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The annual snow derby competition for boys to test their abilities in fire building, axemanship, compass orienteering, and other outdoor skills is common to many Calvinist Cadet Corps clubs. For the Niagara Cadet Council, cadets and counselors enjoy the added bonus of a chilly campout.

Niagara Cadet Council president Kevin Drenth of Riverside Christian Reformed Church in Wellandport, Ontario, said the campout has been part of the Niagara Snow Derby for at least 25 years. He remembers the winter adventure from when he was a cadet. Drenth was one of the counselors who slept outside again this year along with Riverside CRC’s contingent of 11 cadets and other counselors. The temperature that night dropped to -15C (5F).

“We’ve had many discussions on the board on whether we should keep doing this because it’s a pile of work for the counselors for a one-night campout, but it’s the one thing the boys remember,” Drenth said. “They don’t remember if they came in 5th or 12th, they just remember that they slept over and it was fun.”

The sleeping accommodations have improved over the years, and now most include a wood stove in the shelter. “This year was the first year my club brought one of the wood stoves,” Drenth said. “Normally we did it the old fashioned way: we just pack everybody in with lots of sleeping bags, and [we’re] good to go.”

Nine of the 10 participating churches had cadets and counselors sleeping over. Each club had its own shelter and cook tent. On Saturday, all 10 clubs entered one or more teams in the skills competition. Bethany CRC in Fenwick had the overall winning team, and the club from Jubilee Fellowship CRC in St. Catharines had the distinction of having the youngest first-time camper. Eight-year-old Carter said he chose to attend “because it sounded really fun and I couldn’t wait.”

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