Monday, September 26, 2016

Exeter Boy Scouts Attend Campout at Homestead National Monument

Exeter Troop 218 dons waders and gets ready to do some work in the creek at Homestead National Monument.  From left to right are Braden Capek, Ben Bartu, Joey Bartu, Tyler Sysel and Clint Oldehoeft.

Laura Sysel, Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 218 helps her son Tyler with the basket project at the Scoutout event at Homestead National Monument.
 Left to right Ben Bartu, Clint Oldehoeft and Ranger Susan Cook work at getting some of the chaff off the wheat they are grinding at Homestead National Monument.

Troop 218 Scoutmaster Dean Bartu helps hold the grinder down as troop member Clint Oldehoeft grinds some wheat during a scout event at Homestead National Monument.

The Cornhusker Council joined forces with the Homestead National Monument September 9 – 11 to host the councilwide Scoutout event.  The Boy Scouts fall campout was packed full of events that combined scouting ideals with the skills needed while homesteading.

Troop 218 out of Exeter camped out Friday night behind the educational center at the monument, setting up camp after a heavy rain went through the area. 

Saturday morning the Scouts had the opportunity to explore water quality and movement as they suited up in hip waders to begin their activity.  While down in the creek the boys learned how to measure the flow of the water and monitor erosion.

After shedding their waders the scouts got to play in the mud.  The object of the next session was to see how many living organisms are making their home near the creek.  

Digging into the buckets of creek bank mud the scouts looked for living organisms and then used a chart to identify them.  They were able to find mayfly larvae along with dragonfly larvae in the mud from the creek bank.

Birding on the prairie was the next activity for the group.  Dr. Jim Hoke shared his love of birding and the outdoors with the scouts.  They learned different ways of identifying birds and also some tips on using a bird book.

The scouts cleaned up and headed inside the educational center to start work on their genealogy merit badge with Beatrice Library Director Laureen Riedesel.

The scouts explored several methods for researching their own genealogy and were given several forms to help get them started on their journey to learn about their past.

During the lunch break the troop members took some time to visit the Homestead Heritage Center at the monument.  The scouts used the Heritage Center computers to research their family name in the Bureau of Land Management records to see if they could find homesteading records.

The afternoon session started with the scouts working on the basketry merit badge.  The boys learned to use reeds to make baskets before heading outside to learn about wheat production.  During this period the scouts sifted the wheat berries and used a grinder to make flour.  They also got to see how a flail works and tested it out without any actual grain.  

Next, the unit headed inside to explore the early agricultural equipment.  They learned how the advancements in equipment drastically affected the amount of land the farmers could manage.

Archaeology was the last merit badge of the day the scouts started.  Archeologists from the Midwest Archaeological Center (part of the National Park Service) came from Lincoln to give the scouts a glimpse into their work.  

On a section of mowed prairie the archaeologists had flagged out strips of land and dropped colored noodles onto the area.  The scouts paired up and one at a time had to see how many and what kind of noodles they could find and record their findings.  After both scouts went through the section they compared their results. 

After supper the evening program began with Ranger Susan Cook introducing Ryan Paul who spoke about Native American Indian folklore and told several stories about the names of the constellations.  The scouts then had the opportunity to experience the star lab which is an inflated dome that they entered which had the constellations projected on the ceiling.  

To end the evening the scouts had the opportunity to witness a iridium flare out on the prairie.  This was the opportunity to see several satellites moving across the skyline.

The scouts headed home with lots of new merit badges started along with an amazing camping experience at a National Monument.

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