SEA GIRT – Around 10,000 Boy Scouts explored STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education activities during their annual state Camporee held during the weekend of May 19-21 at the New Jersey State Police and New Jersey State Police Training Center.
The weekend began Friday, May 19 when the scouts arrived and set up camp in 1,000-plus tents covering several fields. After their 9 a.m. opening ceremony on May 20, the Scouts spent much of their day examining a wide variety of STEM-themed demonstrations and exhibits.
Sponsored by the New Jersey State Police and the New Jersey National Guard, this marked the fifth camporee held at the center. The scouts joined adult leaders and special guests such as Boy Scouts of America Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh, Adjutant General of New Jersey National Guard Brig. Gen. Michael L. Cunniff and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes.
The scouts embraced this year’s STEM theme which featured fingerprinting, welding, robotics, insect identification, and demonstrations of the equipment and operations of the State Police and National Guard. During opening remarks, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno spoke directly to Scout parents. “For the parents here today, understand that what they are learning is not just how cool all the toys are that they get to see, like how neat it was to see the Blackhawk fly over. What they are learning is how to behave when you’re not around. And what choices to make when you’re not around. Whether they are 10, or 16 or 25 years old or 50 years old, what they’re learning in scouting today and throughout their lifetime is the moral compass that you can take some solace in when you’re not around.”
“The New Jersey National Guard and State Police Camporee provides an amazing opportunity for 10,000 Scouts to show support and gratitude for the servant leadership shown by members of the law enforcement and defense community,” said Boy Scouts of America Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh, who was attending the event.
“Fostering a strong STEM education is our best opportunity to boost the spirit of innovation and to help all Scouts be prepared for life,” said Jim Gillick, Scout Executive and Chief Executive Officer of the Jersey Shore Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the host council of the event.
Gillick added that “showing scouts that STEM is fun, we can encourage them to enter STEM fields and achieve success.”
Sean Fotarty, 15, Brick, Troop 17 was among the scouts who enjoyed the weekend of excitement that featured camping, watching police and Guard demonstrations, participating in interactive displays and working toward their Fingerprinting, Wilderness Survival, Crime Prevention and Personal Fitness merit badges.
“I have been in scouting for four years,” he said. The scout said he was mostly interested in the engineering and technology programs but also enjoyed the National Guard and state police programs. “I may be looking at a career in those areas. What I enjoy most about scouting is that we are like a family and we work like a team.”
Scouts received firsthand experience with fingerprinting with ink, constructing an emergency shelter, using a visual impairment device to simulate the experience of navigating a walking course under the influence of alcohol, acted out a scenario in which they reported a crime and performed a strength test.
Troop 17 Scoutmaster Wayne Bauer, Brick, could not have agreed more with Sean. He joined scouting when he was 10 years old and has been with it for 50 years having made Eagle Scout along the way. “I really enjoyed the way they put this together and the programs that they offered were amazing. We had nothing like this when I was a scout. This is the Boy Scouts for the 21st century. As scout leaders we’re having a good time, too, climbing on the wall with the scouts.”
Bauer said that around 100 troops across the state came out for the event, which takes place every three years. “We love coming here to Sea Girt. This is my fourth Camporee. It is great to see so many scouts involved.”
New Jersey State Police Lieutenant Archer Jones, who serves as president of the New Jersey State Troopers Eagle Scout Association, was among those present at the event. He said the
“Camporee is a great way for the scouts to meet and speak with New Jersey State Troopers to see what it is we do on a daily basis.” Jones said that the event showcased “how STEM is put to use each and every day during the performance of our duties.”
Scouts witnessed science coming to life through demonstrations such as a “vortex cannon” – using a trash can, fog machine and some engineering, and creating smoke rings that traveled the length of a small ball field. Some of the scouts toured the facility’s forensic lab where crime scene evidence is processed, and watched a K-9 unit demonstration. Scouts also had the opportunity to see a Howitzer, MK19 grenade launcher and sniper rifle during the weekend.
Another highlight was their observation of helicopters flying over the center and speaking with members of the Marine Police. That was something that Austin Pierce, 14, of Howell enjoyed. “I was looking forward to the helicopter drop off and it was exciting. I’ve been a scout since I was in first grade as a Cub Scout. I am working toward becoming an Eagle Scout. I’m working on my citizenship and world badges.” Austin was among 14 members of Troop 515 present at the Camporee. “I’m also interested in engineering so this was very interesting.”
The State Police showed off a variety of vehicles that were on display including an underwater operations truck, and an Arson Unit truck that included robots. Interactive displays included equipment used by the State Police Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Composite Artist Unit and Electronic Surveillance Unit.
Saturday night concluded with a stage show and laser light display while Sunday primarily involved a closing ceremony and breaking down their camp.