Gold was discovered near the Yukon and Klondike rivers in 1896. This is an area of Canada very close to the border of Alaska. In July 1897, news had reached the United States and the famous Klondike Gold Rush began. In one year 40,000 were in Klondike.
The journey was long and difficult. Prospectors took a ship from Seattle to Skagway, Alaska. Then they crossed either the Chilcoot pass or White pass to get to the headwaters of the Yukon river. This journey was only about 30 miles, but very difficult. Once they reached the Yukon river, the prospectors built rafts and floated 500 miles down the river to Dawson City.
The writer Jack London was there. He wrote the books “White Fang” and “The Call of the Wild” from his experiences in the Klondike. Both are amazing books and I recommend that you read them.
The Klondike Gold Rush must have been very exciting, just like the Klondike Derby here tonight is. These men weren’t sitting at home watching TV. They heard about gold and wanted to get in on the action. They didn’t know whether they would make it or not. Many of them died.
Many of you are here, not knowing whether you will make it through the night or ever be warm again. You don’t know whether the activities tomorrow will be fun or hard or boring. But you are here. You’re in the boxing ring, ready for the bell to ring, ready to find out whether you’ve got what it takes to be successful. This is what life is all about.
President Theodore Roosevelt (whom most of you got to know in Night at the Museum, he was the guy on the horse) said:
credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena;
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again;
who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause;
who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement;
and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat
Scouts, I salute you for being here "in the arena" taking on the cold and snow and spending yourselves in a worthy cause.