Monday, May 4, 2015

An annual planning retreat without the annual rain

Scouts, leaders, and parents gather for the troop's
third-annual planning retreat.
For the third year in a row, Troop 50 Scouts, leaders, troop committee members, and parents gathered for the troop's annual planning retreat. Unlike the previous two gatherings, however, this year's combination retreat and campout lacked one usual element: rain! Scouts and leaders arrived at the Auburn's Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve & Nature Center Friday evening to begin the camping portion of the retreat weekend.

Scoutmaster Baird and SPL Andrew lead a discussion
of the merit badges and campout locations Scouts
were interested in for the coming troop year.
On Saturday, troop committee members and parents joined Scouts and leaders for the annual planning portion of the weekend retreat. After gathering together as a group, Senior Patrol Leader Andrew, Scoutmaster Andrew
Baird, and Assistant Scoutmaster Wes William facilitated a discussion of the ideas Scouts had for troop outings and merit badge opportunities. During this same time, other troop leaders, troop committee members, and parents reviewed the calendar and discussed the best windows of opportunities each month for troop outings.

Scouts and adults regrouped, and Scouts reviewed their interests with the adults. Their camping activity interests ranged from ziplining, swimming with the manatees, skiing, overnighting on the U.S.S. Alabama, mountain-biking at Chewacla State Park, visiting Cumberland Island or Dauphin Island, and whitewater rafting. In addition to Eagle-required merit badges, Scouts were also interested in pursuing merit badges that included Woodworking, Geology, Geocaching, Fishing, Indian Lore, Model Building, Backpacking, Leatherwork, Wilderness Survival

Louie, Joe and Andrew create a team strategy for the
Saturday afternoon map-reading competition.
Scouts left the planning session to prepare lunch, and the remaining leaders and parents discussed other administrative matters like budgeting, fundraising, and other troop operations topics. The planning portion of the day adjourned, and after enjoying lunch prepared by the Scouts, parents toured the campsite before departing for the day. For the troop, the afternoon included compass course basics for the troop's newest Scouts and an orientation and map-reading team competition among the remaining Scouts. After each patrol prepared and enjoyed their respective dinners, the troop gathered for a campfire of various skits that demonstrated obvious differences in pre-campfire rehearsal as the evening went on.

Chaplain Michael Tullier looks on as Creighton reads
a variety of Bible verses during Sunday's
"Duty to God" gathering.
On Sunday, patrols began the day preparing breakfast, followed by the troop's "Duty to God" gathering. In his role as troop chaplain, Chartered Organization Representative Michael Tullier, assisted by Creighton, led a discussion of the importance of retreats and instances in the Bible when Jesus and others sought solitude and time away from others for prayer, peace, and decision making.

At Monday's Patrol Leaders' Council, the troop's youth leaders commended the campout for its great weather, productive planning session, Saturday night's entertaining campfire, the Carnivorous Pandas Patrol's good food and menu planning, and the overall smooth packing-up procedures on Sunday. They also noted the need for all patrol members to be better engaged in patrol cooking, cleaning, and making (and following) duty rosters; more efficient in their use of time around meal prep and clean up; and more attuned to their efforts pitching tents and setting up dining flies. The troop also needs to improve pick-up procedures so there is not so much coming and going during in-town campouts, or Scouts leaving early while the troop is still packing up.

For more photos from the weekend retreat and campout, visit the troop's online photo album.