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Merit Badge in Organizing: Charlestown Boy Scout Troop Pulls Event Together on Short Notice

  • at the Boy Scouts of Sunapee Discrict's annual Fall Camporee in North Charlestown, N.H. on Saturday, September 28, 2013. Nine local troops camped, hiked, and canoed while learning about story-telling, conservation, trail etiquette and other outdoor skills. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)

    at the Boy Scouts of Sunapee Discrict's annual Fall Camporee in North Charlestown, N.H. on Saturday, September 28, 2013. Nine local troops camped, hiked, and canoed while learning about story-telling, conservation, trail etiquette and other outdoor skills. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Scouts try to open a bear (and child) proof container during a trail and camping etiquette talk at the Boy Scouts of Sunapee Discrict's annual Fall Camporee in North Charlestown, N.H. on Saturday, September 28, 2013. Nine local troops camped, hiked, and canoed while learning about story-telling, conservation, trail etiquette and other outdoor skills. From left: Cameron Clark, 14, Luc Gauvin, 13, Joseph Kealy, 13, and Adam Bartlett, 12, all of Troop 71 of New London, N.H. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)

    Scouts try to open a bear (and child) proof container during a trail and camping etiquette talk at the Boy Scouts of Sunapee Discrict's annual Fall Camporee in North Charlestown, N.H. on Saturday, September 28, 2013. Nine local troops camped, hiked, and canoed while learning about story-telling, conservation, trail etiquette and other outdoor skills. From left: Cameron Clark, 14, Luc Gauvin, 13, Joseph Kealy, 13, and Adam Bartlett, 12, all of Troop 71 of New London, N.H. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »

  • John Hampton, of Bird's Eye View, demonstrates a quadcopter to a group of scouts at the Boy Scouts of Sunapee Discrict annual Fall Camporee in North Charlestown, N.H. on Saturday, September 28, 2013. Nine local troops camped, hiked, and canoed while learning about story-telling, conservation, trail etiquette and other outdoor skills. The quadcopter captured aerial footage of the scouts in their canoes on the river. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)

    John Hampton, of Bird's Eye View, demonstrates a quadcopter to a group of scouts at the Boy Scouts of Sunapee Discrict annual Fall Camporee in North Charlestown, N.H. on Saturday, September 28, 2013. Nine local troops camped, hiked, and canoed while learning about story-telling, conservation, trail etiquette and other outdoor skills. The quadcopter captured aerial footage of the scouts in their canoes on the river. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Scouts return to their tents to grab gear for their canoe trip while at the Boy Scouts of Sunapee Discrict's annual Fall Camporee in North Charlestown, N.H. on Saturday, September 28, 2013. Nine local troops camped, hiked, and canoed while learning about story-telling, conservation, trail etiquette and other outdoor skills. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)

    Scouts return to their tents to grab gear for their canoe trip while at the Boy Scouts of Sunapee Discrict's annual Fall Camporee in North Charlestown, N.H. on Saturday, September 28, 2013. Nine local troops camped, hiked, and canoed while learning about story-telling, conservation, trail etiquette and other outdoor skills. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Matthew Jones, 11, center, makes a face as his shoulders are squeezed by Dakota Remick, 12, right, during a 'circle dance' led by Michael Caduto at the Boy Scouts of Sunapee Discrict's annual Fall Camporee in North Charlestown, N.H. on Saturday, September 28, 2013. Nine local troops camped, hiked, and canoed while learning about story-telling, conservation, trail etiquette and other outdoor skills. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)

    Matthew Jones, 11, center, makes a face as his shoulders are squeezed by Dakota Remick, 12, right, during a 'circle dance' led by Michael Caduto at the Boy Scouts of Sunapee Discrict's annual Fall Camporee in North Charlestown, N.H. on Saturday, September 28, 2013. Nine local troops camped, hiked, and canoed while learning about story-telling, conservation, trail etiquette and other outdoor skills. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »

  • at the Boy Scouts of Sunapee Discrict's annual Fall Camporee in North Charlestown, N.H. on Saturday, September 28, 2013. Nine local troops camped, hiked, and canoed while learning about story-telling, conservation, trail etiquette and other outdoor skills. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)
  • Scouts try to open a bear (and child) proof container during a trail and camping etiquette talk at the Boy Scouts of Sunapee Discrict's annual Fall Camporee in North Charlestown, N.H. on Saturday, September 28, 2013. Nine local troops camped, hiked, and canoed while learning about story-telling, conservation, trail etiquette and other outdoor skills. From left: Cameron Clark, 14, Luc Gauvin, 13, Joseph Kealy, 13, and Adam Bartlett, 12, all of Troop 71 of New London, N.H. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)
  • John Hampton, of Bird's Eye View, demonstrates a quadcopter to a group of scouts at the Boy Scouts of Sunapee Discrict annual Fall Camporee in North Charlestown, N.H. on Saturday, September 28, 2013. Nine local troops camped, hiked, and canoed while learning about story-telling, conservation, trail etiquette and other outdoor skills. The quadcopter captured aerial footage of the scouts in their canoes on the river. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)
  • Scouts return to their tents to grab gear for their canoe trip while at the Boy Scouts of Sunapee Discrict's annual Fall Camporee in North Charlestown, N.H. on Saturday, September 28, 2013. Nine local troops camped, hiked, and canoed while learning about story-telling, conservation, trail etiquette and other outdoor skills. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)
  • Matthew Jones, 11, center, makes a face as his shoulders are squeezed by Dakota Remick, 12, right, during a 'circle dance' led by Michael Caduto at the Boy Scouts of Sunapee Discrict's annual Fall Camporee in North Charlestown, N.H. on Saturday, September 28, 2013. Nine local troops camped, hiked, and canoed while learning about story-telling, conservation, trail etiquette and other outdoor skills. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)

Charlestown — Michael Caduto looked at the group of Boy Scouts and asked how many had been canoeing before. Most of their hands shot up. Then he asked if any of the boys had been canoeing with someone who has never canoed before. More hands shots up.

“It’s kind of like putting up a tent with someone from New York City,” Caduto said, the boys laughing and nodding in agreement.

Caduto, an author and storyteller from Reading, Vt., was one of several presenters this weekend at a Boy Scout Camporee at the Student Conservation Association off River Road. The boys — all 60 of them — sat patiently on the grass listening to Caduto and anticipating the four-hour canoe trip they were about to take.

But first, Caduto had some simple advice: It helps to paddle together.

Caduto held a small drum in one hand and a mallet in the other and began playing a tune which, if sung in unison, would provide a rhythmic beat to paddle by:

Ki Yo Wah Ji Neh

Yo Hey Ho Hey

Ki Yo Wah Ji Neh

Ki Yo Way Ji Neh

The event, for the Boy Scouts of Sunapee District, part of the Daniel Webster Council, is usually held each spring and fall. But recent camporees have fallen through because of low attendance or difficulty organizing the event. After all, this weekend’s event drew about 85 parents and students and took time to organize.

When Troop 31 of Charlestown was asked to organize the event, troop leaders were skeptical of their ability to handle the responsibility.

“When I was approached, I said, ‘Sure, we can do a camporee. How about fall 2014?’ ” Troop 31 Scoutmaster Terry Spilsbury said. But Spilsbury was taken aback when his troop was asked in June to organize this weekend’s camporee.

“I said, ‘Four months? Are you kidding me?’ ” Spilsbury said.

But Scouting is all about volunteering, he said, so he and his troop leaders helped determine a location, theme and find experts to lead educational presentations. But with only four months to organize, Spilsbury said, it was difficult to get troops to mark their calendars and commit.

There are 18 troops in the Sunapee District, and nine were at this weekend’s camporee, representing troops from Charlestown, Claremont, Cornish, West Lebanon, Lyme, Enfield, Canaan, New London and Walpole, N.H.

“We’re trying to create a model for what future camporees can look like,” Spilsbury said. “If the people who come here say, ‘This is great,’ then that’s how you build momentum and get other troops to come.”

And the Scouts seemed to appreciate Troop 31’s effort.

Troop 71, of New London, hasn’t been to a camporee since spring 2012, said Eric Scheuch, 14.

“I think our last one was canceled because of lack of participation. It’s great they finally pulled it off, and it’s great that we’re going canoeing,” Eric said as he and half a dozen Scouts walked to a school bus that would take them three miles down the road so they could canoe from Ashley’s Landing in Claremont to Hoyt’s Landing in Springfield, Vt. The troop brought seven canoes with them, canoes that Eric said the Scouts barely get to use.

The Student Conservation Association is tucked along the banks of the Connecticut River, and as Saturday morning’s fog lifted, the smell of bacon was intoxicating. As the boys chomped on eggs and potatoes, they listened to presentations on geology and trapping.

Jack Yazinski, of the New Hampshire Trappers Association, pulled furs from a brown basket, including coyote and fox. “Who knows what kind of fox this is?” Yazinski asked.

“Gray fox,” 13-year-old Kyle Roberts, of Canaan, said. Kyle has an uncle who traps, and who has taught Kyle how to trap squirrel.

At the end of the presentation, Nathan Brundy, 16 of Grantham, approached Yazinski. Nathan enjoys hunting and fishing and asked for the trappers association website because he wants to start dabbling in trapping.

Nathan is a member of Troop 34 of West Lebanon and has been on camporees before.

“It’s a blast,” he said. “Why would you be at home playing video games when you can be here, outdoors?”

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.