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.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Comments anyone? See below.

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