By Craig Fox The Watertown Daily Times (The Boy Scouts of America Communications Department was not involved in the creation of this content.)
WELLESLEY ISLAND — Jordan Troyer proudly showed off the coveted Longhouse Council strip patch that he obtained in a trade Saturday from another camper at the 40th anniversary of the international Boy Scout camporee at Wellesley Island State Park over the weekend.
The Boy Scout from Verona, Ontario was among about 10 boys and girls trading patches at the end of Saturday’s daylong activities at the International Brotherhood Camporee, which celebrates the relationship between Canadian Scouts and those from the United States.
“Really, trading patches is the number one big thing,” said Scoutmaster Kelly M. Horton, 45, who attended the Central-Northern New York camporees when he was a 16- and 18-year-old Scout growing up in Sayre, Pa.
Over the weekend, about 2,200 Scouts from 165 troops attended the three-day event, with some coming from as far as Havre de Grace, Md., in the U.S.; the farthest Canadian campers were from Toronto.
The Longhouse Council — which serves Cayuga, Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Onondaga, Oswego and Cayuga counties — hosted the event.
This weekend, Scouts gathered for fun, adventure and fellowship, participating in such activities as archery, wood carving, tomahawk throwing, welding and Israeli dodge ball. They also saw presentations on birds of prey, reptiles, fire safety and military displays.
In 1974, the first camporee was held to get Scouts from the two countries together for a weekend of “brotherhood,” said Cape Vincent Scoutmaster Lance R. Stetson, who also serves as the camp chairman.
A group of area scoutmasters decided the Longhouse Council should revive the camporee, which once had been held at Star Lake. On even years, the camporee is held in the United States and on odd years it’s north of the border.
Donald H. Loomis, 68, a scoutmaster for Troop 1 in Watertown for more than 20 years, was there for the inaugural event.
“I have not missed one,” he said proudly.
He recalled the days when Watertown had as many as a dozen troops. Now, he said, there are only three or four.
The weekend camporee took up a large area of the state park, with campers staying in rows of different-colored tents. At one end of the camporee, Scouts tried their hand at archery and learned how to handle a pellet gun safely.
With a bunch of Scouts looking on, teams also competed in Israeli “Ga-ga” dodge ball, a game similar to the American version. Played in a wooden pit, the game aims to avoid getting hit below the knees with a rubber ball.
While there are official rules, the game changes, Mr. Stetson said.
“You know kids; they make up the rules as they go,” he said.
It was the first time that Mr. Horton brought his two children, Caleb, M., 13, and Mikayla, 11, and Scouts from his Troop 41227. When he was 16, Mr. Horton recalled, he made a good deal by trading his broken knife for a patch.
From the five times he’s attended it over the years, Jordan Troyer’s father, Ian H., said his troop and one from Norwich, Chenango County, have become friends.
“The Scouts get to bond,” he said. “They’re kids. They bond.”
And he quickly mentioned that he’s not a scoutmaster.
In Canada, troop leaders are called troop scouts. Up north, there are not separate Boy Scout and Girl Scout organizations. Both boys and girls belong to Canada Scouts, said Canadian organizer Simone V. Glendenning.
This year, Massena resident Mackenzie Shoen, 70, received a distinctive honor for all his work over the years.
Chosen “camp chief” by his predecessors, Mr. Shoen carried a wooden staff with the 40 names of the former chiefs all weekend.
“It’s an honor,” he said.