Scouts craft canoe — Lewis and Clark style

Friday, May 28, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:29 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Spring and wood chips have been in the air for Boy Scout Troop 706.

Working Monday nights, the Scouts have carved a canoe from a tree. Now, after months of work, their creation has finally taken shape at St. Andrews Lutheran Church. They plan to enter the canoe in a contest Memorial Day weekend at the Cupboard Creek Encampment. That the location, just south of Jefferson City, is near where Lewis and Clark once camped is no coincidence.

The contest is an exercise in woodworking skill and an understanding of Lewis and Clark’s methods. The troop had to submit a sketch and rough draft of the canoe plans. Throughout the Scouts’ work, district executives have monitored their progress. The troop also kept a required photographic journal as evidence of Scout participation.

“We have to document how we build it,” Scout Cyrus Tague said. The journal will be submitted at the contest.

To keep their efforts historically accurate, the Scouts could only use tools that Lewis and Clark would have used, such as mallets, axes, hatchets and chisels. Although most of the tools they used were borrowed from friends or family members, all of them have acquired something they get to keep — an appreciation of what Lewis and Clark accomplished.

“Lewis and Clark built three canoes in a few days,” said Jonathan Grant, 17, assistant senior patrol leader of the troop. “It really makes you respect what they had to do back then.”

The troop’s canoe is 31 feet long and will be able to hold five to six people.

The boys are optimistic about their chances of winning the first place prize, three Osage Canoes with six paddles; at last year’s Boy Scout Fall District Camporee they won four out of six events and won the overall competition.

But even if they don’t take home an award this time, they said the project was worth it.

“We win no matter what because we put so much work into it,” Grant said. “If we win the contest, it’s just more of an accomplishment.” He also said one of the best things about doing this project will be getting into a canoe that he helped make.

All of the members plan to carve their names into it after the competition, said troop member Ryan Moore.

In the end, what began as a cottonwood tree donated by Michael Cooper, owner of Cooper’s Landing, has brought excitement to more than just the boys.

Cyrus’s dad, David Tague, is just one of the fathers who got the idea for the project and has been having just as much fun as his son. Unfortunately, he has to deal with one thing Lewis and Clark did not: where to get a 31-foot-long trailer to get the canoe to Cupboard Creek.

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