This past weekend turned out to be another successful and fun filled campout for Troop 26. We gathered at the church just before 5 PM and set out shortly after. It was a relatively short drive to Camp Cherokee, one of our district’s local summer camps. But as the weather would soon prove, summer was far out of reach. With twilight dwindling overhead, the scouts made quick work of setting up camp. Being that it was a summer camp, some scouts opted to stay in the canvas tents; unconventional for a winter outing. It was a short trip for some to the HQ building where the Rifle Shooting merit badge class was being held. Here, the scouts were thankful to escape the elements, despite the “School” environment. The instructors were more than happy to educate the scouts and give them a little insight as to what tomorrow would bring. However, safety was stressed throughout the seminar and was at no point compromised during the trip. After about an hour of class, the scouts made the dark journey back to camp and were greeted by a late-night cracker barrel. Appetites suppressed, a majority of the scouts headed off to bed for the night. Meantime, a short PLC and planning session was held for those holding leadership positions. Finally, an impromptu TAPS signified the end of the day.
7 AM came bright and early for Troop 26, and the cold morning rain made some scouts more than reluctant to surrender the warmth of their sleeping bags. Slowly but surely, our troop emerged and began gathering in the nearby shelter to begin their morning meals. Instead of the routine “pancakes and sausage”, some patrols sprang for an opportunity to mix things up, making breakfast burritos. As the day progressed and scouts finished up their class, a steady blanket of snow set in and refused to yield throughout the day. However, the splitting of wood and the fire it fueled offered unparalleled warmth to those feeling the full fury of Jack Frost. Feeling adventurous in the wintry weather, the scouts not at the shooting range began a full-fledged snow war which occupied most of lunch. After eating, the patrols switched off and met up at the range. There, we had several scouts not only attempting, but actually qualifying (rather quickly) for their merit badge. This was undoubtedly one of the proudest moments the troop has shared; being able to perform a precision task with the utmost concentration while enduring below freezing temperatures is no cake walk. After every scout qualified, we began a fun shoot with swinging metal targets, some scouts were even dueling each other in a shoot-off. By this time our instructors had grown weary and cold, informing the troop it was time to retire to the HQ building to clean the rifles. And so the long march back to camp began, with the sun sinking ever lower and the snow slowly easing off. By the time the rifles were cleaned, darkness had set in and dinner had begun. Excellent utilization of dutch ovens by both the adults and scouts made for exceptional meals, and the fire ring beckoned many for after-hours relaxation. But the cold proved too much for some as did the promise of a warm sleeping bag. As kids began falling out in pairs, both the night and the fire died out.
Sunday morning awoke us with a balmy 21 degrees and left us bitter and lethargic. Needless to say, tearing down camp was sluggish, as was our “cold” breakfast. A quick Sunday Service relieved our scouts to find their cars and begin their warm journey home. But it didn’t go without delays. Mr. Vroom experienced a blow-out and was forced to pull over. But quick action and ingenuity soon put him back on the road and eventually back to the church (to the relief of both scouts and parents).