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Camp Merz hosts Scouts from England

August 9, 2017
By Gavin Paterniti - , Westfield Republican

It's been some time since Camp Merz has been involved in foreign affairs, but Mayville's Boy Scouts of America campgrounds are once again playing host to some visitors from across the pond.

Via a brief 48-hour window that ran Sunday to Tuesday, Camp Merz hosted a few dozen British scouts of the Hastings and Rye District who were looking to take in a different culture and partake in a variety of activities that aren't so common for the scouts in their homeland.

"We've always enjoyed coming to Camp Merz and we've always felt very welcome every time we're here," said Andy Bishop, Canadian Expo 2017 leader. "We're primarily staying in a Scouts Canada campsite in Toronto, so that's where most of our activities are being held, but we came down here to Camp Merz for a couple days because we wanted to experience a Boy Scouts of America campsite.

Article Photos

Photo by Gavin Paterniti
The Hastings and Rye District Scouts from Hastings, England, are pictured during their two-day stay at Camp Merz in Mayville.

"There's a lot of activities we have planned here that we can't experience at home so easily, such as clay pigeon shooting and all the different things you can do on the (Chautauqua Lake) waterfront. There's not many places from our area that can offer that, and not at all where we're staying in Canada."

The visiting group hails from Hastings, England, and is comprised of Scouts and Explorer Scouts, ranging in age from 10-18. Among the biggest differences between America's Scouts system - which is split between Boys' and Girls' organizations - and that of the United Kingdom is that the latter is co-ed. In total, the group numbered 45 scouts, comprised of boys and girls, and 10 adults - all of whom called Camp Merz home until Tuesday afternoon.

Bishop said this year's excursion to Camp Merz marks the third or fourth time the Hastings group has visited the Mayville campsite, and that the group visits every four years on average.

Joe DeBiso, Camp Merz director, said the camp initially hosted the Hastings group several years ago because of its proximity to Niagara Falls, where the group does sightseeing on its upon its visits to Canada. While visiting the group interactrf with the approximately 100 local Boy Scouts currently staying at the camp, and participatef in a number of communal activities such as waterfront shooting sports, music, karaoke and a volleyball tournament.

"We take our existing program and tailor it to their schedule, so they're going to have access to activities outside of our normal time slots," DeBiso said.

The Hastings and Rye District Scouts returned to Niagara Falls on Tuesday before making their way back up to their campsite in the Toronto area.



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