A Cub Scout in the hand is worth two in the bush.
That is the rule of the "grizzly bear" tracking game at Camp Jeremiah Johnson, in Hobble Creek Canyon. Scouts hide in the shrubbery, hoping to meet the Scout playing the bear.Counselors say "bear" season will last about two more weeks. The newly refurbished camp hosts 125 to 225 Cub Scouts a day, six days a week, four hours a day. It is open in June and July.
"It's a great chance for the boys to get out, do some crafts, hear some Indian lore, get exercise and have fun," said Wade Cox, program director. A herd of Scouts thundered by.
"They especially get exercise," he added.
Cox said Utah Valley, Nephi and Heber Scouts may sign up to come one day a season. They divide into groups and travel through stations offering different activities.
Cox said the 12-acre camp has an obstacle course; a craft area; an Indian camp; a sports area (this year's sport is Frisbee football); archery and BB gun ranges; and three cable slides over the lake. Scouts using the cable slides climb into a tree house, strap themselves into harnesses attached to 150-or 200-foot cables suspended over the lake, then slide above the water into the arms of volunteers waiting on the distant shores.
"I helped build this," Cox said. "I attached the cable to an old telephone pole that was already there. When I tried the slide, I was above the middle of the lake, and the pole slowly tipped over. I watched the lake get close and closer."
Cox said the lake has claimed no other victims, except a teenage counselor who wanted to cool off.
Debbie Wadley, a volunteer and mother of twin Scouts, said she suspected nothing when asked to work in the tree house.
"They said they needed volunteers, so I went over, thinking I would help strap the kids in. Then they told me I should slide down to meet kids at the other end. I almost died."
The Pleasant Grove resident was a good sport. She said she enjoyed the ride and hopes she and her boys can come back next year.
"The kids get exercise and do creative things. It's much better than having them sit home in front of the TV."
Cox said the camp has been there for about 15 years, but the Western-style buildings are new for '88.
"They cost about $10,000, with some volunteer help and some paid help for construction."
He said that next year, the camp will add a Huckleberry's Hideaway, complete with rafts and sand on the beach; a pirate's cove, including a treasure cave; and the OK Corral, featuring barrel broncos - suspended 55 gallon drums - and a petting farm.
Cox and camp manager Paul Hitchcock said they spend most of the year raising money and organizing volunteers for Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts activities.
The camp serves about 6,900 boys, 8 to 12 years old, annually. Each pays $4 to help pay for crafts, counselors and grounds maintenance. When the Cub Scouts have finished, the area is used for Boy Scout activities, Cox said. Girl Scouts have a separate organization and different facilities.
And when all the Scouts are elsewhere, the grounds are rented to local groups.
"But we are pretty heavily booked," Cox said. "I think we are scheduled about a year in advance."
As he led our small tour out, a hush fell over the bushes.
"Be quiet." "Is it the grizzly?" "Shh, it's grown-ups. They'll hear us."
The branches shook and the bear hunters were off, in search of smaller game.