Sunday, December 12, 2010

Like Thanksgiving, except there's no turkey.

As the sun began to set on the Anderson Hills United Methodist Church, the scouts of Troop 281 were once again packing up for a campout. It was clear from the massive amounts of food being loaded into the trailer that the campout in question could not be anything other than FeastFest; another one of Troop 281's 'signature' campouts. With FeastFest, it is a celebration of, well, food. Each patrol (Staff included!) is in charge of some aspect of the giant setup of food that in some cases could be considered a second Thanksgiving, only without the Turkey or other major Thanksgiving staples, but more on that later.

Going back to the start of the campout, the usual challenge of getting both troop and personal gear to fit inside the trailer, things already had gotten off to an unusual start. As it turned out; the church was holding a big play that same night, so the parking lot was parked up and forced the scouts to load up the trailer from the curbside under the giant columns. When the trailer was loaded up and the doors miraculously closed without problem, the scouts divided up into their respective cars and the long, 2-hour drive to Camp Oyo began. Highlights of the trip include the planned halfway "pit-stop" at a Marathon gas station (for restroom breaks and the purchase of on-the-road goodies) along with being able to view the neat holiday light displays set up in the towns the troop passed through thanks to it being very dark. The troop arrived at Camp Oyo and the trailer unloaded, then the firewood trailer was brought in and unloaded as well, being divided up between the main mess hall (where all the cooking would be done) and the two cabins (the "Blockhouse", where the younger scouts and adults slept, and the Wagner Lodge as the temporary home for the older scouts). The cabins are very much a big part of the FeastFest experience, as they provide much more "homely" sleeping arrangements and space than the usual tents.

The next morning got off to a slow, cold start as people had to will themselves out of their warm sleeping bags and hike to the mess hall for breakfast. For Saturday, the morning activity was a five-mile hike up to the firetower. Participation being madatory, the scouts were divided into two different groups: the younger scouts and the older scouts. The younger scouts took a more straightfoward route to the firetower, getting the 5-mile hike achievement for rank advancement, while the older scouts took a MUCH more challenging route in the spirit of Philmont preparation, complete with those going on Philmont loading up their bags to an average weight of 40-50 lbs per scout. The hike, which was incredibly rough as it seemed to go uphill both ways in icy conditions, the conditions for the older scouts being even harder as the ever-changing slope really made things difficult. However, nobody was reported missing from either party, so it can be assumed that everybody survived and made it back to Oyo in one piece.

Following the hike was a LOOOONG period of downtime, during which the younger scouts worked on advancements and everybody began making preparations for dinner, played card games, or sat in front of a fire in their cabins. Mr. S, the predecessor to Dr. Reynolds in the Scoutmaster position, also paid a visit to the scouts and was able to stay through dinner.

The sun was once again setting on the scouts of Troop 281 when the rush really began to be felt and the titular "feast" of FeastFest began to take shape. Each patrol was in charge of one of the dishes in the scouting dinner party:

- The Thrashing Sharks were in charge of the appetizers, and so provided chips with dipping salsa, dinner rolls, and two kinds of salad.

- Even with the misfortune of over half their food supplies somehow not being loaded into the trailer, the Flaming Arrows did make a nice meatloaf.

- Duct Tpe provided one of the main dishes; a "built-it-yourself" assembly-line style burrito in the style of Chipotle Burritos. The choices for contents of the burrito included: cooked rice, salsa, baked chicken chunks, guaquamole, and special quesidilla cheese, all on toasty warm tortilla shells.

-Staff provided a few items of their own: Roast Olive Kalamata, "Johnnybread" (similar to Cornbread), and Green Bean Casserole.

-Lastly, the Kodiaks and the Falcons worked on making an interesting dessert section of the feast. Kodiak made two giant pans full of "Oreo pudding" in both chocolate and vanilla flavors, while the Falcons made two cobblers: chocolate cherry and apple.

After acting-SPL Joel N. caused some comotion in calling out birthday months to decide how the line for food would be formed, everybody was able to dig in and get their fill of the smorgasboard. On a humorus note, a few of the younger scouts tried eating quickly so that they could get dessert first, yet after everybody eventually got some dessert of their choice, there was STILL quite a lot of the Oreo pudding left, from which everybody kept on grabbing a little of throughout the rest of the night. The sounds of cleaning, rain, and more card games replaced the sounds of dining as the troop began getting back into a period of "downtime", the camp operator also making an announcement that the Trading Post would be open for a short time as well for anybody interested. At last, with the dishes mostly clean and with roaring fires back in the cabins, the members of the troop slowly began to go back to their bunks for another night of slumber.

On Sunday morning, packing up was the order of the day. As the troop aimed to return to the church around noon, the two-hour drive factored in meant that departure time could be as early as 10 am. Quick breakfasts were made before the gear was broken down and placed back into the trailer along with the tables and benches being put back into "storage" in the mess hall. Before the troop could depart, however, a quick chapel service (with Mr. Rechtin playing guitar for the singing) was held to close the campout and a cookie provided by Mr. S given to everybody. The snow began to fall as the troop at last began to leave Oyo and embark on the 2-hour trip home.

Upon arriving at the church, the trailer was quickly and efficently unloaded because everybody wanted to go home and enjoy a nice hot shower. When all final troop business was handled, the troop fell in one last time before at last being dismissed, ending FeastFest 2010.

Ben Hallenbeck, Historian