Scouts meet real-life heroes at massive Maryland camporee

For one weekend last month, it was the safest place on the planet — or at least the most exciting.

At the county fairgrounds in Anne Arundel County, Md., Scouts and leaders met representatives from more than 40 different county, state and federal law enforcement and public-safety agencies.

The Heroes II – Courage and Commitment Camporee drew 450 Boy Scouts, Venturers and leaders. It was hosted by the Four Rivers District of the Baltimore Council.

In this camporee you’ll find a lesson in the power of connecting with local agencies in a way that will engage Scouts.

The Scouts watched firefighters perform a simulated extraction of a car crash victim. They practiced first aid with Army field medics. They goggled at a police helicopter until it had to fly away to the scene of a real-life bank robbery. (A plot twist, by the way, that made the whole experience cooler.)

At each stop, Scouts met true heroes. These men and women in uniform put themselves in harm’s way each day.

For some Scouts, this was an opportunity to take a closer look at potential future careers — an avenue they can further explore through the Exploring program. For others, it was simply sweet to see all the high-tech tools these heroes use to keep us safe.

For everyone, these heroes represented the embodiment of the Scout Oath’s reminder “ … to help other people at all times.”

A yearlong effort

Mike McCormick, activities chairman for the Four Rivers District, says he was surprised by the support from so many Central Maryland public-service organizations.

It took a year of planning and dozens of volunteers to stage the largest camporee in the district’s 50-year history.

At designated places throughout the 30-acre fairgrounds, each of the 40 public and volunteer agencies set up an interactive area for visitors. The agencies got visibility. The Scouts got plenty to do.

So much to do

If anything, there was too much to do at the Heroes II camporee and too little time.

Even this bulleted list doesn’t contain everything:

  • Hands-on science stations from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
  • A huge launch pad from the National Association of Rocketry that hosted launches of nine-foot model rockets.
  • Costumed War of 1812 re-enactors from Baltimore’s famous Fort McHenry (home of the Star-Spangled Banner). One Venturer called this “the real rockets’ red glare.”
  • A helicopter provided by the Howard County Police.
  • A hands-on field triage station run by the 48th Combat Support Hospital, U.S. Army Reserve, from Fort Meade, Md. One of the Scouts called the hyper-realistic wounds on training mannequins “almost as graphic as the zombies on The Walking Dead.”
  • A 62-foot tiller ladder truck that raised the American flag over the event.
  • A live auto entrapment extrication demonstration. Firefighters from the Anne Arundel County Fire Department cut up two donated cars.
  • An explosive ordnance disposal robot demonstration by the Annapolis Fire Department bomb squad.
  • A BearCat Armored Car manned by Maryland State Police SWAT.
  • A natural-gas safety demo with controlled explosions provided by Baltimore Gas and Electric.
  • A huge wing snow plow from the Maryland State Highway Administration.
  • A rescue patrol boat from the Annapolis Station of the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Lunch catered by Mission BBQ. The company donated meals to participating uniformed first responders and military.
  • An evening show of live music provided by the Order of the Arrow and recognition of the most actively participating Scouts and patrols.

Tell us about other similar camporees

One great thing about this Heroes II camporee is that there are plenty more like it across the country.

From May 19 to 21 in New Jersey, for example, Scouts, Venturers and Explorers will gather for the 5th NJ State Police National Guard Camporee.

If there’s a similar camporee in your area, let us know in the comments section.

Hat tip: Thanks to Jim Krempel, camporee program coordinator, for the info and photos.


  1. Twice in the past 8 years, the much smaller Appalachian Trail district in western Maryland put on an emergency preparedness type camporee. There is an emphasis on activities such as triage in multiple casualty event, fire extinguishing, had to safely leave a downed building in event of tornado or similar disaster. Local fire departments, police agencies, military medical units provide program for scouts. The fire department went to great effort to build a mock tornado disaster complete with sound effects, trapped victims and narrow crawl spaces. The emphasis is not only getting out of the building safely, but also being able to give pertinent info to emergency responders such as where people are trapped. The emphasis on this camporee is not only personal preparedness and safety, but also preparing the scouts to work with emergency responders in the event of a troop mobilization in a disaster. Safety expert Al Caho has been program director for both.

  2. For the last 19 years we have held an Atomic Energy Camporee hosted by the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station located on the shores of Lake Erie. The purpose is to help the scouts earn the Nuclear Science Merit Badge. Note: 19 years ago the MB was called Atomic Energy. The event is limited to the first 160 Scouts that sign up each year. We set the limit so each scout would have quality time on the plants $20 million dollar site specific simulator. The all volunteer presenters are current and former (in my case Senior Nuclear Training Instructor retired) plant employees. Various plant departments are represented including Nuclear Security, Radiation Protection, Plant Operations, Quality Assurance, Nuclear Training, Senior Plant Management and Engineering. At the camporee the scouts work on MB requirements that are difficult to obtain on their own. The other Nuclear Science MB requirements are assigned as prerequisites to be completed prior to he camporee. For more information go to

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