BENTON — Zac Gonzalez bundled up against the cold outdoor elements with the temperature hovering between 15 to 18 degrees Saturday.
“I’m having fun, oh yeah,” the 11-year-old said smiling.
He held onto the handles of the dog sled built by members of Boy Scout Troop 4 from Wakarusa for the Klondike Derby and winter camp-out.
The three-day event took place at Benton Spillway in River Preserve Park with nine troops of the Pioneer Trails District of LaSalle Council including Elkhart and Cass (Mich.) counties.
Fifty to 75 Boy Scouts and leaders slept in tents for two nights of winter camping.
“We all survived but it got cold,” said Eldon Seidner, Pioneer Trails Camping chairman. “It’s to be able to camp out and enjoy the outdoors in northern Indiana. It’s an I-can-do-attitude. We ask them to not wear cotton socks because cotton doesn’t absorb moisture, but rather wool socks and warm clothing like coats, gloves, scarves, boots, etc.”
The scouts range in age from 11 to 18 and can earn their polar bear patch, Seidner added.
Since the weekend was a primitive Klondike, the scouts tasted rabbit and pheasant cooked over an open pit, as well as competing in tomahawk throwing.
Each troop built or revamped dog sleds for the challenging skills tests in the Klondike course, as well as carrying their supplies from station to station for the weekend.
“This is my first year (at the event) and I’m having fun learning,” Zac said.
The scouts from Troop 4 built their traditional sled in about a month, said Scout Master Steve Blosser.
They did not use metal and it resembled one of the traditional Klondike-style designs with peg and lashings, he added.
“We got the pattern off the Internet. We cut a small sapling down and cut it in half,” Blosser said. “Then we bent the wood and the boys wrapped everything themselves. We had fun and learned a lot in the process.”