York County Boy Scouts turn Vikings

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At first
glance, it had the makings of a typical boy scout camp, until you looked a
little closer. For a group of York County Boy Scouts, it was a weekend in the
Tenth century, courtesy of the Longship Company, a non-profit organization
focused on the life and times of early northern European seafarers.

“Walking
in the shoes of the past is one of the more interesting ways to learn about
other people and other experiences,” said Andy Mychalus of the Longship
Company.

For 48
hours, these Dillsburg kids lived in a world where everything was made by hand,
including the clothes on their back.

Alix Evans
showed the scouts how animal fibers became clothing, centuries ago. “Until
you've done it yourself from scratch, from the beginning,” said Evans,
“you just don't appreciate the work that used to go into it.”

It was a
time when tools and weapons were shaped using hammer, tong and anvil.

Blacksmith
Bruce Blackistone demonstrated how weapons were made using fire and sweat. A
skill, he says, that is still around. “Maybe the kids have gained an
appreciation of just how much work goes into some of the beautiful work that
people are still doing,” said Blackistone after the boys witnessed his efforts.

Later, these
“Viking” scouts saw first hand how battles were won or lost in the
Middle Ages

“Putting
some replica weapons in their hands, and showing them basically how to form a
wall,” said Mychalus, ” and showing them how effective lines of shields
and spears and swords were, putting them in helmets…now they're really
there.”

And then it
was out to sea on an authentic replica Viking longship. Authentic, as in, no
engine.

“Before
the invention of the steam engine, if you were going anywhere, there were only
a couple of different ways you could do it,” said Blackistone. ” And
one of them was under sail, and the other was to break out the oars.”

Unfortunately,
on there weekend journey, threatening weather forced the ship back to port
before they could try out their sailing skills. But, for these “Junior
Vikings,” it was still a great weekend for learning by living.

 

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