Coney Island beach morphed into a winter runway for scouts on sleds who powered their lean, mean, homespun machines on Saturday for the Boy Scouts of America Brooklyn Council’s annual Klondike derby.
Budding Inuits from the Breukelen and Lenape Bay districts went sled-to-sled with their peers on parallel obstacle courses — one for cub scouts ages 7-10 and another for boy scouts ages 11-17 — pitting their winter survival skills in such mock events as a “Harpoon Throw” and a “Penguin Relay,” which called upon the younger cubs to pass a ball through their legs to a team member without using hands.
“They looked like walking penguins,” said Kent Woo, chairman of Breukelen District’s activities program who organized the derby with Carrington Bibuld, vice president of the Lenape Bay District, and Mario Caruso, assistant cubmaster of Pack 815 in Cobble Hill.
Another event called “Hang the Fish Out to Dry” required competitors to catch a wooden fish and scale it onto a clothing line. That would be done in a real-life situation “to keep the polar bears away,” said Woo.
The aspiring survivalists also tested their Scoutcraft skills and leadership abilities — including administering basic first-aid and transporting an “injured” sledder to safety for the older scouts — while earning points towards a total score to show judges that they could well brave frigid tundras with techniques learned through scouting.
The Breukelen District includes Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park, Canarsie and Flatbush, while the Lenape Bay District includes Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton and Park Slope.
“You have to come in with skill,” said Woo, who revamped this year’s race by familiarizing scouts with scenarios before the competition. Boy Scout Troop 187 from Immaculate Heart Of Mary Church in Kensington, and Cub Scout Pack 353 of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Flatbush, emerged as the overall winners in their age groups, and sled away with snow-tastic bragging rights.
The race may be arduous, but it’s great fun, too, noted Woo. “It’s an exciting event and scouts come away knowing that they have valuable skills to survive in cold weather.”
Those skills included a stop at the most popular station of the day — the hot chocolate stand!