in a row because of activities like this,” Mr. Teat said.

The jamboree allows Boy and Cub Scouts to spend time with friends from their own local organizations and meet other troops and packs. Myriad activities and competitions took place Saturday, and with the sun shining, the day seemed designed for spending hours outside.

Michael Landry and his 9-year-old son, Hunter, stood by the lake casting lines at around 10:30 Saturday morning, not too long after arriving. For Hunter, a member of Cub Scout Pack 154, it was his first jamboree, and he found several recreational options he wanted to take part in, such as fishing, paintballing and BB shooting.

Mr. Landry, a Magnolia resident, said 14 members from his son’s pack were at the gathering.

Just a stone’s throw from the two, another father-and-son duo were fishing. Robert Snyder, of North East, Maryland, stood by his 9-year-old son, Jackson, who proudly held a small fish he had caught.

Jackson, who is in Cub Scout Pack 131, called the jamboree “pretty cool,” and Mr. Snyder expressed satisfaction over the weather.

On one side of the lake, dozens of scouts lined up to shoot paintball guns at two old cars that were thoroughly splattered in blue and yellow paint. Just beyond the paintball area, a small archery field was being set up.

Walking past the course, John Poteat and his grandsons stopped briefly to talk about the day.

Eight-year-old Ameir and 10-year-old Santana, members of a Cub Scout pack in New Castle, both gave thumbs up when asked what they thought of the events at the reservation.

The boys, who were making their first visit to the jamboree, were looking forward to archery, canoeing and a Saturday evening concert, they said.

The concert, featuring the Jamie McClean Band from California, was to take place at the recently built lakeside amphitheater, which can seat 1,000.

Behind the amphitheater lay tent city. Hundreds of tents, some big and some modest, were set up on a field, with rows stretching far back.

Some scout troops or packs hung flags featuring their group’s name and number. Troop 534, of Harrington, had one of the most creative setups: small bamboo pieces tied together to read spell out the troop’s ID.

Jared Adkins, leader of the troop, said 29 people from the group, including 19 scouts, were participating in the jamboree. A majority of the members, who range in age from 11 to 16, attended the weekend event, he said.

Mr. Adkins, who got involved in Boy Scouts because of his two sons, said all who came were having fun so far. Some of the most popular activities, a few of the scouts hanging around by him said, included canoeing, paintball and fishing, although riding the four-wheelers seemed to take the cake.

With scouts free to take part in whatever activities they wished, it was a day full of possibilities and excitement.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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