Klondike Derby

by Adrian Camfield
Photos courtesy of David Wray & Chuck McLeod


Klondike sleds, in the shape of dog sleds, are made from old skis and broken hockey sticks, and serve two purposes: to transport the equipment and supplies the Scouts need during the day, and to keep the patrols together as they walk around the course. The course is over varied terrain, both open and wooded; stations are positioned to take advantage of the variety. Leaders mark the trail and locate the stations the previous weekend using surveyor's flagging, which is removed after the event.

In 2001, CPG District will hold the Klondike Derby on Saturday, February 17 in the park surrounding Lac des Fées. Start time will be 8:00 a.m. with registration at D'Arcy McGee School on Gamelin Boulevard, where cars will be parked. After an equipment check, patrols will follow the course along paths north of Lac des Fées (and south of the tobogganing hill) west to the Promenade de la Gatineau. They will cross the Promenade and make a loop that includes a stop for hot chocolate mid-morning just off the Promenade. They will then cross back to the other side of the Promenade to pick up a trail that follows a power line

The Klondike Derby is a one-day winter competition for Scouts (aged 11-14 years) that the CPG District or its forerunners in Scouts Canada have organized for the last 36 years (History). Patrols of 4-7 Scouts pull their "Klondike" sleds around a 5 km course, stopping at 20 stations along the way where leaders test them on Scouting skills such as tying knots, applying first aid, climbing ropes, identifying trees and using maps and compasses. In February 2000, 120 youth and 60 adults took part; we expect a similar participation in 2001, with about 10% being girls and women. Scouts will come from central Ottawa and from the Outaouais (from Gatineau to Rupert-Farrellton to Aylmer).

on wooden poles (not the nearby line on the taller concrete poles). They will take this trail southeast to the Centre hospitalier Pierre-Janet. Depending on the wind, they will stop for lunch either at the top of the hill adjacent to the Pavillon juvénile of the Centre hospitalier or at the bottom of the hill, near the bridge over the creek that flows south from Lac des Fées. This bridge is approximately opposite Bienville or Lavigne Streets in Hull. At the lunch stop, Scouts will heat their lunches over small camping stoves. They will be marked on how well their lunches meet food needs for a winter day outdoors and on how well they clean up; all garbage will be removed. Venturers (aged 14-17) will prepare a hot lunch for the leaders.

After lunch, the course will turn north, first along the creek, then along the west side of the Promenade du Lac des Fées. Where there are existing trails, the course will divert to the shore of Lac des Fées. It will eventually end at the corner of Gamelin and Promenade du Lac des Fées. The last test will be in D'Arcy McGee School. The day will close with a lasagna supper in the school.

First aid will be provided as needed by leaders holding current certificates from St. John's Ambulance. Leaders at one-third of the stations will have portable radios to call for help if it is required. A base station for the radio network will coordinate this activity.

Because this is a long-standing event, leaders and Scouts generally know what to expect and most will be well prepared for the day with appropriate clothing. The equipment check at the beginning of the day will ensure that most potential problems are solved before they arise.