MADISON —bOn Monday, August 3, Scouts BSA Troop 7 held a fire-building challenge during its regular weekly meeting. The scouts prepared for this challenge and competition all through the month of July, practicing their ax and saw skills as well as fire-starting procedures and safety protocol.
“We spent the first two meetings in July at Memorial Park in Madison, teaching the newer scouts how to prepare the fuel for their fires through hands-on lessons in axe and saw safety. Several of the boys even earned their Totin’ Chip, which was an important milestone for them,” explained Senior Patrol Leader Ryan Carrell, a freshman at Hanover Park High School. “Then at the end of July, we switched to fire skills, helping the scouts practice different ways of starting fires and showing them the difference between tinder, kindling, and fuel. And of course, we also covered fire safety matters, as well as demonstrating the correct way to put out a campfire, and how to make sure the fire is completely extinguished.”
“Scouts who came to all our fire-related meetings had the opportunity to earn their Firem’n Chit, which gives the scout permission to carry matches and light fires during troop activities. We are very serious about safety,” commented Assistant Senior Patrol Leader George Dailey, a junior at Morris County School of Technology. “Normally, new scouts would be able to earn their Totin’ Chip and Firem’n Chit during our troop’s annual week-long trip to summer camp at Mount Allamuchy Scout Reservation. Unfortunately, unit camping could not happen this summer due to the pandemic. We still wanted our new scouts to learn the most important scouting skills, so we worked together to develop our own troop training program. It worked out great!”
The August 3rd fire-building competition took place at Summerhill Park, where the troop’s two patrols each worked together to complete a challenge. “Each patrol had a cotton string suspended across its fire pan at a height of three feet. Our goal was to build a fire robust and tall enough to burn through the string,” explained Michael Sirna, Patrol Leader for Troop 7’s “Man Scouts Patrol” and a seventh-grader at Madison Junior School.
The “Man Scouts Patrol” was able to get its fire going first, while the “Trixie Patrol,” led by Patrol Leader Jack McClelland, spent more time getting their supplies in order. “When you are building a fire, success is all about good preparation. We worked really well as a patrol to collect the right materials and make sure they were all ready at the right time,” remarked McClelland, who will enter seventh grade at Madison Junior School this fall.
The competition was soon neck-in-neck, and flames from the patrols’ fires started to char the string. Both patrols completed the challenge successfully, with the Trixie Patrol coming from behind to take first place. The Man Scouts Patrol’s fire burned through the string just a moment later, coming in second.
Several of the troop’s adult leaders were on hand to observe the competition. The adult leaders expressed their gratitude to all who provided tangible support behind the scenes to make Troop 7’s summer training program possible, including the Borough of Madison’s Fire Department, Department of Public Works, Parks Advisory Committee, Recreation Department, Borough Administration and Borough Council.
Troop 7 is chartered by St. Vincent Martyr Catholic Church in Madison and meets every Monday evening. Campouts and special events take place throughout the year, and the troop’s schedule is available on its website by clicking here. Young men ages 11-17 are welcome to observe a meeting or join at any time.