Believe it or not, you could have learned the basics of scuba diving this weekend at the Kansas Speedway.
If you were a Boy Scout, that is.
You also could have ridden a zip line, raced go-karts, flown remote-control helicopters, climbed rock walls and learned about welding, carpentry, archery and more.
On Saturday, more than 12,000 Scouts from throughout the region turned the speedway into a vast playground and learning lab at the first-ever Scouting 500. Organizers plan to repeat the weekend event every four years.
“We’re creating unique experiences for these Scouts,” said Scott Boswell of Commerce Trust Co. of Kansas City and the event’s chairman.
“The Scouting 500 will allow these youths to do things that they’ve never done before.
“There are more than 100 activities out here for the boys. Scouting is all about leadership and building character through these experiences. And this event allows us to reach these youths.”
Tents, campers and endless waves of Scouts age 14 and older dotted the grounds as everyone from firefighters to model railroad enthusiasts stood ready to entertain and educate.
At the scuba center, Daniel Florido, 17 of Independence, emerged from a 4-foot-deep, 15,000-gallon portable pool, pleased with his experience.
“It was pretty fun,” he said after stripping off the scuba gear and wiping the water from his face. “And it was pretty easy. I’ll probably try scuba again.”
He’s even planning to go for scuba merit badge. (Yes, they have one.)
Beyond his scuba experience, he was happy with the variety of activities.
“They have all the activities (you could want),” he said. “They have some neat old cars, there’s a zip line. And later on they’re going to have go-karts. Sounds fun. I think it came together pretty well.”
James Freeman was program chairman for outdoor action at the event.
“We have monkey bridges, a pioneer carousel, knot tying, team building … and that’s just my little corner.”
He was glad to know the Scouts enjoyed themselves.
“Smiles on their faces are what matters,” he said.