PENFIELD – Despite temperatures below zero Saturday morning, the Bucktail Council held the Polar Bear Weekend at Camp Mountain Run [CMR] in Penfield.
The event, touted as the largest activity for youth in the Bucktail Council each year, consists of troops staying overnight in tents at CMR; competing in 12 skill and fun events throughout Saturday using the patrol method; and pulling a Klondike sled to all stations with certain scouting equipment on it.
"Sometime I hope the kids can come as adults and help with this program," said Gary Gilmore, chairman of the 42nd Polar Bear Weekend. "It's been a great 42 years and we're going to keep going.
"We had eight degrees below zero [Friday night] and it gets better. We're at 15 below [Saturday morning]."
The entire concept of the weekend is winter camping, and the 12 stations are each named after a specific town.
"You have tests of citizenship and kids on the sleds go around to each town and perform some tasks; they're judged on them and scored and at the end of the day, the scores are tallied," Gilmore said. "It's a fun competition, a fun thing, a winter campout that's been going on since the 1970s.
"Some camps are very fancy, they have heaters, one has an outdoor burner blowing hot air into the tent and others are just tents with very good sleeping bags. Two years ago we had 20 degrees below zero, but it's a really good experience to get out and it makes you appreciate warmth a little bit better."
The event also featured a visit from U.S. Representative Glenn 'GT' Thompson (PA-5) and state Representative Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk).