Catholic Scouting Camporee welcomes girls this year

COLUMBIA — Catholic Boy and Girl Scouts attended the fourth annual Catholic Scouting Camporee, held Oct. 17-19 at Weston Lake near Fort Jackson.
The three-day event included opportunities for Scouts to pray and worship together, take part in competitions and outdoor activities, and work on earning special merit badges for Catholic Scouts. The Scouts represented troops from around the Diocese of Charleston and some from the Charlotte area.
This was the first year that Catholic Girl Scouts were invited to participate, according to Jim Weiskircher, chairman of the Diocese of Charleston Catholic Committee on Scouting.
“We felt we’d come so far that it would be nice to get Catholic scouting events going for the girls as well, and get them involved in the Camporee,” Weiskircher said. He said seven troops of Girl Scouts came from different regions of the diocese.
Pat Swoope, leader of Girl Scout Troop 406 at St. Anne Church in Rock Hill, said the girls were excited to go camping and to participate in competitions for best troop at the event. She said her group spent the three meetings before the Camporee preparing a troop flag and other details.
“They loved it because they don’t have a whole lot of opportunities to go camping in such an organized manner, and they had never competed for points before,” she said. “It was also important that the girls got to meet other Catholic Girl Scouts from different areas. They got to experience many different things and learn more about their faith.”
“I’ve been to the three previous Camporees and this was by far the best,” said Steve Morrison. He is a district commissioner for scouting in the Greenville area who organized activities for younger Scouts at the Camporee. “Adding the Girl Scouts made it a lot of fun.”
For the second year in a row, the Scouts took part in a special night event called the “Living Rosary.” Scouts held glow sticks and stood in formation on a field to symbolize the beads. Each Scout broke open the glow stick as he or she said a prayer from the rosary.
Another first for this year’s Camporee was an adoration chapel set up in a tent. Morrison said Scouts entered the tent for prayer shortly after the Living Rosary ended at 9 p.m. Oct. 18, and volunteers maintained adoration through out the night.
“We’ve tried to add an additional spiritual dimension to the Camporee each year,” Weiskircher said. “The weekend starts with Mass and concludes with Mass, so we get everybody in the right frame of mind from the beginning.”
Weiskircher said another new activity this year was “Footsteps of the Saints,”  part of a new series of patches put out by the National Catholic Committee on Scouting that uses “geo-caching,” a process of entering coordinates in a GPS device and then following them to a location. Scouts had to find various saints and read biographical information about them. Then they had to answer questions to prove they made it to the locations.
During the weekend, Scouts also worked on their “rosary patches” by learning how to pray the luminous mysteries and how to make their own rosaries.
More than 400 people attended this year as did the S.C. National Guard, 251st ASMC out of Darlington. They assisted the Scouts with first aid rotations on Saturday, Morrison said.
Scouts of both genders took part in creative pioneering, canoeing, arch ery, realistic first aid and religious activities.
Cub Scouts, Brownies and other younger Scouts also participated in archery, first aid with the National Guard, BB gun shooting and relay races.
All campers had the chance to take part in Jamboree on the Air, a worldwide event where Scouts can talk to each other on ham radios.
Knights of Columbus Council 6847 and the Columbiettes from St. John Neumann Church in Columbia volunteered at the Camporee and provided a hot dog lunch for more than 450 people on Oct. 18.
Awards were given out after Mass on Oct. 19, which was celebrated by Father Jeffrey Kirby, parochial vicar of St. Mary Help of Christians Church in Aiken. St. George Medals were presented to Linda Nance, Jim Maguire and Father Kirby. Bronze Pelican awards were given to Margaret Childs, Barbara Oertel, Scott Sullivan and Pat Swoope.
Both awards are authorized by the National Catholic Committee on Scouting and are given to adults who show special dedication to Catholic Scouting.
The following troops were overall winners of the competitions:
Boy Scouts: First place, Troop 788 of St. Theresa the Little Flower Church in Summerville; second, Troop 79 of Jesus Our Risen Savior Church in Spartanburg; third, Troop 277 of St. Anne Church in Rock Hill.
Girl Scouts: First place, Troop 406 of St. Anne in Rock Hill; second place, Troop 2820 of St. Anne; and third place, Troop 96 of St. Anne.