Scouts gather for camporee at county airport

JOHNSTOWN – The federal government shutdown couldn’t stop 1,250 Scouts from camping out this weekend at the Fulton County Airport.

“The goal of this event is to put on a great program so that kids can have lifelong memories,” said Tom Blackmon, field director for the Saratoga, Schenectady and Sir William Johnson Districts of the Twin Rivers Council of Boy Scouts of America. “It’s always successful.”

The council’s annual fall camporee started Friday evening and concludes this morning.

Blackmon, who’s been involved with Scouting for 48 years, said he hopes these events help shape the lives of young people.

“In this day and age, everybody wants to sit behind a TV with an electronic game, and here we are out doing activities,” he said. “These Scouts learn leadership skills, communication skills, and they meet friends from different districts.”

The camporee didn’t go as planned, however, as the government shutdown caused some of the activities to be canceled.

“We lost [airplane] formation events and climbing walls coming in from the National Guard,”?Blackmon said. “The National Guard guys volunteered to do it on their own time, but their commander said they couldn’t even move the equipment. So, we scrambled to find activities for the kids.”

The theme for this year’s camporee was “The Sky is the Limit,” and volunteers pulled together to offer archery, a first aid competition, frisbee football, an Iron Chef competition, and other events.

“It’s important to get all the different districts together because usually you don’t get to meet somebody from Plattsburgh and someone from Troy [at the same event],” said volunteer Richard Crumb of Troy.