Thursday, March 26, 2009

Meeting Synopsis for Mar. 24

Last week's meeting had the younger scouts split up from the older scouts again, the younger scouts going off somewhere to learn knots while the older scouts sat in on the skill session on the Personal Finance Merit Badge. The skill session was led by none other than the Troop's very own Mr. Ossman, who was well prepared for teaching the skill session as he is a registered counselor for the merit badge. In the skill session, Mr. O covered all the basics about the requirements for this Eagle required badge, including the notorius "13-week budget" requirement. After the skill session, Mr. O handed out a little quiz to test scout's knowledge about various money and time related things along with a bonus question that only Brett Carwile knew: What is Jar-Jar's given name? The question, while not related to the actual skill session nor the infamous Jar-Jar Binks of Star Wars infamy, was related to Mr. O handling Summer Camp sign ups, as the counselor Jar-Jar is now the program director for this year's summer camp.

The game was a basic game of Capture the Flag, although right from the start both teams charged at each other as if they were participating in World War Three. With that kind of start, the game would have been very interesting to watch, no doubt about it, but sadly the game had started too late to get fully underway before all the scouts had to go back in to close up the meeting.

After the game, Dr. Reynolds passed out new troop number patches, the troop number portion turning into olive green numbers on tan backing as compared to the typical white numbers on red backing. These were given to anyone who was wearing the new-style Boy Scout uniform, which pretty much came down to a few adult leaders and all of the Flaming Arrow Patrol. Lastly, right before the scouts closed another meeting with the traditional crossed-hands-amoeba, Dr. Reynolds also swore in the newest Assistant scoutmaster, Ken Wilson, who will also be serving as the new troop "Medicine Man" in light of Dr. Reynolds leaving that position for Scoutmaster.

Ben Hallenbeck, troop historian

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rock Climbing at John Bryan State Park

If one word could only be said to describe the older scout campout to John Bryan State Park, it would be the word “Awesome!” Thanks to Mr. S, Mr. Goldberg, Mr. Rye, Mr. Hallenbeck, and the rock climbing instructors: Barry Atkins, his son Chris Atkins, and Rob Merkel, the campout was full of amazing, fun, and ‘interesting’ events for everyone.
The events of the campout started long before anyone even got to the campsite on Friday, March 21st. The plan for Saturday’s lunch was that everybody would have packed their lunch from home, but several scouts forgot to do just that, myself included. All the scouts who had forgotten their lunches got into Mr. Rye’s Excursion, A.K.A. “The Tank,” and the first stop after leaving the church was the McDonalds just down the road to pick up the next day’s lunch. While most of the lunch-less scouts bought a few hamburgers, I wasn’t so sure about the belief everybody had about McDonald’s food being able to keep overnight, so I just bought some Chicken McNuggets to conserve on cash.
After buying what hopefully would be tomorrow’s lunch, the convoy of three cars, each driven by Mr. S, Mr. Goldberg, and Mr. Rye, headed off to John Bryant State Park. Mr. S was far behind the main group of scouts after having to make a gas stop, so it was just Mr. Rye and Mr. Goldberg who ended up driving around in circles at John Bryant, looking for a good place to set up camp. Eventually, a good spot near the woods was picked, and the scouts emerged from the cars to begin constructing the tents, illumination provided by the headlights of Mr. Rye’s Excursion. When camp was set up and Mr. Rye had taken leave of the group, the scouts built a bonfire and cooked some good popcorn over it for cracker barrel that night before heading to bed.
The following morning, about half of the scouts woke up early to the frigid morning and began to prep for breakfast. The first problem occurred when Will Carlson couldn’t get the propane stove to work, forcing him to use his home-brought cooking gear on the open fire, which was already going again thanks to other scouts bringing in plenty of firewood. By the time Avery was up, Will had cooked large pancakes, juicy sausage, fluffy eggs, potato squares, and goetta, an assortment that looked very good, so it’s no surprise that everybody was ready to dig in.
Then the second problem occurred: the scouts had forgotten to pack the cutlery, forcing everybody to eat by some other means off of their plates. Despite the setback of no forks or knives, the group still was able to devour the delicious breakfast. During breakfast, Barry Atkins, Chris Atkins, and Rob Merkel came to the camp to check up on the group to see when we would be ready to climb, and after a short discussion left to go get things ready for the scouts. After breakfast, most scouts started to gather more firewood and get ready to go rock climbing, while Steven LaCount and I were on breakfast cleanup duty. It was right after the two of us had soaped up the bottom of the pot for heating water on the fire that Max Goldberg got the stove working, allowing for the water to be heated up quicker but rendering the soap on the bottom unnecessary. After the water was sufficiently heated up, and the discovery that paper towels had also been forgotten to be packed, Steven and I were aided by Mr. Goldberg in cleaning up by using dry leaves as a substitute to paper towel. Finally, after clean up was finished, the group set out to go climb rocks.
Except the group somehow went the wrong way, and ended up far from where we were to meet Mr. Atkins. After figuring out which way to go, most of the scouts chose to hike the distance, which was a little over a mile, while Mr. S., Mr. Goldberg, and a few scouts went back to camp to take the cars there. After everybody re-united again at the place where Mr. Atkins was waiting for us, he handed out the gear and helmets everybody needed before he led the group off to the first feature event of the day: rappelling. When the scouts got there, Chris Atkins and Roy Merkel were already waiting for us at the place, and while everybody put on their harnesses, the three instructors gave a talk about how to safely rappel. After Roy went down first to demonstrate, the first scout to go was Nick Burnley, who went down pretty smoothly. I went next, and I discovered how scary it is to try and make that one step off of level terrain onto the cliff face. I made it down after making the one big step onto the side, and afterwards the other scouts began to come down, with one scout acting as the belay for the next person coming down. When a few people had come down the first rappelling line, Mr. Goldberg helped set up a second line so more people could rappel at the same time.
After most of the scouts had started to grow tired of rappelling, Mr. Atkins and co. set up the first climbing wall, which was both easier and harder than rappelling, as while climbing doesn’t require feeding rope through the harness to go somewhere, it’s more physically demanding to pull one’s self up a cliff face, let me tell you, since I had some trouble getting up the wall. Other scouts were able to use special climbing shoes, which looked like multi-colored bowling shoes, and were able to get up the wall with less difficulty. Lunch was after all the scouts had climbed the wall once, and the most common sight was those McDonalds burgers bought the day before, which Mr. S liked to call “poison burgers.” I cautiously tried a Chicken McNugget, and while not recommended for everyday practice, McDonald Chicken McNuggets do keep overnight, although they tasted like they’d been put in my refrigerator all night. A few scouts tried climbing the wall again after lunch, and then the party moved to a location father away for a new climbing challenge. After a brief problem with trying to get the rope set up, Max was the first to try to conquer the new challenge, which he did after what looked like to be a very hard climb. Avery, Nick, Alex, and Steven also tried to climb the new wall, while most of the other scouts took a nap before leaving for the parking lot, they being done climbing and rappelling for the day.
Those who remained, which were just the five adults, Avery, Steven, Alex, Max, and myself, went back to the first site to go rappelling again for the last time before Mr. Atkins and co. and the scouts went their separate ways. During that last session of rappelling, Alex tried a third time to go down the rope, and third time truly is the charm for him, as he managed to smoothly go down the rope, only for him to want to do it again. When everything was packed up and the gear returned to Mr. Atkins’ car, the scouts thanked him, Chris, and Roy for being there to let the scouts climb and rappel, then the scouts returned to the camp.
The feature attraction of the campout over with, the group got together around the fire to make plans for the rest of the campout, including how to deal with Sunday, where breakfast would be held at the famous Clifton Mill. It was decided that after dinner, which would somehow be eaten without plates or silverware, all non-personal stuff be loaded into the cars to speed up loading for Sunday morning. In the following period between then and dinner, the scouts went and collected even more firewood, got dinner preparations in place, and played some lacrosse. Come dinnertime, the menu featured: Spicy meat logs, incredibly good garlic bread, baked potatoes (with cheddar cheese), green beans, and yams. Everything was eaten out of makeshift eating materials made from aluminum foil, so clean up was simply toss everything into the garbage bag. Following cleanup was packing up all non-personal gear into the cars, then everybody, including Mr. S, played ultimate Frisbee while waiting for the fire to burn itself out. When the fire burned out, everybody got into the cars and went to get ice cream at Young’s Jersey Dairy. When the group got there, the majority of scouts went to the petting zoo area first, and then everybody got in line for ice cream, which Mr. Goldberg bought for all of us, provided we all repay him at some point. Most of the choices were simple ice cream scoops in a cone, or like my selection, the “Lotsa Bull Shake” with two scoops of the exclusive “cow pie” ice cream on top of 32oz of chocolate goodness. However, my treat paled in comparison to Nick Burley’s choice, which was “The Cow Trough,” essentially the mother of all ice cream sundaes with 5 individual ice cream scoops, brownies, assorted cookies, mountains of whipped cream, and the standard cherry on top. He almost ate all of it, too, if it hadn’t been for the cookies being too much to handle after all the ice cream. When most scouts were done with their treats, water bottles were filled up at the tap in the ice cream parlor before heading back to the camp, where most of the group gathered around the fire, listening to “yo mama” jokes and Mr. Goldberg play the Harmonica, while Max went off somewhere to go burn off all the newly gained excess sugar, and Avery went to bed immediately as to wake up early. Eventually, the group went to bed around 11:00.
The next morning, the Sunday that would see the end of this glorious campout, started off just as cold as Saturday morning did. Amazingly, Avery was one of the first people all packed up and ready to go, before even Will, which usually is something that never happens. When everybody was up, the tents came down, the cars were overloaded with stuff and scouts, and by 8:00 sharp it was as if no one had been at the campsite, if the remaining courtesy pile of firewood was ignored. Halfway to the Clifton Mill, the cars discharged their scouts at the head of a half-mile trail that would lead to the Mill, where the cars would later be waiting for us.
While most of the scouts decided to run all the way, Avery and I chose to take a nice walk on the trail, taking in the sights, and reading about the amazing escape of Cornelius Darnell from Indians, who in the colonial days had jumped across the river at its lower bank, managing to grab hold of a tree on the other side and had ditched his captors on the opposite river bank. After re-uniting with Mr. S. and Mr. Goldberg at the Mill, the scouts were some of the first patrons served in the Clifton Mill’s restaurant. Known for the huge pancakes and waffles that were served, most of the party could only handle one of the normal selections. But for Alex, Brett, Avery, and Nick, the only choice was the #10, simply titled: “The Breakfast,” a monster platter of all standard breakfast foods that no single person could ever hope to finish alone. At the end of the hearty breakfast for the group, however, only Mr. Goldberg’s plate still had food on it, all the other plates almost literally licked clean, even “The Breakfast” couldn’t hold up against four ravenous scouts. The time was around 10 o’clock, so there was still an hour before Mr. Hallenbeck was scheduled to arrive to be the third driver, and chapel wasn’t scheduled until 10:45, so the scouts explored the abandoned Christmas village right next to the mill and played some game with the Frisbee until chapel. When the time came for chapel, the scouts pretty much just gathered around a bench and said Amen around it. Lastly, before the group broke up into the three cars, as Mr. Hallenbeck had arrived by then, Mr. S got the scouts together and everybody reflected on the triumphs and hardships that we had all gone through together.

Ben Hallenbeck, Historian

Hiking at Bear Wallow

On March 20, 2009 To March 22, 2009 the Kodiaks and the Falcons went hiking at Bear Wallow. After getting lost in southern Indiana, we arrived had to set up our tents in the dark. We slowly got up and managed to get to the trail by 10:00. On the trail learned a lesson from Dr. Reynolds on hot spots because one of the scouts had a blister. We hiked and hiked looking for our lunch location, then we had lunch right before we found the picnic area. After we found the picnic area, we had a surprise from Dr. Reynolds .He had a watermelon and a cantaloupe in his backpack. The total hike was a little under 13 miles.
The next morning after breakfast we had chapel service. In chapel service Elliot sang a Latin song for us. Then we had a police line and then went back to the church.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Meeting Synopsis for Mar. 17

At the latest troop meeting, the skill session was focused on the basics of hiking while camping. Led by Greg Brinkman, the two youngest patrols took a short trip around the church, making short breaks to focus on one of the ten scout essentials for hiking. I'm not quite sure what the other scout patrols did since yours truly tagged along with the new scouts. But from what I could gather when the troop fell back in after the skill session, it seems the other group of scouts did a similar exercise. The Kodiak and Falcon patrols are going backpacking at Bear Wallow, so they will most likely have benefited from the recent refresher course. The Hurricanes and Vikings are going to John Bryant State Park; where instead of hiking, those scouts will be climbing rocks, but it's always good to make sure you have the ten scout essentials on any campout.

The game after the skill session, called "British Bulldog", was new for a lot of scouts, myself included, In the game everybody runs from the person who's the "British Bulldog" who tries to tag people by giving them bear hugs and lifting them off the ground shouting "British Bulldog!" The captured person then becomes a "British Bulldog" themselves, and the process repeats until one person is left without getting turned into a dog. That person then sits out for the rest of the match, and the game restarts. In short: It's territorial tag with wrestling moves thrown in the mix. The younger scouts were separated from the older scouts again for the game, probably to avoid any older scouts making any younger scout into a flattened pancake by accident.

Mr. S was also there, giving support for the Church's "Project 5000" service and asking the scouts to lend a hand. "Project 5000" is a food collection drive, taking its name from the story of Jesus Christ feeding 5000 people with just a few loaves of bread, where the church collects boxes full of food, one box being able to feed a needy family for a weekend. The need is greater than ever and "Project 5000" is a great way to directly help out the community without spending too much money, as it only takes $20-$25 worth of food to fill one box, so help fill a box and feed a family in need.

Towards the end of the meeting, Scoutmaster Dr. Reynolds had arrived, and wants everybody to know he's still alive. The new troop chairman, Mr. Van Kuren, was sworn in by Dr. Reynolds, and then after a few more announcements concerning Pancakes in the Woods and the Flower Sale, the scouts formed the crossed-hands amoeba and closed the meeting.

Ben Hallenbeck, troop historian

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Meeting Synopsis for Mar. 10

At the last meeting, the existing Hurricane, Viking, Kodiak, and Falcon patrols were joined by a fifth patrol, the Flaming Arrow Patrol, who had recently come back from their very first campout.

Then after the Order of the Arrow elections were held, the patrols split up to plan the meals for the upcoming campouts, while the Kodiaks and Falcons are going hiking at Bearwallow, the Hurricane and Viking Patrols will be going to John Bryan State Park to go rock climbing.

Guest speaker and former Troop 281 member Barry Atkins visited to explain what the rock climbing was like and brought some "nice shiny objects," as he put it, in the form of climbing equipment used to climb the rocks. Mr. Atkins is an advisor for a Venture Scout patrol as well, so I bet there will be some Venture Scouts on this campout as well who are climbing the rocky cliffs.

After planning what meals will be made on the trip, the scouts broke up into two parties yet again, this time divided by age. The older scouts went outside to play Ultimate Frisbee while the younger scouts stayed inside to play Ultimate Football. In both games, all the scouts were like one giant mob of limbs and hair chasing a little plastic toy, the only real difference being that the mob formed by the older scouts was taller than the mob formed by the younger scouts.

Lastly, as the meeting began to come to a close, the Flaming Arrow scouts received their Scout Badges from Mr. Carlson and Mrs. Carwile, and the new scout parents joined in when the order to "circle up" was given. The resulting shape was more like a giant elongated oval, but that's closer to a circle than what the scouts normally form in a typical meeting closing.

Ben Hallenbeck

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Meeting Synopsis for Mar. 3

Mr S. was among those attending the latest meeting, which was a very exciting meeting indeed. The skill session was simply titled "Cooking on the Trail" and led by Chef Max Goldberg and Assistant cook Dillion Whitehead. The skill session covered how to make basic meals on the trail, how to be conservative with garbage on the trip, and a mini-class in backpacking Nutrition 101 to show what kind of stuff one must eat on the trail. What really made the little cooking class interesting was what went on during it: flying compressed bread slices, a discussion about getting butter from milking anything vs. just bringing squeeze butter, a rush for Spam sandwiches, and plenty of delicious taste tests.

Then after cleaning up the skill session, the scouts only got more energetic when the game was revealed to be the ever popular Dodgeball. The adults set up a net where the stage wall used to be to block balls from flying into the stage backdrop, and Senior Patrol Leader Will Carlson said that this was going to be a game that used the "Honor" system, or in other words this was going to be a "fair" match. The first round was over relatively quickly, with Brett Carwile as the last man on his team vs. the majority of the other team. The second round was similar, except it was Elliot Horstman as the last man standing against his enemies. The Last round was longer than the first two and much more furious, but in the end it was Max Goldberg vs. the world."

--Ben Hallenbeck, Troop Historian