The weather at East Mississippi Community College’s Golden Triangle campus was perfect for camping, as the Pushmataha Area Council’s Boy Scouts did, on Saturday.
They pitched tents on the meadow to the campus’s west, holding a campfire gathering with songs and sketch comedy during the evening, but the scouts didn’t spend their entire visit to EMCC outdoors. Mason Honnoll, a scout in seventh grade, spent Saturday morning in EMCC’s automotive laboratory, earning an automotive maintenance badge.
“I’ve never been to a camp (where I’ve) worked on engines,” Honnoll said. “I love it. I like learning how to fix cars for the future.”
For the first time, EMCC hosted the Pushmataha Area Council’s annual Fall Camporee Friday-Sunday, where an estimated 200 scouts had the opportunity to obtain merit badges in 18 subject areas.
Pushmataha Camping Commissioner Brian Wells said the area council has held Camporees every year since the first in 1938 at West Point’s Oak Park. Each Camporee has badges scouts can earn built around a theme, Wells said, and this isn’t the first time the Camporee has had a career and technology-oriented theme, with Mississippi State University hosting a similar Camporee in 2009. The fall 2011 Camporee had a “Top Shot” theme based on the History Channel reality show, he said.
“The scouts did rifle and shotgun shooting, archery, tomahawk throwing, blow guns, slingshots, any kind of shooting we could allow them to do,” Wells said. “(Our 2012) Spring Camporee was held out at Oktibbeha County Lake,” Wells said. “They worked on first aid, knot tying, orienteering and fire building. We were the last camp out at the lake before the county shut it down.”
Wells said this is the first time EMCC has hosted a Camporee, but the two have shared ties for years through Aaron Langston, the late developer of the EMCC Golden Triangle campus and a founding father of Camp Seminole, the Pushmataha Area Council’s home.
“If you could pinpoint one individual who helped create Camp Seminole, it would be (Aaron Langston),” Wells said. “We thank him posthumously for his efforts at EMCC and at Camp Seminole.”
Paul Miller, EMCC vice president, said the Pushmataha Area Council first approached EMCC about hosting the Camporee after several of its individual troop leaders brought scouts to the campus for merit badge training. Miller said he was a Webelos Scout himself once, like many of the scouts present for the Camporee.
“We thought it was a great idea,” Miller said. “Scouting, nationwide, is an important program for young men to build character (and) skills they may not get in school. It prepares them for the world of work. (At EMCC,) we’re all about that. Plus, in 4-5 years, some of these guys are going to be looking for a place to go to college. We hope they’ll remember their experience at EMCC when they think about that. We’re happy to be part of this, and hopefully, we’ll get another chance to do this.”
Miller said he estimates 25 EMCC faculty members and 10 staff members assisted with the Camporee, as well as six EMCC students. Wells said several of these instructors are former scouts, and 17-18 of the 25 troops in the Pushmataha Area Council sent scouts to the Camporee.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for these scouts, (an opportunity) they wouldn’t get unless they were in an environment such as this,” Wells said. “It’s also a tremendous recruiting opportunity for EMCC.”