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Are You Smarter Than a Boy Scout?

Scoutmasters wrote the book on camping, and built an army of pack-toting teens. But do the troops truly rule when it comes to outdoor skills? We pitted three Scouts against three average readers to find out.

Opponents: Troop 43 vs. Team BACKPACKER

TROOP 43: We recruited three scouts from a 40-member troop in Princeton, New Jersey, that spends 10 weekends in the woods each year; older members take a 50-mile backpacking trip each summer in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, Yellowstone, or Yosemite. The contenders–Todd Kelmar, 15, Adam Perez, 15, and Michael Treves, 14–have all reached Life-rank (that’s one step shy of Eagle) and acquired their camping merit badge.

TEAM BACKPACKER: We selected three readers with average hiking experience: David Mays, 35, a software engineer from Palmyra, New Jersey; Jeff Thompson, 29, owner of a window cleaning service in Philadelphia; and Louis Tevere, 42, an IT professional from Wyncote, Pennsylvania. Each camps between 10 and 20 nights a year.

Proving Grounds
The Pine Barrens of central New Jersey, at Lakehurst Naval Station

The Goal
Test outdoor know-how in 10 skills-based, head-to-head contests pulled straight from the pages of The Boy Scout Handbook:
BEAR BAGGING | FIRE STARTING | KNOT TYING | PACK LOADING AND FITTING | PACKING THE TEN ESSENTIALS| TENT PITCHING | COOKING FIRST AID | ORIENTEERING |FLAG FOLDING

 The Prize
Our Golden Boot Award is a 19-inch-tall trophy of rugged beauty–in the form of a Cabela’s Laramie Peak Mid Hiker spray-painted in a lush gold-lamé shade.

Let the games begin
The teams gather on a warm, sunny day last spring, and after a few friendly hellos and pregame refreshments, things get testy. "It’s time to kick some Scout heinie," taunts Jeff Thompson, the window cleaner from Philly.
"We’ll see about that, old man," replies take-charge Adam.
"Got any more of those Cokes?" inquires a voice from the crowd that’s attached to a visibly overstimulated 11-year-old.

 

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