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Columns

February 11, 2013

Local challenges taken in President's Fitness Program in 1963

(Continued)

Rounds recently said after that there was no more Oneonta interest. He had grown up as both a Cub and Boy Scout with Troop 7 at Bugbee School, and then went on with Scouting through an Explorer Post in Sidney. Ed Roelle was the leader, and Rounds was a good friend with his son, Butch. They’d met at the Boy Scout camp at Crumhorn Mountain, today called Camp Henderson.

“Our whole family was a big fan of President Kennedy,” Rounds said, regarding motivation to do this hike. “I hooked up with the Sidney Explorers, as they were going to do a hike. I wanted to do it, but we couldn’t make it go in Oneonta.”

Rounds recalled it taking place weeks later. The Oneonta Star reported that a group of 35 students departed Sidney on Sunday morning, March 17, taking a path through Unadilla, Franklin and “over the mountain” to Oneonta. Mayor Sam Nader greeted the walkers at the Main Street viaduct. The group then headed back to Sidney. Only 17 remained in Unadilla, where they took a break for dinner at 9 p.m. Only eight completed it, and Rounds was among the hearty.

“It was a social occasion, so the 50 miles didn’t seem like much,” Rounds recalled. “It was hard work, but we had a ball.” Previous Scouting and Explorer hikes and camping proved to be good training for the challenge.

That same weekend, a Delhi Explorer group walked from Delhi to Margaretville and back, beginning at 5:30 a.m. and finishing at 7:45 p.m.

Dallas Gedney, a recently retired owner of the Hughson and Benson Agency in Oneonta, remembered that he took President Kennedy’s challenge with his Civil Air Patrol unit, which was based in Utica.

“There were about 25 of us at the time, and our challenge was to go from the Naval Reserve station on Mohawk Street to the Camp Russell Boy Scout Camp near White Lake. It wasn’t exactly 50 miles, but we hiked it in full uniform and combat boots, and we were going to stay at the camp for a couple of days so we had packs on our backs.” Not everyone made it, Gedney said, with some opting to hitchhike the rest of the way. A Google Map shows the trip to be about 34 miles.

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