Tuesday, December 16, 2014

An Unusual (But Fun) Way to Give Gifts

An Unusual (But Fun) Way to Give Gifts

     This week we had our Christmas party, consisting mainly of our white elephant gift exchange. Everyone who attended this week’s meeting brought some type of gift. (The recommended cost was $5-$10.) All of the gifts were put on a table in the middle of the room. Then we all made a circle-ish shape around the table. Jackson T. explained the rules: we would go around the circle, one person at a time. Each person would choose either to pick a gift from the table, or to steal a previous person’s item. One item could only be stolen up to three times, and someone could not steal something that they’d already had.

     It was a great time. There were some cool gifts, and lots of laughing over the events unfolding. Sometimes, just as someone got exactly what they wanted, it was stolen from them. Some items of interest that were stolen three times were a Gerber knife, a waterproof stuff-sack, a lantern, a poker set, and several assortments of candy and chocolate. There were some stormproof matches, a Whitman Sampler (Mmmm…), and a curiously large can of nacho cheese. This can was by far the heaviest thing on the table. It was first received by Danny C., who didn’t quite know what to do with it. Then Jacob W. stole it, and he was from then on the proud owner of the cheese. (I have the feeling that a lot of nachos are in his future.) Besides the candy, camping gear, card games, and cheesy presents, there were also some gift cards for Graeter’s Ice Cream, Game Stop, and Orange Leaf.

     Aside from this gifting extravaganza, there was a short game of dodgeball, and the winners of the Golden Spoon from Color Wars and Feast Fest (The Panthers and Serpents, respectively) were each given a cooler of Klondike Bars. Also, it was announced that several Scouts completed Boards of Review.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Feast Fest

Feast Fest

    This month, we had one of our traditional troop camping trips… Feast Fest! Feast Fest is a campout dedicated to having fun and good food. Traditionally, the troop holds this event at Boy Scout Camp Oyo, near Portsmouth, Ohio.

     It all started with the long drive (2 to 3 hours) to Camp Oyo. The large procession of vehicles left the lockup in the dark. Before we knew it, we were out of Cincinnati and on our way down State Route 52. We passed quite a few power plants situated cozily along the Ohio River, while seeing rolling farmland and old barns on the other side of the road. We went through several towns with beautiful Christmas decorations and long strings of colored lights along the road. About halfway through our drive, we stopped at our usual Marathon station to get snacks, drinks, etc. and to go to the bathroom. With all of our Scouts and leaders lined up all the way across the convenience store, it was probably one of the most successful business days of that gas station’s year. Three hours and a half dozen power plants after leaving the church, we finally arrived at Camp Oyo. We got to work unpacking and setting up, and eventually went to bed.

     Saturday was leisurely and busy at the same time. The day started out with everybody making breakfast at the dining hall. For a while everyone sat around the fireplaces eating and talking. Once patrols were finished eating and cleaning, they had some free time to prepare for the 5 mile hike. The hike was scheduled for 9:00AM, and left a little bit after that.

     The hikers went off on their adventure, while the rest of us stayed back at camp to have our own. We had some free time, so we passed the time by playing on the new obstacle course, playing cards and a few board games, building fires, and just hanging around. One exciting thing that happened was a soccer game, with Scouts from nearly all of the patrols. Most of those who weren’t playing were sitting outside the dining hall watching the game. Later there was a football game that included several members of another troop staying nearby. When the hikers returned, about 2:15, several patrols ate their lunch, while others got ready to begin cooking dinner. Why, you ask, were people cooking dinner in the afternoon? Well, this wasn’t just a dinner. This was a feast!

     Slowly, the Sun went down, and dinner time crept closer. This colossal meal was going to begin at 7:00. Finally, as it neared seven, the tables and benches were pushed together into a long row…

     At about ten after seven, the masses of people sat down to eat. The tables had been positioned and set; the food was laid out, ready for consumption. Max B. prayed, and then Mr. Zink and Jackson T. announced what delicious food each patrol had made. There were things like fajitas, mac n’ cheese, soup, cornbread, and all kinds of other mouthwatering dishes. For dessert, there were four cobblers and two cherry dump cakes, as well as pumpkin crisp. Everyone soon got in line to heap the amazing food onto their plates. As Nate S. said, there was lots of feasting and festing. Once the meal was over, many people went back to their cabins to relax, while the rest stayed back for the dreaded cleanup operation. (It was a big mess.)

     Once cleanup was over, most people went to their cabins. For a while, wrestling was held at the bunkhouse. Eventually, though, the Scouts grew sleepy and went to bed.

     Sunday morning was (as usual) not as easy-going as the previous day. There was waking up, packing, eating, cleaning, inspecting, loading, and leaving. Once again, we were soon zooming down 52, this time the opposite direction. We passed those rolling hills, houses and old barns, cheery little towns, and power plants yet again. This time we did not stop. A little ways into the afternoon we rolled into the parking lot of the church, most of us a bit tired (probably an understatement). The crowds of Scouts unloaded the trailer with a kind of sleepy but enthusiastic effort. Once it was all over, we got into our cars and left, this time on a much shorter journey: going home.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Preparing For Feast Fest

Preparing for Feast Fest

      This week, our meeting involved preparations for the Feast Fest campout. One of the first things we did after the opening flag ceremony was patrol leader nominations. Yes, that time of year had come again. The patrols went to their corners to nominate their new patrol leaders, who would be sworn in at the January Court of Honor. Then there was trailer loading, accompanied by a nice long game of dodgeball. Later, we had patrol leader elections. After the loading, voting, and dodgeball throwing was finished, we circled up and concluded our meeting. Congrats to all of our new patrol leaders elect!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dutch Oven Cook-Off

Dutch Oven Cook-Off

     This week the troop had a Dutch oven cooking competition. Once tent inspections were completed, the meeting began. After the Eagles put on the opening flag ceremony, everyone went outside. Large tin trays were set up, filled with glowing coals. Each patrol got its Dutch oven and other equipment and set to work. The patrols competed fiercely, making things like cobbler, dump cake, and all kinds of tasty treats. It wasn’t long before ovens were on their coals and producing delicious smells. When it was time to plan meals for Feast Fest (coming up in a couple of weeks), everybody just did it right there, next to the Dutch ovens. Closer to the end of the meeting, the youth staff called for everyone to come inside for the final fall-in, except for two people from each patrol (to tend to the cooking food). After the troop fell in, everyone came inside to participate in circling up. Several Scouts received their rank patches: Hunter M. and Kris H. received Tenderfoot, Josh R. received Second Class, and I received Life. We then crossed arms and prayed. Then the Scouts went back outside to be judged on their food. We don’t know the results yet, but I can tell you that those desserts looked good. The Eagles’ cherry dump cake was delicious. Overall, it was a pretty tasty troop meeting.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dutch Oven Cooking

Dutch Oven Cooking


     This week, we had a skill session on cooking with Dutch ovens. After tent inspections were finished (around 7:30), we fell in for the opening flag ceremony, put on by the Dragons. Some Cub Scouts were visiting, and introduced themselves to the troop. Then we began the skill session. Ryan Z. and David D. taught us how to cook a few types of cobbler in a Dutch oven. Delicious! Then Mr. Zink took us outside to demonstrate putting coals on the Dutch ovens. Then we went inside for one of those classic, crazy games of dodgeball. We had a fairly long game, and then fell in and circled up. Mr. Smotherman announced that four Scouts had passed boards of review, and then Mr. Todd gave his Scoutmaster Minute. Afterward, Mrs. Haught gave out eagerly awaited popcorn prizes.  For once, though, when the meeting was over, it just wasn’t quite over. Everyone had to get some of that delicious apple, cherry, and peach cobbler. Ask just about anyone, and they’ll say it was amazing. Yum!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Color Wars

Color Wars


     This month, the troop had a classic campout at Camp Achewon. Yes, you guessed it, Color Wars! This troop tradition is all about teamwork and patrol competition. It’s a weekend of Scout skills, unknown challenges, and unexpected judging.


     When we got to Achewon on Friday night, it was already getting pretty dark. Once we had finished the unloading of the trailer, it was time to get rolling: literally! The trailer drove to the parade field, and the three small carts were taken to the beginning of the trail to the back campsites. Patrol boxes, personal gear, tents, and much more were unloaded from the trailer and loaded into carts and people’s arms. The Scouts worked quickly on getting their things to the campsites so they could set up. This continued for most of the evening. After everyone was done, they relaxed a little at their campsites and then went to bed.


     Saturday was packed full of activities. After everyone cooked their breakfast, we had our morning flag ceremony. Then we had some time to finish up at our camps, and then the fun began. It started with a round-robin. The patrols did activities like a Scout quiz, a chariot race, soccer, and much more. It was all for points, with many things being timed. Then the patrols prepared for flag stealing, though it was eventually canceled due to it not working out. Lunch, luckily, still happened. We had some free time before cooking dinner. Dinner was going to be judged. Patrols made everything from quinoa salad (a brave thing to try) to chili dogs, and many other dishes as well. After a dinner that was anything but pointless, we had a little bit of evening time, followed by a campfire with skits (for points) and some Improv. Then Seamus shouted from the top of the hill behind the chapel. He announced the coming of the long-awaited game of camp-wide hide and seek.


     Confident, nervous, and everywhere in between, the Scouts discreetly slipped into the shadows, hiding in fields, behind trees, in ravines, and any other place one could possibly think of. At nine o’clock a cry went up to announce the beginning of the hunt! Youth staff members and adults grabbed their flashlights and charged into the eerie, desolate woods. They searched everywhere they went, some roaming around at random, others running here and there to places of interest. For the duration of a long, slow hour, the camp was in places lifeless and deserted, while in others it echoed with the occasional cry of someone being discovered. Oh, what a strange phenomenon, a time of both safety and heart-pounding terror, of both boredom and thrill! Yes, this was surely the game that everyone had so eagerly anticipated; a chance at glory and points or miserable failure!


     The Sunday morning sunrise announced an end to the previous day’s competitions, and the beginning of the packing process. The troop put away their sleeping bags and took down their tents. Scouts ate a simple breakfast. Some cleaned up the campsites, some took their things to the trailer, while others traveled to the staff campsite for their morning meds or to get Scoutmaster Conferences. Once most of the work was completed, we all met in front of the trailer to pack it up. This process was executed in a fairly quick manner, and we fell in. Seamus announced that the winners and point breakdowns would be revealed at an upcoming troop meeting. We went to the cars upon being dismissed. Then it was off to the Lock-Up, and eventually, home.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pioneering and Color Wars Planning

Pioneering and Color Wars Planning


     This week, the troop did a few things to get prepared for Color Wars. After the opening flag ceremony, which was put on by the Dragons, we went to our patrol corners. Meanwhile, the Sharks, who were in charge of putting on the pioneering skill session, came around to each patrol to give them rope, sticks, and an assignment. The patrols had to make different structures using lashings. After there had been enough time to complete the assignments, we fell in. Patrol leaders got their planning forms, we were all informed that dinner would be judged (Dun-dun-dun!), and then everyone got to work planning for Color Wars. Once the forms were filled, the meals approved, and the signup sheets turned in, it was time for another wonderful game of dodgeball. For nearly ten minutes, you could hear the SLAM! BANG! WHOOSH!!! of the epic battle raging. Then came the cry that instantly put it to an end: “Troop, fall in!!!” We followed the command, and soon found ourselves circling up. Mr. Todd gave his Scoutmaster Minute about the bond between Scouts, and then everyone left.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Veterans' Dinner

Veterans’ Dinner


     This Saturday, the troop held a special dinner at the church to honor veterans. The Scouts arrived throughout the afternoon, and they prepared the room for the big event. Curtains were put up, flags were placed in their stands, and lights were positioned. Tablecloths were spread, candles were placed, silverware was laid, and salt, pepper, dressing, and butter were set out. Meanwhile, carrots were cut, salads were made, food was prepared, and then the salad was put on the tables. The Scouts rehearsed their roles in the ceremony, and then, since they were quite hungry, went to room 123 to feast on boxes and boxes of pizza.


     Once the preparations were made and the Scouts were fed, the clock indicated it was nearly time for the doors to open, at 5:30. After this, veterans and their families came in and found tables to sit at. As this was happening, table hosts were greeting their guests, Danny C., the Scout organizer of the event, was rushing about, Mr. S., the adult organizer, was also going here and there doing things, and Scouts started to serve drinks. Around 6:00, Pastor Mark Rowland said an opening prayer, and then the boys sprang into action, serving plates of chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes. Before long, everyone had their dinner in front of them. While the guests ate their food, Scouts such as Gunner T., Bryan C., and Michael G. went around refilling drinks.


     After the veterans and their families had finished eating, the Scouts cleared all the plates and took them to the kitchen so the adults could wash them. Once this was over, the server-Scouts brought out a delicious dessert of tiramisu. And once those plates were cleared, it was almost time for the ceremony to start.


     The program began with the opening flag ceremony. Alex S., Andrew B., and Austin M. presented the American Flag, and then the National Anthem was played. Then it was time for the presentation of the flags for each branch of the military, with the armed forces medley. The Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Marine Corps flags came forward, each during their song. The veterans stood as their branches were announced.


     Then Seamus G. called Jackson T. forward to give his address to the veterans. Once his speech was finished, I came up to give my speech on sacrifice. After I called for a moment of silence at the end, the lights were turned off, and I joined Jackson and the other Scouts. We quietly and quickly formed two rows, making an aisle way. Then a solitary light was turned on and aimed down the aisle, operated by Aiden H. The light shone on Alex S., who held the black POW-MIA flag. The only light in the room was the spotlight, and the image of a flickering candle on the projector screen. The only sound was a slow, somber song beginning to play. After a few moments, Alex slowly walked down the aisle, the Scouts saluting as he went by. He made his way to the stage, eventually posting the flag in its stand by the others. Then, as he walked back down through the aisle, the Scouts walked out of their formation and followed him slowly out of the room.


     After the last Scouts had walked through the door, “God Bless America” was played, along with a slideshow of pictures of our country. Then Mr. Siebenburgen came onstage to give some final thoughts. He presented Danny C. with the Spirit of the Veteran Award, for his hard work planning the dinner. It was placed around Danny’s neck by the oldest veteran at the dinner, who was 95. A tribute to American heroes was played (with “God Bless the USA”), and then Pastor Rowland offered a closing prayer.


     As the guests left the room, the Scouts quickly set to work cleaning up. As the tables were cleared, we rabidly scavenged what leftovers there were, stuffing delectable dinner rolls into our mouths and pockets. We also made quick work of the chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans left in the kitchen. Many, including myself, had their eyes set on those mashed potatoes all evening. Just when we thought that we had devoured everything, my mom remembered that there was an entire cart of leftover tiramisu in the walk-in fridge. And to think, we almost forgot about it! I’ll just let you imagine what you missed if you weren’t there. I think the Scouts of Troop 281 would have their lives enriched if Mr. S. provided his wonderful dinner rolls at every meeting and campout!


     I believe that the veterans and their families enjoyed this special evening as much as we enjoyed putting it on. We look forward to holding this event again.


Special thanks to Mr. Siebenburgen, Danny C., Mr. Reid, and all of the other adults and Scouts who contributed to making this dinner a success.