Friday, December 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


At the most recent Troop 281 meeting, Thanksgiving break had already begun for those still in school, including the four visiting Cub Scouts who were with the Flaming Arrows for that night. So the skill session was appropriately all about Dutch Oven cooking and cleaning. Led by Ben M., it was a mostly digital presentation with PowerPoint detailing how to make a very basic but very good Dutch Oven dish: Prison Tacos. (Simple chili mixed in with Fritos after being cooked, sometimes also known as “Walking Tacos” to the older generation.) The skill session was very informative, as Dutch Oven cooking can be a confusing art, cleaning being an even more confusing art as it is a very bad idea to use soap at all to clean up, rather it has to be left all up to water, an un-soapy rag, and good old' elbow grease to clean the iron cooking pot.

The presentation was not over when the power point slides were, however, as outside the Scout Room there had been a Dutch Oven cooking the chili component of Prison Tacos! A large bag of Fritos was opened and everybody got to sample the Dutch Oven cuisine, there being absolutely no chili left at the end and making Ben’s job easier in terms of cleaning.


There was still plenty of time after everybody had enjoyed their “Tacos”, thus it was time for the game. Continuing the trend of trying out new games the Troop hasn’t played in a long while (if ever); SPL Avery had selected the game to be “Flashlight Tag” of all things. For simplicity’s sake, the rules were pretty much rendered to be like normal tag, except instead of having to run after other people it was “having the light shone on you and both your hair and shoe color called out” to be tagged and taken out of the game. While in normal circumstances this might be an interesting twist, the game was held out on the church’s front lawn, which had more than a few bright lights lighting up the front of the church and the flagpole, making it rather easy to see people (especially Nick B, who for some reason was wearing a very reflective Rumpke hoodie).

To make matters worse, a pipe had busted under the field, so half the field was off limits because it was too muddy to easily run on without getting covered in mud. In the end, however, the game quickly broke down into a “free-for-all” version of tag, the flashlights all but forgotten. So for most of the game, scouts were chasing scouts who were also chasing scouts. It was fun for all the participants though and it was successful in that regard.

After the scouts were brought back in, the troop quickly sped through a few announcements before the time had once again come to “circle up”, to which Joel R. and Nick B. actually tried to make the group form a real circle. How effective their efforts were is still to be determined, as it quickly became something close to an amoeba shape again when everybody crossed their arms to hold other hands, clapping all at once again to end the meeting.
Ben Hallenbeck, Troop Historian

Tuesday, November 17, 2009



This previous meeting was mainly focused to hold Boards of Review for scouts who were ready to get to their next rank. However, as usual, most of the Troop did not need a Board of Review (seeing as how there was one not too long ago after the Survivor Campout), so those who were not advancing took part in the skill session of Orienteering, led by SPL Avery R. Using hand-out maps and specialized compasses (provided that the scouts brought their own), Avery went over the basics of Orienteering; ranging from how to set a compass to be able to be used with differing maps to how to orient yourself even without a compass.


Avery’s skill session wasn’t the only one that occurred that night, however, as right after the SPL finished, Scoutmaster Dr. Reynolds started his skill session on dishwashing. For those who don’t know, the Patrol Boxes (those giant brown heavy boxes that always get loaded first into the trailer) are equipped with tubs and tools to clean anything used to make food, usually the plates, flatware, etc. However, the task of washing dishes is time-consuming and can be loathsome to select scouts, and so it is a task most scouts don’t look forward to. For one particular patrol, they were so lax about cleaning their food-related materials, the Quartermasters found the eating utensils and the plates and other things both covered with remnants of food and other unhealthy things in the Patrol Box upon inspection post-campout (the patrol in question had to remain after most of the Troop had gone home just to clean the filthy plates, etc.). Thus, the need to review Dishwashing 101 was apparent, and Dr. Reynolds made sure that everybody knew how to properly clean dishes after all the meals on later campouts. It’s not a fun job, being stuck on dishwashing duty, but it sure is preferable to being forced to use disgusting-looking plates for dinner.

When Dishwashing 101 was over (much to the relief of some scouts probably), it was time for the game: Capture the Flag. The “flag” for each team ended up being a dodge ball, however, in order to make it easier to pick up from the ground (since picking up a piece of cloth would be very hard when running at speed). It quickly grew chaotic, even though there wasn’t really anything to make things go crazy, and the game was ended a little while after it had begun since the meeting was almost reaching the usual 9:00 PM end time. After a few announcements, Dr. R had the scouts circle up, and so closed the meeting in the traditional “all-at-once” clap.

Ben Hallenbeck, Troop Historian

Friday, November 13, 2009



It was time once again for one of the more infamous of Troop 281’s annual campouts: Color Wars! This year, there were only three patrols competing against each other due to there not being enough in either the Viking or Kodiak Bear patrols for them to function as their own patrols, so they were merged with the Hurricane Patrol to be the combined, one-time entity patrol known as the “Bearicanes. The other patrols were the younger - but much more numerous - Falcon and Flaming Arrow Patrols. Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) Avery R. and Assistant Senior Patrol Leader (ASPL) Brett C. also were known to have said that some “surprises” were to be expected this year, not revealing their sinister plans to anyone they didn’t think trustworthy enough. Another difference was the pleasant fact that there was no rain at all this time at Achewon, meaning everybody could perform their best at the challenges to prove their patrol was better than everybody else’s patrol.

Anyway, the trip down to Camp Achewon differed only from other times in that it was totally dark by the time the Troop arrived at the parking lot, otherwise it went over rather smoothly. Outside of the Troop leaders making plans in the Staff Campsite, the scouts just set-up camp, had some cracker-barrel (late-night snack, like chips and salsa), then went to bed.

The next morning was cold and had the feeling of serious competition in the air. After waking up and having breakfast, the scouts all gathered in the “parade field” for the raising of the flags. It was then that the first beads were awarded (unlike the few previous Color Wars, the use of beads instead of points made scoring and keeping track of scores much easier) and the first “Round Robin” was set into motion. Simply put; there were three tasks that the scouts had to complete for beads, thus earning more points, these tasks being using a strange PVC pipe to transport a tennis ball into a paper bag, the Spider’s Web challenge (probably the most infamous Color Wars challenge of all time), and the “God’s Finger” Challenge.


The first challenge, handled by Mr. Neuhart, was to transport a tennis ball from point A into paper bag B, but the catch was that the ball could only be moved by lifting it in a PVC pipe that had six strings connected to it (and those six strings were at differing heights in relation to one another, so simply pulling on all six strings at the same height would not make the PVC pipe level). The scouts who were charged with getting the ball into the bag had to work together, changing the tension in the strings while moving to keep the ball off the ground until it could be dropped into the bag. Simply completing the rather-simple task earned a bead, but up to four more beads could be earned by accomplishing different maneuvers while carrying out the task (such as making the ball spin one full rotation while off the ground, everybody walking backwards while pulling on the strings, and trying to complete the task without anybody verbally communicating to each other). The event was timed, but that was to be expected, since practically all the early challenges were timed anyways.


Following the odd ball-and-string task, the scouts ran into one of their most despised challenge: the Spider’s Web, a Color Wars mainstay. The older scouts especially hate the overcomplicated network of twine because of just how small the holes can be in relation to the average size of a teenage male, but Avery, who was in charge of the challenge this year, found a way to make it even more annoying compared to previous incarnations. In addition to the small holes that can only be passed through once, this year Avery added these little “tendrils” (or as Alex R. liked to call them; “Tentacles”) that hang inside of a hole, not splitting the hole into two holes but still being able to “tag” people trying to get through, making them try again. Also, scouts usually have to be carried through some of the holes to get through, a fact that was exploited as well this year in that if a scout helping get another scout through touched the web at all, that counted towards having to restart going through for the scout being lifted. The younger scouts must have had a much easier time, being on average maybe only half the average size of a “Bearicane”, but the older scouts still ended up being the best at the Spider’s Web thanks to Jonathan R. using a ramp (made from a random wooden plank found at the challenge site and most of the Bearicanes supporting it up at an angle) to climb up and then literally jump over the web itself, legally avoiding having to go through the insidious looping labyrinth of twine.


The third event in the Round Robin was simply known as the “God’s Finger” challenge. Here, scouts had to take a hula-hoop (a.k.a. “God’s Ring) and somehow get it down a giant stick in the ground (a.k.a. “God’s Finger”, although which of His fingers it was supposed to be is unknown) and then get it off the “Finger” without the ring or anything else touching it. For the Bearicanes, they eventually ended up just throwing it on and then off the finger. The younger scout patrols probably had a much easier time with the challenge, but just how they accomplished the task is unknown to yours truly as well.

Following completion of the Round Robin, the individual patrols headed off to their individual campsites for lunch and a little downtime for themselves, and then it was back to the parade field for a game of Capture the Flag that was surprisingly evenly matched. And that’s including the fact it was just the Bearicanes against the combined team formed from both the Falcons AND the Flaming Arrow patrols (in other words: one team outnumbered the other by at least a three-to-one ratio of people). Yet, even with three times as many people as the other team, the younger scouts still lost when the older scouts managed to score the one flag steal of the game after what probably was an hour of back-and-forth instances of “cat-and-mouse”. Some of the younger scouts thought it a good idea to try and smuggle out the other flag while in jail, taking and then hiding it in their pockets or some such when nobody was looking. Two times they tried to steal the flag under the enemy’s noses, and both times they failed after having the flag be taken back from them while still proclaiming they didn’t steal it at all.


Luckily for the Falcons, they were able to make up the loss at C.o.F. in the short challenge immediately following the game: Brett C.’s eating competition. Last year, Brett had gotten his challenge to involve one scout per patrol eating an entire package of Oreos as fast as possible (not as easy-or as delicious-as the idea sounds like), and this year he sought to top the Oreo-consumption with something even worse: Whipped Cream eating. The premise is simple: three scouts, one from each patrol, race to see who can consume the contents of an entire can of whipped cream the fastest, the winner earning beads for his patrol. Needless to say, things got ugly very, very quickly! There was whipped cream going all over the place, and when there’s no more air to “puff-up” whipped cream, it starts tasting terrible! In the end, it was Alex S. representing the Falcons who one the two bead prize for his patrol, along with getting to learn how to even work a whipped cream can nozzle as well! It certainly was one of the more memorable events in Color Wars history, Brett himself saying “It was worse than the Oreos!”


When time enough had been given for the Whipped Cream Chow-Down to wear off, it was time for the second Round Robin of three tasks. This second series of challenges was comprised of “Kim’s Game”, “The Human Knot”, and the “Knot Race”. In “Kim’s Game”, with Mr. Wilson handling it, the goal is to stare at a bunch of objects under a cover (in this case a gray tarp), and then afterwards try to remember as many objects under the tarp as possible (things like a shoe, flares, and the Autobiography of Ben Franklin). After the memory game was “The Human Knot”, where Mr. Neuhart timed patrols in how fast they could untangle themselves after each scout gasped two different arms of two other scouts, the trick to the game actually being teamwork and flexibility of the group as a whole. The last of the second set of tasks was Brett’s “Knot Race”, where the entire patrol was racing against the clock to go to 4 different people and tie a specific knot before moving onto the next stop (In order: Brett and the clove hitch; Mr. Coying and the Timber Hitch, Dr. Reynolds and the Taught-Line hitch, Avery and the Bowline knot, then back to Brett to stop the clock). While the knowledge of the knots was obviously necessary, the task was also physically demanding as the fastest way to complete the circuit (the locations of the 4 stops in relation to each other almost forms a circle) pretty much had patrols running all around Achewon’s outer rim non-stop.

When that Round Robin was over, the patrols once again broke away for camp, this time to make their spectacular dinners for the dinner competition. Here was another instance where a twist was added: Brett had gotten it approved that the secret ingredient (revealed to be Cinnamon) had to be used in making the dinners, turning the cooking challenge into something akin to “Iron Chef: America”, although Brett didn’t have to say “Allez cuisine!” to get the patrols cooking. Flag lowering was held during dinner prep, so not all the scouts had to attend the formalities if they were making dinner or tending the fire.

HIDE but not SEEK

It had gotten almost gotten totally dark when the dinner judging was finished, but the judges (Brett and Dr. Reynolds) no doubt got full stomachs when they were done eating the three various meals they partook in. After dinnertime was more downtime, during which the scouts were to prepare for another Color Wars favorite: Hide and Seek. The idea is simple enough (like almost every other challenge detailed in this write-up): the scouts hide all over the back area of Achewon, and the adults have to find them in a certain amount of time. A patrol earned one bead for each scout in that patrol that did not get found. In anticipation of outsmarting the adult staff, several scouts had located spots where they were sure they were totally undetectable.

Unfortunately, it was reportedly said that the adults didn’t really feel like hiking all over creation to track down the scouts, and so the Hide-and-Seek game was canceled, the plus side being that the patrols were given a little more time to prepare for the final chance to earn beads: Campfire.


Like everything else, Brett had made a twist on almost every aspect of the entire campout, and Campfire was his best twist yet. After having all the scouts gather at the parade field and turn out their lights, Brett and Avery led the other scouts down to the Chapel fire ring, where several silhouettes of adults were all that were visible. Suddenly, a flash of light appeared in the woods just above the firepit, and a flare rode down an improvised zipline right into the middle of a log-cabin style pile of firewood, which quickly was aflame and illuminating the now-sitting (and clapping) assembly of scouts and adults. The time had come for each patrol to perform a skit and a play, the final two criteria in which patrols could earn beads and potentially snatch victory away from another patrol, which is apparently exactly what happened. Up until that time, the Falcons had been in the lead, the Bearicanes rapidly catching up to them throughout the day, but when the skits and songs had been performed, Bret ended Color Wars 2009 by announcing the standings. The Flaming Arrows had ended up in third place, but they had fought hard and had even beaten the other, more experienced patrols at a challenge or two. In second place, by a very small margin, was Falcons, leaving the Bearicanes to take the coveted First place, complete with bragging rights until next Color War. The scouts soon made for their campsites afterwards to enjoy some late night desert before going off to saw more logs on another cold night.


Sunday morning, also chilly, saw the scouts getting ready to head home once again. The breakfast is traditionally something like store-bought doughnuts eaten out of the box, due to no one really wanting to have to clean dishes one last time before heading back to the church, there was enough packing to do anyway. In between the caravans of gear being hauled up to the parade field to be loaded into the trailer, Flag Raising was held, and after most of the stuff from the campsites was ready to be loaded into the trailer, everybody headed back to the Chapel area, where acting-Chaplin’s Aid Elliot H. led a very appropriate closing that touched on the importance of color in the Bible. From that point on, the scouts just played (or just laid back) around up at the parade field, waiting for Mr. Todd to bring the trailer up so that all the gear could be loaded up into the trailer at last. When he did show up, there was some confusion as to how the trailer was to be loaded, but eventually all the gear was successfully loaded up into the trailer, allowing the scouts to perform flag lowering. After the final lowering, the poles were disassembled and moved up to the barns where they are stored while other scouts performed police lines to ensure there was no garbage remaining on the premises. When that was done, the scouts all piled into the cars and left for the church.

The final part of the campout, as always, was to unload the trailer, put everything back in the scout room, take out the garbage, and make sure nothing or no one got left behind. For the most part, everything worked like clockwork, at least up until the very end. Apparently, the Flaming Arrow patrol’s dishes hadn’t been cleaned at some point on the campout, and so the entire patrol (or what was left of it by that point) had to stay behind and get the dishes at least reasonably sanitary to eat off of again. Meanwhile, most of the scouts had taken their stuff and, for some odd reason or another, decided it was okay to simply leave without being dismissed like usual. By the time Avery realized that, too few scouts were still at the church to rationalize falling in to dismiss, so the mass-dismissal was just written off and Avery just let everybody go home when they wanted to.

Ben Hallenbeck, Troop Historian

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Great Video Game Wars (a.k.a. Game Night)

The Historian as a gamer
At the most recent Troop 281 meeting, Boards of Review were held for those eligible for the next scout rank, but since only a few scouts were able to participate in a Board of Review, something had to be done for all the other scouts who were attending the meeting. Thus the reason the last meeting was a “Game Night” meeting, or in other words where there is no real objective other than to have fun, a goal which could be reached through several means.

Set up at a few different spots were televisions hooked up to several different video game consoles (a Wii, an Xbox 360, a Gamecube, and another Xbox) where a few scouts could play together in any of the games brought for said consoles. For those who didn’t want to or were waiting to play the video games, there were other non-electronic games, too. Several scouts played basketball and others engaged in various card games. As the night went on, the scouts who had Boards of Review were pulled out periodically, later returning to re-engage in the activities.

Due to it being just a “fun” night, the meeting was cut short to end around 8:45 instead of the usual 9:00, so while the games started slowing down 5 minutes before the meeting’s scheduled end time, the final game to be turned off was “Guitar Hero” due to the fierce matchup of Ben M. against Bret C., both guitarists so evenly matched that they simply could not defeat their opponent. As the troop circled up, a good few scouts having lost the ability to feel their thumbs by that point apparently, Dr. Reynolds told a quick story of being woken up by the actions of a beaver back on the
Survivor campout before all in attendance clapped their hands in unison and left for home.
"All thumbs"

Ben Hallenbeck, Troop Historian

Friday, October 23, 2009


(Click to enlarge)
(Older scouts were north of Gunpowder Creek)
(Younger scouts were south of Gunpowder Dreek)

This latest campout was the infamous “Survivor” campout, where the older scouts can test their wilderness survival skills in a real-life situation: getting stuck in a forest without any clue as to where to go and only the ten scout essentials plus the clothes on their backs to help them. Meanwhile, the younger scouts who were not high enough rank to try roughing it in the wilds of Kentucky set up camp by a pre-existing shelter located next to the Gunpowder Creek, their main goal of the weekend being to work on rank advancement, although they too would not have access to as many luxuries as they usually had on a campout due to some restrictions such as having to make all their meals over a campfire. The only two First Class scouts who were with the younger scouts was Ben M, the acting SPL for the non-survivor group, and me as the staff cook.


Friday saw the two groups split up, the Survivors leaving a little bit earlier than the younger scouts. The Survivors were driven on a very long, disorienting route before being dropped off in the middle of a forest and left to their own devices. Accompanied by Dr. Reynolds and Mr. Neuhart, the survivors hiked about half a mile before they came across what appeared to be a decent location for building their shelters. The key words in that sentence being “appeared to be,” as it was anything but what the survivors later said was decent. The place where the survivors had built their earthen shelters turned out to be on a slope of such a degree that extra effort had to be exerted to ensure nobody went rolling down the hill! At the same time, the other group of scouts drove down the gravel road to the campsite, where after surveying the ground; tents were set up near a fire pit. After the tents were pitched, the young scouts burned through triple-digit numbers of matches in trying to light a fire in said fire pit, eventually succeeding with the help of some of the adult staff.


Saturday morning brought with it cold temperatures and a late sunrise. For the survivors, it meant breaking down their shelters and following a GPS (provide by Dr. Reynolds) to another location, this time a much better campsite where the survivor group, broken up into groups of three teams of three, built more shelters, except this time they were significantly better than the previous ones as they were built closer to the ground and insulated better to keep the heat inside. One of the shelters even had a door on it reportedly (these shelters were destroyed the next morning as well). The following hours had the survivors spend most of the time sleeping after the previous night’s rough struggle with gravity; or search the surrounding area for objects that would help the survivors out, like a metal can to use for collecting water from a stream. (Dr. Reynolds had placed the several objects for the Scouts to find, as they would not normally be there as though being forgotten by previous adventurers.)

Dr. Reynolds and Mr. Neuhart came to visit the survivors periodically throughout the day, giving wilderness survival tips - and towards late afternoon - small animal traps that would hopefully yield dinner. The traps did not actually catch anything, so for dinner the adults provided a freshly-shot turkey and a cornhusk. Mr. Neuhart taught the survivors how to make a cooking spit to cook the turkey.

Later, after Dr. Reynolds repeatedly advised the survivors to go pick up the traps (using several different plausible reasons), Nick B. went to collect his group’s cages when he apparently encountered something inside one of the traps staring right back at him, so he went to go get help from the other scouts. When he returned with backup, it turned out that the trap had caught a savage and ferocious…chocolate bunny. The shiny plastic window on the bunny’s packaging had probably reflected the light from Nick’s flashlight, so that to him it looked like something staring right back at him. However, the chocolate bunny did not require a device like a Holy Hand Grenade to subdue, and so the scouts did enjoy a little desert before crawling into their shelters to survive out one more night.


The young scouts had a much different day. Waking up to the same cold morning that the survivors did, the young scouts set out to make breakfast without the use of propane stoves and were successful. Meanwhile, SPL Ben and the rest of the staff had planned for the group to take a 5-mile hike early in the day after breakfast to fulfill the related requirement for First Class, lunch to be held on the trail thus requiring it to be made before setting out on the hike.
Things got interesting when the trail markers; two blue stripes or “blazes” painted onto trees along the trail, became harder and harder to follow, the group sometimes trail blazed a little on their own before realizing where the trail actually was.

Along the way, Justin K. got “bit by a snake” and so the young scouts were supposed to show they knew how to treat the wound, the effectiveness of their medical treatment being questionable had it been a real medical emergency. lunchtime, the group stopped for lunch right on a small tributary to the Gunpowder Creek, the water level being low enough that there were dry rocks to sit on to eat their sandwiches. After lunch was done, everybody had varying amounts of difficulty climbing out of the riverbed up to the road, then again when the adults decided to have the group trail blaze up the hill on the other side of the road to a trail located at the top of the hill. It was tough and slick thanks to the thick growth and mud, but eventually everybody made the climb.

Then Mr. Carlson had a heart attack. It was up to the young scouts, again, to try and address this medical emergency, but they generally did only slightly better than before as this time they sent someone to go get help, after which they needed to consult the Scout Handbook once again. Mr. Carlson, after making a miraculous recovery, then asked questions to the young scouts about what to do in the case of a heart attack, correct answers rewarded with chocolate candy.

It was quickly realized after that event, however, that there was no direct trail back down to the bottom of the hill, so after following the available trails for a good little bit of time, the hikers broke from the trail and blazed their own down the side of the hill, ending up a short distance away from where the camp was set up. For the young scouts, it was not over just yet, as right after getting back to camp, they were sent on the orienteering course to finish that requirement for First Class, while those who did not need to do that stayed behind to work on other requirements.

For the rest of the day, the young scouts focused on getting more requirements done, while Staff did various administrative things for the campout and helped me out in making the Skyline Chili for dinner. Finally, around 11 o’clock, everybody was in their tents sleeping or just about to start sawing logs.

Sunday morning ended up being even colder than the previous one, but that didn’t stop the survivors from waking up before dawn and breaking down their shelters, ready to finish their journey and find civilization (or at least a hot meal). Unfortunately for them, their final destination ended up being on the other side of Gunpowder Creek, and so to keep themselves as dry as possible, they had to walk across with only their bare feet in their boots, only putting their socks back on after they had made the crossing.

Back at the other campsite, everybody slowly woke up to find that there was frost on the ground and on the tents! Needless to say, that made packing up the tents harder than usual, but by the time the survivors managed to reach the campsite where the young scouts were, only one green tent was still standing (among a few of the adult’s tents being left out to dry any moisture from the frost) and the adults had prepared a large “Mountain Man” breakfast, the survivors getting first dibs before anybody else.


It was while the survivors were eating, Will C. noticed that I was slightly wincing in pain, and so inquired as to why I was doing that. I explained that I had a slight pain in my hip as I had not slept well that previous night. Within half-a-second of me finishing my sentence, all the scout survivors said in near-perfect unison: “YOU didn’t sleep well last night?” with Bret C. jokingly pretending to hand me a plastic drum liner that he had used and telling me to go try sleeping like they had last night. When the now-reunited Troop 281 members had finished breakfast and packed the trailer, the traditional flag lowering closing of a campout was performed and the Scouts went back to the church.

However, upon arrival, there was one last thing the scouts needed to do before being dismissed. The church had bought a building close by as an annex to serve as its offices, but the flagpole’s halyard had been removed when the building’s former owners moved out and now it needed a new one. With the help of the local fire department and one of their ladder trucks, Dr. Reynolds was able to install a new halyard through fusing the two ends of the rope with a blowtorch. The scouts took over from there, as all the scouts in Class “A” uniform grouped up to perform a flag raising ceremony for the church’s newly repaired flagpole before being dismissed and allowed to go home.

Ben Hallenbeck, Troop Historian

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Photography by Ben Hallenbeck, Troop Historian

Photos from shooting sports campout at Achewon, September 18-29, 2009

Check Spelling

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Of Survival Skills and Geometry

At last week’s Troop meeting, things got a little crazy. First, the youth staff announced that in November there will be a uniform inspection conducted every meeting to make sure scouts are in complete “Class A” uniform. There was a small commotion when it was added that wearing the “Class B” shirt (the white shirt with the Troop 281 logo on the front) was part of the Class A uniform, since it would be almost completely hidden under the Class A shirt, but eventually the situation was sorted out. After some more announcements, Greg B. told the scouts to form a “half-circle-nonagon” (A nonagon is a nine-sided polygon) for the skill session, although in the end the scouts just formed a half-circle.
Confusing geometric-related commands aside, Greg did a good job of covering the basics of Wilderness Survival, the next campout (location still unknown to most of the Troop). He covered the essentials and the top 7 things anybody needs to survive in the wild for a little while: Water, the ability to assess the situation, food, a fire, shelter, signals, and a flashlight. The scouts who are going on the actual wilderness survival part of the campout will need those skills to survive for the 2-3 days they will be lost in the wilds of…wherever they’ll be.
When the skill session was over, the scouts got to play a game of “Spud”. For those who don’t know, the game “Spud” is kind of like dodge ball, but with a few twists: Each scout is given a number, and when one scout tosses the ball in the air, whoever has the number that is called out must catch the ball and shout “SPUD!” At that point, all the other scouts who were running away from the ball must freeze, and the scout who has the ball gets three steps before he must toss the ball at another scout. If the ball makes a hit, the unlucky scout is out of the game, but if it’s a miss, then the game just restarts.
When it was time to circle up to close the meeting, the scouts fell in as usual for the end-of-meeting announcements. SPL Avery R. got a little creative towards the end, however, and taking a page from Greg’s book had the Troop “nonagon-up”, but the Troop still ended up making more of an amoeba shape than a polygon.

Ben Hallenbeck, Troop Historian

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Court of Honor, September 29, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

All Tied Up

At last week’s troop meeting, the focus had already started to shift towards the next campout: the “Survivor” Campout, so the theme that night was on lashings. Before the meeting’s activities could begin, however, the standard reciting of the Pledge and both the Scout Oath and Law, and Nick B. led the opening for the meeting perfectly, even though due to a soccer accident he was forced to move around on crutches. When the typical formalities were over with, the scouts reformed into a semi-circle around a table for the lashings skill session, led by Greg B. After a brief review of some basic pioneering knots and lashings, the scouts formed multiple little groups where the older scouts (Hurricane and Viking Patrols) were to teach the younger scouts how to do a tripod lashing. Results were mixed.

After various tripod lashings had been completed, the scouts moved out into the church’s front yard, where the game would be held. The game was the “Chariot Race”, where the individual patrols had three sticks they had to lash together into a “chariot”, then with one scout riding the chariot, the other scouts had to simply run down the lawn’s opposite end and back again to win. The Flaming Arrow Patrol ended up being the winners, although the fact they aren’t as heavy as the older scouts probably worked to their advantage in the race. After the scouts had disassembled their chariots into separate staves and ropes, they went back inside where the meeting was closed in the near-standard “amoeba”, with Mr. Adkerson, filling in for the then-unavailable Dr. Reynolds, giving the Scoutmaster’s Minute.

Ben Hallenbeck, Troop Historian


(Editor's note: Parents, please note the "comments" section just below. If you click on the word "comments," you'll find that - by following a few simple prompts - you'll be able to share your own thoughts, thank-you's, or other assorted trivia to the blog. The Troop Historian is doing an incredible job of writing. It is entirely his own work. Please join in the fun. [Suggestion: When writing, use a pseudonym others might - or might not - recognize.]) Please review earlier postings as pictures will be added when they become available.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wabbit Season: Now Open!

The latest campout for Troop 281, the first of the new Scouting year, was about two things: the induction of the newest scouts to Troop 281, and the use of the Second Amendment. The trip started out like most trips of Achewon, and up until the explanation of how to use the Green Monster was done, it was rather uneventful.
Then all of a sudden, everybody noticed another van pulling into camp, except this one had a trailer that carried one really big cannon. The scouts were, naturally, excited about the cannon, but they had to go set up their respective camps at that time, so they couldn’t watch the older adults unload the siege weapon. It wasn’t until much later, when the scouts had all gotten their tents pitched, etc. that the full story about the cannon was revealed. As it turned out, the cannon had been brought by a group of Civil War re-enactors, and they were going to show the scouts how a cannon was fired back in the Civil War. Well, they didn’t as so much “show” how as they did “instruct” the scouts, as the mock-cannon crew was made up of all the young scouts.
Even with the younger scouts “prepping” the cannon to fire, the speaker still conveyed just how dangerous everything the scouts were doing was had the conditions been placed in an actual Civil War battle, along with constantly saying that it would been going a LOT faster than the rate the young scouts were going. After the young scouts had successfully gone through prepping, firing, and cleaning the cannon from a single shot, the scouts were instructed to stand back a safe distance, as it was time for the re-enactors to really get the cannon going. They fired four “blank” loads (all the fire, but no actual ammunition was fired since Camp Achewon is situated on a farm after all) for the scouts, making this campout (and indirectly, the entire Scouting year) start off with a bang in the literal sense! After the Re-enactors were done setting off the cannon, they were given a big thank you by the Troop, and the scouts all went back to their camps and eventually to sleep, ready for what was to come tomorrow.

On Saturday, all the scouts were thinking of one thing more than anything else: Shotguns. Indeed, the main attraction of the campout was getting to blast bright orange clay birdies out of the sky, or at least try to, anyways. Bob Sacco, who had given the Shooting skill session at a previous meeting, was the man to thank for providing a wide array of shotguns, the ammo, and the targets. The shooting began soon after flags were raised, the older scouts getting to shoot first while the younger scouts helped the Mooseheads (Assistant Scoutmasters) with improving the camp elsewhere. After a quick review of shooting safety, the older scouts were allowed to pick their choice of shotgun and gauge (each scout got 20 shots, but they only got to fire one gauge of bullet).
Many of the scouts made more misses than hits, but a few scouts were pretty good sharpshooters; Avery R. being the best shot reportedly with 14 hits. When everybody had spent their 20 shots, the scouts went into the target range to pick up any birdies that were still intact, and then gave Mr. Sacco a big thanks for allowing the scouts to shoot his shotguns before heading back to camp for lunch. During lunch, the adults were allowed to try their hand at shooting with shotguns, the results were very mixed.

After lunch, the younger scouts got to shoot flying orange dots while the older scouts tackled the big service project of the campout: improving Camp Achewon’s bridges. Two of the bridges were relatively simple, simply improving the stability of the ends, but the bridge leading into Falcon Ridge was in need of a near-total overhaul. Originally it was just four railroad ties (left over from the old traction railroad that went through the area the camp now sits on). Now only one tie remained crossable. The other three had fallen falling into the riverbed due to erosion or outright rotting. The other way to the Falcon Ridge campsite is much longer and out of the way, so the fallen-in railroad tie bridge had to be improved.
The scouts began the rebuilding project by first pulling out all the ties and figuring out where to put in the new crossing. After deciding that the bridge’s location had to be moved to a spot right next to where it originally was, the exposed ground erosion was shored up with rocks brought up from downriver. The three useable ties (the fourth had rotted out beyond salvation) were laid across the new crossing, forming the base of the new bridge. That would have been enough for just the scouts, but as a small gesture of thanks to Mr. Schimf, the owner of the Camp Achewon land, the new bridge was built with decking to allow passage for his golf cart and ATV. The ties, already spaced evenly, had the new decking nailed into them while other scouts began digging up sediment from the riverbed to build up dirt ramps.
While this was going on, other scouts were widening the path from the main trail to Falcon Ridge by cutting down obtrusive trees. It was a tough job, and, even though the end result was a little uneven, Mr. Schimf was able to safely drive the go-kart over it repeatedly without the refurbished bridge even straining under the weight.

It wasn’t until after dinner that all the scouts got together again for the new scout induction ceremony. In it all the new scouts were formally accepted into the “brotherhood” of Troop 281, tribal-ritual style. As Joel N. led the procession of new troop members from the staff campsite down to the chapel, they passed Nick B. spelling the word “ACHEWON” with semaphore flags and had symbolic paint marks applied to their faces and hands, cultivating in them “leaving” the safety of their parents as they joined the ranks of Troop 281. After the pseudo-ritualistic ceremony was completed, the new scouts having received their Troop 281 neckerchiefs, the troop Mooseheads served ice cream, with a multitude of flavor selections (ranging from vanilla to vanilla) and toppings (ranging from sprinkles and chocolate sauce to whipped cream and nuts). No matter what people chose, everybody enjoyed eating their ice cream with forks while watching Mr. S. torture Joel for not getting the fire hot enough sooner by having Joel stand right next to the fire, which by that point was face-searing hot.

The next morning, unfortunately, was not as nice as the day before had been. It started out cloudy, and eventually it started to rain. Flag ceremonies were cut from the schedule, since Mr. Schimph had already taken the poles down long before the rain had started. The scouts who had camped in the back of Achewon were forced to bring most of their stuff up to the trailer simply to get it out of the increasingly heavy rain. The result was that the whole troop was packed up and ready…at about ten in the morning. The noon scheduled departure time could not be changed due to the church parking lot being loaded with Sunday Service attendees, making it impossible for the scouts to come home and unpack. As a result the majority of the scouts were sent to shotgun shooting range and, in the still-pouring rain, picked up any large pieces of bright orange birdies that were still around and tossed them into the woods along with crushing the smaller bits under their feet to make them bio-degrade faster.

Eventually, the scouts attended Chapel, and even though the rain had soured the general mood and also eventually ruined the script for the service, Mr. Katt gave a great Chapel service nonetheless. After Chapel, the scouts played Frisbee near the parking lot until everybody was allowed to get into the cars and head for home, the fact all the cars had good heaters no doubt improving the general morale as people started to warm up and dry off. By the time the scouts got back to the church, the rain had stopped, making the job of unloading the trailer all that much easier. When the trailer had been unpacked, the troop fell in one last time for some final announcements and tent assignments before being dismissed one last time, everybody then heading for home and a nice, hot shower.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Comments anyone? See below.