Welcome to the 2014 edition of the Troop 221 Summer Camp Blog.  You can read the daily updates and view a few images from Camp Rainey Mountain, our Summer Camp destination for 2014.  Click any image to go directly to that image. Once you’re in the day’s album, you can click next/previous to view all the images.

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Good Morning Campers!  Day 1 is in the books.  We had a very easy bus ride.  We stopped in Shreveport to pick up Thomas B and for the boys to have their first opportunity to load up on snacks.  The boys watched Godzilla (I know right, old school..) and Transformers.  It never ceases to amaze me how the guys sleep on the bus.  There were several boys passed out on the floor early this year.

We called an audible on Friday and planned to drive up to Brasstown Bald to check out the view.  Brasstown Bald is the highest point in Georgia and we thought it would be cool to do our Church Service up there overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Carlos delivered a message about God’s presence from the 1st chapter of Joshua.  The winding road up and down the mountain, climbing almost 3,000 feet, was our first adventure…

After a quick lunch in Clayton, we rolled into camp around 2:30.  We met our last 3 campers here: Conner, John & Nate.   The camp surrounds Lake Tocca and is very scenic.  Our campsite is right next to the parade field and is on a hill, a big hill..  I don’t know that we could’ve asked for a better spot.  The boys are digging the Cabins.  I don’t know how much sleep they’ll get this week but they will definitley have a great time.  When we went to bed last night, 5 of the 7 cabins still had their lights on and were playing some spirited card games.  The 6:30 AM wake up call came a bit early for some of them too 🙂

We enjoyed the opening campfire program last night..  The “camphitheater” is right on the waterfront and the view is pretty sweet.  The staff did a few skits and we were recognized for being the troop that traveled the greatest distance.

Enjoy the photos.  We’ll pick up the pace today as the boys start getting into their classes and doing more stuff.

Day 2

Monday was a great day.  The boys were up at 6:30 for flag formation at 7:15.  After flags, we had our first all-hands meeting to talk about how T221 does summer camp, expectations, etc.  We had waffles, sausage, cereal & fruit for breakfast and then the boys headed to their classes.  There was a staff member posted at every intersection this morning.  They were offering directions and answering questions; the boys thought it was awesome and we reflected on it as an example of great leadership in the PLC meeting last night.

As you’ll see in the pictures, most of the classes got right into it.  The swimmers dove right in and the sailors got right into the wind.  The adults scattered in 11 different directions.

Troop 221 is the largest group at this camp.  I believe we have more adults than a few of the troops here.  The next largest troop is about 20.  Being the largest, and most recognizable, puts a little more pressure on the boys to represent our brand.  I’m confident that they’ll deliver this week.

The camp has an award for the best troop of the week.  It’s called the Honor Troop and Corey has challenged the boys to go after it.  The criteria covers things like enthusiasm, campsite inspections, participation in class, service projects, flag ceremonies, etc.   Corey is doing his part, he signed the boys up to clean the latrine near our campsite and volunteered to do two flag ceremonies.  He will also stand up in front of the entire camp on Wednesday and lead us in the Scout Law.

At about 10:00 am, the T221 Adult Staff received some bad news.  The trading post only sells soft serve ice cream :-(.   At 10:30, we stormed the trading post to see for ourselves.  Sadly, the rumor was confirmed; there would be no ice cream games at this camp.  The triple crown (3 ice cream novelties in one day) and eating for the cycle (trying every ice cream item in the freezer throughout the week) would have to wait until next year.  Not to be completely discouraged, we had an ice cream cone and decided we would press on…for the boy’s sake.

When we were getting ready to depart on Saturday, we accidentally left a few things in the shed: water jugs, lanterns, trash bags, etc.  I asked for a ride to town at the adult meeting on Sunday and a gracious troop from Louisiana offered us their scout van.  So…Mr. Cleckler & I took a field trip to Walmart during lunch and rounded up a few things.  While we were gone, my trunk was vandalized by my cabin mates.  I’m 100% sure I now have the most blinged-out trunk in camp.  Some people can’t be left unsupervised.

After the last class period, we setup for the annual bean bag tournament and started playing.  After dinner, we got into it again and got all the way up to the finals for the main bracket.  We will work thru the consolation bracket tonight and be ready for the finale tonight or tomorrow.  The bean bag tourney is such an awesome experience for the troop.  The level of community that it affords our little group is spectacular.

Today we wore our 2014 summer camp t-shirts; thanks Mrs. Barden for making those happen.  We looked like one unit today.

After dinner, we had our first mail call.  It’s crazy fun to watch the boys react to their packages and their buddies’ packages.  Thanks for sending those.

The day concluded with a game of Werewolf, led by Mr. Fortner.  When we went to bed at 11:30, there was a table full of boys playing cards and lights on in a few cabins.  The boys are packing as much as they can into the days.

Enjoy the photos.

Day 3

Tuesday was a fantastic day at camp.  The boys are in their groove.  The weather has been great, the staff has been great and everyone seems to be having a great time.  The Merit Badge offerings here are the broadest that we’ve experienced and we are loving the variety.

Corey is working hard to help the boys earn the Honor Troop Award.  He signed the troop up to retire the camp-wide flags on Tuesday night and to raise them on Wednesday morning.  He also got one of the camp directors to work with them so that they could practice since every camp does it differently.  They got together twice throughout the day to practice and did a nice job.  They did well enough that the Camp Director visited our camp last night to let them know that the staff was impressed with their effort.

Corey also took some open camp duties, signing the troop up to clean the latrine again today and one more time later in the week.  Maybe they’ll come home with some additional “life skills”…

Mr. Buercklin and I played a little prank on the boys today.  We stuffed a pair of jeans with a tarp, attached some boots and positioned it like it was stuck under a cabin.  We littered the area around it with slush puppie cups to demonstrate what would happen with excessive slush puppie consumption.  Then we hid and took pictures when the boys came back to camp.  We had some hilarious reactions to it.

We had our first rain shower late in the day.  It wasn’t bad but it was steady enough to cancel the evening activities.  Rain is usually a bummer because tents leak, things get wet and it spirals from there.  The cabins gave us a nice break from that.  We’re feeling pretty spoiled about now.

We received another stack of packages today but couldn’t get them delivered to the boys because the evening got away from us.  We’ll get caught up on that tomorrow.  We also took a break from our bean bag tournament.  We’re hoping to get thru a few more rounds today if the weather cooperates.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for sending your boys to camp.

Day 4

Time flies at summer camp.  I can’t believe Wednesday has come and gone.  The day started out well with our troop doing the camp-wide flag raising.  The guys did another nice job.  We received some additional kudos in the adult meeting this morning.  The camp staff said that our flag ceremony was the best one of the summer.  What they especially liked was that each time they saw our boys practicing there were no adults around.  They said something like “that’s the way boy-led should be done”.

I’m grateful for our youth leadership and I’m proud of the approach we take.  Corey has been fantastic this week; keeping the schedule, managing the activity signups, camp duties and the list goes on.  Tonight we went to the mid-week campfire and when it started pouring, Corey gave his rain gear to one of the TFC scouts that had left his at camp.  He has been a servant leader from the beginning and it’s fun to watch.

A few of the adults spent the morning at COPE watching Corey, Zach & Joshua on the high ropes course.  They were pretty much fearless and made some difficult elements look easy.

After lunch, the adults took the mail back to our camp.  We had enough that we had to borrow a wagon to get it back to camp.  Between that and the day before, we had a ton of mail.  It’s pretty over the top when one troop is taking up all of the shelf space in the HQ building; it’s also how we like to do things..over the top.

Most of the MB classes are going really well & the boys are digging their instructors.  There are a few exceptions, as usual, but they’re mostly getting it right at CRM.

We’re looking forward to Thursday.  The majority of us are pumped about the whitewater trip and for those that are staying behind, there are all kinds of opportunitites..  The camp food has been ok but we’re looking forward to pizza on Thursday night.

We had a campfire scheduled tonight and the boys had two skits planned.  It was sprinkling when the program started and our boys were 1st up.  By the time they took the stage is was raining hard enough that the audience couldn’t hear a single word.  After our skit, they cancelled the campfire and we went back to camp to play cards.

Have a great day.

Day 5

Thursday was another great day at camp.  29 of our 51 boarded a school bus at 8:30 and drove the 2 hours to Whitewater Express, our outfitter for the Ocoee River trip.  We briefly crossed into NC before making our final stop in Copperhill, TN.

We were the only group from Camp Rainey Mountain that went to the Ocoee River; all the other groups went to the Nanthahala.  The Ocoee had Class III & Class IV rapids vs. Class II & III on the Nanthahala.  It was outstanding.  The adults with whitewater experience agreed that this was their most adventurous trip.  Our ASPL, Christian, said ‘best day of my life’ or something to that effect.

The boys and adults that stayed back did a variety of activities.  They went to open shoot at the rifle range, participated in a kick ball tournament, climbed and rappelled, caught fish and did a host of other things.

We surprised the boys with pizza last night.  I can’t believe we were able to keep that quiet but the reactions when a wagon full of pizza arrived made it worth the effort.  Camp food is ok but the pizza was a nice change.

We finished the Bean Bag Tournament last night and the 2014 Champions are…the team of Jason B. & Drew C.  The tournament is the coolest thing we do in camp to build community and it delivered again this year.  The boys wanted the adults to participate in their own tourney with the winner playing the Beckman/Christian team.  The boys drew our names out of a hat and built a bracket.  We’re a game away from the finals and I’ll let you know how it goes in my next post.

Thomas B had his 1st Class BOR last night and he is our newest 1st Class Scout.  BOR’s at Summer Camp are extra special.

The evening concluded with a movie shown on the lawn of the Nature lodge (next door to our camp).  We had a few boys go early but when we heard the Star Wars theme blasting across the lawn, the majority of our camp cleared out.

Enjoy the photos.

Day 6

It was a pretty casual day in camp.  After morning flags, the boys came back to camp to clean up for the last campsite inspection.  They did a pretty good job with camp this week.  Although they never won that particular contest, they did get close to a perfect score on Friday.  If the Troop Flag had been in a more visible spot, they would’ve scored perfectly.  One thing that held us back all week was not having patrol flags.  The Pizza box tops made a perfect canvas for Patrol Flags and I bet those were something that the camp commissioner hadn’t seen before.

The adults volunteered to make the camp-wide trash run on Friday morning.  Those childhood dreams of riding on the back of the garbage truck were fulfilled for Mr. Cleckler & Mr. Mezger.  It only took about an hour and at least 1/2 the boys saw us doing ‘our part’ so it was time well spent.

After lunch, the adults met for our last ice cream break on the porch.  I’ll never have another root beer float without thinking about all the fun and laughs on the CRM porch with these men…

The afternoon was pretty casual; a bunch of the boys were finished with their classes and goofed around camp or hung out at the trading post.

Before dinner we put on our uniforms and went down near the lake to take a bunch of photos: patrols, father/son & the whole troop.  Mr. Buercklin got some good ones, as usual.

After dinner, we went back to camp to hang out while we waited on the closing flag ceremony.  While we were waiting, the Camp Director made his 2nd visit to our camp.  In 6 previous summer camps, I don’t ever remember a Camp Director showing up in our campsite.  Corey circled the boys up and the CD told a great story about Bill Hillcourt & the legacy he left on Scouting.  There’s alot more to the story than I can write here; your boys can fill you in on the rest.

The Camp Director was very complimentary of the boys and the leadership he observed throughout the week.  He told the boys that they represented Scouting, Texas & their troop well this week and that our unit “had it going on”.

At the final campfire, the troop was given The Most Spirited Troop Award. It is one of only two Troop-level awards the camp gives.  The award is given to the troop that displays the most Scout Spirit & Service throughout the week.

After the campfire, we went back to camp and had a ceremony to call out the boys that were elected to the Order of the Arrow last March.  Drew, Zach & Mr. Holland performed the ceremony and Christian, Corey, Evan & Thomas C were called out.  One of the traditions that go along with being called out is remaining completely silent for the remainder of the evening.  That definitely made our final evening a little more challenging.

We packed up as much gear as possible and set our alarms for 6:00 am.  We were up at 6:30 all week so that wasn’t too big a deal.

Thanks to Mr. Buercklin, Mr. Cure & Mr. Meagher for taking pictures this week.  Altogether, we snapped 4,000+ images.  Thanks to the boys for playing along and posing when one of us pointed a camera at them.  Our “coverage” of summer camp is another one of the things that sets us apart.

Final Thoughts

Summer Camp was awesome.  I asked the boys to have fun, support each other and represent our brand this week.  They delivered on each one and I couldn’t be prouder of their efforts.

We saw some excellent displays of leadership this week, beginning with Corey.  SPL is a tough job and the difficulty level at summer camp is magnified.  I am 100% certain that this experience will affect the trajectory of Corey’s life.  Watching that happen before our eyes is reason enough to do this whole summer camp thing.

For me, Merit Badges are the icing on the summer camp cake.  The adventure, the challenge, the community & the dumptruck full of experiences the boys gain at summer camp are THE thing.  There was plenty of icing this week though; the boys completed ~ 130 of the 190 Merit Badges they pursued.

I want to thank the adults that made the trip this year.  Each one of them were engaged this week and shared their time and talents with the boys.  There was very little downtime at camp; we were on the move from 6:30 am to 11:30 pm, we walked several miles a day and climbed a few hundred steps back and forth to our campsite.  This was the largest group of adults that we’ve ever taken to camp but everyone found their place and worked hard for the boys.  It was SO much fun spending time with this group of outstanding men.

A final thanks to Mrs. Barden, Mr. Allen & Mr. Mares for all the hours they put in prior to camp.  If there was an award for the administrative preparedness of camp, we would’ve won that one too.  I’d also like to thank Mr. Meagher & Mrs. Skidmore for all the work they put in or will put in to get thru the enormous stack of blue cards.

Thanks for sending your boys and your men to camp!

I can’t wait to do it again next year…