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Local scouts are prepared for a hot week at camp | Local News

MURRAY – Last week’s heat wave brought hot temperatures and record-breaking energy consumption as people relied on air conditioners to keep cool. TVA announced breaking its record for energy use in the month of June two times last week – once on Monday and again on Thursday. This week’s forecast is similar. While there will be slight relief from the humidity, temperatures are expected to be even hotter.

Despite the harsh conditions, Boy Scouts from Troop 45 are spending their week in the great outdoors at Boy Scout Camp. Eighteen 11- to 17-year-olds departed Murray early Sunday afternoon headed for Pfeffer Scout Reservation in Marshall County. True to their motto, these scouts are prepared to weather the heat wave.

Troop 45 Scout Master John Larkin, who teaches science at Calloway County High School, said that troop leaders have been educating these scouts through the years about the importance of staying hydrated and how to recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

“We tell the guys to avoid wearing cotton clothes, wear cool wick,” Larkin said. “Drink lots of water. Look at your urine; make sure you’re going to the bathroom every couple of hours and look at the color (because urine gets darker as the body becomes dehydrated). I will have a cooler of water and a cooler of Gatorade, so they should be rotating between water and Gatorade just to get electrolytes in because they’re going to be sweating a lot, and water is really the best thing for you.”

Parent Mike Wright is another adult joining the group for the week. He said that he is not worried because cooler temperatures at night should provide some relief from the heat. His main concern about him is the scouts staying hydrated.

“It’s always a challenge to get them to do that,” Wright said. “They need to drink water and try to stay as cool as possible. The problem is they’re really active, and they don’t take the time to drink. They should be putting down two to three liters of water a day. A lot of times they won’t do that. You’ll find one sitting down with his face all red, and it’s because he hasn’t been drinking water.”

Pfeffer Scout Reservation began changing its protocols to accommodate the heat last week according to Director Brandon Hayes. They are encouraging scouts to drink Gatorade at meals to keep replenishing electrolytes. Instructors make sure the scouts take water and rest breaks every 10-15 minutes. Water stations have been set up with ice water that are monitored to not only make sure they stay full, but also to make sure scouts are actually using the water. In addition, there are misting tents set up that the scouts can go through to cool off.

They have also repositioned teaching areas, where possible, so that classes can be held in the air conditioning or in a heavily shaded area, out of direct sunlight. Hayes acknowledged that it is hard to shade the aquatic activities because they are conducted on the lake, but they are accommodating for that by providing shaded areas for water and rest breaks.

“Some of the classes we offer every summer anyway are about first aid and how to render first aid,” Hayes said. “It’s a little hard to get that mass instruction out to 400 scouts, so we’ve been spreading information through the scout masters and senior patrol leaders about what to look for. Things like if they are starting to get pale or flushed. If they’ve stopped sweating, or if they’re sweating even more profusely, dry mouth, just your standard dehydration signs. … And we have a camp health officer who is on-site 24/7.”

Five members of the troop are working on staff at the camp this year, including the scout who would typically serve as the group’s senior patrol leader. This week, Cooper Eye, 14, are of Jeff and Tiffany Eye, will be Troop 45’s senior patrol leader.

“My acting job right now, because the real guy is working at camp, is to make sure that they’re packed up the way they’re supposed to be, that they’re drinking water, wearing sunscreen and making sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” Eye said. “I also make sure they know what they’re doing and that they’re prepared for getting their merit badges at camp.”

These scouts are not braving the heat just for fun – earning merit badges is the focus of the week. There are several aquatic badges such as swimming, canoeing, kayaking and small-boat sailing; various shooting sports badges, such as rifle, shotgun and archery; nature-focused badges where scouts learn about more general topics like conservation and environmental science; and outdoor skill badges, such as wilderness survival, camping and orienteering where scouts use a map and compass.

Eye, who has been to camp several times, said he is most excited to earn the small-boat sailing badge. “I don’t know how to do it, and I think it will be cool.”

Another camp veteran, Preston Key, 15, son of Paul Key and Chris Scarbrough-Key, is looking forward to getting the shotgun and motorboating merit badges. About the high temperatures expected later in the week, he said, “It is to be expected. It’s always hot (at camp), and it always rains.” Key also said that it is important for the scouts to look out for each other when temperatures are excessively high by reminding each other to drink water and being aware when someone starts showing signs of heat exhaustion.

This will be Bram Larkin’s second year at camp. The 12-year-old son of Scout Master John Larkin and Cris Ferguson acknowledged that “heat might be an issue,” but he plans to beat the heat by spending a lot of his time in the water, working on swimming badges.

“I hope they get fun and enjoyment out of it,” Larkin said. “As a science teacher in environmental education, I hope they learn to appreciate the outdoors and have that bond with nature. Personal growth is big. I hope they find something through the merit badge courses that they’re taking that they enjoy and, maybe, they can develop as more well-rounded young adults.”

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