Cheerio, Mates

MAYVILLE – Some friends from across the pond paid a visit to Camp Merz on Tuesday.

A Scouts troop from Hastings, England, visited Camp Merz in Mayville. The Scouts were there to learn about how American scout troops operate, and to take in the scenery of Chautauqua Lake’s north basin.

Although American scout organizations are split into the Boys’ and Girls’ Scouts, the English Scouts is coed, and the group from Hastings, England, was comprised of boys and girls ages 10-17.

The trip to Camp Merz falls in the middle of a larger trip for the Scouts. The Scouts had previously spent a few days in Toronto before visiting Merz, and the troop will return to Canada following its departure from the camp today.

“We’re going to take part in the whole program they’ve set up for us,” said Andy Bishop, Scout expo leader. “We can’t do full badges – they do merit badges, but it takes a week to earn, so we can’t do that. We’re going to dip into the program and experience as much of the American Scouts as we can.”

By 9 a.m., the Scouts had already gone for a swim in Chautauqua Lake, washed and changed into uniform, and ate breakfast.

“They took a swim test at 6:30 a.m.,” said Bishop. “It was cold, but not as cold as they thought it would be. It was actually a lovely morning. It’s a very nice lake – very calm.”

Although the English Scouts organization and the American Scouts organization are not too different fundamentally, Bishop said his experiences with the American Scouts so far have been focused upon the outdoors.

“This is my sixth time coming to the states,” said Bishop. “You really like the outdoors, really a great deal. You like to go camping and participate in outdoor activities. You have the facilities, which is something we don’t have as much of. We have them, but not as widespread as you do. It’s one of the reasons we always want to come back, because we’ve been here twice before.”

The sentiments of the Scout members echoed that of Bishop.

“It’s a really nice camp, and the people here are all really nice as well,” said George Nicola, explorer scout. “This place is a lot bigger than the normal camps we have at home, and I think we’ve really enjoyed that. Everyone is very enthusiastic and very polite, as well. Everyone is always so excited to see you.”

The Scouts had plans to spend the day shooting, rowing and participating in other camp activities before winding down the day with an English Scouts versus American Scouts volleyball match, as well as a karaoke competition.

The Scouts will return to Canada, making stops to see Niagara Falls, before flying back home.