11,000 Scouts celebrate 100 years

The numbers are impressive enough: 11,000 Boy Scouts. 700 volunteers. 200 acres. Hundreds of tents set up and scattered along a rolling Kansas meadow.

But the most important number for the Boy Scouts' Heart of America Council this weekend was 100. That's how many years the national Boy Scouts of America has been around, a milestone celebrated by thousands of Scout families in Bonner Springs.

The group's Centennial Campout began Friday evening and ended Sunday morning. Organizers said it took almost two years of planning to put together one of the country's largest Scouting anniversary celebrations.

The sprawling campout — complete with an entertainment stage, a Scouting midway, vendor displays and four large camp areas serving as bases for Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts from 19 counties — occupied a Scout-owned field just west of the organization's Camp Naish in Bonner Springs.

On Saturday, Boy Scouts engaged in activities including historic Scouting games and geocaching, rock climbing, field sports, scuba demonstrations and climbing monkey bridges.

Cub Scouts had their own activities, such as a human foosball game, vegetable bowling, tomahawk throwing and shooting BB guns.

"We played a lot and had an awesome breakfast," said Elijah Rojas of Boy Scout Troop 334 of Independence.

Elijah and seven other Scouts agreed that having prepared meals was better than cooking their own, the usual campout tradition.

Sean Fowler, whose father, Dwight, is the troop's scoutmaster, said the Boy Scouts teaches skills different from what is learned in classrooms.

"In school, they teach you how to prepare for the work world, and you just kind of absorb it," said Sean Fowler, of Independence. "Here you learn by doing things. You've got nature, and it's quiet at night.

"Plus, it gets me away from my sister for a while."

"It gets me away from my brother," agreed Nolan

Ryun of Kansas City.

Christopher Shaw, stepfather of Jacob Beardmore of Kansas City, said Scouting sustains connections between fathers and sons that override short-term problems in the relationship.

"It was a major bond for my dad and me, and I hope to pass that on to Jacob as well," he said. "There are always ups and downs between a parent and child as they get older, but Scouting is something to build a relationship on."