Cold and wet help make them merit badge worthy

Garrett Nelson and Landon Allen work on a merit badge project. (photo:Ken Leinart )
It’s wet.

The night before it was “freezing.”

And wet.

“We had our sleeping area set up with a tarp duck taped on the sides, then one of the counselors came by and nailed it up — then about 1 a.m. it started raining, hard, and it blew in the tarp so we had to duck tape it again,” said Travis Duncan of Troop 93 of the Great Smoky Mountain Boy Scout Council.

Duncan, from Scott County, was one of roughly 200 Boy Scouts to descend on Camp Pellissippi in North Anderson County Dec. 26 for a Boy Scout encampment.

Scouts spent five days learning skills, working toward merit badges, making friends.

One of Duncan’s cabin mates and fellow Troop 93 member, McGyver Smith, laughed at Duncan’s recollection of the previous night.

“I heard the commotion, but I just rolled over and pretended I was still asleep,” he said. “They had it under control.”

Both are sitting in a class Friday morning along with William “Garrett” Nelson of Troop 73 based in Norris, and Landon Allen, who is attending the camp from Maryville.

It’s a Scouting tradition — these week-long camp outs — usually held the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day at Camp Pellissippi.

Today’s Scouts not only learn how to tie knots and start a proper fire (then make pot roast with aluminum foil and coals), but they also take classes in business, economics, media/journalism and dirt bike riding.

“Have you seen Moose?” Smith asked. “You can’t miss him. He’s something like the eighth fastest motor cross rider in the world and he wears this orange helmet and has a custom-made bike. He was teaching motor cross riding yesterday.”

Smith looks at his friend, “He (Travis Duncan) kept with him most of the time.”

A lot of the classes will wind down with the Scouts earning a merit badge. Some will have to be finished on their own at home.

In the media/journalism class the Scouts will have to finish when they leave the camp out. That merit badge also requires a visit to a media outlet (newspaper office, radio station, etc.), comparing community and daily newspapers, and news-related websites.

“It depends on how bad you want the badge,” Nelson said.

“You can finish it in a couple of days, or a week, or longer.”

On this weekend one veteran instructor pointed out to Nelson that in the numerous years he’s attended the camp out at Camp Pellissippi, this is the first year it has rained like this.

“He said it’s been cold. He said it snowed once. But he said it’s never been this wet,” Nelson said.