Science, safety stressed at kids’ fest

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RUMFORD — Although he was outside in Saturday’s brisk wind and intermittent light rain, Troop 580 Eagle Scout Robert Buotte, 18, of Rumford, had one of the warmest seats in town.

Buotte and fellow Scouts Richard Masterson, Coyote Freeman and Joe Morton, demonstrated science and outdoor cooking skills in the Rumford Eagles’ parking lot during the lodge’s annual Mountain Valley Kids Festival.

Using a sand-filled rectangular wooden box and a sand-covered tarp, atop which glowed charcoal briquettes, the scouts boiled eggs in paper cups, and baked apples and hamburgers in aluminum foil with all the fixin’s, serving them up for anyone who had a taste for outdoor-cooked food during the Child Advocacy Day event.

“This cooking is an example of ‘Leave No Trace,’ because you use a tarp with sand on it, and charcoal, and when you’re done, you just fold up the tarp and take it with you,” Buotte said.

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“The best part about scouting is cooking outside,” said Jennie Nesbit, Troop 580 scoutmaster. “Everything tastes better.”

Nesbit said that last year, the Scouts did their Child Advocacy Day presentation on tenting and orienteering and decided to do something different this time.

“They set up tents and taught orienteering, but it kind of went over the little kids’ heads, so we tried this,” she said. “I mean, who’s not going to like cooking outside?”

Buotte demonstrated how to boil an egg in a paper cup half-filled with water by placing the cup on the sand and carefully stacking briquette coals around it.

After a few minutes, the water boiled and the cup burned through in one place above the waterline but not below it.

Inside the lodge, representatives from local police, medical and fire departments, along with youth groups and adults from the Greater Rumford Community Center, Mexico Recreation Department, Area Youth Football and Cheerleaders, Area Youth Ministry and the Western Maine Junior Rifle Club set up displays and offered information or presentations.

Using the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office IRIS Scan equipment, Rumford police Cpl. Doug Maifeld scanned the eyes of about a dozen children two hours into the four-hour festival and photographed them with a laptop webcam.

The equipment is intended for use on children ages 5 and up as a law-enforcement tool to help locate missing children and adults.

“The IRIS Scan is a new procedure that takes an image of a child’s eye and it gets saved into a national database,” Maifeld said. “No two eyes are alike, just like your fingerprints. The only difference is your eyes have more identifying marks than your fingerprints, and are easier to access than your fingerprints.”

He said that while the equipment is mainly for children 5 years and older and adults, an upgrade now allows them to scan children under 5.

“If kids who’ve had their eyes scanned into the database get lost, or are found unconscious, or brainwashed, or they forget who they are, and if the police department to which they are brought has this scanning equipment, they can quickly find out who they are,” Maifeld said. “Any way that we can help kids be safe, we’ll do.”

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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