Scouts gather at El Capitan High School

Members of Troop 959 demonstrate their hydro and human powered ice cream makers at Scout Fair held at El Capitan High School April 6.

Scouts from all over San Diego County gathered at El Capitan High School this past Saturday to share information about their units, explain what they are working on with current projects, and answer questions from the public.

This year’s Scout Fair was themed “Scouting the Wild West” and saw units across San Diego participate with heavy attendance from East County, including Cub and Boy Scouts, Venture Scouts, and Sea Scouts who all comprise the larger organization of Boy Scouts of America.

Attendees could linger at the entrance near the pinewood derby championships that included local Cub Scouts who competed in the “San Diego 500”. The five to ten-year old boys gathered to race their hand-painted cars in a tradition that dates back to 1953.

Older scouts could move past Cubland to other areas of the event and visit the food alley, high adventure area, merit badge midway, or just walk around and see what different units brought to Scout Fair.

Perhaps one of the most unique projects of the day was the booth with Troop 959 of San Carlos with a bicycle mounted and a changing rotation of Boy Scouts pedaling to spin the cans that held ingredients for homemade ice cream.

“So, you pedal it and inside the can, there’s a littler can with ice cream inside. We put ice and salt, then just start pedaling,” said JedTabbert, 11.

Alongside was a similar setup with a water wheel designed to keep a second set of ice cream cans rotating so that hydropower turns the basic ingredients into cold ice cream.  Scouts eagerly explained the projects to visitors strolling by the booth and clarified how the two setups both produce ice cream, but with different processes.

“For the water wheel, we have the water come down from the top and it spins the wheel and at the same time, keeps the ice cream flavors from mixing. Because its more efficient, it turns out better than the bike one,” said JorgeCastañeda, 17.

With the scent of food wafting across the field, Troop 51 lured in curious attendees with their homemade corn dogs, then explained that food is one of their troop specializations.

“We do a lot of outdoor activities, camporee, where district troops meet up with each other and we typically win at cooking challenges… We also do things like rocket camp where we shoot off small-scale engines in the desert, not the most powerful things, just kid rockets,” said Ryan Van Mouwerik, 16.

Adult leader Annalisa Hansing of Troop 319 from La Mesa had scouts on hand to share information on what makes a Sea Scout different from a Boy Scout.

“Sea Scouts is camping on the water. They do a long cruise instead of a campout— they’ll take the boat and they’ll go for six or seven days. They also have trainings they do with safety at sea… They have to know what to do with man overboard, what to do if your boat is in trouble,” said Hansing.

Sea Scouts was established as part of Boy Scouts of America in 1912 and focuses on leadership with certifications being earned in in SCUBA, boating safety, lifesaving, and CPR.

Venture Scouts from crew 1212 drew in curious onlookers with multiple scouts dressed up in Native American outfits. According to Boy Scouts of America, Native American lore has been a part of Scouting since 1902, when one of BSA’s founders, Ernest Thompson Seton, created a group of young boys called the Woodcraft Indians based on Native traditions and culture. BSA emphasizes throughout their literature that the reference to Native culture must always be respectful and serve as an ideal for brotherhood, sisterhood, and a sense of shared community.

The Lehmann family, all part of Venture crew 1212, truly showed the wide range of interests across Scouting, as they took the time to explain their love of expressive clothing.

“Our crew happens to do a lot of cosplay things. We go to conventions, we do a lot of theatre, we work at the Renaissance Faire and our most recent meeting was a D&D session… We’ve volunteered at a Dr. Who convention,” said Laura Lehmann.

Jan Castor, a lifelong volunteer with San Diego Boy Scouts took the time to explain some of the work that goes into the annual event.

“We meet several times in the year… We go out to all the units, packs, troops. Because we lost Qualcomm stadium (a previous location), we’ve been having to go around finding large areas that will allow us to have a large event, like last year we were at Olympic park… We also have a stage and we go out to all of our units to see if they have a band or something like that… The vendors we have are the same as last year— we try to have a variety of food,” Castor said.

Castor did not know how many volunteer hours it typically takes to plan the annual Scout Fair, host but said it was likely hundreds of hours.

Scouts gather at El Capitan High School


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