Last weekend was Scout Quest 100. It was the second biggest Scouting event in the country, second only to the upcoming National Jamboree. This year is the 100th anniversary year of the Boy Scouts of America. Every 10 years, the Greater St.Louis Area Council puts on a big shindig in Forest Park. It’s the only time the folks are allowed to camp in the park. I went ten years ago when it was “X-treme Scouting 2000”. Then I was relatively new to Scouting and just wandered around looking at all the events and displays, and tried to keep tabs on the boys in my troop.
Now I’m a “lifer” and this time I spent the weekend staffing one of the events. There were 13,000 Scouts (some say as high as 20,000) participating, and that takes a lot of activities to keep everybody happy. The official site is still up, with pictures of most of the activities, ranging from medieval catapults to climbing walls, leathercraft to water slides. Too many for me to describe, anyway, which is why you have the link.
The activities committee came up with the idea of a "lasso-ing" activity, and then I got the call. When we were kids (that's me on the left), every other show on TV was a western, and every kid wanted to ride and rope and shoot. Would today's kids even know what we're talking about? Much less be interested in trying it out?
My brothers and I (with three other volunteers) spent our day at the SQ-100 Roping Ranch. Here's our nice, shady spot before we unloaded our 42 bales of hay, 32 roping dummy heads, 48 lariats, 26 trick ropes, 3 plywood saguaro cacti, plywood corrals, tent shelter, branding iron, 40 electric fence posts, 500 feet of perimeter rope, gateway poles, and boom-box full of cowboy songs.
Here's a look at the transformation that we wrought over the course of the next few hours. You're seeing the herd from near the far down-hill end of our area, right next to the mouse-trap powered car-building and Tandy Leather's crafts area.
This is the entrance with our sign-boards courtesy of Mike Brooks of Brooks' Signs in Kennett. Mike printed out the weathered board background, as well as the cool rope letters, just like Roy Rogers had on the Double-R-Bar ranch sign that I played with when I was a kid.
We didn’t have an official counter, but one of the volunteers estimated 100 Cub Scouts per hour, and I wouldn’t doubt it. We spent Friday evening setting up, and I stayed up helping other Scouters until about 11:30. At 7:30 AM Saturday, we finished our set-up, and by 8:00 AM we were showing Cub Scouts how to rope steers, spin a flat loop, and branding their leather goods. This is Matt starting a boy with the thrilling and dangerous "flat loop" trick.
Our nice shady spot just happened to be the first thing the Cubs saw when they left the parking lot. Brother Will said, “They think our little roping ranch IS Scout Quest.” I don’t think many of them missed it. The ranch stayed full until we shut it down at 5:15 that evening.
It was great to have such a huge crowd of boys, as it would have been just as much trouble to set everything up whether we had a crowd or not. We sometimes had a little trouble getting the point of roping across. As Will said, "We had some Lord of the Flies moments — "I killed it!" said the Cub Scout. "
I think that Will did most of the work ahead of time, and I didn't get a picture of him teaching. We all worked hard (only one pit-stop break all day), but he provided the hay, and took care of ordering the roping supplies. We now have official Scout Quest 100 steer heads and lariats and trick ropes for sale — lots of them.