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.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wabbit Season Preparations

At last week’s troop meeting, the focus was on the upcoming shooting sports campout, so the skill session was focused around the Shotgun Shooting merit badge basics. Hosted by guest speaker Bob Sacco from troop 511, the scouts were led through Shotgun Basics 101 and reviewed the top three rules for using any kind of firearm: keep the gun pointed in a safe direction (away from people mainly), never put a finger on the trigger until ready to fire, and lastly never keep the gun loaded until ready to shoot (Although Mr. Ossman mentioned the unofficial “fourth” rule: Shoot first, ask questions later). Along with very important safety tips and equipment, Mr. Sacco also brought in some different types of shotguns, ranging from pump-action strategic shotguns to the classic Winchester double-side barrel type. All the kinds of shotguns that were shown at the meeting are reportedly going to be on the campout as well, since Mr. Sacco is in charge of the campout’s main event. Mr. Sacco also said that scouts are welcome to bring their own guns to shoot on the campout too, as long as the scout brings the ammo for that gun along with a responsible adult to the campout as well.

After the skill session, the scouts were given a short lesson on how to play the “stick” game, which in short involves the players, holding the sticks in a circle pattern, dashing all at once to the stick on their left before it falls on the ground, then repeating the pattern in increasingly larger distances. The scouts were split up into separate groups (the younger scouts in a different group then the older scouts), and there was lots of yelling, running, and wooden sticks hitting the ground in various ways while the scouts played the deceivingly simple game. After the scouts had played a few rounds of the stick game, it was time to fall in and circle up. Scoutmaster Dr. Reynolds wisely chose to use his scoutmaster minute that night to talk about preventing another incident like last year’s first Color War, which got rained out due to the scouts not packing the right clothes. After he had some of the older scouts recite the ten scout essentials (and a round of applause afterwards), the troop ended the meeting with the traditional “all-at-once” clap

Ben Hallenbeck, Troop Historian

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Planning and Chanting for the Future

At last week’s Troop meeting, most of the focus was on planning the events and menus for the upcoming Achewon trip, a.k.a. the “new scout induction” campout where the new scouts are formally inducted into the ranks of Troop 281. The planning, which was done by each patrol individually but with an adult supervisor to ensure things got done (or in the case of the new scouts, to help explain how to plan a campout), took up most of the first half of the meeting. After all the patrols had turned in the required paperwork, there was a skill session led by Avery R., Bret C. and Greg B. What was unusual about this particular skill session was the topic it covered: it was a skill session…on how to give a skill session. While the basics of giving a presentation were simple enough, somehow most of the scouts ended up having to repeat some basic rules of presenting to the point where it sounded like rushed chanting.

After the Skill/chanting session was over, it was time for the game. The game of the night was a little strange, in that it was “Finger Jousting” or something similar to that name. The idea is that two scouts clasp hands like they’re going to thumb wrestle, but instead of the thumbs being the important finger, it’s actually the index finger, which is extended as if to point at its opponent. The objective of the game was to try and touch your opponent with your index finger while trying to prevent your opponent to do the same to you, and as one would expect, the fights had scouts sidestepping and rolling all over the place in trying to place their index finger on the hip of somebody else.

When the finger-pointing had finally stopped, the scouts fell in once more for end of meeting announcements before “circling up” into the habitual amoeba shape. For his Scoutmaster minute, Dr. Reynolds gave a very nice personal reflection on the passing of Erich Kunzel, the late Maestro of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and friend to the scouts of Troop 281. Later everybody clapped together one last time and left for home or went to the scout room for some cake that Steven L. had brought in, left-over from the completion reception of his Eagle Project.

Ben Hallenbeck, Troop Historian

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Burn Baby Burn, Disco Inferno!

Last week’s Troop meeting was the start of both the new Scouting year AND of Avery Reynolds’s term as the new troop Senior Patrol Leader. (Avery had been actually working as SPL since the beginning of summer when program planning for the year was discussed.) After the standard turned to the skill session; Firebuilding 101, led by Greg B. The skill session’s first part, describing various methods to start a fire, went over reasonably well, although when the “what-to-do-in-case-of…” part of the presentation, some of the opening of the meeting with the Pledge, Scout Oath, and Scout Law, the meeting quickly answers to “what to do if someone falls into a fire” question were a little alarming, such as: “Well, you can either pull him (the guy in the fire) out, or you can dance around it and-”… (The speaker was cut-off before he could finish.)

After Greg finished up his explanations, everybody went outside for a series of fire-building related contests, starting with a “gather the largest pile of firewood” competition. The results varied between the five patrols, but I’m pretty sure the Hurricane Patrol’s pile was more pine needles than actual wood, despite Alex R. finding a long wooden pole by the church dumpster and being able to break it down for the pile. After it was declared that the Viking Patrol’s pile of wood was the best (and Nick B. given the prize: some candy to distribute to whomever he wished). The next competition began: whose pile could become the first fire to burn down a piece of twine hanging above it (similar to the fire building contest at Color Wars). The Hurricanes started out strong, with their pine-needle pile instantly becoming a giant fireball that within a minute imploded on itself, but it was the younger scouts whose fire eventually burned through the twine. However, even though the Viking’s fire had failed to start until after the twine had been burned through, it quickly became the largest fire there (no surprise since it was built by resident Troop Pyro Nick B.), and when it was time to come in, only the Viking’s fire had not been extinguished for some reason, possibly because it was too big at the time.

Finally, the scouts came back in to play that night’s game: Swing the Thing. The usual results came about: Scouts getting tripped up and Alex R. doing crazy jumping maneuvers all over the place. There was only time for one game. However, as the skill session had taken up most of the time of the meeting, the Scouts fell back in for some last-minute announcements. After everybody who had an announcement had spoken, the Troop “circled up” into the traditional amoeba of crossed arms, and the meeting was ended. When asked about how he felt his first meeting as SPL was going, Avery Reynolds only had this to say: “It’s only the beginning, we’ll see how it goes.”

Oh, there’s one more thing that Noah R.wants everybody to know: Turpin High School is still a Blue Ribbon School, but now it’s got a giant sign outside that says Turpin is a Blue Ribbon School, too.

Ben Hallenbeck, Troop Historian