Effingham Fire Rescue Venture Crew 691 and Bloomingdale Fire Explorer Post 124 attended the 2009 Winterfest event in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Both groups are part of the Coastal Empire Council Boy Scouts of America.
Winterfest is a gathering of all Explorer and Venturing Crews in the nation. Though most crews and posts attending came from the Middle Eastern U.S., some crews came from as far away as west Texas, southern Florida and Michigan. Crews competed in “save your skin,” a competition based on escaping a building following only the fire hose, and the “Pittsburgh drill” a firefighting rescue drill requiring scouts to bring a victim out of a house by going over, under and through obstacles. Other tests included the squeeze box, caving challenge, Prusik loop climb, rock wall climb and flying squirrel. The latter requires a crew member to be strapped in and hoisted to the ceiling by their team.
The groups also competed in the advanced emergency medical competition.
“We were so busy we didn’t even get a chance to go the water events,” said Venture Crew member Alex Farlow.
The Venture Crew even participated and came in second in the backpacking cooking contest which was an outstanding feat considering the crew was competing against more than 2,500 other Explorers and Venturers, some whose specialty is backpacking and hiking, not firefighting.
This year’s Winterfest was the largest in history with 2,855 people. The local crews are planning to go back next year. The trip was made possible by sponsors Medstar (for their donation of medical supplies), the Bloomingdale Fire Department, (for their training and support) and Statesboro City Council member Will Britt.
The crews are looking for sponsors for next year’s trip. If interested in providing support, contact the Bloomingdale Fire Department. Any teenagers between the ages of 14-20 are eligible to join the Explorer Post or Venture Crew. They meet every Tuesday night at the Bloomingdale Fire Department at 7 p.m.