Tuesday, September 26, 2017

‘You’ve got to hug me, bro.’

SIFAT Campus Director Angie Stryker and her dog, Apollo (the troop's now unofficial mascot),
following the completion of the troop's service project Sunday morning.

On Saturday, Sept. 23, Troop 50 Scouts and leaders ventured to Lineville, Alabama, the site of SIFAT, Servants in Faith and Technology. The troop last visited SIFAT in February 2015. SIFAT is a nonprofit Christian organization that provides training in community development for places around the world. Christian leaders learn self-help skills for basic human needs, including physical, spiritual, social and economic. It raises awareness of needs and global issues, providing opportunities for people to get involved personally, both to learn from and to serve alongside those with scarce resources. Since its founding in 1979, SIFAT has trained church and community leaders from more than 80 countries.

The Philippines: our Scouts' weekend home-away-from-home

The first order of business was to pick a place that everyone would call home for the evening. SIFAT’s Global Village features a number of homes indigenous to the countries represented in the village. Scouts took an immediate liking to a structure based on homes in the Philippines. Our host, Angie, explained that those living in the home will keep pigs or other small livestock in the pens below the house, and bring those animals into the home during times of inclement weather. She also noted that, in the Philippines, if someone dies in the home, its surviving residents will burn down and rebuild the structure.

The adult leaders selected Ecuador for their weekend getaway home.

The adult leaders, on the other hand, were a little harder to please. In what could be called an episode of “International Househunters,” they visited several options – ruling them out due to their less-than-spacious interiors or dirt floors — before settling on a spacious and elevated-floor model from Ecuador.

As Miles attempts to hang on, Luke and Rusty tend to the delicate task of
moving the beam from one set of buried posts to another.

Jacob gives Trey a boost to the rope's foot loop.
The weekend’s theme of cooperation, teamwork and togetherness began in the afternoon, when after settling in, exploring their surroundings and enjoying a group lunch, the troop set out for the SIFAT challenge course. The first station challenged Scouts to move the entire group across four posts using only two boards. If the board or a Scout touched the ground, the group had to start over. There was much trial and error before the Scouts made any forward progress. The troop finally formulated a strategy that involved moving across in pairs and clinging to each other as the pairs balanced on the buried posts — a strategy that Miles summed up with the simple instruction: “You’ve got to hug me, bro.” Despite the strategy, the group never got more than a single Scout or two to the finish line before having to start over due to some mishap.

The group moved onto its second challenge, where Scouts were required to move the entire group from one platform to another by swinging on a rope dangling out of their reach. After putting their heads together — and combining various belts and shoestrings they used to lasso the rope — the group began making forward progress…that is, until a rogue shoe or rear-end scrapped the ground and the group had to start over again. Applying a problem-solving approach once again, the Scouts realized that tying a loop at the end of the rope would give everyone the extra boost up they needed to avoid touching the ground in their Tarzan-style travel to the opposite platform.

The final challenge again required the group to work together in near-death-defying feats of balance to stabilize a see-sawing platform for 20 seconds. Scouts employed various methods as they tried to balance the swaying platform, from standing to sitting to their previously developed “hug-me-bro" strategy. Thanks to another combination of trial and error, the Scouts prevailed in the end (also thanks to some very fast counting to 20).

The troop returned to the campsite to relax, continue exploring the Global Village and prepare dinner. Both the combined single patrol and the Leadership Corps took a trail-style approach to dinner preparation, using backpacking stoves and filtered creek water for cooking and drinking. Scouts did prepare a dinner featuring ground meat tacos with tortillas and cheese, and the Leadership Corps relied on boxed red beans and rice with sausage. With the sun setting earlier in the evening, dinner was over and the troop began retiring to bed around 9 p.m.

The troop rose Sunday morning to easy breakfast menus — pop-tarts for the single Scout patrol, and a selection of oatmeal and grits for the Leadership Corps. The troop assembled after breakfast for its Sunday “Duty to God” devotional, which focused on Proverbs 3:5-6 and trusting in God, which was led by Chartered Organization Representative Michael Tullier. He and Scoutmaster Andrew Baird made several analogies to how trusting in God requires developing the same type of relationship with him that trapeze artists have as one leaps from the safety of his swing to the arms of the catcher, or how Scouts had to trust each other for balance and support during many of the SIFAT challenge course activities.

Nick assesses one of the two overgrown garden areas the troop helped clean up.

Scouts and leaders spent about two hours prior to departing conducting a service project by clearing out overgrown garden areas and cleaning off the roof of one of the Global Village cooking shelters.

The same garden area following the troop's weeding and clean-up efforts.

Among the aspects of the SIFAT campout members of the Patrol Leaders Council commended at its meeting the following Monday were the challenge course, the diverse elements of the Global Village, the opportunity to complete a service project, menu planning and, of course, the troop's unofficial mascot Apollo the dog. The troop's youth leaders did indicate a need to perfect their team-building strategies for better future success, as well as being better about campsite cleanliness. 

For more photos from the SIFAT campout, please visit the troop’s online photo album.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Court of honor celebrates summer achievements, activities

Summer 2017 was a busy time for Scouts and leaders of Troop 50, evidenced by the wide array of accomplishments recognized at the troop's post-summer court of honor on Monday, Aug. 28. In addition to presenting Scouts with their recently earned merit badges and ranks, the troop celebrated many of the other events and achievements that marked our Scouts' summer experiences.

Summer Camp and Advancement

Senior Patrol Leader Jacob presents Trey with the merit badges he earned at summer camp,
which included Archery, Chess, Citizenship in the World, Environmental Science and Geology.

Scoutmaster Andrew Baird recognizes Samuel
as the troop's newest member.
Thanks to Scouts' hard work, the troop awarded 62 merit badges at the court of honor — the majority of which were earned by Scouts attending summer camp in June at Camp Sequoyah in north Alabama.

Geology and Archery merit badges were by far the most popular, with many of the Eagle-required merit badges like Citizenship in the Nation and Citizenship in the World also being among those presented.

Philmont Scout Ranch

Philmont Crew 620-B, comprised primarily of Troop 50 Scouts and leaders.

Between June 17 to July 2, members of Boy Scout Troop 50, comprising the majority of Philmont Crew 620-B, set out on a two-week excursion traveling to and backpacking the trails of Philmont Scout Ranch, the Boy Scouts of America's largest national high adventure base, located in Cimarron, New Mexico. Check out photos and tweets from the excursion on the troop's blog and Twitter account.

National Boy Scout Jamboree

Troop 50, represented by Creighton, Rusty, Trey, Liam and Wes Williams, were among the other Scouts and leaders from Saugahatchee District who attended the National Jamboree.

Seventeen Scouts and leaders from the Auburn/Opelika area — including Creighton, Rusty, Trey, Liam and Assistant Scoutmaster Wes Williams — attended the 19th National Boy Scout Jamboree, held from July 19 to July 28 at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia. They were among the 68 scouts and leaders divided between two jamboree troops representing the Chattahoochee Council. More than 30,000 Scouts and leaders attended the national gathering, which is hosted every four years at the Summit Bechtel Reserve by the Boy Scouts of America.

Order of the Arrow elections

The troop's newest members of the Order of the Arrow (front row, left to right): Joe, Trey and Michael;
(back row) Paul, Assistant Scoutmaster Christian Dagg, Josh, Rusty and Creighton.

Following the Order of the Arrow election held at the troop's spring court of honor, newly elected OA candidates were recognized, or "called out," in a variety of locations as being elected for Scouting's National Honor Society. During the weekend of Aug. 4-6, the elected Scouts, along with Assistant Scoutmaster Christian Dagg, who had been selected for OA membership by the troop committee, participated in the Order of the Arrow's summer induction weekend, called an Ordeal, at Camp Frank G. Lumpkin in LaGrange. Read more about their OA experience on the troop's blog.

Troop Elections

Scoutmaster Baird administers the oath of office to
Armored Armadillos Assistant Patrol Leader Everett (left) and
Assistant Senior Patrol Leader Nicky (right).

Also at the troop's spring court of honor, the troop held elections for youth leaders who will serve in troop positions through the remainder of the calendar year. Nicky, who was unable to attend the spring court of honor, was sworn in as the troop's newest assistant senior patrol leader. Following the June election, Everett was selected as assistant patrol leader of the Armored Armadillos Patrol, and he too was sworn in at the court of honor.

James J. Baird Jr. Honor Scout Award

Nicky receives the James J. Baird Jr. Honor Scout Award from Scoutmaster Baird

The summer court of honor also allowed the troop to honor its most recent recipient of the James J. Baird Jr. Honor Scout Award, Nicky, who was unable to attend the spring court of honor when this year's honoree was announced. First presented in 2015, this award is given annually to the troop's "top Scout" based on his participation in troop activities, demonstration of Scout skills, continuing advancement success, and a vote of his peers. The award honors the memory of Jim Baird, the uncle of Scoutmaster Baird, a 1945 recipient of the Eagle Scout rank and longtime Rotarian leader.

Additional photos from the troop's summer court of honor are available on the troop's online photo album.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee

As the next line of the Alan Jackson song goes, "It gets hotter than a hoochie coochie," and that's true about anything you do in the month of August. So, Troop 50 heeded Jackson's advice and took the water — literally — by braving the whitewater of the Chattahoochee River on Saturday, Aug. 19. In what has become an annual excursion, Scouts and leaders donned helmets and equipped themselves with paddles for a few hours of whitewater adventure.

Scouts pay rapt attention to the pre-rafting safety presentation.

Filling two rafts and three "ducky" inflatable whitewater boats, the troop set out from the Phenix City-based Whitewater Express outfitter. The excursion down the Chattahoochee River, bordered by portions of Downtown Columbus, included several rapids and a lazy river-style stopping point.

Thankfully, all Scouts and leaders departing on the whitewater excursion were accounted for at the end of the trip! 
The whitewater outing officially marks the start of the troop's 2017-18 year. Look for more blog posts recounting the troop's activities to come!

For more photos from the trip, visit the troop's online photo album.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Troop expands Order of the Arrow membership

For more than 100 years, the Order of the Arrow, or "OA" — also referred to as Scouting's National Honor Society — has recognized Scouts and leaders who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives. Arrowmen, as members of the Order of the Arrow are know, are regarded for maintaining camping traditions and spirit, promoting year-round and long-term resident camping, and providing cheerful service to others.

The troop hosted an Order of the Arrow election at its spring court of honor, where candidates for OA membership were considered for election by all members of the troop. The OA is unique in that nonmembers are often the ones that elect Scouts in their troop for membership. 

Scouts elected for the Order of the Arrow were "called out" in a number of conventional and unconventional ways. Trey, Joe and Paul, who attended summer camp at Camp Sequoyah, were called out in the conventional manner, along with other campers who had been selected by their troops for OA membership.

Joe, Paul and Trey (center, left to right) flanked by current OA members
(left) Andrew Stanford, assistant scoutmaster, and (right) Rob Stanford, troop committee chair.

Scouts not attending summer camp, however, presented the troop with the need to develop less-conventional ways of recognizing their election. On Saturday, June 24, with Krispy Kreme donuts in hand, Chartered Organization Representative Michael Tullier and Troop Committee Chair Rob Stanford did the OA version of the Publisher's Clearinghouse home visits by notifying Rusty (left) and Michael (right) of their election to the Order of the Arrow. The final two OA candidates — Josh and Creighton, — learned of their election during their 12-day backpacking excursion at Philmont National Scout Ranch in late June.

During the weekend of Aug. 4-6, the elected Scouts, along with Assistant Scoutmaster Christian Dagg, who had been selected for OA membership by the troop committee, participated in the Order of the Arrow's induction weekend, called an Ordeal, at Camp Frank G. Lumpkin in LaGrange. At the end of the weekend's activities, they were inducted into the Order of the Arrow's Chattahoochee Lodge, which is affiliated with the Chattahoochee Council.

The troop's newest members of the Order of the Arrow: (front row, left to right): Joe, Trey and Michael;
(back row, left to right): Paul, Christian Dagg, Josh, Rusty and Creighton.