Welcome to the 2015 edition of the Troop 221 Summer Camp Blog.  You can read the daily updates and view a few images from Skymont Scout Reservation, our Summer Camp destination for 2015.  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.

Day 1

Good Evening.  We’ve made it to the end of Monday.  It’s hard to believe it’s only the end of Day 1 at camp; we’ve already packed so much in…  The bus ride was a good one.  Both of our bus drivers were exceptional; which never happens.

The boys watched I Am Number Four, Jumanji & Avengers on the way up to camp. We stopped for snacks in Texarkana around 11:30 pm and, despite the late hour, the boys still loaded up on stuff for the trip.  After that, we rolled into West Memphis around 3:15 AM and said goodbye to our boost driver and picked up our long-end driver.

We arrived at Montgomery Bell State Park, just west of Nashville around 6:45. The park was very scenic and very damp..apparently it rained in this area all week last week.  We unloaded and setup our continental breakfast.  After breakfast, the boys played cards until the fog lifted in the large field near our pavilion.  Once we could see the field, we got the boys out there and played a bunch of games.  There was lots of running, quite a bit of slipping in the mud and quite a few complete wipeouts.

We posed for a couple group pictures, loaded up and headed to Murfreesboro to eat lunch.  The boys had their choice between McDonald’s, Subway & White Castle.  While most of the group went to one of those, the older boy patrol convinced me to take them to Waffle House: smothered, covered & peppered.

Along the way, one of the boys was complaining about an earache.  It seemed like it was bothering him enough that we decided to run him over to the clinic to get looked at.  Don’t worry, if you didn’t get “the call”, it wasn’t your kiddo.  After getting the ear infection diagnosis, we grabbed him a prescription and headed to camp.  The med form process can be a bummer, but it pays off when you need it.

Our little detour took a bit of time, so we rolled into camp around 3:30.  It was a mad dash from there to get checked-in, moved in and eat dinner.  We made it, barely, but decided to skip the opening campfire to have a shot at getting organized enough for the first day of classes. The way we travel and the distance we cover to get to camp is worth it, but it’s really a grind for the first 36 hours.  We were pretty much all zombies by the end of the day on Sunday.

Monday morning came and most of the boys were up at 6:30 when Aidan played the bugle.  We had a quick meeting and headed down to flags & breakfast.  The food here is served family style, a first for the majority of us.  We struggled a bit with the process but got it worked out by dinner time.  The food has been ok so far; we aren’t going to go hungry.

9:00 am arrived and all 50 of us went off in different directions.  We made sure the TFC guys knew where they were going and we cut the rest of them loose. The classes seemed to go well today.  Because of all the rain last week, the lake was a bit too cold for a few of the guys.  We’ll get them into alternate classes tomorrow. Despite the threat of rain all-day, we managed to avoid it. It was humid but not really hot.

This camp is humongous.  The official summer camp area is about 100 acres but there are 2,400 in total.  After a pretty typical day of running around and observing the boys in their various classes, my fitbit says that I took 29,540 steps.

Our day officially ended with the group singing Happy Birthday to Zach.  When we left camp tonight, 1/3 were heading to bed, some were playing cards and a few were trickling into the showers.

Enjoy the photos.

Day 2

Today was a great day at camp.  Everything and everyone is in full swing.  We’ve mostly recovered from our bus trip and we’re getting in the groove.  The weather held out another day, which was great.  The humidity is about 1,000% but the temperature is cooler than we’d have at home right now.  The boys are doing well.  All the schedule switching is done and the camp staff have been very accomodating.

Most of the classes have reached the fun stuff; all of the shooting sports are actually shooting, the COPE guys started doing low ropes today and the metalwork class got to heat and hammer steel.  They’ve all made lantern hooks, which look a bit like something you’d make to break out of prison; I’m sure they’ll be fine though 🙂

One of the greatest things about summer camp is the time we get to spend with the boys.  Unlike a regular campout, we have a lot more time to sit around a table with them and visit.  We figured out several years ago that if we’ll camp out by the trading post, most of them will come by and sit down for awhile.  We also get to share every meal with them.  We have 6 tables at every meal; most have 8 seats and a couple have 9.  It works out pretty well that we’ll end up with a different group of boys every time.  We have some great young men and it really is a pleasure to spend time with them.

The TFC Patrol is firing on all cylinders.  Everyone is smiling and we’ve not had any homesickness in that group yet…which is outstanding.  They’re such a solid group of boys.  When we left to walk down here tonight, the majority of them were running around our camp in a pack, catching frogs (boy stuff).

The mail has begun to pour in.  We had so much yesterday that they had to deliver it to our camp because it was taking up too much space in the office.  We have mice here and brazen raccons so we’ve been hanging bags in trees, moving gear around, etc. to accomodate all of the care packages.  The excitement each afternoon when the adults come walking out with an armload of packages is totally worth it.

I’ll close here; it’s been a great day.  Your boys are having fun and experiencing a lot of new and memorable things; exactly what we were looking and hoping for.

Day 3

Wednesday is in the books.  It was a busy one too.  Tommy caught a big fish this morning (a T221 Summer Camp Record kinda fish).  Then he cleaned it and ate it.  The aquatics classes have been a huge hit here.  The Stand-Up Paddleboard classes have been a blast to watch.  They’re learning the skills by playing a lot of games, like soccer and some sort of full contact game.

Metalwork has also done a good job at this camp.  The boys have been able to use the forge for the last 2 days and they will again tomorrow.  Some of the Scouts have qualified in Archery, Rifle & Shotgun already.  The climbing class hasn’t climbed yet so they’ll have to get busy tomorrow to get their 3 climbs, rappels & belays done.

The C.O.P.E. guys did some trust falls today and did the high rope element where they climb the 30 ft pole, jump off and ring the bell.  They’re fearless.

Tonight we cooked foil packs in our camp for dinner.  It was quite a challenge to cut onions, carrots & potatoes for 50 people with a few pocket knives and a few paper plates as cutting boards.  We got it done and it was our best dinner of the week but it was time consuming.

We got 70% of our bean bag tournament played this evening and should crown the 2015 champs tomorrow night.

A good chunk of us attended the Scout’s Own Chapel service tonight.  The Chaplain’s Aides from several troops have been meeting every day this week to plan the service.  Scottie planned and delivered the opening prayer and the benediction for the service.  He did a great job.

We had another huge mail call tonight but it was dark so we weren’t able to get any photos.

Our night concluded with our Order of the Arrow Callout.  We formed everyone up in a circle, with only a few dim lights and the exisiting O/A members read a few pieces about the history of the O/A and what it means to be a member.  Then the group went around the circle and called out the new candidates.  Congratulations to: Alex, Cliff, Jack, Logan, Samuel & Mr. Elliott.

Until tomorrow.

Day 4

Thursday has come and gone.

We’re on the downhill slide now.  The majority of the merit badge classes are wrapped up.  The boys have done a good job finishing the courses that they could.  Those that aren’t going on the whitewater trip tomorrow will still have the day to mop up a few requirements.

We played a few games of bean bag tonight but couldn’t finish the tournament because we had about 1/2 the boys using the free time to qualify on the archery, rifle and shotgun ranges or get their climbs in on the tower.

We had another fairly large mail call but it was a bit disjointed with the boys coming and going until dark.

The whitewater group has breakfast at 4:00 am tomorrow morning and a 4:30 departure.  Needless to say, tonight was an earlier night than usual.

You will not see the variety of photos that you saw yesterday because Trey and I spent 1/2 of the day watching our boys do the High Rope Course.  It has been fun to watch those guys work together as a patrol and encourage each other thru the challenges.

Another successful day at camp.

Day 5

Our final day at camp was a fairly quiet one.  The vast majority of our group got up at 3:45 and went to breakfast before boarding the bus to the whitewater outfitter.

The rest of us slept in until 6:45 before getting up and heading to breakfast.  It was a little eerie around camp since so many were gone.  The TFC patrol and a few others set 2 tables instead of the usual 6.  After breakfast, a few of the guys went fishing, a few went to the rifle range and a few went to work on baskets & leatherwork.

Open activities ended at noon, so we ate lunch, had dessert from the trading post and headed back to hang out in camp.

The rest of our group rolled in at 2:00 pm and had a great time on the Ocoee river.  A bunch of people took naps, the boys played some bean bag and others went to the trading post.

The trading post had hammocks for $20 and they were a pretty big hit the last couple days of camp.  Magnifying glasses were also a hit until they got pulled from the shelves..

At 5:15 we headed to the final flag ceremony of the week and our last dinner.  After dinner, we took a group and patrol photos and finished the bean bag tournament.  Drew & Aaron were crowned the champions after working their way back up thru the consolation bracket.  Jake & Griffin finished in 2nd place.

Our evening wrapped up with a pretty solid closing campfire.

Final Thoughts

Summer Camp delivered once again.  The boys did very well as a unit; they played, ate, served and worked together as a team all week.

The TFC patrol is firmly planted now and that’s always fun to watch.  They are as solid a group as I can remember having at this stage.  I believe they had a great time and I believe they’re going to make a great patrol as they move along.

Skymont wasn’t perfect but it was a good camp.  Our campsite was a little rough at first but we settled into it and decided that we really liked the location.

We’re all ready to be home but I’ll miss: the nightly lightning bug display, morning coffee with the adult patrol, the personalities of the dining hall staff, taking a shower under the stars and so many more things.

The boys did what we asked them to do: go to class, work hard to finish all that they could, represent Troop 221 in every situation and watch out for one another.

A big thanks to Mrs. Barden, Mr. Allen & Mr. Love for helping us do all the things necessary to get to camp.  I also can’t thank enough the adults that came to camp; it’s an incredibly busy week and it takes a lot of effort to keep up with everyone, their meds, their hydration levels, nutrition, etc.  Thanks to Mr. Brennan, Mr. Cure, Mr. Elliott, Mr. Hawk, Mr. Holland, Mr. Love & Mr. Sims.  I’d go anywhere with you guys.

And…thanks for sending your boys to camp.  We have an outstanding group of young men and it is a real privilege to get to spend the week with them.

Let’s do it all again next year.