Scout Stories from years past

posted 14 Oct 2009, 07:31 by Troop FourFourThree   [ updated 17 Aug 2016, 12:45 ]

Take a camping trip with a bunch of boys and there’s no telling what might happen. You could . . . drive  three hours without leaving Maryland, shoehorn yourself into a kayak, swap boats with a kid without touching the water, clean up a beach, share a lighthouse parking lot with the Amish, chop vegetables, make pancakes, find yourself in the middle of a cooking contest, help a high-school sophomore get back in a kayak, meet some new people, and – most importantly – enjoy a great weekend getaway.

I don’t attend many of Troop 443’s trips – blame work – but I always have a good time when I go. The trip to St. George Island May 29-31 was another winner. I didn’t even know there was a St. George Island in Maryland, but it’s a great place where the Potomac River and St. Mary’s River converge just before meeting the Chesapeake Bay. We stayed at Camp Merrylande, a beachfront campsite with tent spaces, a few cabins, friendly hosts, cute dogs and a million-dollar view. Because of our numbers, we were in the back on a strip of solid ground between two ponds. Sounds worse than it was – the bugs weren’t too bad, we had plenty of room and there was a nice spot in the back for the Geezers.

It rained Friday night during the drive, but stopped by the time we got to camp – after paying a surprise late-night visit to some St. George Island residents (sorry about the convoy in your driveway, sir). We unloaded, utilized several trips by Camp Merrylande’s motorized “valets” and set up the usual Troop 443 tent community. After a little crackerbarrel (gotta love Oreos, Cheez-Its and pepperoni) and some conversation, we crawled into the tents and went to sleep.

Saturday started early with pancakes and other breakfast treats – free coffee courtesy of Camp Merrylande’s Miss Pat – and then we headed to the kayaks. The Spanish Armada had nothing on us. Thirty-one boats (we brought some, we rented some) in every color of the palet went down the boat ramp at the bridge connecting Piney Point to St. George. We shoved off, waited a bit in the channel for everyone to get situated and paddled all the way back to Camp Merrylande for lunch. Great way to spend the morning. After a nice break, we got back in the boats and completed the trip around the island back to the boat ramp. It might have been the tide or the wind or the current – but partial exhaustion had something to do with it – the going was much tougher on this leg. But we made it.

Back to camp we went for dinner and the much-anticipated Divas-Geezers Golden Skillet Competition.

The Divas, led by master chef Christine Carpenter, served a superb meal of marinated stuffed Portobello mushrooms topped with prawns, on a bed of vermicelli, roasted red peppers, capers and black olives to judges Chris Carpenter (no relation), Nathan Sievert and Theo Dorsman. . The four-star meal was accompanied by roasted asparagus in a lemon vinegarette and fresh pudding with strawberries for dessert.

Meanwhile, the Geezers worked an assembly line of culinary excellence that included superburgers, grilled marinated vegetables, football-sized baked potatoes and an appetizer of just-caught-and-steamed Maryland crabs. A beachfront table, driftwood centerpiece, matching plates and visiting waitstaff completed the picture and tipped the scales – barely – to the Geezers (led by Mike “Bobby Flay” Fossler) in a photo finish.

The evening wrapped up with an outdoor slideshow of the day with photos by Camp Merrylande’s Bill, some camaraderie around the fire, a little late-night fishing and an early bedtime.

Sunday morning arrived with rain clouds and the troop flew into action – breaking camp in record time before (sort of) the real rain started. After a quick stop at Piney Point Lighthouse, we rolled north to home.

Thanks for a great trip. 

TROOP TRIP SUMMARIES – By Troop Historian Max Pierce

Kayaking Trip: Troop 443 had an amazing trip May 29-31 to St. George Island in southern Maryland. We went kayaking on the beautiful Potomac and St. Mary's Rivers. While paddling, we enjoyed the scenery of the lower Chesapeake and messed around a bit too. There was a tremendous Golden Skillet showdown between the Geezers and the Divas. Mr. Mike and Ms. Christine fought to impress the judges with tablecloths and Girl Scout waitresses. The Geezers came out with the victory in a fun part of a wonderful trip.

Mafeking Trip: Troop 443 traveled to Camp Henson in Galestown, Md. March 20-22 for the annual “Mafeking Trip,” which commemorates the Siege of Mafeking, most famous British action in the Second Boer War. The siege took place at Mafeking in South Africa over a period of 217 days from October 1899 to May 1900 and turned Robert Baden-Powell, who went on to found the Scouting Movement, into a national hero. Our Mafeking was much more tame, with a  capture the flag game as the main activity. The scouts enjoyed their weekend and everyone who attended had a good time. The Screaming Eagles won the Golden Skillet competition, but the weekend also showcased some interesting cooking from the Spartans, who made “pizza soup.”

Lehigh Valley Bike Trip: Troop 443 traveled to the Lehigh Valley Gorge in Pennsylvania April 24-26, biking all day Saturday on the beautiful trail that was right next to the Lehigh River. Also, true spring weather was enjoyed by all.

TROOP 443 'HITS' THE SLOPES – By Joe Clancy
The ski slope is called “The Drop.” Not, The Fluffy Pillow. And that’s why I should not have been anywhere near it during Troop 443’s annual ski trip to Timberline Four Seasons Ski Resort in Davis, West, Va. Jan. 13-16.

But I skied it anyway. Slid it would be a better description. Ski, slide, stop, fall . . . Ski, slide, stop, fall . . . Ski, slide, crash into stranger, fall, apologize . . . Ski, slide, fall while facing backward on hill, take off skis, slide down hill on side, get snow up pantleg. . . Ski, slide, stop, fall, laugh, laugh, laugh.

The Drop dropped me repeatedly, but I made it down – to much fanfare from my co-daredevils Alec, Colby, Phil and Ryan. We basically challenged ourselves to try the mogul-filled, icy, barely groomed trail with all the warning signs at the top (if the ski patrol saw us hugging moguls, we surely would have had our lift tickets revoked). Other heroic moments on the trip included watching J.P. “yard sale” his ski equipment and most of his clothes after launching himself off a jump in the freestyle park; Phil getting “clotheslined” by an out-of-bounds rope he claimed blended in with a house; successfully tackling a black-diamond slope with Max (the snowboarder) and Isaac; watching Scott (the rookie) ski for hours and hours; seeing sparks shoot from Alec’s skis while crossing a spot with now snow; crashing in the woods with Colby; hearing Jack C. confidently say a black diamond was “easy” (not in my book) and more.

Twenty people (16 scouts and four adults) went to Timberline. We slept triple-decker in the bunkhouse, ate in the cafeteria, hung out in the lodge and met people from all over (Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina). A kid named “Sharky” showed us how to play Buck Hunter. Timberline owner “Doc” Reichle, also a world-class surgeon, served most of our meals. Mr. Fossler skied for the first-time in years. Mr. Smith missed a conference call while zipping down Salamander. Theo went big (and didn’t die) over a jump. Jackson starred in the terrain park. Austin “The Axe Man” made us laugh. Sean went to first aid with a thumb injury that turned out to be minor (we have a limit on major injuries). Aaron schussed down Salamander. Jack F. smiled through it all. Mr. Doyle steered a group through the Snow Sports merit badge.

No trips are perfect. On our first day, Ian broke his leg. I was there, sort of. Skiing in a pack of scouts on Twister, I turned a corner and Ian was on the ground. His skis, were in a ditch about 30 feet away. After several “are you sures?” and a few “come on, does it really hurt?” variations and several minutes, the ski patrol arrived and took Ian down the mountain on a stretcher attached to a snowmobile. Ian bravely went to first aid and gritted his teeth – and nearly broke my hand – when his boot was removed. Luckily, Ian’s stepfather Mr. Doyle was on the trip so all we had to do was find him (not a phone call anyone wants to make). A trip to the ER, an X-ray and a bandage later, Ian was back at Timberline telling us all about it. Sorry it had to happen, Ian, but we’ll see you on the slopes again soon.  

Just not on “The Drop."