This month, the troop went to Indiana to go caving. After a quick assembly at the lockup (we were not taking the trailer or patrol boxes), we hopped into our cars to head to the Tunnel Mill Scout Reservation. It was about a 2 ½ hour drive, but we did make a stop along the way. There was a BP station with a convenience store and Subway, as well as a McDonald’s next door. To carloads of hungry Scouts this was quite appealing. It was also appealing to the adults, who needed to get some gas. So for a little while the members of the troop wandered around, buying snacks for the road, beef jerky to munch on, and food from the restaurants. Then, once every Scout had filed out of the buildings, arms filled with junk food galore, we continued on our journey to camp. Soon we found ourselves in Indiana, the sky dark, and the snacks dwindling. But not to fear, because we soon made it to Tunnel Mill.
When everyone hopped out of their cars, stories were told of the food, the rain and snow, the tarp on the back of Mr. Sloan’s truck (It partially came off and destroyed itself from flapping wildly in the wind), and the discovery of an electronic chicken in Mr. Smith’s car stereo. It was later named Sean, after Sean G., who first noticed it. The troop quickly set to work on unloading gear from various vehicles. We began settling in to our cabin soon after. It was a simple cabin, with a fridge in the back, table in the middle, and bunks scattered around the edges. There were not enough bunks for everyone, so we put a bunch of mattresses on the floor to take care of that. There was a wood burning stove and a fireplace, but we did not use them due to lack of wood, so it was quite a cold night.
The next morning we got an early start. We got up, packed our things for the day, and ate breakfast. After a little free time, it was into the cars for another journey. We were off to Marengo Cave, about an hour away from camp. When we arrived at Marengo, we ate some lunch, then went over our forms and got organized. Finally, it was time to go under the surface.
The troop was divided into two groups. One group was going on the Beyond the Falls tour, while the other was doing the Young Explorers tour. There were many beautiful rock formations underground, such as stalagmites and stalactites. Scouts walked through sometimes waist-deep water in the spring, crawled through mud and rocks, and even slid through crawlways with almost no room to spare. We went through Stewart Hall, one of the largest cave passages in the state. To get there, we had to climb a giant pile of breakdown, huge boulders that had crumbled from the ceiling of Stewart Hall millions of years ago. The magnificent caves were full of limestone, quartz-based rocks, red clay, and a huge amount of mud! It was a beautiful tour, and the mud was fun, too.
The Young Explorers had their fair share of mud and filth on them when they came up, and the Beyond the Falls group was covered from head to toe with mud. There was mud and water in our shoes, our pants, on our faces, everywhere. For everyone, though, it was a cold surprise when they reached the surface. From the constant 52o F in the cave, the below-freezing temperatures outside were quite uncomfortable. Especially with all the mud and wetness that we were covered in. However, we soon cleaned up, and it was definitely good to be dry, clean, comfortable, and warm again. Before we knew it, we were waving goodbye to Marengo Cave and on our way back to camp. Mr. Wilson’s car and Mr. Reid’s car stopped to get pizza and soft drinks for dinner, and met us at camp later. Boy, were we hungry! Scouts and adults devoured all but a few slices of 15 pizzas, and about six 2-liters of soda.
The rest of the evening was rather relaxed, and a campfire was built outside. We had a good evening of relaxing and playing, and finally went to bed, a good deal more tired than the night before.
Sunday morning was the usual: getting up, packing, eating breakfast, police-lining, holding the chapel service, loading the cars, and leaving. The chaos in the cabin as Scouts rushed to pack up and eat was plentiful, and the inspecting/police lines went efficiently as usual, though it was quite an effort. We held chapel at the camp’s wooden pirate ship. Logan S. served as chaplain’s aide. As for the ship, it was roomy, with a deck at the very bottom, an observation deck up top, and a poop deck one level up from that. I cannot help but mention the strange, demented-looking head/mask that was staring down at us from the crow’s nest, a small platform that was quite inaccessible from below. The head was angry looking and creepy, and it would be interesting to find out how it got there…