Sunday, November 23, 2014

Summer Camp at Blackhawk – The Aftermath

Well, with summer camp now behind us, we prided ourselves in surviving our adventures and in the process completing four out of five merit badges. The Camping merit badge requires a lot of nights that we knew we couldn’t meet on this activity. But they did add three nights to their total.

So, on paper, this was a great success. The boys were completely involved in the planning, preparation, and execution the camp. They learned skills that they had to use and they had great time in the process. We came back from this experience a close-knit group having shared a common challenge. But this experience reinforced in me that my skills did not include scouting.

True, we had great experience. But I knew that scouting would always be an obstacle for me. I enjoyed the camaraderie that comes from the experience. Yet there was no way the troop would succeed as a scout troop if I were its leader. So, the Sunday after we got back, I asked Bishop Carroll to release me as soon as possible.

He was reluctant to do so. He told me that the boys had never had such a good time with scouting. But I could read the writing on the wall. I had given it all I could. So, I was released. In less than two years I was working with the youth as Young Men’s President. That was where I belonged. 

Summer Camp at Blackhawk – Day 3: Pioneering

Our last merit badge to work on was Pioneering. We decided to build a tower that had a ladder to climb up and a platform where you could stand once you made it to the top. Now, we had practiced our lashing and knots for weeks ahead of the camp. So we know what to do. But we had never built anything that we would actually climb on.

Luckily, Dave Freeman was the expert and he came up Friday afternoon with the ropes and poles. As soon as he arrived we started building. First we lashed together the platform. Once that was done we started on the structure that would support the platform. Finally, we built the ladder that would allow us to climbed up. The platform of the tower was about 10 feet off the ground.

The boys had a great time building it and Burt and Dave did a fantastic job working with them. In few hours we were ready to hoist the tower from the ground and test our great pioneering skills. The test would come by having each boy climb up -- one of a time, of course.

Summer Camp at Blackhawk – Day 2: Wilderness Survival

Now, this was the day I was dreading and the one the boys were looking forward to. As part of the requirements for Wilderness Survival, we and to make our own sleeping structure from items we found on the ground. No axes, no hammers, and no tents were allowed. Although, the merit badge pamphlet stated we could we a tarp to avoid sleeping wet.

The BSA was also trying to advocate leave no trace camping so we could not cook any food. We had to eat whatever was in our packs and we had out to haul out all garbage. Indeed, after we left, the campsite had to look more natural than it did before we got there. Well, we didn’t do well with that part of the requirement, as you will see.

Summer Camp at Blackhawk – Day 1: The Prelude

So the day the of the summer camp finally arrived. It was not going to be a full week. Rather, it went from Wednesday through Saturday. On Wednesday, we did the following

  •   Arrive
  • Setup camp
  • Start the Environmental Science observations

The boys needed 30 hours of observation so we had to allow that in our plans. But, get real. Can you image a group of young, teen-age boys standing for 30 hours in some natural habitat documenting the flora and fauna? No way. So my job was to walk around visiting each little group of boys and pretending to find value in what the requirement stated. Mostly, we just chatted.

To help with the Cooking merit badge the boys had full responsibility for each meal. They planned the meals before we left. I went shopping with them to procure the food. Finally, they had to prepare each meal and clean up.

It was great having Burt there to help in this area. Not only did we avoid starving, we ate fairly well. The cool part was the preparing, cooking, and cleaning took time and planning so this became structured time that kept the boys involved.

We had a campfire that night and I tried to be my dad. But that didn’t go over well. Burt contributed much and the boys wanted to do skits. We had a reasonable good scouting time. But my real apprehension was brewing. The next day would bring Wilderness Survival to the forefront. Did I mention that I have camping?