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Scouting for adventure — Duties and fun prevail for Scouts on Mackinac Island

July 14, 2012
By Mark Rose , Daily Press

MACKINAC ISLAND - Fifty 50 Boy Scouts from across the Upper Peninsula (the entire Hiawathaland District) recently participated in the 2012 Mackinac Island Service Camp and Governor's Honor Guard. Scouts of the Mackinac Island Service Camp operate in conjunction with the Michigan State Park personnel, serving as guides throughout historic Fort Mackinac.

Every summer, Mackinac Island State Park service accommodates up to 56 Michigan Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and their leaders for their respective week of service. These scouts serve the state as the Mackinac Island Governor's Honor Guard.

The program began in 1929, when the State Park Commission invited eight Eagle Scouts, including young Gerald Ford (former President), to serve as honor guards for the Michigan governor. In 1974, the program was expanded to include Girl Scouts.

Article Photos

Photos courtesy of Mark Rose

The Flag detail returns after raising their flags at the Avenue of Flags entrance into Fort Mackinac.

The program is popular, selective, and a long standing tradition. Scouts raise and lower 22 flags on the island, serve as guides, and complete volunteer service projects during their stay. These scouts live in the Scout Barracks located behind Fort Mackinac. The State Park has a Scout Coordinator who facilitates all of the needs of the Scouts as well as the Park Service. This year "Maggie," the U.P. Scout coordinator, did an outstanding job

The Scout Barracks serves as the hub of activity for the boys on the island. The barracks has a large dining hall and kitchen where all of the "meals for 75" were prepared and served. These meals are all prepared by the adult leadership accompanying the boys, and again this year Patty Woerpel was the group's head cook. Upstairs of the dining hall is the sleeping area for the 50 Scouts in open barracks style. Fifty Scouts upstairs means 100 shoes could fall off on to the floor at any time creating more noise than desired.

Scouts on Mackinac were always busy doing something, if they are not on guide duty, or barracks duty, or service project duty, there was always a myriad of activities the Scouts could do. Actually most of the Scout's time on Mackinac is free time - to go biking, go swimming at the Grand Hotel, go to the extensive Buffet at the Grand Hotel, go shopping downtown, explore the island, and more. All activities were done with a "buddy" or as a Patrol activity such as a Patrol bike ride around the island.

Activities for the Scouts began right away Saturday evening, as the Scout Patrols challenged each other with the Mackinac Island Poker Run. The poker run was where Scouts must visit a number of locations around the island and answer a couple of questions correctly to earn a card. The poker run proved to be an efficient way of getting the Scouts around to a bunch of historic or natural sites, have fun, and the winning Patrol was given free pop.

On Sunday night, the contingent held a non-denominational Vesper Service at Greeny Grove. The service was organized by the group's chaplin's aide, Aaron Radlicki. Immediately following the Vesper service the Scouts performed a Flag Retirement Ceremony.

While on Mackinac, Scouts also had the opportunity to earn Merit Badges and Rank advancements. This year the Mackinac Island 2012 contingent was proud to award over 30 Merit Badges and a few rank advancements. Mack 2012 was also proud to have Aaron Radlicki of Troop 414 Escanaba, pass his Board of Review for the rank of Eagle Scout while serving Mackinac Island.

This year the Hiawathaland contingent was again hosted by Troop 411 of Escanaba, with Scout Leader Craig Woerpel serving as Scoutmaster. Woerpel, along with the adult leadership, had the daunting task of setting up the youth leadership roles in April. Woerpel may have been the Scoutmaster, but the contingent was youth-led by the Senior Patrol Leader Cameron Gitzlaff of Troop 16 and his youth leaders.

The Scouts participating in the Service Camp were also required to attend training sessions prior to their deployment to the island. The training that the scouts received was everything from learning detailed information about guide duties, to marching practice, to flag raising, lowering and folding, to simply the barracks sleeping. Along with the required training sessions for the youth, there was a considerable amount of behind the scenes planning, which has made the Mackinac Island experience so successful for years now.

The Mackinac Island Service Camp and Honor Guard program is totally funded locally, with most coming from the Scouts registration fees. To help keep the registration fees as low as possible the adult leadership is busy all year long buying items on sale etc. Anyone wishing to donate to the upcoming Mackinac Island Service 2013 Camp is asked to contact Patty Woerpel at (906) 280-2375.

Scouts interested in participating in Mackinac Island Service Camp 2013 should contact Craig Woerpel at

See SCOUTS on page 7A



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