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Teri Finneman, Published June 06 2010

Area Scouts enjoy Capitol campout

BISMARCK – Seven-year-old T.J. Kadrmas stared at the mountain before him with a determination to make it to the top.

After getting a few pointers, the Fargo Boy Scout got his grip and made his way up that rock-climbing wall as far as he could go.

“It was awesome. I made it seven-eighths up this time,” he said proudly. “I went one-eighth higher.”

Learning new skills and sharing Scout values like perseverance and courage bonded the nearly 3,000 Scouts and their chaperones who attended a campout at the Capitol this weekend.

The event to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Boy Scouts brought together Scouts from North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota and Montana, said Tim Tello of Bismarck, the chairman of the event.

“Being scouting has (as) one of its central themes citizenship and service to the community, what better location than right here in Bismarck, North Dakota, at the state Capitol grounds?” Tello said.

Gary Butler, an assistant chief Scout executive from Dallas, was impressed with the Bismarck event.

“It’s very different from what a lot of other councils are doing,” he said. “To have it on the Capitol grounds, I think, is incredible. It’s a strong example of the state of North Dakota’s support of scouting.”

Cubmaster Richard Ouellette of West Fargo brought seven boys to the weekend event. Car races and a visit to the Heritage Center were popular with the group.

“I think it (the event) was a great opportunity for them,” Ouellette said.

Brandon Van Den Eykel, 18, of Frazee, Minn., said the Scout celebration was a lot of fun.

“I knew it was going to be a big deal,” he said. “I was excited to get my troop to come.”

John Baumgartner, 15, of Valley City enjoyed going to the top of the Capitol and looking at all of the activity below.

“I think it’s awesome all the Scouts can get together and have a good time,” he said.

Activities stretched from one end of the Capitol grounds to the other on Saturday.

Tomahawk throwing, fire safety lessons, archery and candy cannons were just some of the activities available. There was also a merit badge midway and pinewood derby races.

Inside, various state officials were available to teach Scouts about state government. Scouts could sit in the governor’s chair and take part in a mock legislative debate and Supreme Court case.

Dustin Steedsman, 12, of West Fargo said the weekend was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Fellow Scout Tyler Sandvig, 11, of West Fargo agreed.

“There’s nothing that’s going to be like this ever again,” he said.

The campout and all of its activities will end this morning after breakfast and a Sunday service. The event was about more than having fun, Butler said.

“It’s about learning about state government, about citizenship and character development,” he said. “That’s what makes it so different. It’s sort of fun with a purpose.”

Teri Finneman is a writer for Forum Communications Co.