Summer Camp 2014

                                                                                                                             Troop 737 summer camp participants at the Clarksville Fire Station
                                                                                                before departing for camp.



Summer Camp 2014


Summer Camp Day 2


Summer Camp Day 3


Summer Camp Day 4


Summer Camp Day 5


Summer Camp Day 6


Summer Camp Day 7


Summer Camp Day 7

 DAY 1
Our departure from the fire house took longer than expected, placing us a bit late on arrival at Minsi. As departure time approached, the firemen pulled our newest and oldest apparatus out into a very for a very nice photo, and Mr. Johnson was kind enough to take one with my camera.

We all seemed to pick out different McDonalds for lunch, and I arrived about 1:35. Scoutmaster Von Schlage was first to arrive, and discovered that Minsi was shuffling campsites. Mr. Griffith was close behind with the trailer, and the other cars rolled in by 2. We eventually were reassigned from Lenapi campsite to Onondaga, and we started the unloading process quite behind schedule.

The entire afternoon was spent in checkin. We started with a dining hall orientation, and then had a troop photo taken in the parade ground. There was quite a lineup for medical checks, and another lineup for swim checks. We had 3 beginners and 18 swimmers. Last year Sage was very reluctant to enter the water and finally had to be coaxed into the lake during Trail to Adventure. This year he went for the beginner test and without hesitation performed the test in a very strong and confident manner, clearly being qualified or very nearly so for the swimmer test. By the time swim checks had ended we had missed the retreat ceremony for dinner and were quite fell into the end of the line for food, a cookout on the parade field.

It would have been a busy day anyway but with our late checkin it was just a solid flow from one event to the next with barely any time to organize our tents or campsite. Just a few minutes after returning from dinner the troop went for a tour of the camp while Mr. Von Schlage and I attended the leaders meeting. We were back in camp about half an hour
before the opening campfire. This was put on by the staff with songs, skits and a lot of activity. A highlight was the "Egghead" skit which had 2 staff members in a contest with a dozen eggs, 4 raw and 8 hardboiled. They took turns cracking eggs on their heads until one of them was eliminated by getting doused with 2 raw eggs. We returned to
the campsite about 10 and I was in bed soon afterwards. It sounded like the last of the scouts were asleep around 11. All in all a pretty good but not relaxing day.

As a parting shot today I'll touch on the apparatus shown in the photo. The squad is our newest piece (my dates are guesses but I think reasonable), placed in service about 5 years ago and paid off last year.The pumper is a 1969 American LaFrance which served our station into the 1990's. We donated it to an island community in the Chesapeake Bay where it served for a number of years. It was offered back to us and restored a few years ago and is fully operational but not really (except for special events) used with 2 modern engines at the ready.


Minsi sits on a plateau and the 2,000 foot elevation makes a difference. We had no takers this morning for the Friggie Froggie, very appropriately named today with temperatures around the 50's. Most of us wore jackets or hoodies to breakfast, a small price to pay for the blissfully cool afternoons.

Meals are at 10-seat tables; the troop has 3 tables and we get 2 staff guests at each meal. After assembling in the parade field we proceed up to the dining hall. One waiter goes up 15 minutes early and sets the table, then brings out the platters of food which is served family style. At the end of each meal we have a song and "messages on a napkin"
(quite literally) where the dining steward reads off each napkin and tosses it away. I've so far been unsuccessful at capturing a napkin in flight.

The adults have access to a staff lounge with several computers and wifi; we have used it quite extensively, with 5 of the 6 of us there for a while. In the photo Mr. Von Schlage is behind me, my computer is in the foreground opposite Dr. Griffith, Dr. Meyers and Mr. Parris are in the corner.

The morning program is very busy with all the first year scouts in Trail To Adventure and the other scouts all in merit badge classes. When I went to the staff lounge Hunter C and Sage were involved in Citizenship classes and the TTA group took a camp tour late in the morning; I encountered them on the way back to the campsite.

For the transition from morning program to lunch we had an emergency drill. A very loud siren went off and we all reported to the parade drill. We were warned that this would be the only drill and if the siren
went off again it would be the real thing. Alerts are mostly for pending storms and could come at any time of the day or night.

Scouts had a busy afternoon as well. The camp offers a daily adventure activity. Today's was a "Spar pole climb", climbing a telephone style pole using spurs attached to the feet. Our scouts were too busy to partake, but I did watch one scout do the climb. It was in the shooting sports area where several of our scouts were engaged in Rifle merit
badge (today was just lecture). On the way back from the range a deer was grazing just off the trail. Later in the afternoon some of our scouts were busy with the First Aid merit badge at the health lodge.

Last year Evan K climbed a couple of trees to hang the troop gateway sign. Since he has aged out of the troop we do not have that capability. Sam found a way to hang the sign involving throwing a weighted rope over
a tree limb and the sign is now in place.

There is a flag ceremony at dinner as well as a short vesper service. While dinner was lively at least one of our scouts was showing the effects of a busy day in camp. There were varied activities around the camp but not a single campwide activity. We did have a fire in camp and there was a telescope set up in the parade field at 9:30 for some
astronomy. 7 youth and 4 adults went and saw a spectacular show including the rings of Saturn.

Today's parting shot arises from the daily campsite inspection. The inspector noted some towels hanging on the dining fly that shouldn't have been there and some points were thereby deducted from the score. After lunch Ben D. came up to the leaders table and noted the deduction and admitted they were his towels. After a quick verification with Mr.
Von Schlag of the remedy, a proper drying line was strung within 5 minutes. To err is human. To learn from your mistakes is part of scouting. To witness this unfolding with no need for adult leader intervention: priceless.


Note: I will be playing Unit Commissioner and will be away from camp most of Wednesday, starting right after breakfast. I will wrap up today's post a bit early and will catch up in Wednesday's report.

A new feature in camp this year is the "Minsi Cronicles", a one page newsletter distributed to each table at breakfast, a nice touch. Onondaga campsite is divided into 3 patrol sized sites with 2 very closely and holding most of the troop. The 3rd site is a bit out of the way and I seldom get to it but did today.

Into every week at camp a little rain must fall and we're getting some today. The morning was a bit warmer than Monday (around 60) and the hoodie came off right after breakfast. The rain, heavy for a while, tapered off around lunch time and the afternoon was warm and sunny. While it was raining a number of the program areas were moved to
alternate locations but the program continued in high gear.

I went down to the rifle range for the 2PM class, several of our youth were there but it was all preparatory work with the instructor talking about the parts of a gun.

There was an afternoon leaders meeting with officials of the Minsi Trails Council. As an out of council camper there was not a lot of interest; one thing that did surprise me was the popularity of Chess merit badge. There are something like 80 scouts registered this week and the camp started of with a severe shortage of boards. They have more coming by overnight delivery but that badge got off to a bit of a rocky start.

Kevin, Sam, and Aiden our out for a Wilderness Survival outpost, hopefully they will get reasonable weather.

One thing a bit difficult about meal times is that the meals served are deviating wildly from the posted menu. Today we had none of the things posted on the Tuesday menu, with mostly the Wednesday menu served but not consistently. Tonight's baked ziti was extremely baked being very difficult to extract from the pan, at least it tasted good.

There is a campwide decathalon this evening, we are not participating; I think the wilderness outpost taking several of our senior scouts made fielding a team difficult. As I close this entry we are working on building a camp fire for the evening.

As today's parting shot, we had our first touch of rain on the campout. I suspect for most of the first years it was the first time both for being away from the shelter of home and the protection of their parents for an extended rainstorm. They all seem to have weathered it quite well. Despite challenging conditions I think it was a very good day.

Day 4
I did wake early and walk down the lake to watch the sunrise but it was totally cloudy. I did spend most of the day playing Unit Commissioner, but caught up with Kevin and Sam returning from their Wilderness Survival overnight. It went well for them and Aiden returned a little earlier than they did. I left camp immediately after breakfast and made
the 2 hour drive south to Hawk Mountain.
Returning about 5 I had a few minutes in camp before dinner. It was one of the most civilized meals in camp wit Sam taking on the carving of our meat loaf for the entire table, and he did it again with the apple pie we had for desert. Mr. Stanford arrived just before dinner. Not being around to take daytime pictures I've attached some from dinner. Chris P
was away for his Wilderness Survival which I'm sure became quite an adventure.

As I write this after dinner I have not yet heard a lot of details about the day but I do know that the Trail to Adventure accomplished their 5-mile hike and Garret completed the Muck hike (I hope to get pictures from Mr.VonSchlag).

We had a bit of rain during the day (None at Hawk Mountain) but not enough to interrupt the program. There was not a campwide program but shooting sports put on "History with a bang" demonstrating weapons starting with the invention of gun powder around 1000 AD. The bangs from the demo were intermixed with some claps of thunder, thus far somewhat in the distance. It all broke loose about 7:45 and continued raining past 9. One scout tent developed serious leaks and we moved the equipment to the tarps, putting the affected scouts in the former equipment tent.

I'll take today's parting shot from the current Minsi Chronicles. The cartoon showed a group of scouts camping and they were looking wildly to find the tents which were nowhere in sight. Finally, one of the scouts admitted "I threw them away". Asked why, he answered "The Scoutmaster told me to pitch the tents. While this was clearly a contrived story the
point that we need to be careful with our words was a good one.

Day 5
Sometimes technology can be annoyingly slow. Mr. Von Schlag emailed me pictures from the Muck Hike about 7:30 yesterday and they had not reached my inbox when I posted around 10. There was no picture of Garret before he rinsed in the lake, so I'm including one Mr. Qualls took last year.

They had apparently not yet started to swim when I was there, practicing their life saving skills with a buoy and throw line. Merit badges are starting to wrap up and we see a few more scouts in camp but still not many.

The waterfront staff held an instructional swim during siesta and 2 of our scouts made some real progress on their swimming skills. Shooting was going on in the rifle range and our scouts are starting to work on
their act for the closing campfire. At lunch Saige was called to the podium for happy birthday.

The Trail to Adventure group had their night at outpost, while the rest of the the troop had silver turtles in the campsite. The main ingredients were ground beef, potato, and corn plus some seasonings I was lucky, mine was probably the best yet. Portion control was a bit problematic, and some scouts ended up sharing there large meals with
others, and a couple of adults went vegetarian. Desert was a cherry and berry cobbler; cleanup was a bit longer than expected so it was saved for after the OA callout.

We were picked up about 8:45 at our campsite for a procession to the OA ceremony, a rather brief affair. When we returned I went back to my role as party pooper in chief taking the first portion of cobbler and promptly heading to bed. It was a bit mushy but delicious.

Today's parting shot: Congratulations to new OA candidates Mr. Stanford, Hunter C, and Ben D. Congratulations Saige, may you always remember your 12th birthday as the day you became a swimmer.

Day 6
It was another cool clear morning, with the first years returning around 6, I think mostly feeling proud of their accomplishments. It was largely a day to finish up merit badges, although the trail to adventure group spent the morning working with ropes and knots. I seriously misjudged the lighting at their pavilion, and only got visible photos of half the group.

Preparations for departure are under way. The gateway sign came down before lunch, and Dr. Meyers brought the trailer back for the afternoon. We had the final merit badge work in the afternoon and slowly started packing just before dinner.

The final dinner seemed designed to impress, roast turkey, corn, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and chocolate cake. We received our blue cards right after dinner, Mr. Von Schlag and I processed them at the campsite and discovered a few issues to be checked at breakfast Saturday.

The final campfire consisted of skits put on by the troops and closed about 10:15 with the Minsi song. It looks like the troop had their own fire although I was in bed immediately after the campfire.

Today's parting shot: Kudos to Dr. Meyers for completing Leader Specific training while at camp.

Day 7
I was up about 5:30 and several of the adults were stirring by 6. By 7 the boys were stuffing their sleeping bags and getting their gear and troop gear ready to go in Dr. Griffiths' trailer. A continental breakfast was held in the dining hall followed by the final "messages on napkins" and a slide show with the week in review. A few straggling blue cards were delivered during breakfast, and the troop did their final campsite cleanup and checkout with the camp while I went to the parking lot picnic area and scanned the final blue cards. (Please let me know if you would like copies of your son's cards).
The closing ceremony was held in the parade field, starting with a final lowering of the colors. We then formed a circle and some awards were given out. We were pretty much in the middle of the pack; believe our only individual callout was Dr. Meyers for completing his Leader Specific training. The ceremony ended about 10:45 with the Minsi song and the Staff celebrating with a pyramid on the flagpole.

Most of the vehicles were at the camp site and I waited in the parking lot while transportation arrangements were finalized. When Mr. Qualls came out with his and my passengers we hit the road (11:05). We arrived at the fire house around 3 to 3:30, distributed gear from Dr. Griffiths trailer and were headed home by 4.

My parting shot today will be a brief review of the week. With 7 first year scouts we had some minor issues but I also saw a lot of growth as the boys worked through their first long trip away from their parents. I know my scanner was very busy with all the blue cards and I would have to call it a very successful week. We were fortunate to have 6 dedicated Scoutmasters and a very healthy mixture of youth.

Yours in Scouting

Mr. Ferguson