The Klondike sled races held during the Londike Derby are supposed to be held on snow but Boy Scouts learn how to "make do" when necessary and had plenty of fun pulling the sleds across the gravel parking lot at the campground. The derby gives young men a chance to learn survival and cooperation skills while having a bit a fun.  / Dave Munk photo
The Klondike sled races held during the Londike Derby are supposed to be held on snow but Boy Scouts learn how to "make do" when necessary and had plenty of fun pulling the sleds across the gravel parking lot at the campground. The derby gives young men a chance to learn survival and cooperation skills while having a bit a fun. / Dave Munk photo
Boy Scouts aged 11-18, from troops in Lovelock, Winnemucca and Battle Mountain came together to hold their yearly Klondike Derby at the Mill Creek Campground south of Battle Mountain on February 24-25. Boy Scout units have been participating in Klondike Derbies since 1949 to give young men an outdoor wintertime experience that mixes winter survival skills with a whole lot of fun and challenge.

The boys do their own cooking and set up tents in preparation for their overnight stay. “It was 25 degrees in the morning with a light skiff of snow; said Dave Munk, who helped at the Derby, and took the photos.

“No one froze to death but a few were a little cold,” Munk added. “I did Klondike Derbies in Idaho when I was growing up. There, we usually had enough snow to make proper snow shelters, which are a whole lot warmer than a tent. Unfortunately, we needed to schedule late this year to avoid other conflicts and didn’t have snow to speak of.”

Troop 221’s Klondike Derby included stations where the boys were taught and then required to demonstrate their scouting skills and leadership abilities. Not to be deterred by the lack of snow, the scouts still held their timed sled races — in the gravel parking lot at the campground.

Winter survival skills practiced by the scouts included fire building, transporting sleds above a stream crossing by using ropes to keep supplies dry, first aid, navigating simulated blinding blizzard conditions (with the help of blindfolds) and tomahawk throwing. The events are designed to develop and test teamwork and problem solving along with the winter survival skills, said Munk.