Sunday, January 25, 2015

Caving Campout



Caving Campout

     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…

     We again hopped in the cars once chapel was over, and sped down the road towards home. We once again stopped at the BP, and the Scouts grabbed some snacks and food. On the trip home, the weather was a bit better, Mr. Sloan did not have a tarp on the back of his truck, and Sean the Chicken sightings were no longer a strange occurrence. We made it back to the church at about 12:30, just as planned, and after getting our gear and trash bags full of muddy clothes, went home to seek a new adventure: cleanup!

The Beyond the Falls group after returning to the surface. Left to right: Mr. Smith, Aidan H., Brent P., Bryan C., Jacob W., Alexander S., Ryan Z., Elijah B., Owen R., Seamus G., Josh R., and Mr. Reid. Our tour guide, Sarah, is kneeling in the middle.



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fizz! Bubble! Boom! (Chemistry Night)



Fizz! Bubble! Boom! (Chemistry Night)

     This week, John M. put on a skill session about chemistry. After opening flags, presented by the Eagles, we formed the usual semicircle around the demonstration table. John began the skill session, accompanied by a book, the periodic table, some baking soda, and a bottle of vinegar. He talked a bit about what chemistry was, and mentioned the Chemistry Merit Badge. He then proceeded to talk about the elements. As he did, John gave us the book, about the elements, to pass around. It had a page or two about every element. We also passed around the periodic table. Then came the experiments. He poured some baking soda and vinegar into a bowl so we could watch the bubbling that resulted. The remaining baking soda was put in the bottle of vinegar. Since he put the cap on before the CO2 could escape, it became firm from pressure buildup. We passed that concoction around as well. Once we all fell in again it was time for the inevitable: dodgeball. After the chaos was over we tucked in our uniforms and circled up. We knew, however, that we would see each other again on Friday…

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Snowmobiling Night



Snowmobiling Night

     This week Mr. Todd and Jackson presented a skill session on snowmobiling. They gave a presentation on snowmobiles, snowmobile gear, and riding. Mr. Todd showed several maps of the vast snowmobile trails in the northern states. The two discussed trail maintenance, snowmobile clubs, and snowmobiling rules and laws. Then we went to the hallway and Jackson showed us their snowmobile. Yes, they brought in a snowmobile. We talked about the parts of it and how it worked. Many of the Scouts found this skill session quite interesting, and it made most of us want to hit the trails.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Winter Court of Honor



Winter Court of Honor

     This weekend, the troop held its Winter Court of Honor. We started out with the food (obviously). There were lots of yummy dishes brought by members of the troop. Once everyone had eaten their fill, the Eagles put on the flag ceremony. The American Flag and the troop’s flag were brought forward, and then we recited the Pledge of Allegiance, Scout Law, and Scout Oath. After this there was a presentation about Friends of Scouting. Then Mr. Smotherman and Justin H. presented merit badges to Scouts who had earned them since the last Court of Honor. Next it was time for the Scouts of the troop to put on the Trail to Eagle presentation, along with Mr. Todd. The Scouts who had advanced in rank since the last Court of Honor were presented their rank cards by Mr. Todd along the way. Amazingly, we had at least one Scout receiving a rank card from every rank!

     Seamus came up to swear in the troop’s newest officers. He swore in the newly elected patrol leaders, as well as new youth staff members and other positions. Then Mr. Todd came onstage to swear in new adult leaders. Mr. Sloan and Mr. Stacy were the newest ASMs, Mrs. Haught was officially sworn in as the troop’s fundraising chair, and Mr. Zink was sworn in as the new Committee Chairman, to replace Mr. Marquez. Mr. Marquez was leaving to be a den leader for his younger son’s Cub Scout den. He was also given a gift by Mr. Todd for his service to the troop. After this Mr. Todd proceeded to give his Scoutmaster’s Minute, and then we closed in prayer.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Leadership Skills, Caving Promo, and Dodgeball



Leadership Skills, Caving Promo, and Dodgeball

     This week, we had a bit of leadership training after the Eagles put on the flag ceremony. The Scorpions and Panthers went to the cafĂ© tables, while the older patrols stayed in the big room. Seamus taught us some acronyms and leadership skills from NYLT. After this was over, everyone joined back together and played – yep, you guessed it- dodgeball. Slam! Crash! Then everybody put on their uniform shirts again for circling up.