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Thomas Dwyer navigates a compass course at the Fall Patrol-O-Ree at Tama Hills Recreation Area, Japan. Dwyer is a member of BSA Troop 22 at Naval Air Facility Atsugi.

Thomas Dwyer navigates a compass course at the Fall Patrol-O-Ree at Tama Hills Recreation Area, Japan. Dwyer is a member of BSA Troop 22 at Naval Air Facility Atsugi. (Bryce S. Dubee / S&S)

Thomas Dwyer navigates a compass course at the Fall Patrol-O-Ree at Tama Hills Recreation Area, Japan. Dwyer is a member of BSA Troop 22 at Naval Air Facility Atsugi.

Thomas Dwyer navigates a compass course at the Fall Patrol-O-Ree at Tama Hills Recreation Area, Japan. Dwyer is a member of BSA Troop 22 at Naval Air Facility Atsugi. (Bryce S. Dubee / S&S)

A member of Patrol I tests out a friction bridge built by his patrol at the Fall Patrol-O-Ree at Tama Hills Recreation Area. Building the bridge was one of the many challenges the scouts had to overcome during the event.

A member of Patrol I tests out a friction bridge built by his patrol at the Fall Patrol-O-Ree at Tama Hills Recreation Area. Building the bridge was one of the many challenges the scouts had to overcome during the event. (Bryce S. Dubee / S&S)

A Japanese and and American Boy Scout throw tomahawks during the Fall Patrol-O-Ree at Tama Hills Recreation Area.

A Japanese and and American Boy Scout throw tomahawks during the Fall Patrol-O-Ree at Tama Hills Recreation Area. (Bryce S. Dubee / S&S)

TAMA HILLS RECREATION AREA, Japan — More than 350 Boy Scouts and Scout leaders from the Boys Scouts of America (BSA) and the Scouting Association of Japan (SAJ) came together this weekend for the annual Friendship Patrol-O-Ree at Tama Hills.

The Scouts set up camp Friday, erecting tents, unrolling sleeping bags and building fire pits to prepare for the weekend. Nine BSA troops participated in the event, representing Yokota Air Base, Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Camp Zama, Yokosuka Naval Base and the Tokyo area.

SAJ scout troops from throughout the Tokyo area participated.

The two organizations are not very different with the exception of a few cultural differences, explained Keisuke Hara, a Prefectural International Committee member of the Tokyo Scout Council.

“Both organizations are still based on the Boy Scout spirit,” he said.

During this year’s Patrol-O-Ree, the Japanese and American Scouts were divided into patrols of about eight Scouts each. Each patrol was a mix of Japanese and American Scouts, so that during competitions, the Scouts would have to rely on their skill and teamwork to overcome the language barrier.

“It is great fun to watch the Scouts from both countries come together, find a way to communicate, and then work as a team to overcome obstacles,” said Carl Frentz, the event director, in a news release.

Orienteering, fire-building, first aid and even tomahawk throwing were some of the challenges Scouts faced.

One of the more interesting challenges had the patrols build a “friction bridge,” a bridge made of poles and boards that is held together by its own mass, without any ropes or nails.

“We believe in keeping the ‘outing’ in Scouting,” said Patrick Storer, Yokota’s Troop 45 Assistant Scoutmaster.

Frentz agreed, adding that, “If the scouts aren’t having fun, we’re not doing our job.”

The event culminated in a campfire ceremony and pot luck in which each troop brought a dish to share, putting yakitori and udon alongside brisket and cobbler.

For more information about Scouting in Japan go to www.fareastbsa.org.


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