VALPARAISO | They stood at attention in the pouring rain, hands on their hearts saluting the flag burning in the campfire.
About 20 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and their troop leaders retired three U.S. flags Saturday in a ceremony at Scout-O-Rama in Central Park Plaza.
“We do everything rain or shine,” said Dale Price, Dunes Moraine district activities director.
The annual Scout-O-Rama is designed to teach the public about Scouting, said Adrien Martin, 14, of Troop 963.
“It’s to show that Scouting is still alive,” Martin said. “People on the outside don’t pay attention to it. It is definitely a nice organization.”
At the event, Martin’s troop, along with Troops 904, 928 and 907, set up tents and invited the public to interact with their members. Troops demonstrated common Boy Scout activities, including catapulting, knot tying, and building a campfire.
The troops received three flags from local residents and businesses for Saturday’s retirement ceremony.
Only the Boy Scouts of America and the Veterans of Foreign Wars are registered by the federal government to retire a flag when it becomes too worn to fly, Price said.
“Any time a flag has been flown and served out country and is tattered and torn, it is time to retire,” Price said. “One of the proper ways is to burn it until it cannot be recognized as a flag anymore.”
Scout-O-Rama has been held at the Porter County Fair in recent years, but this year was its first appearance in Central Park Plaza. Despite the steady rain, Scouts were in the park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., demonstrating Boy Scout perseverance and hardiness.
Michael Kipp, 15, of Troop 963, joked he had been a Scout for “too long.”
“I like a lot of the activities we do and being able to get outside,” Kipp said.
Matthew Schroeder, 10, the loan Cub Scout in the pack, held an oversized black umbrella over his head during the flag retirement ceremony.
“I like resident camp,” Schroeder said. “We do lots of activities ... like swimming, fishing, archery and BBs.”
Price said the day of rain was a lesson in itself for making the best of a disappointing situation.
“It serves them well later on,” Price said, of the Scouting experience. “Many colleges and employers look at that as a positive thing. They want to know what else you have done besides go to school.”