Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Flames, Trucks, and Extinguishers

Flames, Trucks, and Extinguishers

This week we held our troop meeting at an Anderson Township fire station. We met at a fire station at which Mr. Reid works to learn about firetrucks, fire extinguishers, and other things. We divided into several groups and went to our areas. Half of the troop went with Mr. Reid to learn about the firetruck and the gear it carries. The other half went with Mr. Ashley to learn about fire extinguishers and use a fire extinguisher simulator. After the groups were done, they switched places. After we were all done, the meeting ended. It was a fun meeting with lots of learning.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Whippoorwill Tent Setup 2014

Whippoorwill Tent Setup 2014

This Saturday we went to Camp Whippoorwill to set up tents for the Girl Scouts. Unlike other things, this was not a service project, but a fundraiser for the troop. In other words, the Girl Scouts pay us to set up their tents.

We met at the church, waited around for the others, and got into cars to go to Whippoorwill. Once we got there, a man from the camp gave us instructions, as well as a demonstration of setting up a tent. So, for four hours, we worked. You may think that's a long time, but it is typical. Each tent holds four cots, though it could hold eight. The tents are made of thick canvas and are supported by a permanent wooden frame. Each campsite had plenty of them and there were also plenty of campsites.

For the rest of the morning and a while in the afternoon, we unfolded, spread, clipped, erected, and loaded. Some people took long, heavy poles made out of wood and attached them to tents, some clipped tents and tarps to wooden frames, and some hauled cots and mattresses to the tents and set them up. Most people did a combination of things, doing whatever was needed at the moment. After a while we got to the last campsite. It was the one with pioneer wagon-shaped tents. They had wooden bases and metal poles on which the canvas was laid. Eventually we finished spreading, tying, and loading those tents. It was time to eat.

Everyone went to the dining hall of the camp and got in line for pizza and soft drinks. We ate ten boxes of pizza and drank several bottles of soda. After a little while of feasting on these things, the troop and the camp employees thanked each other. Then we all went back to our cars and left. The Whippoorwill tent setup was pretty fun, and definitely rewarding.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Equipment Care and the Golden Spoon

Equipment Care and the Golden Spoon

At this week's troop meeting, we learned about equipment, C2O, and taking proper care of equipment. Morgan T., the quartermaster, Mr. Ross and Mr. Smith, the troop equipment coordinators, and Dr. Reynolds, who has been helping with tents, gave demonstrations about caring for patrol boxes, setting up and caring for tents, and other things relating to the troop's equipment. We also found out about new tents and labeled equipment and patrol boxes, thanks to the hard work of Mr. Ross, Mr. Smith, and others in the troop. After we finished, we found out who won the Golden Spoon Award. Mr. Smith and Mr. Ross held up the Golden Spoon and announced the winner for the month: The Golden Eagles! The Eagles were given the Spoon to hang on their patrol box, and then everyone circled up. After, the Eagles got candy as an additional prize. This week's meeting was productive and... golden.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Great Escape!

The Great Escape!

For this month's campout, we headed to Camp Friedlander to do: The Great Escape!!! The Great Escape is a game that covers the whole camp. Each patrol in our troop competes against each other. We have to go around and collect clues that help us get to other clues, and once we collect them all, we turn them in. Whoever does it in the shortest amount of time wins. Sounds easy, right? Not when you factor in the darkness and the guards (the adults and youth staff). If you get caught by a guard, your patrol has to go to jail: the island in the middle of the lake. Mr. Todd, the jail keeper, makes you demonstrate a Scout skill (like tying a knot) to get out. Luckily, it wasn't that way the whole time. It only lasted for a few hours, on Saturday evening. The rest of the campout was a little more... relaxed.

When we got to Camp Friedlander, we walked in, following the trailer. Then we stopped at the Stewart Campsite, located near the Dining Hall. After unloading our gear, it was time to set up our tents. Then we realized it was going to be tough. It was very windy, with lots of annoying gusts, and was supposed to rain later. It was a three to four man job. Eventually, though, everyone got set up.

In the morning, everyone got up and ate a nice big meaty breakfast. (Most people got up at about 7:30, but Logan S. and I got up at 5:45 to watch the sunrise. Since the sun didn't actually come up until 8:00 or so, we just watched the moonset.) After breakfast and cleanup, we relaxed, looked at other campsites, ate lunch, and whittled. Some people made bows and arrows, spears, knives, and other cool things out of sticks. Then came dinner, and, finally, the Great Escape.

Everyone got their first clue and started off. Soon it was dark. The Golden Eagles, my patrol, had gotten two clues... and then it happened. Some guards came along, so we darted away from the road and dropped on the ground. There was a big communication error, and we hid in two separate groups (they were ten or twenty yards apart from my estimation). After the guards passed, the two people that hid separately took off, thinking that our group (containing the other four) was with them. We didn't know that they took off. We waited another minute to make sure the guards were at a safe distance. Then we all got up and told the others to come along. Well, they had already left. That was bad. Those two had the only flashlight, and now they were gone. Great. So, we did our best to find the place of the next clue, but with no light, we got lost.

After at least an hour, we found the spot where the next clue was. But it was gone, and there was no trace of anyone being there. It was back to the drawing board. We whittled a stick as specified to get a hint. Our plan was to go to the dam so we could hand it in and get our hint. Well, we couldn't even get to it. We blindly wandered until we found a familiar place. We knew how to get to the dam from there- at least, we thought we did. We took a wrong turn and found our selves in Camp Craig: ten minutes away from the dam. When we got there, we asked someone where we were. After that he explained the wrong turn we took and lent us his flashlight. Then we finally found the dam, as well as the search party that was sent to find us.

When we got back to camp, we were all talked to. First of all, we were disqualified for splitting up (though that was the least of our problems). Mr. Zink, who was at the station where that troublesome clue was located, had already left since we took so long. That explained why nobody was there. We were also given a talk from the leaders about sticking together and patrol spirit and settling our differences in reasonable ways. After that, we ate some cookies and went to bed. It was already quite late.

In the morning, we all got up, ate breakfast, packed up tents, and cleaned. Everyone had to work hard to get their patrol boxes C2O (Clean, Complete, and Organized). C2O is the new standard program for equipment. Everyone was frantically cleaning, drying, and putting stuff away to prepare for inspection. Not only was it driven by the fact that nothing would be loaded until it was C2O, but by the Golden Spoon Award. The Golden Spoon is awarded to the patrol (excluding staff, of course) with the cleanest, most organized patrol box. In other words, the patrol who does the best meeting C2O requirements. It is awarded every campout. It is hung on the winning patrol's box to be displayed.

After the inspections we started taking stuff to the trailer. After that was our Chapel service. Then it was pack, haul, fall in, and go. The Great Escape was a fun, relaxing (well, sometimes), and productive campout.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Orienteering (and Dodgeball) Meeting

Orienteering (and Dodgeball) Meeting

What made this week special was the new Scouts. Yep. It's that time of year again. This week was their first meeting as members of the troop. There are two new Scout patrols now. One is the Stinging Scorpions, and the other is called the Invincible Panthers. For all of those new members of our troop to fit in when we fell in, everyone had to scoot down. The Golden Eagles even had to move to the middle wall instead of the usual back wall. After the flag ceremony, the new patrols gave their names and yells. After that, we had our skill session.

This week, we had an orienteering skill session, put on by Brent P. and Hayden B. We learned about using maps, compasses, and other things to get around on an orienteering course or a trail.

After this, we (of coarse) played dodgeball. After a long game, it was time to circle up. This week's circle was HUGE with all of the new families in it. It stretched to very edge of the room. Like last week, the circle lasted a while because of the advancement recognition. Andrew M. and Sam M. (who completed their BORs last week) had their new rank patches pinned on. Andrew received Tenderfoot and Sam received Life. The new Scouts, who must have had a successful New Scout Campout, had their Scout rank patches pinned on. After all of this, Mr. Todd gave his Scoutmaster Minute talk (he told a story that had a lesson about helping others), and we crossed our arms, bowed our heads, and said the short prayer after which we all clap our hands in unison.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pancakes in the Woods Service Project

Pancakes in the Woods Service Project

This weekend, the troop had a service project at California Woods. Every year California Woods holds an event called Pancake in the Woods. Basically, you go there, eat pancakes and other good food, and learn about things like making butter and maple syrup. Believe it or not, it's a pretty big operation. Well, the troop helped that operation go smoothly. We directed traffic (there is a lot of it), gave visitors important information, and other things like that.

Before we did that stuff, we were given instruction on how to do everything. Then we were given neon vests and radios (one per group of three) and were sent off to our jobs. Those of us who were there were doing one of the following jobs.

In the beginning: Directing traffic and parking cars at the front lot, giving out info and parking cars at the main lot, eating (not that eating is a job...), or waiting for the call for overflow parking to open up.

In the middle: Directing traffic and helping cars pull out at the front lot, Directing people to overflow parking at California Golf Coarse at the main lot, waving people up the road near the golf coarse, or directing traffic and parking cars at the golf coarse.

In the end: Giving important info at the front lot, directing people to overflow or (towards the very end, when things slowed down) parking cars in the main lot, or waiting for an assignment.

As you can see, there was no shortage of things to do. We had plenty of people and helped California Woods pull it off. When it was all over, we got some hot chocolate, made butter, tasted maple syrup, explored, or just relaxed. It was hard work, but it was a good time.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Plotting, Planning, Achieving, and Tapping

Planing, Plotting, Achieving, and Tapping

This week, we planned for the Great Escape Campout. The patrols wrote down meals, duties, and jobs (grubmaster, flag bearer, etc.) for our March campout. Also, this month's Boards of Review were taking place. (They were this week because last week was Trampoline Dodgeball.) After that, we had to fall in and circle up, closing the meeting. Well, this time, the circle lasted quite a while. For one thing, along with some other announcements, several Scouts were recognized for completing their Boards of Review. After that came something a bit longer. Mr. Todd presented the rank patch to Troop 281's newest Eagle Scout: Ben M. This was special because he is also the current Senior Patrol Leader. That means he completed the Eagle rank along with all of his SPL duties. Wow!
So Ben's family came up to pin on his hard earned Eagle badge- upside down, of course.

The other thing we did in the circle was the OA Tap Out Ceremony. This was when we found out who was elected to be the newest Order of the Arrow member(s) in our troop. So, Ben M., Matt B., and Seamus G. walked around the circle... and revealed that we chose Jackson T. to be our newest OA member. Soon he will have to go to the OA Ordeal, so he can fully become a member of the Order of the Arrow. It was a great meeting.

Congratulations to Ben, Jackson, and everyone who completed a BOR.