Scouts showcase skills at Center School

Sep 21, 2019

MATTAPOISETT — The Center School playground was home to a variety of games and activities on Saturday, Sept. 21, as the Mattapoisett Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts showcased their skills, and looked to recruit new members.

“It’s not just camping,” explained Scout Master Dennis McLaughlin, as his scouts demonstrated a popular scout game, competitive events from the annual Klondike Derby, an annual competition between scout troops from across the region, and a unique obstacle course made specifically for Saturday’s event.

When asked about why kids should join scouts, McLaughlin said that “the program is like nothing else out there.”

The scoutmaster said that benefits of being a scout include camaraderie, learning outdoor skills, and  monthly activities for parents and their children to participate in together, helping them bond as a family.

At Saturday’s event, games of gaga ball took center stage. The game is similar to dodgeball, but it takes place in an octagonal pit, and has different rules. Players start against the pit, after the ball is thrown inside and bounces twice, the action begins. Players must hit the ball with their hands, and strike their opponent with the ball, below the knee to eliminate them. Initially players can only touch the ball once at a time, but when the game reaches three players or less, competitors can hit the ball twice in a row.

The gaga pit at center school was built as Paul McLaughlin’s Eagle Scout project. The 15-year-old said that he and his friends were often bored in Mattapoisett, so he thought “instead of going to other towns, let’s just bring something into the town.”

The younger McLaughlin originally wanted to have the gaga pit at the beach, but after reservations from the town, he chose the school as the second best place.

At Saturday’s recruiting event, kids filled the gaga pit to take part in the action. Some were scouts, and others were visiting to have fun, and see what the scouts had to offer.

In another activity, scouts put teamwork and problem solving skills to the test, to see how many milk crates they could stack together in five minutes. Once the crates stacked beyond the scouts’ reach, they had to work together to lift the crates steadily, and place more crates strategically in the tower. Scouts were not allowed to stand on crates to get a reach advantage, meaning that they had to rely on strategy, and steady hands.

The Klondike Derby features winter activities like sledding and skiing, but that didn’t stop Mattapoisett scouts from demonstrating their skills in the September heat.

In one activity, competitors pull a teammate on a sledge by grabbing onto ropes, and using physical strength to reach the end of the course. In another, teammates stand together in a line with a ski under each foot. To move forward, they have to coordinate each step at exactly the same time. If the group steps out of unison, they often lose their balance, falling to the ground.

Adult leader Wendy Copps helped put together an unconventional obstacle course for the event. Based on movies like Mission Impossible, a small course made of pvc pipes and red yarn mimicked a maze of lasers that one might see a fictional criminal sneak through in a bank heist.

Careful not to touch the “lasers,” kids contorted their way through the course in an attempt to reach the end.

Cub Scouts are open to children enrolled in first through fifth grade, and Boy Scouts are for kids in sixth grade through age 18. The two organizations are separate, although they share much in common, according to Copps.