Assistant Scoutmaster Robert Sheppard passes down scouting stories by campfire during Operation Tenderfoot.
Spafford On the weekend of April 27, 30 scouts of Skaneateles Boy Scout Troop 61 went to Lourdes Camp on the south end of Skaneateles Lake for its 25th annual “Operation Tenderfoot” camping event. Operation Tenderfoot is the Troop’s showcase camping trip where the older scouts in the Troop organize and teach the new scout recruits all the requirements for the first rank award in Boy Scouts, the Tenderfoot badge.
This year, the troop accepted 12 new scouts in early April who joined upon hearing of the adventures that scouting has to offer. Nine of these recruits were fifth graders who “crossed over” from the local Cub Scout Pack 161: Connor Ellison, Michael Lovier, Will Frank, Michael Hartnett, Nicholas Paciorek, Michael Parks, Shane Rutledge, Noah Smith and Justin Wolford. The other three were older boys Andrew Hinchman, Cameron Mercado and Tyler Lewis.
As this was the first camping trip away from home and parents for many of the new scouts, tension and excitement ran high in the weeks preceding the trip.
In Boy Scouts, a troop is a boy-lead organization with adult leaders taking an advisory role. For this event, the older scouts spent several weeks prior the trip organizing themselves to identify the Tenderfoot requirements and assigning teaching roles for each of those requirements.
Two older scouts, Christopher Niehbur and Danny O’Connell, were tasked with the job of organizing the event and making sure scout teachers were assigned and knew what to do. They also were tasked with creating a list of the equipment needed for demonstrations for each of the requirements and making sure that equipment was procured and arrived at the campsite.
Upon arrival at Lourdes Camp at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, the scouts organized themselves and set up the cooking stations for each of the patrols. When that was accomplished, the boys set up their tents after instruction from older scouts as to proper tent site selection to avoid dangers from overhead limbs and not setting up in depressions that can fill with water if it rained.