Wednesday, June 26, 2019

CRM - Tuesday: In Medias Res

     It occurred to me last night that the source of my cyber issues in the evening is the limited bandwidth of the camp's Internet connection. After dinner, every staff member, scout, and leader is attempting to connect at the same time. However, in the morning, when the staff and scouts are all in merit badge classes, the competition for WiFi is limited to a few adults. I don't know why this didn't occur to me before that point. Age must be dulling my mental acuity. So, I will hopefully post each morning with the previous day's doings.

     We are in the midst of things, We started the day as always by rousing the boys at 7:00 to be at the morning flag ceremony by 7:30. Each morning and evening ceremony involves the raising or lowering of the US flag, Georgia state flag, Camp Rainey Mountain flag, and the South Korean flag (there is an international scout from South Korea working on the staff). The ceremony also includes a trumpet and the firing of a black powder rifle from across the lake. For some reason, which may simply be the vagaries of black powder, one never knows when the shot will be fired. This always causes everyone to jump when it finally goes off and is followed by a large ejection of white smoke in the aftermath.

Hunter participates in the running of the flags on the parade field.
We don't know if this is a traditional activity or a spontaneous
act started by a single troop. It does seem to have caught on.

     Following the flag ceremonies, we also have a few announcements by the program director (although he is never allowed to use the word announcements). A staff member then leads us in his or her favorite song (which have always seemed rather maudlin, ending in the death of some animal). Another staffer provides a random and senseless quip and then someone will lead the entire assemblage in either the scout oath or law. It caps off with grace before the meal.

     The rather awkward exercise that follows cannot be adequately explained by anyone we have met. Because the camp is so large, not everyone can fit into the dining hall at the same time. So we eat in two shifts, which are interestingly known as the orange and the blue shifts. Troop 50 is on the orange shift, which means that we get to eat first. The blue shift is dismissed from the flag ceremony and then they have to hang out for 45 minutes until it is time for them to eat. That's not really enough time to go back to their campsites for any meaningful reason but there is also not much else for them to do, especially in the morning. On the other side of the coin, due to the time to takes to line up in the cafeteria line and receive our food, the orange shift has a limited time to eat and clear the tables prior to the waiters from the blue shift arriving to set up for their meal. It is simply a strange system.

Standing around, waiting for the chance to enter the dining hall. 

        After lunch, I stopped by the dining hall to fill up my water bottle and happened to catch part of the adult leader forum that was being conducted by a member of the local council executive staff. I normally skip these meetings as an exercise in obfuscation and futility and wasn't surprised to see the executive writing comments on an easily erased white board as scout leaders offered suggestions or complaints. You can easily guess that the number one complaint was the shift system for the dining hall. Several leaders had helpful suggestions or noted the systems that similar camps use (of course, council executives love to hear how other councils do things better). Another leader told me later that the camp has been using this shift system for all of the years his troop has camped here. I don't imagine anything will change as a result of anything written on that white board.

The icemen cometh.

     Miles' system for carrying the ice bags was refined by using a stave from the trailer, which would allow two scouts to carry all four bags between them. Tyson and Will were the designated icemen for the day and they carried the stave to breakfast for that purpose. We discovered one flaw to the idea, which was that the ice bearers needed to be roughly the same height. The bags kept sliding to the low end of the stick, placing more of the burden on Will and causing the bags to bump the ground. However, they quickly adjusted to carry the stick at shoulder level so that Will could lift it higher. Every staff member and adult leader we passed on the hike back to camp complimented the boys on their teamwork and ingenuity.

     The merit badge classes continue to go well. Because of the size of the troop, we seem to have scouts in every class and in every part of camp. Some are paddling, rowing, or sailing on the lake. Others are learning rescue techniques in Lifesaving merit badge. Still others are at the shooting sports ranges pursuing archery, rifle, or shotgun merit badges. Some are learning metalwork and welding and a few are chasing a variety of bugs, birds, and mammals in the natural sciences badges.

David's TNT group begins a scout skill exercise. 
Tyson runs a mile in the Personal Fitness class. 
The canoeing class reached critical mass. 

     The camp is ringed by mountains and one of the activities they promote is a hike up to Big Rock, which as you may imagine is a big rock with a view of the camp from above. The hike up to the rock is supposed to meet the Camping merit badge requirement of a hike that covers 1000 feet of elevation change. We have been discussing doing the hike as a troop on Thursday so in order to scope it out, I headed up the trail in the afternoon to assess the difficulty. There is a sign at the start of the trail but just over a mile up the trail, it connects to the Bartram Trail, which is a 115 mile trail system in North Carolina and Georgia. Unfortunately, there is no sign at the trail intersection to indicate the direction of Big Rock and I had to decide which way to turn. Let's just say, I chose poorly. A mile and a third later, I reached a road crossing on the far side of the mountain that confirmed my choice was incorrect. I returned up the trail, crossed the trail intersection to the other side and found Big Rock only four tenths of a mile from my wrong turn. I took a photo to confirm my presence and returned to the camp covered in shame (and sweat) for my poor navigation skill. 

The view of the camp from Big Rock. 

     Tuesday evening was also the time for the adult leader dinner. Christian, Gordon, and I attended while leaving poor Ronnie to stay with the boys. It was a steak dinner with baked potatoes and french fries. We assumed the french fries were leftover from the regular meal that the scouts ate. They also had a nice array of desserts including a generous slice of raspberry cheesecake of which I made quick work. Since the meeting with the scout executive has occurred earlier in the day we were spared that indignity as a normal part of the leader's dinner. Overall, it was a nice chance for a leisurely and quieter meal.

     The final event of the evening was the Astronomy merit badge class's nighttime observations (weather permitting) that began at 10:00 PM. Only a couple of boys were involved in the class so most of our scouts retired to their bunks (although I later discovered a clandestine huddle around a Nintendo Switch in one of the Adirondacks). Ronnie, Gordon, and I sat around talking until 11:30 with the feeling that we were waiting for Godot. We kept thinking that the Astronomy guys would be back at any moment. We finally took a look and discovered them safely asleep in bed, having returned without our notice.

     I will leave you with the photo I was finally able to get of Harrison's newly crafted neckerchief slide. I like to think of it as a dramatic metaphor for the fine work our scouts have been doing this week. Other photos from Tuesday are found at this link

The thunderbird of power.