Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Highlights from the 2013 Trappers Rendezvous Campout

This past weekend was the 36th annual “Trappers Rendezvous” campout near Hutchinson, Kansas, and over six thousand Boy Scouts and parents descended on the area to enjoy the great weather and a swap meet like no other. This was my third year to attend the Trappers Rendezvous with my son, and in this post I’ll share some highlights I captured via both video and photos.

One of the most memorable “learning points” from this weekend was hearing the history of “Mad Hatters” and how the beaver hats of the 1820s which fueled the economic trade that led to the original Trappers Rendezvous were responsible for this name now associated more with “Alice in Wonderland.” To learn more, check out this 90 second video, “Origin Of The Mad Hatter (Mercury In Beaver Hats)“.

It was also very cool to learn a bit about how aluminum casts are poured into sand molds, and watch Scouts (as well as family members) have hands-on opportunities to make their own. Check out the 4.5 minute video, “Pouring Aluminum Molds” for more about this.

The Trappers Rendezvous campout is primarily a huge “swap meet” for Scouts to trade all kinds of items. I find it particularly interesting to see the juxtaposition of the things Boy Scouts value today, from perennial favorites which transcend all time (like knives) to recent technological additions to our lives, like video games and computer/gaming hardware. This collage of images from this year gives a bit of the flavor of how diverse presented objects for trade can be, and how the boys “set up shop” along the roadside of the camping area.


Knives are definitely a favorite trading item. Sheath knives are prohibited, only folding knives are allowed. This Scout tradesman made it clear he’s only interested in trading “knives for knives.” In recording the 13.5 iPhone documentary I shot last year at Trappers, I was surprised to learn “shoplifting” can be a problem. Some Scouts respond by using glass cases to cover and protect their most valuable knives.


Right alongside knives and skins of various types, you find lots of technology gadgets floating around. This Scout trader was trying to get rid of a 120 GB hard drive for his XBox game system, along with a nice assortment of folding knives.


The sunsets and sunrises at Trappers this year were also definite highlights. This is my favorite image of a sunset this year, which I captured using HDR Pro on my iPhone5.


The weather for this year’s Trappers Rendezvous was spectacular. The temperatures dropped below freezing both nights, but on Saturday we enjoyed temps around 60 degrees F. This is a shot of my son and his patrol, the “Lightning Bison,” before they enjoyed a Scoutmaster-prepared breakfast of french toast, eggs and biscuits as an award for a past achievement. These are some happy Scouts!


If you are involved in any way with Boy Scouting and are in the midwest of the USA, I strongly encourage you to make it some year to the Trapper’s Rendezvous! It’s an outstanding campout and a great tradition.


To learn more about other “mountain man rendezvous” events around the USA, check out “Talking Bear’s website“. Other related links worth visiting include “The Backwoodsman Magazine” and “The Civil War Reenactors’ Homepage.” Panther Primitives has a good lineup of “Tents of the Fur Trade (Mountain Man) Era” too. That’s the site the high school teacher from Wichita, Kansas, featured in the first video I shared in this post, used to buy his historically-accurate tent for this year’s roundup.

Hear, hear for living history opportunities like the “Trapper’s Rendezvous” and chances for kids of all ages to practice hands-on crafts and trades!

To see more, check out this YouTube playlist of videos I created. It includes 7 videos shot at the Trapper’s Rendezvous in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

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