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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Area Boy Scouts Learn Emergency Preparedness at 2013 Camporee

Over the weekend of April 12, more than 325 Boy Scouts gathered at Carter Lake for the 2nd Annual Camporee, a weekend getaway where the scouts camp out and attend sessions to earn merit badges.  This year’s Camporee theme was “Zombie Preparedness,” and while the Red Cross doesn’t claim to be zombie experts, we do know a thing or two about being prepared for an emergency.  So, bright and early on April 13, members of the Red Cross Youth Preparedness Group teamed up with some great Red Cross Northern Colorado Chapter Disaster Action Team volunteers to share our knowledge with the Scouts. 

Scouts checking their supplies
The scouts got to tour a Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV), learn about Red Cross Emergency Response activities and practice building an emergency kit.  In order to fully earn their Emergency Preparedness merit badge, the scouts had to take what they learned and build an emergency kit with their families.  As the Boy Scouts’ motto is “Be prepared,” the boys came to us with a good foundation to build upon.  Using one of the Preparedness Department’s favorite games, we worked with the scouts to shift their focus from getting themselves prepared to survive in the wilderness to getting their families prepared to survive a disaster.

Touring the ERV
Next, the Northern Colorado Red Cross team took over and gave the boys a crash course in responding to and recovering from an emergency.  Led by volunteer Mike Ring, the boys learned the differences between an ERV and an ambulance, the protocol for our mobile feeding operations and some food safety tips.  Ring shared fun facts, for example: “the dirtiest thing you can have in your kitchen is a reused sponge.”  While this isn’t the most important thing when it comes to being prepared for an emergency, it does make you think twice when you’re washing your dishes!  Although Scouts learned lots of other facts – for example, that each trip in the ERV can deliver about 300 meals and that each and that every one of the 323 ERVs in the U.S. were deployed to Hurricane Sandy – Ring said that the most important message he conveyed to them was that the “Red Cross responds to many different kinds of events to help our neighbors.”  For him, and lots of us with the Red Cross, the opportunity to help our community is what keeps us coming back every day.

Even though we all had to get up very, very early, the day was a huge success.  The Red Cross team interacted with about 50 Scouts who were working towards their Emergency Preparedness badges and we were all very impressed with the kids.  After a lunch of gumbo and spicy cornbread, we were all able to chill out and get to know other, which made me realize just how important this day was for all the organizations involved.  Not only did we teach youth in our community about preparedness and disaster response, we created bonds between our own regional volunteers, the Boy Scouts and the Broomfield Civil Air Patrol.   It’s these relationships with our community members that we ultimately rely upon when the Red Cross is called upon to help people affected by disaster and emergencies.

If your group or organization would like to get involved in preparedness, visit www.redcross.org/Colorado-prepare.

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