Scout EXPO 2001
If you were to witness a sheriff’s SWAT team rappelling out of a helicopter into a gathering of young people, you’d probably assume the worst. A wild party? A riot?
Guess again. The event was last year’s Scout EXPO, an event co-hosted by the Boy Scouts of Ranchero-West District of Golden Empire Council and the Girl Scouts of Sierra Cascade Council. The SWAT team was simply putting on a demonstration, albeit one that the kids are still talking about a year later as they prepare for this year’s event.
The Scout EXPO grew out of the Boy Scouts’ Scout-a-Rama, an annual promotional event. Two years ago, the local Boy Scout and Girl Scout organizations agreed to join forces to stage a new event to be known as Scout EXPO. The first collaboration was held in 1999 with encouraging results.
Last year, the scouts moved the event from a retail mall to the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds. The change of venue afforded the scout troops a chance to branch out and stage more-elaborate exhibits, such as obstacle courses and archery demonstrations.
“It darn near brought me to tears last year,” said Sally Jungling, co-chair of the event. “They were just so amazing. I think they found what they’re truly capable of doing.”
The goal of the EXPO is twofold: to demonstrate the many opportunities for fun and learning through scouting, and to give current scouts a chance to develop a theme, learn about a subject and polish their presentation skills.
Most of the local, active troops participate in Scout EXPO. More than 1,300 Boy and Girl Scouts from 45 troops and packs have committed to be involved in this year’s event, scheduled for Saturday, April 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This year’s theme is Celebrating Fun in 2001 and promises to deliver excitement for everyone. Most of the activities are geared for children between the ages of 6 and 14.
Troops can choose to interpret the theme in one of four ways: Art/Scoutcraft, Outdoors/High Adventure, Science and Technology or Sports.
The challenge for the troops is to develop that theme and be prepared to entertain and educate at least 500 kids at their booth. Doing so helps the scouts learn how to follow guidelines and standards, and how to present a subject and make it fun.
“It’s really about how do you take all the elements of scouting and put it together so that you project yourself and your group in a way that you can be proud of what you do and what you belong to,” Jungling said.
The net result is a lot of variety for all the kids in attendance. Subjects that will be addressed by this year’s exhibitors will run the gamut from chemistry and laser technology to sailing and golf.
Kids attending the EXPO receive a Passport to Adventure. Once a child’s passport has been stamped and certified that he or she has participated in at least 10 different EXPO programs, the child will be entered into a prize drawing.
Other activities include a pinewood derby for the scouts and a chili cook-off contest for the scout leaders and parents.
Special presentations will be made by the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, California State Parks, Chico Creek Nature Center, Aviation Challenge, SIFE, Team Chapman, Chico Fire and Police departments and the U.S. Tennis Association. The Rookster, Heater, Big Bird and Cal Bear from Cal Skate will make appearances, as well.
Admission to the Scout EXPO is free of charge. The only money needed would be to make purchases from the concessions run by both the Boy and Girl Scouts.
“This is not a fund-raiser,” Jungling explained. “We’re here to publicize the joys and the fun in scouting, so that more kids will join up and take part in the program.”
More than 5,000 people attended last year’s event, and Jungling expects this year’s event to be bigger and better than ever thanks to tremendous community support.
“We’re successful when we have kids not wanting to leave, and when they do, they walk out saying, ‘I can hardly wait until next year.'"