The noise of hacksaws slicing through cardboard filled the basement of the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday.
It was the 17th year for Construction City, a daylong event that gives the Webelos Scouts — most 10 or 11 years old — the chance to earn their engineering pin in a practical way. More than 125 boys took part in the day, said co-organizer Bev Zaugg.
Construction City is sponsored by the Black Otter District of Boy Scouts of America. Most of the participants came from the Billings area, but some drove in from as far away as Miles City.
In the morning, the Cub Scouts walked through seven rotations, talking with architects and engineers, and hearing about the entire construction process, Zaugg said. After learning the theory, the boys got a practical lesson.
With the blueprints the Scouts designed before arriving Saturday, the young builders, in teams of two or three, got to work constructing castles out of cardboard. They had two hours to build their versions of the medieval structures.
Each team started out with a 4-by-8-foot sheet of cardboard, packing tape and hacksaws, Zaugg said. They could grab more cardboard, if they needed it.
Some of the teams based their work on simple blueprints. Others used more complex plans, and at least one group built a model of a castle beforehand to guide them as they built the actual project.
Pack leaders, parents and about 30 Boy Scouts worked alongside the boys to build their dream castles. The older Scouts helping the younger ones is a nice bridge between the two age groups, Zaugg said.
“It’s kind of one of those mentoring activities where the Boy Scouts can work with the Webelos, and it helps with that transition of the Webelos going into the Boy Scout program,” Zaugg said.
Organized chaos reigned as the teams sawed and taped the cardboard into the shapes they wanted.
Three members of Huntley Project Cub Scout Pack 77 focused first on shaping cardboard into five columns — one at each corner and a fifth one in the middle. The boys cut out a window in the middle column and covered it with plastic to simulate a window.
Kory Dolph, 11, and a fifth-grader at Huntley Project School, was back for his second year at Construction City. Kory who earned his engineering badge last year, had so much fun the first time that he decided to come back.
He was joined by fellow Webelos Loren Sherman, 10, and Wil Rivers, 11, also students at Huntley Project School. The trio was assisted by den leader Casey Dolph, Kory’s father.
Loren said working on the castle wasn’t all fun.
“It hurts your hands when you saw,” he said.
He also gleaned some lessons about the art of building.
“It takes a lot of effort and it takes a lot of time,” he said.
It also takes teamwork, Kory said. And it’s best not to rush the work, he added. “If you take your time, it will make the building sturdier,” he said.
The day was not all about building things. At the end of the day, the Scouts turned in their supplies and, in return, got destruction permits to tear down the castles they had just finished building.
“Yeah, that’s the fun part,” Kory said, “destroying it.”