Monday, November 22, 2010

Color War 2010: Silence is golden, DUCT TAPE IS SILVER!

For the weekend of November 19th-21st, the weather may have been growing colder, but the level of competitiveness was only growing hotter by the second, for it was time for Color Wars: Fall 2010! One of Troop 281’s major “signature” events, the various patrols spend a weekend competing against each other through various challenges all in order to claim bragging rights of being the best patrol in the troop…until the next color war, that is.

War was officially declared between the patrols Saturday morning after Flag Raising by the start of one of the most infamous aspects of the campout: flag stealing (where patrols try to steal the flags from other patrols and sneak them to SPL Alex to score a point). Flag stealing was allowed during the entire campout on Saturday, but that wasn’t the only way to win Color Wars. In addition to the ongoing flag stealing, there were periodic challenges that the patrols had to face in order to win points and beat out the other teams. The first set of these challenges was a round robin consisting of the following:

-Caught in the Web: Scouts had to get their entire patrol through different holes in a rope web without actually touching the web. The clock is stopped after all scouts get through (or in the case of only a few scouts, two times), and extra points can be earned by going through more holes off-the-clock.

-Deliver/Stop the package: Two patrols face off against each other in this game. One patrol, carrying a designated “package”, must deliver it to an adult leader standing at a set location, but the other patrol must intercept and stop the package delivery by tagging the other patrol members.

-Mission: Impossible: A patrol must be able to cut a 3 X 5 notecard into a complete circle that a scout can walk through. The Duct Tape Patrol was able to cut a notecard with enough precision that all four members (and the flag) were able to go through it at once.

-Rope Ladder: Probably the most simple of the challenges, all the patrol had to do was make a ladder from lashing sticks together and retrieve a water bottle placed on the roof of a barn.

These challenges took up the greater part of the early morning and lunch took place in between. After the round-robin, the patrols headed out to the open field for another Color War staple: the firebuilding challenge. All patrols were in a direct race to see which one could build a fire the fastest and burn through a rope tied above the fire first. At first, the challenge seemed like it was over before it was begun, as Greg B.’s fire (for the Duct Tapes) caught fire instantly and immediately burned through the two levels of rope. However, when it was discovered the rope had been of a material that disintegrates at the mere exposure to a flame, the patrol firepans were reset and a new, single layer of rope was put in. The second round seemed to take forever, for while the Duct Tapes once again were the only ones who really had a fire going almost right off the bat, this time the rope was willing to do anything BUT burn though. As Greg constantly added fire to his growing inferno, the heat rose to levels where the aluminum pan the fire was in simply melted away (leaving a big smoking crater) and generated smoke which in combination with the wind blew at every other patrol, making the term “smoking out the competition” humorously appropriate at the moment. Finally, after a solid hour of stoking a fire hot enough to melt metals, the rope finally caught fire and broke after visibly burning for an excruciatingly long ten seconds, giving Duct Tape another victory at Color Wars.

When the firebuilding contest was over, the patrols were given a long period of downtime to work on rank advancement, find hiding spots for the campwide game, or go around stealing flags. After flag lowering, dinner was prepared and served alongside a quickly setting sun, and then under a bright near-full moon, the main event was begun.

The third and final major staple of Color Wars is the campwide game of hide-and-seek. Played in two rounds, the first round consists of the scouts going out within certain boundaries of Camp Achewon and concealing themselves within the forest, the youth staff and adults spending an hour or so then trying to find the scouts. While a majority of the scouts (usually the younger ones) end up being found, the scouts who are not found earn a point for their respective patrols. Then in the second round, the youth staff and adults go hide while the scouts play the hunters. A scout earns two points for their patrol for every adult or youth staff member that they find because there are so fewer of them and to encourage participation in the game. Also, flag stealing officially ends when the campwide game begins because of how easy it is to steal flags compared to earlier in the day. Following the campwide game, the troop adjourned to the chapel, where patrols pitted their various cheers, skits, songs, and whatever else against each other to earn some final points before bed.

On Sunday, things went unusually fast for the Troop, possibly because of the strangely warm weather compared to the past two days. The final catagories for points; the campsite gateway and how clean the campsite was before leaving, were judged before chapel, and then after a quick flag lowering the troop eagerly departed for the church on time. For the record, the Troop NEVER leaves on time on the average campout.

Upon arrival at the church, the trailer was quickly unloaded, gear organized and readied for the trip home, and tents assigned. Lastly, the winners of Color Wars were finally announced, and to everybody’s surprise it was the Kodiaks who finished third, even though they had deliberately tried to loose Color Wars for whatever reason. Falcon patrol placed second, and the Duct Tape Patrol were crowned champions of Color Wars 2010 by a landslide point advantage of at least 20 more than Falcons. This being the last Color Wars that the Duct Tape Patrol would be attending, it was great note to end the experience with, and furthermore a great note that the troop departed on.

Ben Hallenbeck, Historian

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


At the meeting for November 9th, there wasn't all that much to do for the scouts. The most important thing that was on the "to do" list was that the scouts needed to finish the planning and equipment sign-out for the upcomming Color Wars campout. The sheets for these actions had run out before the previous meeting, so more needed to be made.

When that was done with, the next activity was something of a surprise: it was the first event for Color Wars! This event was simple: each patrol would be a team, with all patrols competing against each other in a relay. However, instead of simply running around a track with a little stick, here the objective was to tie a specified knot in front of a "referee" before running back to the rest of the patrol and tagging the next person to go off. While one would have expected the oldest scouts, the Duct Tape patrol, to have easily won the challenge, there were only two scouts who actually ran the relay because all the other members were off doing someting more important or being one of the referees for other patrols.

Instead, the winners were, surprisingly, the Kodiaks, who are the second oldest patrol. Runners up were Flaming Arrows and the Thrashing sharks, the two youngest patrols. Points will be awarded to them at color wars for placing among the top three. On the other side of things, the Falcon patrol was told they might be instead getting a penalty because they kept on needing multiple people to tie the knots, having as many as five people up at once.

Because of the relative speed that everything on the agenda had been done so quickly, that left a large timeslot for the game. It was dodgeball, again, but thanks to the large amount of playtime the variant that was played was something new: Zombie Dodgeball!

It's something like this, only in a church, has dodgeballs, and nobody's actually dead

The same basic rules of dodgeball apply: throw balls at other people, avoid the balls they throw back, and if you catch a ball the thrower is out. What changes with Zombie Dodgeball is that in the cases of getting "out"; getting hit with a ball or someone catches the ball you just threw, players instead switch sides. This is a more "playtime-friendly" version in that nobody is forced to sit out of the game at any time (unless they engage in frouned-upon behavior, like usual), they just change teams and keep playing until only one team remains. Obviously, the fact getting hit only changes the people that you play with proved very popular with the scouts, as they do NOT like sitting out of a good dogeball game.

Also, partly because the more-flexible rules allowed it, it was observed that many aspects of the gameplay also went up statistically. With Zombie Dodgeball, it was noted that there was an increase of:

- 75% more headshots

- 33% more "Accidental" hits

-25% more "human hostages as shields" occurances, and

- 100%+ in totally incoherent screaming.

In addition, SPL Alex R. got so into the game that he assumed his new alter ego: "The Priest"

An artist's renditon of Alex as "The Priest" (and yes, that's a dodgeball on fire he's throwing)

After a while, the game was reset to a normal game of Dodgeball when it was realized that there would never be an end to the game because it was too easy to hit people when the threat of not playing wasn't applied. Even with some scouts now doing some benchwarming in "jail", it was still a fun game.

Finally, when the Troop was at last circled up, Johnathan Rholdeder was awarded his Eagle Scout badge, the latest in a long line of Troop 281 Eagles. There is hardly a better way to end a meeting then to set an Eagle Scout flying.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fahrenheit 281?

The first Troop meeting for November coincided with a sudden drop in temperature outside, so in the interest of keeping warm, the skill session for this night was firebuilding. Led by Avery Reynolds and Steven LaCount, the skill session once again largely served more for the benefit of the younger scouts since all the older scouts should know everything that was spoken about in the lesson. That only makes it more amusing that one scout (who will not be named for Internet security reasons) tried to look like a brainiac of fire building when he began reading directly from the Scout Handbook section on firebuilding, even though the skill session was not "open note" so to speak.

When firebuilding lessons were over, the meeting shifted into planning for the infamous "color wars" campout. The main focus of Color Wars is for an intra-troop competition between all the patrols to see who is the best and is worthy of associated bragging rights up until the next Color War. The events usually change every Color War, so only the top-level Troop Officers know what to expect in terms of challenges pre-War.

Lastly, it was time for the game. While it was unsurprisingly once again dodgeball (which until recently had been a very, very rare occurance due to problems in getting the safety net up for the stage), tonight it had been "doctor" dodgeball. The difference in this version of the game is that when someone is "out", they do not go to jail. Instead, they "die" and wait for a special member of the team (designated "the Doctor", German accent optional) to tag them, thus reviving them back into the fight. However, if the doctor is taken out, then no one can be brought back into play unless the doctor gets lucky and catches a ball on the fly, allowing him to go back to "saving" his teammates. It was a nice change of pace, as the little scouts were usually made the medics as they could dodge incoming balls easier and faster than the bigger, crazier older scouts, giving the younger scouts the edge over the older scouts for once in Dodgeball. It was on that nice note that the meeting was ended.

Ben Hallenbeck, Historian