Friday/Saturday, July 2 & 3
Well this is the final installment in the 2021 Summer Camp Blog. We’ve had a week filled with adventure, minor injuries, success, excitement, homesickness, triumph, and full throttle fun! In 2016, Woodruff Scout Camp was the first summer camp for the TFC Thunderbirds. They got to relive some of those memories this week.
After Thursday’s combination of fun and a little chaos, it rained overnight from about 2am-7am. This was the hardest rain of the week and being mostly at night it didn’t interrupt our activities. In fact, many of us had a great night’s sleep because of the pitter patter of rain on our tents. Friday turned out to be a beautiful day, easily the best weather day of the week. The sun came out, highs were around 79 degrees, and it set up the least stressful day of the entire week.
Here’s a glimpse of how we start each day at summer camp. We line up for the morning flag ceremony, or “assembly” as we refer to it. We get there about 7:10AM and after the flags are raised, the summer camp Program Director calls a representative from each Troop to compete for rights to enter the breakfast line. Breakfast is fast and furious so being one of the first troops in line is a coveted thing. The Director runs the boy representatives through a series of questions or games to determine the order in which troops enter the dining hall. The first couple of days, we were always one of the first troops to get in line, but each day we went further back in line. Friday, Neil was selected to be our representative. After about half the Troops were dismissed, we could see the game Neil was playing was Rock, Paper, Scissors. The boys cheered Neil on, hoping our support would somehow bring him luck, but it wasn’t to be. No matter what Neil chose, he got “covered up, cut, or smashed”. It was apparently just our turn to eat last and dead last we were. It was not a big deal though and no one missed class or blamed Neil.
Troop Adults at Summer Camp
We can’t say enough good things about our cadre of adult leaders. They constantly stepped up to fill gaps, sacrificing their relaxation opportunities or plans for the sake of the boys. Several classes requested an adult representative from each troop be present to assist, and as always, our adults happily volunteered to cover. A coincidental benefit of having engaged adults is maintaining a strong pulse on what is happening at summer camp with our Scouts. Anytime an issue or difficulty came up we knew about it quickly and were able to react and advocate for our scouts. This doesn’t happen with every troop, we are blessed with top quality adults who love the boys and care about all of them, not just their own!
Friday afternoon Chris, Trevor, and Dallas all went down to the waterfront and had a private Blob jumping session. It was fun to watch them fly through the air, splashing into the lake, as awkwardly as 40-50+ year old men can. See the abundant photos on smugmug!
Trading Post Fundraiser Finito
We learned late Thursday that Jonathan’s harmonica had broken. Apparently, it was sat on, fell and broke. The boys had planned a concert with “Ukulele Girl” at 2:30, another camp musician seen around the Trading Post. Unfortunately, she also suffered a catastrophic instrument failure. One of the strings broke while tuning it that morning. So much hard work to get this far, and in an instant it was over. Still, this was one of the craziest experiences at summer camp, and we all enjoyed the ride while it lasted.
The pace was slower Friday, less frantic and void of “land mines”. The adults made last minute preparations and arrangements for departure, and the boys leisurely fulfilled their last-minute class requirements. The boys were instructed to avoid the Trading Post until after they cleaned up the camp and prepared their gear for a quick departure on Saturday. It was refreshing to see them be trustworthy, as all boys requested a tent inspection once completed so they could hit the Trading Post.
Many adults used this time to lay in hammocks and hit snooze. More importantly, our Scouts were completing their classes and having fun, peace and harmony had won the day.
Dinner was a BBQ sandwich, which we picked up from the dining hall and ate in camp. There was a little time between dinner and the closing campfire, and the boys used this time to do their standard trash sweep. Although they did a decent job, the adult leaders still managed to find 37 pieces of trash. These were mostly tiny pieces of plastic, which were likely not even theirs. We always want them to reach higher, and be accountable for excellence, they happily did their 37 push-ups without any resistance.
Closing Summer Camp Campfire
Campfire was at 8:15pm, and we had an important highlight during the program. Our guest Scout leader, Gene Parham, was acknowledged with a “Silver Arrow Award” in recognition of his contributions at the Archery Range. He really was amazing and gave so much of himself to the entire summer camp this week through his archery skills. It is people like Gene that make Scouting such a great program for our youth!
The typical array of skits were in abundance. Most were funny, a few corny, and a couple just fell flat, but we enjoyed them regardless. In one of the funny ones we unknowingly got “Rick Rolled”. Our SPL, Samuel made it clear he did not like any of the cheesy dances and songs they were asking us to participate in, but when it came to getting “Rick Rolled”. He was dancing more than anybody!
Closing out the campfire program, we were surprised with an awesome fireworks display from Teepee island just across from the amphitheater. Many Ohh’s and Ahh’s could be heard from the audience. This was at least one of our boy’s “rose” for Roses, Buds, and Thorns.
It was close to bedtime when we returned to camp, and most everyone laid down for the short nap till morning when we woke at 5am to finish packing and load our gear.
Wake up time was 5:00am. We were instructed to be ready for our breakfast delivery at 5:30am. As 6:00am passed and no breakfast arrived, Chris and Frank decided to investigate. They headed up to the dining hall. Not a staff soul was around, not in the dining hall, not in the health lodge, not even in HQ. It was a ghost town. A few other adult leaders confirmed the plan of breakfast delivered in camp at 5:30AM, but like us, they couldn’t find any staff to help.
Around 6:30am the boys started chanting, “We want food, we want food, we want food…!” It was a fun moment that lifted everyone’s spirits and took their minds off their hungry stomachs.
As 7:00AM rolled around and still no signs of life, or more importantly, food, it was decided to get the boys ready and hike to the loading dock to meet the bus. This would save time and they could just deliver the food to us as we load the bus. About 7:10AM the boys were ready to hike out, but we noticed a golf cart driving in our direction. Once within view, we could see our Treasurer, Trevor Liang riding shotgun in the cart. (Try saying Treasurer, Trevor, Trevorer three times real fast) Trevor had located a staff member and they acquired our breakfast just in time for us to eat in camp. The Danishes and juice probably weren’t worth the wait, but nobody complained. Once everybody was ready, we hiked to the bus area and arrived at 7:40AM. Blake T and the T-Birds led the Troop in a song, something they had learned from former scout JJ Ingeman. JJ is one of the finest scouts in recent T221 history, and it was nice to see his influence still felt today. Marching and singing as T221 leaves camp, probably the sweetest sounds we could ask for as we hiked by the flag poles. We were prepared, and even though the camp breakfast was an hour and forty minutes late, we managed to load the bus and depart by 8:05AM – 55 minutes ahead of schedule!
We are rolling home now; lunch and a junk food stop behind us. The boys are eagerly awaiting our pizza dinner stop just west of Shreveport. We expect to arrive back in Plano around 11:30, give or take.
Things Scouts Say
“They wanted me to talk to girls, but I figured out that I can’t.”
Thank you for trusting us with your boys. Summer Camp is truly a life changing experience for them, pushing them to grow by making decisions, navigating classes largely on their own, managing money, doing chores, holding each other accountable, and practicing leadership. Without the amazing adult leaders, and your trust in each of us, the boys would miss out on this great opportunity.
See all of the summer camp photos at: https://photos.t221.org/2021/Summer-Camp
Until next year, let the adventure roll!
Yours in Scouting,
Chris and Frank
Thursday, July 1
We started the day by raising the camp flags before breakfast. Select members of the Thunderbird and Panther patrols performed the raising in front of the entire camp. As per Troop 221 tradition, we substituted the Georgia flag for the Texas flag, and followed by shouting the first part of “Deep In The Heart of Texas.” With a little pre-planning, we were joined by another troop from Houston. It took the camp by surprise and after 10-15 seconds they started either chuckling or groaning once they realized what we had done. It was glorious!
Today started off as a normal and calm day, and that lasted about two hours. A call came in from the Health Lodge that one of our Scouts hand injuries needed attention. (Don’t worry about the scout, we always contact the parents in these situations) The Health Lodge explained they would not provide transportation. Remember our fantastic adult guest Scouter, Mr Gene Parham from last night’s story? That guy has a truck and was given a permit to park in camp just a few hundred yards from the Health Lodge. Chris approached Gene and said, “We have a Medical Emergency,” and before another word was said, Gene handed over the keys to his truck. So it’s 10:00am and we have to be back by 12:30 to give us time to make the 12:45 bus call for our two river rafting expeditions. Frank drove while Chris looked up the best route and we headed to Blairsville. River trips are cool but getting a scout the help he needs is way more important. The doctor took care of us and we made it back to camp just in time. There might have been an ice cream stop somewhere between the doctor and camp😁
Today was river float day. The older boys (13 years old and up) rafted the Ocoee River in Tennessee. The younger boys floated the Nantahala River in North Carolina. There are countless stories of adventure, falling out of boats, freezing water, splash fights, and wild rapids. We can’t begin to capture it all here so make sure to ask your boys about it when they return home. You will be entertained!
The Ocoee was amazing, these are Class 4 rapids, and they required skill and teamwork so you don’t get flipped out of your raft. Although no one got tossed into the river, we were all drenched from head to toe. This River was a blast and all the Scouts had smiles from ear to ear when it was over.
The Nantahala is Class II-III rapids, relatively tame compared to the Nantahala. It was the perfect river for the TFC’s and Jaguars. Plenty of boys got jolted from the rafts into the 45 degree water of the river. They were cold but no one got hypothermia and there were plenty of smiles to go around when it was over.
We got back late from the river and missed normal dinner time, but the adults were treated to steak, baked potatoes and cheesecake upon returning. The food was by far the best of the week. The boys headed over to the dining hall to have pizza, and by all accounts they had similar sentiments about dinner tonight.
Trading Post Fundraiser Retraction and update:
Yesterday we provided incorrect information regarding Miguel’s motivation for the Trading Post Musical Fundraiser. The information from our sources was not properly vetted before the story was sent to the editor.
Miguel actually had plenty of money, he just didn’t want to spend It. He did take inspiration from the musician playing the melodica, but not because he was broke. He’s just crafty, and we like that.
We thought what the boys did to earn money was awesome, but we also thought it would remain “yesterday’s news”. We were shocked at what happened next when we got back from the Ocoee and Nantahala River Trips. The boys (Jonathan) played a short twenty minute set and made $34 dollars! That’s a pay rate of $101 per hour, or more than 200% increase per hour from the day before. They made a dollar more in twenty minutes than they made in Wednesday’s 1 hour concert. These guys are impressive, and this experience may lead to some life changing career decisions. That’s right, us adults need to quit our jobs and take them on tour. We’ll be hitting the summer camp circuit to make it big!
Interestingly enough, they are learning lessons in marketing, entrepreneurship, and product placement. They figured out that by locating their operation next to the trading post cashier they could easily get people’s leftover change, since most boys don’t want to keep track of it. With a healthy trading post business, the change added up quickly.
Things boys say:
“If I have to tread water I’m not going to class.”
“I’m not broke, I’m poor.”
Scout to adult: “Do you know what Ocoee means?” Adult reply: “It means poop your pants in Appalachian.”
Jonathan Liang’s comment about playing his harmonica again to make money at the trading post: “I’ve been doing all the work. My lips hurt.”
After falling out of raft in river: “I tried to be brave but what happened was just the opposite.”
Things Adults say:
Adult fell out of hammock and landed on a log, scraping his leg. “I fought the log and the log won.”
At breakfast: “I beat anorexia!”
At breakfast, sitting 3-4 people on a lunchroom table/bench: “It’s like being in middle school, you’re just not the same size.”
See today’s photos at: https://photos.t221.org/2021/Summer-Camp/Thursday/
Yours in Scouting,
Frank and Chris
Wednesday, June 30th
We have another day of amazing activities, quotes, and scouting greatness to share with you. Waking up, going to breakfast, getting to class…has all become routine so I won’t bore you with that anymore. Today we started to observe the more subtle highlights of what makes summer camp so special. It’s the little things the boys do, and the volunteers that go the extra mile to care for your boys. These are the things that allow the magic to happen.
Many of our scouts are working on Archery Merit Badge. This year is a very special year for this class as one of the archery range masters is camping with T221. Gene Parham and his grandson, Lincoln are our guests at Woodruff. T221 Treasurer, Trevor Liang, met Gene at Woodbadge in 2021 and established a friendship. Trevor invited Gene and Lincoln to join T221 at Woodruff since we had room. They eagerly accepted and are now on their third week of summer camp this summer, all at different camps!
It is difficult to describe what a blessing Gene has been to our boys, and to Camp Woodruff. He goes to the archery range early and stays late. He teaches our boys how to string a bow in camp, as he brought a “Bow String Jig”. He has invited Scouts from other Troops to our campsite to help them as well. He is skipping the Ocoee River rafting trip tomorrow because his expertise is needed on the range. If he rafts, there wouldn’t be enough staff on the range to handle all the Scouts who want to take their Archery test.
Gene sacrifices his time and energy to share his talent for the benefit of Scouting. An Eagle Scout himself, Gene continues to live by the tenets of the Scout Law.
Trading Post Fundraiser
Do you remember the $90 we asked you to send your son with? Well, for some Scouts that isn’t quite enough money. But to run out on Wednesday morning? I mean, what’s a Scout to do? Let me tell you, we have some crafty Scouts. They are observant, they are persistent, and most importantly: they know how to get that money.
The boys finish lunch pretty fast, it’s common for some boys to already be headed out of the dining hall as the last T221 adult is sitting down to begin eating. That leaves them with well over an hour to relax in camp or visit the trading post. Miguel was talking with Jonathan about how he was bankrupt, and how could he possibly make it through the week without money to spend? Here is the crafty part.
Miguel had observed a scout from another troop playing a Melodica, a small reed-like instrument which plays like a piano as you blow air through it. Anyone who has been to a T221 campout in the last year knows that Jonathan can play a mean harmonica. Do you see where this is going? One of the boys suggested to Jonathan to play the harmonica at the Trading Post as a fundraiser to replenish Miguel’s funds. Jonathan agreed to go along, and to give Miguel a 1/3 cut. There is only one problem. Everyone knows you can’t play music at a fundraiser without something to put the money in. And it can’t be just anything. It has to be legit, like an instrument case or maybe a hat. So Jonathan approached Max and asked to borrow his hat, to which Max replied, “sure, but only if I get 10%”. And they’re off…
They got up to the Trading Post, and immediately realized the best place to play is by the checkout. There is better visibility there, and most people are willing to part with loose change. I mean, they aren’t picky, they accept bills, quarters and pretty much anything that has value. They did this for an hour and walked away with $33! So Max got $3 and change. Miguel got $10 and Jonathan took the remaining $20 and bought candy for all T221 Scouts at the Trading Post.
This ruse was so amazing and successful, they did it again a few hours later and netted another $6 in ten minutes. T221 is proud of these Scouts for their ingenuity and creativity, but most of all for giving us a renewed inspiration for fall fundraising ideas. Maybe if Jonathan plays the harmonica as we spread mulch we charge double? Stay “tuned”…
Old traditions renewed
One of the unfortunate side effects of missing summer camp last year due to Covid is that we have 2 years of scouts with no history of our summer camp traditions. That, coupled with youthful amnesia resulted in several of our summer camp traditions being forgotten by the boys. The most notable are mail call and corn hole. They just haven’t shown the enthusiasm for these activities as I would have expected.
Today, we had our biggest haul of packages yet, and the boys started ohh’ing and aww’ing over what everyone is receiving from home. I see the spark coming alive again!
After on and off practicing and goofing around, the cornhole tournament began this evening. After just a couple of rounds the boys started getting into it and the competition kicked it. Once again there was cheering, hooting, hollering, and groaning around the cornhole arena. It was a wonderful sound. I think the fire has been relit! We should wrap up the tournament on Friday evening before we begin packing up our belongings for an early departure Saturday. It pains me to even think of Saturday morning and leaving all this magic behind for another year. Where has the time gone?!
Order of the Arrow (OA) Callout Ceremony
Tonight, we held our T221 traditional OA callout ceremony in our campsite. We established this tradition several years ago and it is always a special time for our troop to announce the boys (and adults) who were elected back in March. We lit a small campfire and the troop silently filed in around the fire ring, forming a big circle. Three of our current OA scouts performed the ceremony to call out the elected boys, explain the purpose of the ceremony and of OA, and charge the remainder of the scouts to strive toward becoming scouts worthy of election. Dylan, Steven, and Greg Jerrell, much to his surprise, were called out.
I was so proud of the entire troop. They all remained silent and respectful, despite their urges to fidget. They made this time special!
Things boys say:
Adult: “Let’s give him his pills.” ADHD Scout: “No, I don’t need any pills!”
Wilderness survival boys dragging back into camp at 6:05am. Waking up adults with their noise. Eyes wide but blank stares. One of them asks, “May I have coffee this morning?” (Yes, the ASM went and got him coffee, much to his surprise.)
Adult: “How is COPE?” Scout: “I like it a lot. It’s like GDX but outside.”
One scout to another when asked to button his scout shirt: Scout 1 said, “Button your shirt until you have something to show.” Scout 2: “You have to have it open for it to grow.”
“Now to go spend the money.” After banker gives money to scout.
Adult: “How do you like this class?” Boy, with a smile: “It’s good. There’s girls in it.”
Things adults say:
“Does a bear poop in the woods? Yeah, a lot when there are Boy Scouts in camp.”
Adult convincing boys that it isn’t disrespectful for us to replace the Georgia flag with the Texas flag when we perform the flag ceremony tomorrow: “Is Georgia’s slogan, ‘don’t mess with Georgia?’ I don’t think so.”
T221 adult said to cocky youth counselor in handicraft shelter who was neglecting his responsibilities and arguing with Claudia: “That’s not the hill you want to die on bro!”
Be sure to check out today’s photos. There aren’t as many as yesterday (which has a lot of new photos just uploaded) but we are doing our best to capture everyone.
Yours in Scouting,
Frank and Chris
Tuesday, June 29
Day 2 is a wrap. We had more sweat, some afternoon rain, and no hot dogs.
Today was Taco Tuesday for dinner. Consensus says it was the best meal so far this week. It was pretty good. Nothing fancy but there’s something comforting about tacos and apple cobbler.
As expected, day 2 started more smoothly than day 1. The SPL woke up at 6am so he could start waking everyone else. Our bugler, Blake T, blew Reveille at 6:30 and the boys were out of bed by 6:45 am. After breakfast they were off to their classes, knew exactly where to go and the routine to follow. The pace is picking up and the machine is starting to run more smoothly.
Todays Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience (COPE) involved several team building exercises. All the Thunderbirds and several of the Panthers participated, along with a few boys from another Troop. Getting to COPE is a leisurely walk down to the nature center, where you cross a bridge adjacent to the Nature Center. The Nature Center appropriately offers a break from the other parts of the camp, which can be busy and loud most of the time. Crossing the Bridge, several of our TFC boys could be seen working on their Fishing Merit Badge. Once you cross the bridge, you have about a half mile hike up to the climbing tower where COPE is located. All COPE boys must first get fitted for a helmet, which is important, but not as important as picking the name they choose to put on their helmet. This is a brilliant way to force the boys to get outside of themselves, be creative and open to other ideas. They pick a name, write it on tape and stick it to the front side of the helmet for easy reading. Picking a name involves a calculated decision and can determine what type of experience a boy will have.
So, we will share a few chosen names, but in order to protect the boys, we can’t tell you which boy the name belongs to. Thunderbirds names are, “Animal Planet”, “Loco”, “Someone”, “Boat” and “SOOP”. Just as creative, Panthers chose the names, “Candice”, “Lite”, and “Pickle”.
As the newly named Scouts worked through different events, they were able to improve their communication with one another. The telephone pole obstacle involved the boys standing in a row, and then given rules to negotiate moving to different spots on the pole. The first game required the boys to line up on the pole by age, oldest on the right side of the pole. This required some conversation amongst T221 boys, and a lot of conversation with the other Scouts who they didn’t know. Each time they would do this, they would try to change spots and many would fall off the pole. That meant they had to start over, and this helped them realize the only way to complete the objective is to work together. Get information with the person next to you, and then plan your move as a team. They played a few more games on the log, line up by height and a few others, but the challenge was the same: work together, get creative and success is within reach. Work alone, and you will fail!
Another COPE obstacle worth mentioning is the giant, deadly, attack spider. This spider has spun its web at the entrance to a cave, and the only way to get out alive, is to escape without waking the deadly spider. T221 knew not to send Candice first as he is scared of spiders, so Lite volunteered to go first. This spider has a sophisticated security system, utilizing state of the art jingle bells attached to clothes pins, which are clipped to the web, which consists of high tensile strength paracord. Below the web is a small crevasse, which mysteriously disappears and reappears without warning. Lite died a quick death on his first try, but with each death, came a renewed commitment to work together and overcome adversity. This newfound resiliency carried over to the next obstacle which requires a delicate maneuver over lava flows (ground) to reach a series of islands (boxes) to escape the impending volcanic explosion. Each day of COPE gets progressively more challenging, but our boys are working together and having fun. This opportunity creates a special bonding experience for all boys participating, and we can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s adventures bring.
Our 10 scouts in horsemanship merit badge were delayed 1 ½ hours because the bus broke down on the way to pick them up. The outfitter the camp uses for the horse rides provides buses to transport them to the stables 45 minutes away. What was supposed to be a 2-3 hour experience turned into a 6 hour adventure. The boys loved every minute of it but are quite exhausted. Plenty of pictures will be posted to Smugmug tomorrow.
The OA callout was postponed until tomorrow night so look for details in tomorrow’s blog post.
Things boys say:
Said to banker: “I forgot about tax.” (The scout didn’t have enough money to buy what he wanted)
“If I ever dye my hair, I’m going to dye it blue.”
“My mom said she wanted me to come home and give her the change.” (said to the banker)
“I don’t know but it wasn’t me!”
Scout asking Chris to sign a paper to show his Emergency Prep instructor he completed some requirements; the scout was trying to explain what “proof” was needed. “The instructor is younger than me. He just doesn’t have as much experience with dealing with paperwork/issues.” In other words, the 15 year old kid didn’t have as much experience compared to him (a 16 year old.)
Preparing to board the motorboat for Motorboating Merit Badge, “Will you save me if I die?”
“We are playing ghetto Uno. It’s Uno with two decks of cards.”
After the trail ride for horsemanship, “My legs feel numb.” And “Aggh, I just stepped in horse poop.” And “I didn’t get chaffed!”
Things adults say:
Adult sitting next to a boy on the bus ride to horsemanship trail riding, “I’m gonna try not to squash you with my big butt, but I can’t make any promises.” (we were crammed on the bus very tightly).
The majority of today’s photos will be posted to Smugmug tomorrow. It is late, we are exhausted, and ready to get some rest. So check back tomorrow by lunchtime for a new round of photos.
Yours in Scouting,
Chris and Frank
Monday, June 28
Day 1 has come to a close. It was a day of discovery, success, sweat, and more hot dogs.
Let’s start with food. In a normal year the camp gets three tractor trailers of food each week. This year, with the ongoing supply chain issues, they receive 2 trucks a week. This means creative and on-the-fly menu changes, limited snack bar options at the trading post, and no ice cream in the trading post (booooooo). The good news is they are still allowing all you can eat seconds, thirds, etc. at meals. The food is good so no big complaints there, but what started out as pancakes this morning turned into french toast when the pancake supply ran out. Not a bad trade and kudos to the kitchen staff for being able to pivot and continue to serve decent food. No boy has yet complained of being hungry, or of horrible food.
Lunches are served in a new “kiosk” style. Lunch items are staged at 5 locations throughout camp. We go to one of those locations, get a paper bag and build our own sack lunch. Today was hot dogs (2 per person) chips, cheese sticks (aka, pocket cheese), fruit cup, chocolate chip cookie, and a granola bar. Most of us got our lunch and came back to camp to eat it. It is very convenient and a creative alternative to crowding into the dining hall.
Snack bar. A big disappointment for the ice cream loving crowd. A consequence of the limited food trucks is they ran out of ice cream late last week. They hope to have a new shipment in later this week but the adult leaders had to settle for rainbow sherbet push ups today. Not our expected afternoon treat but we had fun anyway. The TFC’s and Jaguars have discovered the immortal Slush Puppie. That bastion of summer camp dehydration is rapidly becoming a common favorite among our boys. No one has fallen yet to the evil of overindulgence or the temptation of mixing it with Mountain Dew and a giant Pixie Stick but it is only a matter of time before the infamous “Pixie Dew Drop” is rediscovered. I’ll keep you posted.
Classes, merit badges, and corn hole. All of the boys made it to their classes today, and mostly got the kinks worked out of their schedules. The leaders were kept busy making sure everyone found their places and got situated.
We had a small victory this morning with a TFC. This young scout didn’t pass the swim test in April and failed again to pass it yesterday after check-in, due to cramping. This would result in him not being able to take Motorboating Merit Badge or go rafting on the Nantahala River. He was upset yesterday but was determined to try again this morning. After a good chug-a-lug of electrolyte laden water to help with muscle cramps, a good pep talk by our scoutmaster, and some coaching by the lifeguard, he jumped in the lake to make the swim. The aquatics staff held back over 200 scouts so he could take his swim test without the pressure of a bunch of people around! They are amazing. Toward the end of the first lap he said, “I can’t do it.” Chris and the lifeguard kept encouraging him and he put his head back down and kept going. He completed his second lap, and third lap, and then got to do the final lap on his back, followed by a resting float. He was so relieved to climb out of the water a “swimmer”! Chris and I were excited. He’s been walking a little taller, with more confidence today. This is the kind of success that drives the leaders to do what we do and serve your boys.
The afternoon has an open schedule concept where the scouts can choose to do different merit badges without signing up. It’s a come and go plan which the boys seem to be thriving on. We had several do leatherworking, wood carving, and fingerprinting merit badges, and we have photo proof (see smugmug).
Cornhole is set up and practice is in full swing. We’ll begin our tournament tomorrow evening. Chris brought a power supply and a string of LED lights so our cornhole arena is lit for nighttime play. The bugs are not much of an issue so we can have extended play hours without much trouble.
Board of Review:
We had one BOR tonight for a TFC. Wyatt earned his Tenderfoot rank. He was so excited when it was over he came running down through camp telling all of his patrol mates. Another small, sweet victory!
Things boys say:
“Look, your watch says ‘hell’” (it was 11:34 and his watch was upside down)
Adult: “What merit badge are you going to?” Boy: “Horseplay”. Adult: “Umm, I think you meant Horsemanship”
Things adults say:
In response to being given some of Chris’s mystery jelly beans, “You gave me the pansy ones.” Then this adult bit into a Carolina Reaper flavored one. “Quick, go get the defibrillator!”
We’ve posted more photos from Sunday and a new round of photos from today so be sure to check them out at https://photos.t221.org/2021/Summer-Camp/
I can’t wait to see what great moments tomorrow holds for our troop. We plan to have our Order of the Arrow (OA) callout ceremony tomorrow night. This is always a special and solemn time for the troop as we celebrate the honor given to a few boys who have been elected to become members in scouting’s honor and service society. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.
Yours in Scouting,
Sunday, June 27
After loading the bus and getting on the road at 6:32pm (just two minutes past our target time), we headed to Camp Woodruff in Blairsville, Georgia. It was a very typical trip with a few pleasant surprises along the way.
Our first junk food stop was just outside of Shreveport, LA and I think we set a new world record. The boys bought a total of almost $250 of candy and junk in about 20 minutes! A usual junk food stop is at least 30 minutes so this was truly amazing. I laughed when a “code orange” was announced over the Loves PA system as 32 scouts rushed the front doors! Employees came out of the woodwork to staff all the registers. Our boys lived “a scout is courteous” and represented the troop well. It is always a satisfying sight when the cashier staff are smiling through the entire barrage.
We hit more junk food just after midnight during a bus driver switch and refuel. Again the scouts represented with honor. Another leader and I were buying coffee after the last of the boys. The cashier just looked at us, smiled, and waved us out the door. I think they had pity on two souls who were buying coffee at 12:30am after a mob of boy scouts.
The remainder of the night was uneventful; a few boys with upset stomachs but not one puked. I think that is also another world record, but we still have a return drive home so hopefully I didn’t just jinx us.
Our morning came bright and early as we stopped at Choccolocco Park in Oxford, Alabama for breakfast. Donuts, apples, oranges, juice and coffee were served at one of the nicest parks I’ve seen. We had a nice covered pavilion with bathrooms and a playground all to ourselves. Ironically, a sign on the fence to the playground read, “No drugs on playground” as Mr. Liang wandered around looking for boys to administer their morning meds. It may not be as funny to read about but when you’ve had no sleep for 24 hours and survived two junk food stops without incident it is quite humorous.
Continuing our streak of good luck, we were blessed by the local Masonic Lodge in Blairsville, just 25 minutes from camp. Through an entertaining but drawn out story, they contacted Chris Day a couple of weeks ago and offered to serve us lunch of hamburgers, hotdogs with chili, tater tots, chips, and brownies for no charge! After eating, the boys were given an inside tour of the lodge and an explanation of what the local masons do. The men of the masons were incredibly gracious to bless us with such a treat and the boys were very well behaved. Go Troop 221!
Our arrival at Camp Woodruff around 1:30pm was met with a heavy rain shower. We stayed on the bus for 10 minutes until it died down then began transferring our gear from the bus to a trailer for final transport to our campsite. We are in campsite #6 which is adjacent to the flag parade field and dining hall, and 100 feet from two different, very nice bathrooms/showers. We couldn’t have asked for a better camp site. I was informed by some t221 old timers this is the same campsite we had back in 2016. Very cool. The boys are getting settled in, unpacked, and accustomed to their new surroundings. Surroundings which include almost 1000 other scouts and scouters! This is the camp’s largest week of the year.
From our arrival this afternoon until the sunset of our opening campfire I am struck by how beautiful this camp is! I’ve seen some pretty scout camps but this setting, lake, trees, grass, and excellent facilities are at the top of my list of all time best camps. The staff seems very friendly and eager to help the boys have a memorable and fun experience. The cooler temperatures don’t hurt the experience either (although the humidity is high.) Tomorrow will be a big day for the boys of figuring out the schedule, finding their classes, and flexing their independence. I can’t wait to see the magic happen right before our eyes!
And now for the part of the blog we call “Things Scouts Say,” as overhead at summer camp. It’s short today but rich in content:
Things Scouts Say: “Because my parents are paranoid as heck”
Be sure to check out the photos of our trip and day one at camp. They may be found here: https://photos.t221.org/2021/Summer-Camp/
Please come back tomorrow for more activities from our scouts and keep checking the photos site as more photos will be uploaded for Sunday, as well as Monday.
Yours in Scouting,