Saturday, June 16, 2018

Sleeping with the bears (CDB Day 7)

Saturday morning we woke up early after sleeping with bears all around, dressed in Class A, and packed up our trailer so we can start the trek back to Auburn.  The scouts were very quick and cooperative to get camp ready for us to leave.  Mr. Chism took the trailer out of the campsite and we all headed to the dining hall for breakfast.

At the dining hall we were treated with blueberry muffins and milk.  We were hopeful this would tide us over until lunch.  After a bit of discussion about the condition of the tents in the campsite with the ranger, we were on our way home.

Chick-Fil-A was our lunch of choice in Gainesville
We were able to get into Gainesville with no incident to enjoy some Chick-Fil-A.  They did an amazing job of serving our scouts and satisfying their appetites.  What a great treat after a week of camp food.  Speaking of camp food...  Camp Daniel Boone served some high quality and good tasting food all week.  Not bad at all for camp food!  Even the picky eaters found something to eat each day and tried new things throughout the week.

After dealing with several traffic issues in Atlanta, we were able to get back to Auburn around 2:15pm where scouts said goodbye, gathered their belongings and headed home.  We are grateful to Auburn United Methodist Church for allowing us to use their buses for travel.  This allowed us to travel with 2 buses and a truck and trailer instead of a convoy of personal vehicles.

Group picture from beginning of camp
Summer camp was another great success.  Thanks to all of our scouts at camp for making it a success by doing as they were asked and working hard on merit badges, requirements, and competitions.  They represented our troop very well.  Thanks also to the adult leaders who took a week off to lead these scouts.  Every leader played a vital role in the success of this trip throughout the week.  Thank you for your patience with the slowness of communication.  There is virtually no cell service at camp and using the internet in only one room at camp was a challenge and was quite slow and unreliable.  And that's all from Summer Camp 2018!

A beary interesting day (CDB Day 6)

Will and Jake tending our troop flag
Friday started out just like the others with an early morning and the troop heading to breakfast at 7:15.  We noticed on the way to breakfast that there was trash out of trash cans and a big mess in certain places.  Our suspicions that a bear had been in camp making the mess were quickly confirmed by some staff members.  Bears had apparently roamed through the main part of camp where programs occur all throughout the night and enjoyed getting whatever they could get their paws on.  I guess we're getting used to all of it, because we just shrugged our shoulders and moved on.

Also, on the way to breakfast the troop marched from the campsite to the dining hall to a cadence called by summer camp SPL Jason.  It had something to do with overweight, old Scoutmasters...  No comment!  The cadence was to show scout spirit to others at camp and is part of the Long Rifle Award the troop was working to earn.  For breakfast, we enjoyed biscuits, folded eggs, and bacon finally made it's appearance!  Scouts also enjoyed the cereal bar as they have every morning.

Only four buddy tags for the troop this week
If it hasn't been mentioned before, Lake Allen at camp is frigid (temps of high 50s to mid 60s).  We were not able to get our swim tests when we arrived because of the inefficient check-in process and the fact that we ran out of time.  So, scouts and leaders had to make a special effort to pass the swim test.  At the end of the week, we only had 4 from our troop take and pass the swim test.  Congrats to Jason, Harrison, Gideon, and Mr. Chism for doing so.  Of course our guys enjoying the high adventure this week had to take the test upon arrival and they all passed as well.

George chugging root beer for Mountain Man
After breakfast, scouts participated in their normal activities before morning merit badge classes, such as ga-ga and the trading post and then the headed to their last few hours of class.  Some scouts were not in class this morning because they had already fulfilled requirements for their merit badges and enjoyed the free time with a slushie.  It hasn't been mentioned in this blog yet that for $7 or $10 you can purchase a cup (different styles) that allows you to have unlimited free slushies for the week.  We don't think that camp made money on this deal.

Gideon and Jake folding flag for Mountain Man
Once the morning classes were complete, everyone headed to lunch which included an individual sized pizza and chips.  The boys were very happy that pizza finally arrived at camp.  Bacon and pizza in the same day!  It also hasn't been mentioned in the blog that scouts were assigned slots on a duty roster for KP (kitchen patrol).  All scouts had several turns at cleaning up the dishes and tables after the meals and today's lunch was no exception.

After lunch there was a bit of free time before the Mountain Man Relay Challenge.  This is a competition between troops at the majority of the program areas around camp.  The troop was represented by one to five scouts at each station depending upon the station.  The competition would last four hours and involve competition at leadership (trivia), Goin' Great (running and flag folding), Handicraft (drawing), Ecology (trivia), Climbing (bouldering), Archery, Shotgun, Scoutcraft (scout skills), STEM (trivia), and Boonesboro (root beer chug & black powder rifle shooting).  The troop traveled around camp to all of these competitions to root on the participants.  Great teamwork was displayed.

Jason hits an apple in archery for Mountain Man
After the Mountain Man Challenge, all the first year scouts attended the Goin' Great graduation where they received their patches and posed for a group picture.  We are very proud of these first year scouts for sleeping with the bears and enduring their first year of camp so well.  They did amazing and dare we say they did the best of any first year group!  After the graduation, the troop headed to dinner in the dining hall for the last time.

For dinner we enjoyed grilled chicken, potato casserole, mixed veggies (carrots, peas, green beans), and a type of cherry cobbler.  After dinner, we attended the final flag ceremony and then headed back to camp to start packing.  Since we will have an early start on Saturday to come home, we needed to pack as much as possible tonight.  At about 8:15 we headed from our campsite towards the  amphitheater for the closing campfire.  Then we heard a bunch of gunfire!
Goin' Great graduation picture

We were stopped on our way and told that there were bears in the ampitheater where we were heading!  They were shooting guns in order to scare the bears away from the area and away from camp.  For our own safety, we had to stay put until they were able to clear the bears out of that section of camp.  Once it was deemed safe, our troop (along with dozens of others) were able to travel together to the parade field where a headcount was done to ensure everyone was present.  Fortunately, everyone was present and there were no incidents.

Scouts watching closing campfire on parade grounds
So, instead of the closing campfire, the staff put on a make-shift campfire program on the parade grounds.  We enjoyed some skits by various troops and saw some awards presented.  We never heard the winner of the Mountain Man Challenge, but we're looking into it.  We did win the Long Rifle Award as an honor troop at camp.  After the program, we headed back to camp for showers and bed.  The camp staff asked us to be as quiet as possible so that the dogs they have in camp to run the bears away wouldn't be distracted by our noise.  We all settled in and had a good night sleep with no incident, but everyone's awareness was heightened and several were a bit nervous.

The weather today at camp was a bit warmer and we hadn't seen rain or overcast for several days.  It was very comfortable in the shade, but a bit hot in the sun.  For more photos and videos from Friday, check out our online album.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Rafting, ice cream, and guns

     Our final day of Zip and Splash put us on the French Broad River near Asheville, NC for our last day of rafting. Carbon dating has indicated that the French Broad is one of the oldest rivers in the world. Much like the Pigeon, the section we were rafting has Class III and IV rapids. We arrived at the NOC outpost for the French Broad just after 10:00 this morning and went through the obligatory signing of the waivers and standard safety briefing. We can now quote parts of the safety video and began to chant various passages in unison. After a snarky look from the lead guide, we were fitted with helmets and life jackets before loading aboard the bus for the river.

Trey, Joe, Nick, and Hunter are ready to raft.
     The four boys plotted among themselves when the raft assignments were being decided. They decided that Mr. Williams should ride with another group and only the scoutmaster would accompany them. This was obviously for nefarious purposes. No sooner were we on the water than the boys began to splash with their paddles in an attempt to get us as wet as possible.

One of the other rafts shoots the rapid known as the Maze.

We passed Turtle Rock heading into another rapid.

     When we got to a point in the river where we could swim, the scoutmaster wasted no time in pitching Hunter and Nick into the water before going in behind them. This happened with such haste that we lost one of the paddles, which Joe swam after and retrieved. After we returned to the boat, our efforts to splash one another caused us to hang up on a rock, which required some maneuvering in the raft to free ourselves. We put the guide to so much trouble that we wound up tipping her extra for the frustration.

Using the bottom of a raft as a dining table, we had a nice lunch. 
     As lunch time approached, the raft guides brought us up to a sandy area and fed us lunch. They pulled all sorts of sandwich fixings, crackers, salsa, pickles, cookies, and trail mix for us to eat. After we had eaten every scrap, it was back to the river for the last set of rapids.
The only house left in the town of Stackhouse.
     The take out point was at the former site of a town. In 1960, a flood inundated the town of Stackhouse and swept away most of the structures. A lone house still stands above the river. A sign on the porch, salvaged from the former train station, still reads Stackhouse. Following the ride back to the NOC outpost, we changed clothes and headed out in search of ice cream. A local citizen of the town of Marshall had told our camp staff leader that there was an ice cream bar at the local country store right in front of the gun store. We found that he meant this literally since the ice cream was served from a freezer in front of a wall of guns.
Mr. Williams awaits his order at the ice cream and gun store.
     As befits any good country store, there was a checker board set up ready to be used. This was deja vu for us since the ice cream store from the previous day has also contained a checker board. Joe challenged some of the other scouts in our crew to a game of checkers. Using the same analytical style that he uses for playing chess, Joe easily took out his opponents on both days. 
Game number one was played at Jack the Dipper.

Game two at the ice cream/gun store.
     Following our satisfying snack of gun store ice cream, we piled back in the van to head on to camp. We made one other stop along the west fork of the Little Pigeon to admire the view and dip our feet in the water. Some of the scouts wound up dipping more than their feet and had a wet ride the rest of the way to camp.

     As we get our campsite, and the van, cleaned up, we look forward to a good night's sleep before we return to Auburn on the morrow. It has been a good week of camp and a great adventure trip for both the boys and the leaders. More photos from the day are found at this link.

Polar bears & pickle juice (CDB Day 5)

Scouts before the plunge
Thursday started a little earlier and more abrupt for some.  Eight of our scouts (Jason, Connor, Gideon, Jake, Harrison, George, Benson, and Tyson) accompanied by Mr. Chism rose early and headed to the lake for the Polar Bear Plunge.  As if Lake Allen wasn't cold enough, these brave souls competed to get a greased watermelon in the frigid lake at 6:30 this morning!  Why do this you ask?  Bragging rights and a cool patch, of course.  Congratulations to these scouts for "manning up" and earning that patch!

Josh, our program director
The polar bear scouts joined the rest of us for dinner where we enjoyed french toast sticks, folded eggs, sausage patties, and the cereal bar.  After breakfast, we attended the flag raising ceremony, led by our program director, Josh.  Josh always leads us in a song.  This morning's song was the "Alligator" song and was new to most of us.

After the flag ceremony, everyone headed off to class in the same routine that we've had all week.  The scouts have been working on their homework and many have already completed merit badges.  There have been mixed reviews about the classes.  Some say they are boring while others say they are having a blast.  Most scouts all agree that the staff is very friendly and they've enjoyed getting to know them.

We all joined back for lunch and enjoyed hamburgers, hot dogs, and chips.  After lunch and a bit of free time everyone headed to their afternoon merit badge classes and Goin' Great for the last time.  On Friday afternoon, there is a camp wide competition called the Mountain Man Challenge and we'll be competing in that.

Miles, Harrison, and Samuel cleaning creek
After the classes ended for the afternoon, the scout leadership planned out the rest of the week so that the troop would be able to earn the Long Rifle Award, which is the honor troop award at camp.  Mr. Edwards arranged for a service project that involved clearing out a creek at a nearby campsite to ensure that it wouldn't backup and flood during rain.  Several scouts led by Luke worked to get this accomplished while there were two other groups working on different tasks.

While several scouts were working on the service project for camp, another small group of scouts led by Liam were working the orienteering course in order to fill in the blanks for the challenge.  Orienteering involves using a compass to find a location based on coordinates and distance.  The scouts believe that they did in fact find the proper locations to fill in the blanks for the right answer based on the clues (coordinates and distance).

Will scaling the wall again at a fast pace
At the same time the scouts were working on the service project and orienteering course, another group led by Jason was cooking the meal for the troop.  The meal was provided by the kitchen at the dining hall and was jambalaya-ish.  It was a bunch of spanish rice with some smoked sausage.  Several of our first year scouts helped with the cooking and there should be some great new patrol cooks in the near future.  The jambalaya-ish was accompanied by salad and a roll.  Most agreed that the meal was better than expected and everyone ate well.

After dinner, the scouts in the Order of the Arrow (OA) including our newest candidate Jason attended an OA ice cream social with other arrowmen at camp.  This was a nice opportunity to visit with scouts from other councils and states and enjoy some ice cream.  Meanwhile, back at camp the rest of the scouts were enjoying some s'mores by the campfire along with the troop sharing our campsite.  It was a glorious evening.

Nick chugging pickle juice at tavern
A small group of scouts headed up to Boonesboro with the scouts from the high adventure contingent.  Tonight, the tavern was open where you could enjoy some beer, wine, and ale.  Actually, it is root beer, Cheerwine, and ginger ale.  Aside from the fact that the beverages are non-alcoholic, it seemed like a tavern in every other way.  There was live music and carousing and the scouts loved it.  Nick even chugged a jar of pickle juice on top of the table to the chants of "chug! chug! chug!".

After heading back down the hill from Boonesboro, we discovered that a bear was just spotted there and that it was headed towards the staff housing area.  Bears continue to be present in camp, which is disconcerting for the camp staff an leaders.  However, other than a sighting thankfully there have been no other issues.  Today the sun was out all day and it got a little warm in the sun.  It was still very pleasant in the shade and we continue to enjoy our time in the outdoors.

For more pictures and videos, check out our online album.