Welcome to the 2016 edition of the Troop 221 Summer Camp Blog.  You can read the daily updates that were written by Mr. Meaders and view a few images from Woodruff Scout Camp, our Summer Camp destination for 2016.  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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Hello T221!  I hope you have had a good weekend.  We are at Woodruff Scout Reservation, and it’s time for another series of our award-winning summer camp daily updates!

Now, our Day 1 didn’t start Sunday – it started on Saturday.  We assembled at CRUMC 17 Acres and left, right on the nose, at 7p.  We have such great people helping out that we left EXACTLY on time.  Can’t start summer camp any better than that.

We then had a short 18 hour bus trip (with stops) to camp. Our bus is very nice, and the air conditioner works REALLY well. Our DVD entertainment was personally approved by Mr. Holland.  We watched movies about Ping Pong, Padawans, Pirates, and Peter Parker.  We changed drivers in W. Memphis, AR.

We had breakfast in Murfreesboro, TN.  Some chose McDonalds while others chose the southern favorite of Waffle House.  On our way to camp we drove by the beautiful Ocoee River.  Lots of white water rafting on that river.  We continued on and stopped in Blue Ridge, GA for lunch (which is about 30 min. from the camp).  We had many options to choose from and no scout or adult has gone hungry.  The final push into camp was made and we arrived at camp around 115p. We are the only troop from Texas, and one of the larger troops.  Many troops hail from Florida and Georgia.

We are very fortunate to have a great campsite.  We are in the trees with lots of shade, nice bathrooms (with flushing toilets!) very close to the site, and the tents are in good shape.  We are close to the main flagpole and mess hall.  The camp itself is very pretty.  Hills, nice lake, and the weather has cooled off at night.  With the breeze, it’s very pleasant.

After we setup camp, all scouts had to go to the waterfront for the waterfront orientation.  And thanks to the leaders in the troop – we only had to do 2 swim checks thanks to the planning for BRCT in May.  We had dinner which is served cafeteria style and the food is pretty good.  I believe they said there is about 1,000 people at camp.  All precautions are being taken for people with food allergies – the camp is on the ball in that area.

After dinner, we went to a vespers service in a very pretty setting for the chapel off in the woods.  This chapel area was just built a year ago and they did a great job.  After vespers, we had the main camp bonfire.  And they went all out on the bonfire!  Fireworks, flaming arrows being shot to light the bonfire (reminded me of the lighting of the flame for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics – just on a smaller scale) water skiers, drones taking pictures, songs, and skits!  The bonfire area is very nicely done and the lake is in the background.  Very pretty.

Our day is over now and it has been a long day (day and a half…).  We are all tired and ready to get things moving tomorrow for the first day of merit badge classes.  Our day will start at 630a, and the first classes start at 830a.  It should be a great day!  Stay tuned for another update tomorrow night and more pictures.

Day 2

Our day started early… earlier than what we may have wanted after our long day yesterday.  We were up at 630a, performed our troop flag ceremony at 7, did the camp flag ceremony at 720, and started breakfast around 745.  This was our first day of classes and everyone was ready to get going.  We have 4 merit badge periods in the morning, lunch at 1245p, a merit badge class in the afternoon, and then time in the afternoon for free play periods, or some scouts may do merit-badge specific activities.

Since this was the first day, quite a few of the merit badges were doing some of the paperwork/ bookwork and may not get into the really fun stuff until tomorrow.  In Emergency Preparedness, they discussed having escape plans from your home in case of an emergency.  In Moviemaking, they worked on public speaking and techniques to follow for a good film/ video (e.g. plot, camera movement).  In one of the shooting sports classes, they showed a safety video that featured a scout who had previously been shot (he survived, and no, this didn’t happen at this camp) and showed scouts the effects of improper firearm handling.

Weather has been a factor today.  It rained right after lunch, during dinner, and late this evening.  It did affect some activities today due to some lightning.  HOWEVER, the forecast for the rest of the week looks great with low chances of rain.

The Cobras (these are the soon to be 10th graders and the oldest scouts in our troop at summer camp) are participating in the COPE Course.  COPE stands for Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience that consist of group initiative games, trust events, and low and high ropes courses.  It’s pretty cool.  Today they were working on teamwork exercises.  One such exercise was group rope jumping and multiple people trying to double dutch rope jump.  It was quite entertaining for the adults to watch and the scouts were having a lot of fun with it.  We have some great pictures of it.

Today was also the day the scouts really hit the Trading Post.  The Trading Post is where your scouts get to spend their money.  They can buy shirts, jackets, and knives.  But most of them like the other items – slushies, ice cream, drinks, and candy.  It’s ALL sugar free and good for them (ummm… right). 🙂  The adults did partake in some of the ice cream – to make sure it was fit for consumption for the scouts (this is a big sacrifice for the adults).

During this time, the adults creative juices were flowing and we have come up with 2 great ideas.  We have noticed some unique headgear while at Woodruff on some scouts.  Therefore, we are going to look into the Scout Sombrero.  We believe it would be very fitting for our troop and many troops in the southwest.  We also didn’t understand why you need to mess with the cookie part of the Oreo.  We believe selling the stuffing in a squeeze bottle would be much better and the target audience is the pre-teen and teens.  Please look for both of these products in the near future at your favorite online store or Shark Tank.

The Annual Bean Bag Tournament has begun! It is a double-elimination tournament that includes a Consolation bracket. We have 22 2-man teams.  The winner gets bragging rights for a full year and something we haven’t determined that may be awesome.  The scouts really enjoy this activity and there is lots of laughter and yelling.  Very fun to participate and watch.

I am starting a new segment to the daily blog.  I hope we have continued material for each day.  This segment is called, “Things Scouts Say.”  These are phrases our scouts have said today:

“Do I sweep the rocks?”

“What do we do in swimming?”

“What’s for dinner?” (Please note that the dinner was right in front of the scout when this was said)

“Where’s Scottie?” (Please note Scottie was standing right next to this scout when this was said)

“Dude – It’s free swim! The Blob! The Iceberg!”

And, we have pictures from today! Thank you to the parents who put together this year’s camp shirt.  The bright orange was excellent – we could spot the scouts from a hundred yards!

Day 3

Well, the weather forecasters in Georgia are about as good as they are in Texas… We had some more rain this morning. Nothing major.  But, things did clear up this afternoon and we had gorgeous sunny skies, the wind turned from the north and lowered the humidity, and it is very nice.  To make everyone in Dallas jealous- at 10p tonight its 72 degrees.  It will get into the 60s tonight for some nice sleeping weather.

The weather didn’t impact the activities today.  The TFCs were concerned that all the rain would make the lake cold.  However, they were told the heater was working and they would be fine. 🙂  Seriously, the water was in good shape – no teeth chattering.  We spent quite a bit of time today (and pictures) with the water sports.  The TFCs in swimming, a lot of the Cobras with small boat sailing, plus others in kayaking, motor boating, and paddle boarding.  The lake is very pretty especially seeing it with some much activity.  The Cobras continued with COPE and they will really get into the high ropes tomorrow. Stay tuned for the pictures. The morning archery group worked mostly on classroom activities and some technique. Most of the shooting is done during their free period.

The Nature Center is very nice and many activities are housed out of it.  Reptile study, Weather, and Fishing are a few.  The Nature Center has some real animals as well for the scouts to see and study.  They have a rat snake, box turtle, 2 pythons, and 10 ducklings.  The ducklings make cute little peeping noises in their pen.  Very pleasant atmosphere to learn about nature and animals.  I do have to say the facilities are excellent.  They are relatively new, multi-function, provide lots of cover to get out of the weather and sun, and the land is pretty.  We are very fortunate to be here.  During Reptile Study, they had to draw 2 reptiles and 1 amphibian native to North America.  Many of the TFCs participated in fishing.  It’s unfortunate – they didn’t catch any piranhas today; hopefully tomorrow.  In order to earn their merit badge, they have to catch 1 fish and cook a fish (doesn’t have to be at the same time).  Let’s hope they all have luck catching a fish.

Our Bean Bag Tournament has continued.  We are working through the Winners and Consolation Bracket.  One game was especially exciting today.  One team was up 18-10 (games are to 21).  The other team came back and beat them 21-20.  The crowd went wild!  We are also having non-tournament games with father/son, adult/scout, patrol/patrol.  The smack talk can get very entertaining (but it’s all in good fun).  Our Commissioner of Bean Bag, Mr. McHatton, is doing a great job of keeping up with the results and organizing the tournament.

We had mail call yesterday (which I forgot to include in the blog) and again today.  The scouts are loving the food, cards, candy, food, candy, candy, and candy they are receiving.  The adults are taking a wait-and-see approach on how much we like the scouts getting all goodies… 🙂  Some scouts are getting a haul!

Tonight, we had our troop tap-in to Order of the Arrow (OA).  OA is like the National Honor Society for scouting.  It is a society to honor scouts that best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law.  The scouts who are tapped-in were voted on by their fellow scouts earlier in the year.  To be eligible, you have to be at least a First Class scout and have experienced at least 15 days/ nights of Boy Scout camping during the two-year period prior to the election.  Tonight, we had 2 scouts tapped in to OA.  We will let those scouts let their parents know so we don’t spoil the surprise.  There are other scouts that will be tapped in that were not present at summer camp.

And now, for another installment of “Things Scouts Say”:

“How do you stop this thing?” (the thing is a sailboat)

“Where’s nature?”

“He gets this back after class.” (referencing a scout temporarily holding a harmonica of another T221 scout who does not know how to play said harmonica but does know how to make noise)

How did you get a hole in your shirt?  “My dog attacked me” (while the dog is not at camp, the hole in the shirt is being worn at camp and is a scout-related shirt, so, this counts)

And this is a bonus – “Things Scouts Do”:

What patrol uses an oar in sailboat? (If you guessed the Cobras- you are the winner!)

Day 4

It was another great day in Jawjah (that is how you are supposed to pronounce Georgia, right?).  Sunny skies all day with no rain; pretty evening.  And we have a couple things here that we don’t get to see in the Plano area.  There are fireflies! I miss seeing fireflies.  And no, we have no pictures of said fireflies.  We can also see the stars – a lot of them.  So, in case you wondered, they are still there.  We also had something occur last night that is more rare than a Bigfoot/ Sasquatch/ Yeti sighting – at least 4 TFCs took a shower without being told.  Ladies and gentlemen – this is historic!  We believe this is attributed to the un-camp-like bathrooms.  I would say they are spa-like.  It is a single person toilet, sink, shower, changing area. And they are relatively clean (some more than others).  These aren’t the showers from boy scout camp from 30-40 years ago.

The activities are in full-swing and they are doing the fun stuff.  During Rifle, they discussed the types of animals you are allowed/ not allowed to hunt, calibers of rifle used for hunting, and reinforced the gun safety rules.  They did some shooting in class working on the fundamentals, with more shooting during the open period in the afternoon.  At Shotgun, to qualify, you have to shoot 12 out of 25 clay pigeons twice (2 rounds of 25).  Several scouts shot today and we got some pictures of them.  And in case you wondered – Scouts do Fingerprinting (not Finger painting).  Just want to make that clarification.

Unfortunately, something happened to Mr. Meagher. We aren’t sure what. It could have been a lack of caffeine, lack of sleep, or hearing “Hey Mr. Meagher” too many times.  Anyway, he changed.  Kind of wild animal-like.  We did get a picture of him during this time.  It seems to have passed and he is back to “relative” normal (for the scout’s sake).

Our Scout Bean Bag Tournament is complete, and we had many exciting games.  Some were decided on the last bean bag toss. The winners are:

Consolation Bracket: Braiden D. and Colin L.

Winners Bracket: Thomas B. and Jake R.

Grand Champions: Thomas B. and Jake R.

The winners of the Consolation and Winners Bracket get additional money at the Trading Post (thank goodness it’s Thursday for that one!).  We will also start the adult tournament tomorrow with the adult winners playing Thomas and Jake.

Tomorrow will be a different and very fun day.  Our merit badge classes in the morning, and then…. whitewater rafting in the afternoon!  The Cobras will be going to the Ocoee (pronounced O-koh-ee) River.  This river has got some great rapids – we drove by it on the way into camp.  Most of the other scouts (minus a couple that will be doing horseback) will be going on the Nantahala (this one’s easy – say like its spelled 🙂 ) River in North Carolina.  This is about an hour away from camp.

The adult leaders are looking forward to the gourmet lunch that has been prepared for this trip.  Our anticipation started this evening when we saw the food being prepared.  We will leave camp around 12:45p and get back around 7p tomorrow.  That being said – we can’t take any cameras with us (water + camera = bad).  So, we will have fewer pictures tomorrow.

Another segment of “Things Scouts Say.” And our first entry was available before 7a!:

“Excuse me Mr. Meaders, I want my $5.” (ala the “I Want My $2 Kid” from Better Off Dead)

“Chipotle makes you sick.  Jesus heals you.”

“I’m a little hyped up now.” (said by an anonymous adult leader after 2 ice creams and slushy in 2 hrs.)

“You do that again and my foot is going nowhere.”

“It’s summer!  Don’t bother me about grammar.”

“I can easily shoot out in 18 shots.  Needs 2 more still after 18 shots.” (????????)

“Mitchell launched me off the blob!  I went like 10 ft. in the air and landed on my back!”

“Don’t worry – there’s a sneeze guard.”  (you really don’t want to know)

“I don’t want to catch any bad game throwing.” (in reference to Bean Bag juju)

“Where’s Scottie!  Oh, he’s right there!!!”

Day 5

We had another great day at Woodruff and the weather was great too.  Apparently it has been hot in Dallas.  So to rub it in, its 77 right now at 9:30p.  The high today was in the high 80s.  It will get to about 62 tonight.  I think I will need my blankie tonight.

This morning we had the normal merit badge classes.  In Reptiles, they fed one of the Ball Pythons a dead mouse.  Apparently, they have to trick the snake and move it around to make it think it’s still alive.  He constricted it for a few minutes, and then… gulp.  They feed him once a week but he can go up to 4 months without eating.

The COPE Course (which is what the Cobras are doing) spent time on teamwork skills.  They would climb these hanging logs and they have to help each other get to the next level.  It was great seeing them encourage and push each other in a positive manner including scouts not in our troop.  This obstacle is 50 ft. high. Samuel, JJ, and Christian all completed this task.  They rappelled off the rappelling wall.  Will, who had never rappelled before, did it like a champ.  Seemed like he was an old pro.  Christian got half way around the climbing wall without touching the ground (which is a feat in of itself).  His goal is to get around and back tomorrow. Wish him luck!

The big part of our day was whitewater rafting!  The Cobras went on the Ocoee River.  People from the troop have been on this river before.  The stretch they went on averages a Class IV rapids (V being the highest and most difficult).  One part was a Class V.  They had a lot of fun.  Now, keep in mind, I asked the Cobras several questions about the trip, what was fun, what did they like best, etc.  And I got the typical 1-word answer a 15 year-old provides.  So, I got Nothing, Nada, Zip to write.  And since they went with camp staff – no pics.  Sorry, please harass them for more details when they get home.

The rest of the troop went on the Nantahala River in North Carolina  I am no river rating expert, but I would say it was probably a Class I.  In fact, the river guides weren’t too worried, they let someone like me be the “river guide” for the one of the boats with Mr. Holland.  And yes to the Titan parents – all the Titans in our boat are all safe and accounted for.  Maybe 1 got thrown out of the boat along with Mr. Holland because the boat hit a rock.  We pulled both from the river and stuck the scout at the front of the boats so he could “greet” all the waves.  Scouts in other boats may have been tossed as we were going through the rapids.  But they were safely pulled back in and had fun.  And we had other scouts jump out of the boats during the calmer parts of the river, or we also had people “pirate” the boats.  That is they try to take over your boat and “pillage” it or take people with them.

The water was, how do you say, chilly.  Like 50 degrees.  I am a native Texan and anything below 80 degrees is considered cold.  The Nantahala is the coldest whitewater river in the Southeast and averages only 4 hours of sunlight a day.  It is in the western North Carolina mountains.  The scenery was absolutely beautiful!  We were going through a great forest with lots of trees and shade and the great mountain backdrop.  This is why T221 likes to go out of Texas – to see great things, enjoy cooler weather, and have different and new adventures that we wouldn’t get if we went to the Boy Scout camps around Texas.  Everyone had a blast!

After our afternoon of river rafting, we came back and had a pizza party at our campsite.  Thank you to Mr. Meagher and Mr. Love for buying the pizza and organizing it.  We were all very hungry and enjoyed a change in pace of the food.

We are a little thin on the “Things Scout Say.” But we have a couple for you:

“What’s he allergic to? Short brown haired kids.” (the short brown haired kid is the SPL)

Tomorrow is our last day at camp.  We will be finishing up merit badges, one last swim in the lake, cleaning up the campsite, and packing up.  We will also have the final camp bonfire.  We will probably not have as many pictures and the blog will be shorter.  I do have a website and information for pictures that were taken by a company on the Nantahala.  I will include that in tomorrow’s email (the information is on my cot in my tent right now, and it’s too far of a walk to go back and get is the real reason you will see it tomorrow).

Day 6

All good things must come to an end, and our time at Woodruff is complete.  This week has been awesome for everyone!  We have had a great time.  The camp is excellent.  The adult leaders and scouts rated the camp a 5 overall (5 being the best).  Some of the adults who have been to several summer camps rated this camp at the top of the list.  It has been added to the rotation and I expect us to come back here at some point in the future.  The facilities were top notch, the staff was well staffed and excellent, and we couldn’t beat the scenery and the weather.

Today was the last day to complete all the items on merit badges that could be done at camp.  Overall, all 44 of the scouts attempted 219 merit badges and completed 153.  The person who attempted and completed the most was Mitchell who attempted 8 and completed 6 (which is outstanding).  We had 8 scouts do COPE which doesn’t count as a merit badge and takes up 3 class periods (equivalent to 24 merit badges).  The Cobras completed COPE.  Today they did the Leap of Faith.  You climb up a 30 ft. tall pole and jump off and try to touch a ball that is 6-8 ft. away from the pole.  Jack, Samuel and Logan were able to touch the ball.  They also did the zipline (which is always fun).  Christian did something only 5 other scouts have been able to complete all summer – complete the Boulder Wall without touching the ground.  He was able to sign the Boulder Wall and will  “live forever” at Woodruff.

The other items scouts did today was try to spend as much money as possible at the Trading Post, eat as much junk food and slushies, play the last games of Bean Bag, and just be boys.  We have cleaned up the campsite and we are basically packed up.  We did our annual troop, patrol, and adult leader pictures which have been posted.  We had dinner at our campsite and did Roses, Buds, and Thorns (RBT) and held our own T221 service led by the Scout Chaplain Cameron.  And we went to the closing Bonfire which was great.  The bonfire was capped off with fireworks.

All the boys WILL BE SHOWERING tonight.  For our sakes since we will all be on the bus together.  Our plan for tomorrow is to get up at 6a, have a quick breakfast, load the bus starting at 7:30, and be on the road at the latest by 8:30 (ideally 8).  Our goal is to be back in Plano by midnight.  We will send out a Remind notice with a Glympse link and our ETA tomorrow once we get moving.  So please watch for that.  Oh, and just a heads up to the Titan parents – they said they were going to stay up all night and play cards and sleep on the bus.  Wish us luck with them tomorrow and have fun with them on Sunday!

We now have our closing “Things Scouts Say” which also includes “Things Adults Say”:

“I’m very quick and agile.” “Like a ninja?” “No, not like a ninja. I have a lot of dopamine.” (we believe this scout meant adrenaline, but dopamine is way better)

“Like the Crane Technique?” “No.” (who doesn’t like Mr. Miyagi?)

“Do I go in this door?” “No, the other door.” (there is only 1 door – things Cobras do to each other)

“I’ve had enough water, but I’m low on caffeine.” (this was said by a Titan – not an adult)

“I made a humanoid duck in pottery.”

“My thorn is I forgot to pack underwear so I have been wearing the same pair all week.” (we have confirmation said scout did have 7 pairs of underwear, but he obviously did not look in his trunk very well)

“Are you all playing red light/ green light?” (as said by an adult during a flag ceremony)

“Don’t eat all those Twizzlers.” “I’ll be fine!” (uhhh… not so much)

“I don’t want to see that man in a kilt.” (in reference to alternative scout uniforms)

Oh yes – for the scouts that went on the Nantahala River.  Photos were taken from the bank towards the end of the trip.

On behalf of the adults – we have really had a lot of fun and enjoyed being around your kids.  They are great kids, and they have made this troop great.  Thank you very much.  We are a little sad to come home – especially to go back to the Dallas weather.