Camping in Lititz Springs Park

By on April 9, 2014
Girl Scouts make kites as part of their Camporee competition with the Boys.

Girl Scouts make kites as part of their Camporee competition with the Boys.

Saturday was a cold, blustery day in Lititz Springs Park with wind speeds gusting up to 35 mph, but that did not hinder local Boy and Girl Scout troops from their task of preparing the park for the coming summer season.

Members of Boy Scout Troops 44, 142 and 155 from Lititz along with the Girl Scouts of the Southern Pennsylvania region arrived Friday evening, April 4, and spent the entire weekend in the park camping, cleaning and participating in friendly competitions.

Troop Leader Bob Fitz said, “Nine and a half years ago, every spring, the Lititz community would show up to get the park in shape for the summer season. Jeff Rinehimer, the park board president, was also assistant scoutmaster of Troop 142 and he recognized that the community was not coming out in great numbers anymore. He suggested bringing the local Boy Scout troops together and making a weekend out of cleaning up the park. At this time, the local troops were competing for members and there wasn’t a lot of close cooperation. Jeff and I contacted the leaders of the other troops and they were all in favor and since then we have a closer relationship between all the Scout Troops in town. It’s really a win-win for everyone – for the boys, for Scouting, and with the clean-up, for the community as well.” The Girl Scouts have been participating in the Camporee since 2012, but this is the first year they have spent the whole weekend in the park and the first time they have participated in friendly competitions with the Boy Scouts. Girl Scout Troop Leader Chris Runkle said, “This event brings Boy Scout troops and Girl Scout troops together as a community. It is a great opportunity for us as we haven’t participated in an event like this before. The Camporee is a great community builder that is good for Scouting as a culture.” Local Cub Scout troops also help out during the clean-up portion of the weekend.

The Scout troops begin the clean-up of the park early on Saturday morning by first conducting a ceremony to retire the previous season’s American Flag, replacing it with a new one. Once that is completed, the Scouts break-up into groups and focus on getting the park ready for the summer. Most of the groups work on gathering up and disposing of trash, leaves and sticks while younger scouts spread mulch on the playgrounds and older scouts repair picnic tables and other park equipment. Bob Fitz said, “Fifteen picnic tables were refurbished with new lumber and hardware this year and are prominent throughout the park.”

Once the clean-up is finished Saturday morning, the Scouts participate in a variety of competitions set up at stations throughout the park. The individual troops breakdown into patrols made up of approximately six scouts. Each patrol must come up with a name, flag, and cheer based on the Camporee’s theme. This year’s theme was famous Scouts so patrols were named Team Steven Spielberg, Team Neil Armstrong, or Team Jan Hopkins, to name a few. Activities include standards like running an obstacle course, starting fires without matches, first aid skills and compass use to more unusual events such as boat building where teams must build a small boat out of sticks, twine and found objects; kite flying which has scouts building a kite and attempting to fly it; cooking a mystery meal from an unlabeled can of food that must be opened with the can opener on a scout’s standard issue pocket knife, the contents identified and then cooked over a gas grill; and, new to this year’s competition, making formal wear which involves the patrol designing a suit or a dress and then making the outfit with nothing but newspapers and duct tape. All of the competitions are meant to highlight teamwork, creativity, and skills the Scouts have learned in their training. Patrols are awarded points at each station based on everything from teamwork to the quality of their flag and cheer. The Troop with the overall winner of the event wins both bragging rights and the honor of housing the Camporee in the Park traveling trophy for the year. This year, the Girl Scouts, in their first year participating in the competition, were the overall winners and took home the CITP trophy.

The real winner of the Camporee in the Park, however, is the Lititz community. The Lititz Springs Park receives the attention it needs before facing greater attendance during the summer months, the town of Lititz gets a park it can be proud of and the Girl and Boy Scouts of Lititz get a greater sense of community both within their own ranks and within the town they call home.

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