Saturday, June 13, 2015

All in

       Our week at Camp Sequoyah is now done and the Scouts are safely home. I can almost hear washing machines churning throughout Auburn. This morning we gathered our gear, loaded up the trailer, cleaned the campsite, and readied ourselves for the journey home. The troop members also signed a card for Hunter, who was forced to miss the week at camp due to illness. We wish him a speedy recovery. After picking up patches and paperwork (and paying for now two holes in our campsite canvas) we gathered at the flagpoles for a group photo.

The troop poses with our Commissioners Spirit Award at the close of a successful week at camp. 

      As we entered Auburn on the ride home, we were met with a sign reading "Welcome Home Troop 50" prepared by Mr. and Mrs. Harris. A similar sign by the Cottiers met us in the Church parking lot. The great support that we have from parents is what makes the troop so successful. Our adult leaders are also great examples for the youth to follow. I want to thank Wes Williams, Billy Lytle, and Christian Dagg for giving their time all week to make this a successful camping experience for the boys. Special thanks to our troop committee chair, Rob Stanford, who did all the planning, coordinated the merit badge sign-up, paid all the bills, towed the trailer to and from camp, and did the hundred other things needed to make everything run smoothly. It couldn't have been done without everyone's help. 

      A big share of the credit for our great experience goes to the youth leadership. Our new senior patrol leader, Louie, and patrol leaders Creighton and Nicky worked hard to keep things running smoothly. They are a mature and level-headed set of leaders and will continue to serve the troop well in the future. 

Creighton, Louie, and Nicky with our ribbon. 

      The final photos from today are found in the online photo gallery


      Another interesting note about Camp Sequoyah is the connection that I have with the camp. My first visit to the camp was in 1978 as a camper. In 1981, I began the first of seven summers that I would serve as a Sequoyah staff member, working on the waterfront and later as the camp medic. Today, my son Davis is working his fourth summer on the staff. He followed my footsteps on the waterfront and is now the archery director for the camp.

      This past week has brought back many memories of the camp and I was able to bore the other adult leaders with my tales of summers past. I also reconnected with three other former staff members who were at camp this week as leaders with their own troops. At Friday's closing campfire, the four of us were welcomed down to the front of the council ring to join the current staff in singing the camp song to close out Week 1 of the 2015 season.

Older (but hopefully wiser) versions of staffers from the 1980s at the closing campfire.
(L to R) Mike Bean, Scott Moran, Andrew Baird, and Billy Curtis 
      Besides myself, two of the other leaders also have sons who work on the current Sequoyah staff. After the campfire we gathered in the camp office for a photo.

Mike, Justin, Daniel, Scott, David, Davis, and Andrew

      Camp Sequoyah is in its forty-third year of providing a great summer camp experience for Scouts. It's nice to know that the traditions continue and that my son has the opportunity for the same positive experiences that I have had. I look forward to more great experiences in the future for all of us.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Water, Water...

      The rain waited until Friday to put in another appearance. Although there were only a couple of storms that passed through, it was enough to disrupt the water carnival in the afternoon and soak some of our gear. There was a storm of another sort prior to breakfast when it was discovered that someone had cut a four inch gash in one of the canvas tarps in our campsite. Given the prodigious use of knives in the campsite over the past few days, it seemed likely that someone had attempted to samurai the tarp into submission. Since no one in the troop owned up to the rending of the tarp, the Scoutmaster was forced to confiscate the knives of the entire troop.

The wide variety of knives seized during Operation Skewered Tarp.

      As usual, the morning was taken up with merit badge classes and the Eagle Bound program. As an added bonus, some counselors covered requirements for related merit badges that resulted in the earning of the extra badges or a partial for the covered requirements. For example, the Camping merit badge class knocked out a few Backpacking requirements; the Kayaking class also earned the Whitewater merit badge; Emergency Preparedness students worked on Search and Rescue; and the Communications counselor taught Public Speaking as an add-on. Our new Scouts in the Eagle Bound program earned First Aid, Swimming, and Leatherwork merit badges as part of their Scout skills lessons. Mr. Williams also made arrangements for many of the other Scouts in the troop to earn Leatherwork during an afternoon activity. The seventeen scouts earned a total of 64 merit badges overall and completed partial requirements for another 19 merit badges. The total also includes Josh finishing his Archery merit badge from last summer. We were able to exploit our connection to the camp's archery director to get the requirements finished. The six Eagle Bound Scouts completed a combined 69 requirements toward their Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks.

Aiden shows off his woodcarving skills
prior to the confiscation of knives.

      The Friday afternoon water carnival is a camp-wide game that involves a number of waterfront races. These include boat and canoe races, swimming races, a life-jacket relay, a canoe tug-o-war, and a Scout leader belly flop contest. After a rain storm passed, the first event was the Water Spaniel Special. This involves five scouts in a rowboat, paddling with their hands, with one scout using a paddle to steer. They are tasked with finding a floating buoy with the same number as their boat. They then have to race back to shore with their buoy. Our troop's team finished third in the event. 

Troop 50's team (in the far boat) attempts to beat the
second place team to the finish line. 
Ethan, Josh, Rusty, Everett, and Creighton pose with their buoy at the
end of the race as Davis photobombs them in the background.

      Several Scouts competed in the swim by weight races. Scouts were matched in the various races based on their body weight. Mr. Dagg also competed in the Scout leader race, taking second place. We seemed to have an edge in the next event with the experienced canoe team of Josh and Louie. The canoe in and out event involved racing the canoes around a course in the lake while listening for blasts on a whistle. Depending on the number of whistle blasts, participates were required to either change places in the canoe or jump out of the canoe, then get back in without swamping it. However, as the canoeists reached the center of the lake to start the race, a prodigious downpour occurred, accompanied by the sound of thunder. This brought a halt to the race and a scramble to get back to shore. Although the rain later slackened, the continued sound of thunder forced the cancellation of the other events. Based on the completed events, the troop tied for third place overall. 

      The afternoon also saw the arrival of the troop committee chair, Mr. Stanford, who came to tow the troop trailer home. He replaced Mr. Williams, who left to fulfill another commitment. The Scouts, hopefully, used the time before dinner to begin the process of packing their gear for home. 

      At the closing campfire, the troop was recognized for earning the Commissioner's Spirit Award. This involved meeting a number of requirements such as competing in camp-wide games, performing the flag ceremony, having swimmers complete the mile swim, doing a conservation project, offering a prayer before a meal (ably done by Joey Futrell), and having the troop in proper uniform for the evening meals. Although our campsite inspection score was a total of 497 out of 500, we just missed receiving an award. Several troops either received perfect scores or missed only one or two points. Overall, the troop had a productive and successful week. 

Miles, Zach, Clay, Ethan, and Aiden await the start of the closing campfire.
      More photos from the day and the foreshortened water carnival are found in the online photo gallery


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Remains of the Day

      After a full morning of merit badges and the Eagle Bound program, the afternoon was a full load of activities. The mile swim began just after lunch with Creighton, Rusty, Nicky, Mr. Dagg and the Scoutmaster once again ready to go the full distance. Although the two practice sessions have been cut short by thunder, the weather remained perfect while the swimmers traversed the lake several times. According to the Scoutmaster's watch, the swim time for the mile amounted to 42 minutes of swimming.

The hardy souls of the troop prepare to hit the water.
The mile swimmers follow the boat as it makes a circuit of the lake.
      Louie and Josh took part in the whitewater trip on the Tallapoosa River during the afternoon to qualify for the whitewater merit badge. They had a good time but this section of the Tallapoosa is not known for rapids. They made the best of it and Louie even tipped over his canoe to simulate a true whitewater experience.

      The rest of the troop was supposed to go geocaching as our early afternoon activity but it turned out that none of the GPS receivers could be made to work and the program had to be called off. The boys seemed perfectly happy to return to the campsite and cut up stuff (including some fingers) with their new knives. Nothing serious, however.

      After the mile swim crew returned, it was off to practice for the evening flag ceremony. The troop was signed up to lower the flags before dinner. We thought it best to practice prior to the actual event and this later proved to be a wise choice.

      By 4:00 pm we were headed out to conduct a conservation project for the camp. The project involved clearing the brush around a site used in teaching the archeology merit badge. The camp property used to be a planation during the nineteenth century and the foundations of various buildings are sometimes hiding in the woods. Our job was to move the cut brush away from the site. This involved picking up sticks and hurling them down a small slope. This was right up the boy's alley. Many did their best impression of Zeus hurling thunderbolts as they let fly with their sticks. Given the nature of the project, the adults leaders wondered if perhaps the next troop to do a "conservation" project might be tasked with moving the brush pile back to where we started.

Jason, Creighton, Aiden, Nicky, and Liam pull the cut branches out of the brush pile. 

     We finished the project with just enough time to rush back to the campsite and change into Class A uniform for the flag ceremony. Staff member and troop leader Davis Baird volunteered to call out the commands for the flag ceremony, while Miles, Joey, Clay, Nicky, Creighton, Trey, Zach, Liam, and Carl served as the color guard to lower and fold the three flags. The practice session paid off and the ceremony came off without a hitch. 

The troop members conduct an impressive flag ceremony. 

       This evening was the designated time for the Greater Alabama Council to hold a Scout leader's dinner to thank the volunteers for their commitment this week and to listen to any concerns about the camp.  In the past, the adult leaders have been served steak for this dinner. Tonight, the tables were set with steak knives and steak sauces were placed on the table. However, the meal turned out to be the same shredded pot roast served to the youth in the previous hour. Members of the council professional staff were on hand to hear our concerns but they didn't have an answer for why we were supplied steak knives but no steak. I tend to think of it as a metaphor for professional scouters - promising one thing but doing something else. Thinking that they are hearing our concerns is generally a waste of time anyway, so the steak is the only reason to come in the first place.

      The evening continued with the troop participation in the camp triathlon. Trey, Miles, and Rusty showed the troop's spirit as each of them competed in one leg of the race. Rusty raced in the canoe leg, Miles swam, and Trey ran the overland portion of the race. Although they didn't win, they did make a good showing for the troop.

Trey waits expectantly to start running as Miles heads for shore. 

      To celebrate the accomplishments of the troop, we got out the Dutch oven and cooked some apple cobbler for dessert. This seemed a good way to cap off a day full of accomplishment and hard work. No telling what tomorrow might bring.

      If you were not aware, more photos can be found online by clicking here.

Great start to a new day.

     After a hot and humid day yesterday, Thursday dawned bright, clear and beautiful. Although some of the Scouts felt that a few hours more sleep may have been just what they needed, everyone was up and out for breakfast at 7:00 am. The big news for the morning was that Carl made the photo array in our local camp newsletter The Smoke Signal (delivered each morning at breakfast). The photo showed him on the pier during a swimming merit badge class. We have decided to further his fame by tacking the paper up on our troop bulletin board.

Carl proudly points to his photo in the
bottom corner of the newsletter.

      The other interesting surprise at this morning's breakfast was the selection of biscuits, eggs, and what appeared to be chicken patties. Zach loaded up on chicken biscuits, talking about how great the chicken tasted. He had consumed three biscuits (and was ready to head to the kitchen to replenish the platter), when it was pointed out that it wasn't chicken but country fried steak instead. He shrugged his shoulders and said it was just as good before heading back for more. I guess that it proves the point that everything does taste like chicken. 

Zach expounds upon the virtues of the "chicken" biscuit.
      The boys are now out at their merit badge classes or the Eagle Bound program, leaving the adult leaders some time to relax. Although, Mr. Williams seems to have sparked a woggle-making competition among the adults that has almost reached a mania. Hopefully, that will pass without requiring legal or medical intervention. 

      More fun awaits in the afternoon! 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hump Day

      After Tuesday night's rain, Wednesday began with a gray overcast but soon burned off to give us high humidity. At the morning roll call, Creighton answered by yelling, "what day is it?" The rest of the troop followed with the obligatory response - "Hump Dayyyyy!" This got a laugh and applause from the staff and other troops.

Trey does the Muffin Man
dance with a staff member.
      As merit badge classes began this morning, the Emergency Preparedness class was told that they had almost finished their requirements, so as an added bonus, they would also cover requirement for the new Search and Rescue badge.

      The Eagle Bound Scouts finished their requirements for the Totem Chip and the Fireman's Chit. This allows them to "legally" carry knives and use matches to start fires. They proudly returned to the campsite bearing their new cards and vying for the Scoutmaster's signature on said cards. Before signing, the Scoutmaster required all of them to swear an oath, stating, "I promise not to burn anything down or stab anyone." Once sworn, many made a pilgrimage to the Trading Post with their signed cards and the requisite funds to purchase a new knife. They returned to the campsite bearing fancy cutlery with names such as the Blue Eagle, the Lone Wolf, and Mister Bear. Strangely enough, no one purchased a Zombie Hunter knife, which was the hot property last summer.

      After lunch, Rusty, Nicky, Creighton, Mr. Dagg, and the Scoutmaster once again headed to the Waterfront for mile swim practice. As happened on Tuesday, thunder disrupted the swim and required all participants to exit the swimming area. Given that this seems a normal dynamic for a hot summer afternoon, it doesn't look good for our being able to complete the mile swim without thunder rolling us out of the water.

      The foreshortened swim practice did allow us to return to the campsite and change clothes in time for the three mile Lake Cross Trail hike. The lake, named for long-time camp director and Explorer Post 50 advisor Zack Cross, covers 72 acres and is over a mile in length. The hike began at the Chapel Point and took us around to the back side of the lake, opposite the Waterfront, and returned across the water stopper at the other end of the lake (a water stopper is the thing at the end of the lake that holds back the water. Because we are Scouts we are not allowed to use bad words).

Zach, Louie, Josh, Everett, and Creighton wait their turn to
cross a stream on the Lake Cross Trail.

       The staff member who was leading the hike set a pretty strong pace and we were done with the entire hike in about an hour and fifteen minutes. This put us back in camp in time to send our teams to compete in the shooting sports competition. Teams of two scouts each strove to be the top shots in archery, rifle, and skeet. Preliminary reports indicate that the troop preformed well but we will not know for sure until the awards campfire on Friday evening (barring any inside information obtained from the archery instructor).

      The highlight of the day was welcoming our visitors to camp. Many of the Scout parents made the trip up from Auburn to visit and have dinner. Parents are always welcome, especially when they arrive bearing food. Numerous pizzas and other goodies made their way to Turkey Flats, courtesy of Troop Committee Chairman Rob Stanford and the many parents who attended. Other distinguished visitors included the Chartering Organization Representative, Michael Tullier, and our Advancement Chairman, J.P. Pendleton. They came to assess the progress of our Scouts and to offer encouragement to the leaders who have been spending the week here. Although there was a brief but spirited outbreak of homesickness as the parents began to head for home, it was tamped down with the help of older Scouts and leaders working in concert. In the end, all of the troop's Scouts are still in camp and now fast asleep.

Aiden, Joey, and Josh clown around while the parents tour the campsite. 

      The other interesting event of the evening was the Order of the Arrow callout ceremony. The Order of the Arrow is a service organization of honor Scouts that is almost as old as the Boy Scouts of America. Candidates for membership in the OA are selected by the members of their own troops, making it an organization whose members are largely chosen by non-members. Coosa Lodge 50 of the Greater Alabama Council holds their callout ceremony at Camp Sequoyah during summer camp. The ceremony is based on the story of Sequoyah, the Cherokee chief who invented a written form of the Cherokee language for his people to use, and uses Native American dancing and chants to tell the story.  The Scouts seemed intrigued by the ceremony.

The OA ceremony team begins the callout of new candidate names. 

      As always, more photos of the day are found in the online photo gallery.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ranging far and wide

      Today was the first in which there was a threat of rain. Fortunately, the storms avoided the camp until the evening, allowing the troop to complete a wide range of fun activities. As always, the morning was taken up with merit badge classes and Eagle Bound skill sessions. The Scouts have been progressing well in their classes and seem to be enjoying themselves.

Everett, Rusty, and Creighton work on the Emergency Preparedness merit badge. 
      The afternoon activities began with a practice session for the mile swim. In order to qualify for the mile swim on Thursday, Scouts must complete a quarter mile practice on Tuesday and a half mile on Wednesday. Creighton, Rusty, and Nicky completed the initial qualification today, accompanied by the Scoutmaster and Mr. Dagg.

      At 2:00, the troop headed to the shooting sports range to try our hand at archery, rifle, and skeet. Under the supervision of the archery director, Davis Baird, several scout and leaders perforated the targets with arrows. Over on the rifle range, most of the Scouts took aim with .22 caliber rifles to great effect.

Davis oversees Creighton as he aims at a distant target. 

Joey seems quite content with his rifle skills. 

      Over on the skeet range, some of the Scouts were willing to try knocking down moving targets with either 12 or 20 gauge shotguns. Although more of the clay pigeons survived their flight than not, most everyone was able to bring down at least one. It was a great effort by several Scouts who had never even held a shotgun before, much less fired one. The most noteworthy shooter was the senior patrol leader, Louie, who once again humbled the Scoutmaster by scoring a perfect ten out of ten hits. Our time on the shooting sports range was enjoyed by most. Some would even say it was a "blast."

Liam prepares to knock down some clays. 

      Following our time on the range, Mr. Williams led a contingent to the handicraft lodge to work on the Leatherwork merit badge. Everyone returned with an artfully rendered masterpiece in leather (at least that's the way we saw it) and a completed merit badge to add to their growing list of accomplishments.

      The after-dinner activities were scheduled to include a 5K run, a five-mile hike for the Eagle Bound Scouts, a chapel service, and a night canoe trip. Unfortunately, the storms that had plagued East Alabama most of the day finally found their way to camp. The Eagle Bound hikers returned soaking wet, the canoe trip was cancelled, and the chapel service moved indoors to the handicraft lodge. In our campsite, the heavy rain collapsed one tent and several others were discovered to have leaks along the seams. Hot showers and dry clothes solved some of the problems and a re-sorting of tents and equipment helped alleviate the other issues. Everyone is now bedded down for the night and the promise of another great day awaits the dawn.

      Photos and a few videos of the day's activities are available in the online photo gallery.

The Big Valley

      The Adventure Valley post was supposed to hit the Interwebs earlier this morning but due to a variety of conflicts (mostly my own laziness) it has been delayed until now. Adventure Valley is a popular mud run and obstacle course that is traditionally run on Monday evenings at camp. The idea for the course came from a similar program at the 1989 BSA National Jamboree. Sequoyah staff adopted the idea and have been "running" it since the summer of 1990. Although it is a popular program, most of our Scouts were not attracted to the thought of getting dirty. Instead the lure of the water slide was greater than the valley.

      Creighton, Rusty, and Ethan were the only Scouts who completed the run (sometimes making multiple trips through the course). They were accompanied by Mr. Dagg who also made several turns through the valley. Mr. Williams also risked soiling his footwear to bring us photographic evidence of the experience.

Rusty wades into the creek. 

Ethan appears suspiciously clean after his first trip through. 

      Although there was initially a problem starting the water pump the supplies one of the essential ingredients for mud, eventually, it began to pump out a nice stream to create an adequate amount of the sticky stuff. Several of the participants duct taped their shoes to their feet to avoid losing them during their turn through the course.

Creighton moved so fast that his image could not be captured with sharper resolution.
Mr. Dagg channels his inner teenager.

      As darkness began to fall, the muddy participants began their journey back to Turkey Flats. We thought it best to turn the hose on them to rinse off some of the mud before they hit the showers. Alas, the amount of dirt exceeded the ability to adequately return their clothing to anything resembling clean and the shower floor later testified to the amount of mud that had to be scrubbed off their persons. By morning, they appeared none the worse for wear but satisfied that they had given their all in the name of mud and exercise.

      Further photos have been added to Monday's entry in the online photo gallery.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Hangin' Ten

      Monday dawned clear and sunny. It came early for some and later for others but all managed to make it to breakfast, ready for a full day. The younger Scouts headed to the Eagle Bound program to begin their Scout skills training, while the older hands spread out through the camp to various merit badge classes. The adult leaders quietly pointed the way to the various locations for the Scouts, then repaired back to the campsite for some quiet reflection. At one point, a hammock even made an appearance and the Scoutmaster engaged in some meditative relaxation. There was a brief stirring as the commissioners came through to inspect the campsite but they satisfied themselves that all was well and posted a perfect 100 as our inspection score for the day.

The entrance to our campsite at Turkey Flats

Trey attempts to earn a little extra money to
spend at the trading post.  
      After lunch there was a brief pause while the camp staff conducted an emergency drill. This drill requires all campers to return to their campsites in order of account for everyone. It is part of the overall package of emergency procedures developed by the camp staff to cover numerous potential emergencies. During the break, many of the Scouts broke out cards and games to pass the time. They also delved into the coolers and snack boxes, despite having just finished lunch. It seems they were fortifying themselves for the afternoon to come.
      At 2:00 we headed to the waterfront for some fun in the sun. Some of the boys headed for the waterslide (aka the Sequoyah Sidewinder) for a refreshing ride. The rest of the troop took to the water in kayaks or on paddle boards. Many of the Scouts took to it like the proverbial ducks to water and ranged far into the lake. At one point, several Scouts ganged up and attempted to corner the Scoutmaster with the malicious attempt to get his hair wet. Although there was some success on that front, the end result saw many Scouts soaked as well.

Nicky approaches with a nefarious gleam in his eye.
Miles demonstrates his prowess on a paddle board. 
      Following our boating adventure, everyone moved over to the swimming area for a refreshing swim and the chance at the diving board. The result was a mixture of diving, cannonballs, belly flops and some entries into the water that defy the ability to describe them. By the time we finished, everyone was ready for a good dinner and (hopefully) a good night's sleep.

      The other event of the evening was the trip out to Adventure Valley. As this post is being written, the boys are just returning, covered in mud. The tale of their experience is a story for the morn.

      More photos are available on the online photo gallery. Also, before I start to get calls and emails from concerned parents, the photo of the card game was staged. Just an example of how Scouts can react when a camera is pointed in their direction.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Start of a new adventure...

Troop 50 prepares to depart from Auburn for the start of a week-long adventure at Camp Sequoyah.

      Troop 50 began their trip to Camp Sequoyah with clear skies and a week of fun to look forward to. We arrived at camp about 1:00 pm and began the check-in guided by Sequoyah staff member Davis Baird, who also happens to be an assistant scoutmaster in our troop. Davis is working as the archery director this summer. Our campsite is named Turkey Flats. Strangely enough, it is neither flat nor home to any turkeys. It is, however, only about 75 yards from the dining hall. A great difference from the long hikes required at Camp Woodruff last year.

      We progressed through the different parts of the check-in, which included a dining hall orientation, a medical re-check, and the swim test in Lake Cross. All of the Scouts and leaders took the swim test and all were classified as swimmers. The check-in also included a stop at the camp water fountain, which boasts the coldest water in five counties. With the temperatures well into the 90s today, the cold water and the brief swim were well appreciated.

The Scouts, minus the ones on KP, wait on the parade field prior to dinner. 

      After a brief chance to unpack and sort our equipment, it was off to the dining hall for dinner. During the roll call of troops on the parade ground, our troop responded with a rousing "War Eagle," which earned the applause of the staff. Meals are served family style in the dining hall and the boys enjoyed a meat and pasta dish, served with a side of green beans. Each of our tables in the dining hall must be set up by our KPs, who also clean up the tables after the meals. This should be good practice for them to continue upon their return home.

      Dinner was followed by various meetings for the leaders and the senior patrol leader. The new Scouts also attended an orientation for the Eagle Bound program that they will start in the morning. Other Scouts engaged in various games around the parade field or visited the trading post to start spending their money. The opening campfire (which did not really have a campfire) featured an appearance by Elvis but did not rise to the standard of Woodruff's opening, which included water skiers and fireworks. Following a brief troop meeting to go over the schedule for tomorrow, many of the Scouts headed to the showers and then to bed. Another adventure begins on the morrow.

      More photos are available in the online photo gallery.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Honoring advancement, leadership and a Scouting legacy

Troop 50 Scouts, leaders, and families gathered for more than the presentation of merit badges and ranks, and the installation of new youth leaders at the troop's June 1 court of honor. The 2015 spring court of honor marked the inaugural presentation of a new troop award recognizing the achievements of its "honor Scout" and paying tribute to the legacy of an Eagle Scout with several ties to Troop 50.

Scouts' advancement progress included the presentation of nine First Class ranks
and nearly 30 merit badges.

Following an opening by Senior Patrol Leader Andrew and a lavish dinner spread provided in large part through the culinary talents of troop parents, the official awards program began with the presentation of merit badges. Many of these merit badges resulted from Scouts' participation in the December 2013 Saugahatchee District Advance-a-Rama, the troop's Disability Awareness Merit Badge session at its April 27 meeting, and a variety of merit badges begun at summer camp or during the troop's other outdoor activities.

(Top) Scoutmaster Baird congratulations the troop's nine newest First Class Scouts, and
(bottom) SPL Andrew (far right) with some of the troop's newest Scouts: (left to right) Miles,
Carl, Zach, and Clay.

In addition to merit badge presentations, the troop presented the First Class rank to nine of its Scouts, and recognized its newest Scouts who received the Scout rank at a previous meeting.

Scoutmaster Baird administers the oath of office to the troop's new cadre of youth leadership
(right to left): Louie, senior patrol leader; Andrew, assistant senior patrol leader;
Creighton, patrol leader; Josh, assistant patrol leader; Nicky, patrol leader;
Michael, assistant patrol leader; and Clay, quartermaster. Not pictured is Liam, troop guide.

The spring court of honor traditionally includes the mid-year transition of youth leadership, so in addition to recognizing SPL Andrew's second term in the position (he served as the troop's second senior patrol leader during the latter half of 2013), the troop installed recently elected and selected youth leaders who will serve in their positions until the end of the year. Scoutmaster Baird introduced Louie who had been elected as the troop's new senior patrol leader, and outgoing SPL Andrew who Louie selected as his assistant senior patrol leader. During the troop's recent elections, Creighton and Nicky had been elected as patrol leaders, and they selected Josh and Michael, respectively, as their assistant patrol leaders. Troop leadership selected Clay as the troop's incoming quartermaster and Liam as its troop guide.

Troop 50's inaugural James J. Baird Jr. Honor Scout Award recipient, Andrew, with Jim Baird's wife Jean, daughter Mary Baird, and nephew and Troop 50 Scoutmaster Andrew Baird.

Mementos of Jim Baird's achievement of the
rank of Eagle Scout: his Eagle Scout medal and
letter of congratulations from
then-Chief Scout Executive Elbert Fretwell.
The final presentation of the evening was the troop's inaugural presentation of the James J. Baird Jr. Honor Scout Award, which was awarded to outgoing SPL Andrew. Beginning with the spring 2015 court of honor, this award will be 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 Andrew Baird and recipient of the Eagle Scout rank in 1945 as a member of Troop 88 of Bessemer, Ala., who passed away in 2011. A 1954 graduate of Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now known as Auburn University), Jim Baird's ties to Troop 50 include membership in the Auburn Rotary Club (the troop's chartered organization) as a Paul Harris Fellow and service as its 2002-03 club president. Furthermore, he was an elder of First Presbyterian Church (the troop's meeting location), which honored him through the naming of Baird Hall in recognition of his management of the church's facilities and several building projects.

The court of honor will be the troop's last official Monday evening gathering until the troop resumes its regular meeting schedule on August 3. Between now and then, the troop will venture to Camp Sequoyah next week and gather periodically during the summer for a variety of fellowship and advancement activities. Consult the troop calendar and Troop Web Host for more details.

For more photos from the court of honor, visit the troop's online photo album.