I grew up on movies and books about summer camp. To me, summer camp was a very magical place. You could do so many things there! You could find the twin sister you never knew you had. You could be a camp counselor and find your first boyfriend. You could fall in love with a bad boy. Summer camp was the one thing that could take my oh so boring 13 year old existence and turn it into something worth writing down in my little red diary with the gold lock! The only problem was, I never got to go to summer camp. I never went to a sleep away camp. I never went to Girl Scout camp. I never went to church camp. I was such a deprived child.
However, I have found that if you wait long enough, all good things will come to you! I FINALLY got to go to summer camp! Granted, it was boy scout camp, but I'll take it. It was so much fun. I did my best not to embarass my son and let all the boys have fun and take care of themselves without me hovering over them. They have said I'm welcome to come next year so I must have done something right.
This camp is on scout owned property about an hour north of our city. It's really an excellent facility. There is plenty of room for the boys to go exploring, a lake for swimming and fishing and a fantastic dining hall/meeting hall. (Dinner each night was catered by this amazing restaurant! I think the rolls were deep fried. Amazing.) My only complaint all week long was about the ladies shower house. There were so many mosquitos in the shower stall that I thought they might just carry me away! Not a good thing when you're...you know...clothing challenged.
The powers that be that planned this camp did an amazing job. The boys could be kept busy just about every minute of the day if they chose to. Here is our basic schedule. (Check in was Sunday at noon and check out was Friday at 9am)
6:45- Pick up breakfast & lunch packs from dining hall. (Lots of dried foods)
7 - Breakfast
8 - Morning colors (flag raising for you non scout/military folks)
9-11 - Morning program (boys worked on merit badges at different stations)
Noon - lunch
2-4 - Afternoon proram (more merit badge work)
4-5 - Afternoon Special (FUN games that earned your troop/patrol points)
6 - Evening colors and dinner
7-9 Campwide Special (More games that earned your troop/patrol points)
11 - Taps and quiet time (yeah...right)
Highlights from the week included:
Monday night chapel service - a wonderful talk on what it means to do your 'duty to God' from a man that has been involved in scouting for about 50 years.
Wild Wednesday - Large sheets of plastic, water and half a dozen bottles of dish soap. Those are the ingredients of one of the most fun things the boys did all week long. It was called human curling. One boy from each patrol would be pushed/tossed down his lane on the plastic and had to land with a body part in the square marked at the end. This also counts as a bath. Or so they say.
The Great Race - This is a campwide scavenger hunt, skill test, trivia game. I don't know how else to describe it. The boys had lists of questions to answer. The answers were actually clues that led them to stations throughout the camp. At each station they had to do things like tie knots, shoot, swim, start a fire, etc. The first group to complete everything and return to the dining hall won. I am very proud to report that one of our patrols came in first! Go Screaming Squirrels! (Only one broken bone came out of this and a.) he wasn't ours b.) he returned to camp the next day.)
Campfire Program - The last night of camp is the big campfire for all the boys. They have two large campfires behind the platform and it's an impressive sight. Troops/Patrols sign up all week long to do songs and skits at the campfire. Awards are also handed out. It was a fantastic year for our group. One of our boys had the most fish caught (20) and another boy had the largest fish. Another of our boys won the top shot competition in both archery and shotgun. (Top Shot includes scouts and adults so this was quite an accomplishment. It's usually an adult that wins.) The Screaming Squirrel patrol won the top patrol award which is a highly coveted award. The campfire program ended with the Order of the Arrow callout ceremony. This is a rather secretive event so I can't say much about it. Seriously. The Order of the Arrow is a group of scouts that is voted on by their peers to be part of this special honor society. I was beaming when my own son was chosen. I wish I had pictures but we aren't allowed to photograph this ceremony. Again, seriously.
The really big story for the week was the weather. Sometime during the night Tues into Wed, we received a couple inches of rain. One of our tents (4 large canvas tents/13 boys) flooded. I tried to make them feel better by praising their indoor swimming pool but they didn't think that was funny. So, they moved into the other tents which were damp but at least they didn't require life jackets. On Wed night we were informed that if the sirens should go off, it would mean that we were under a tornado warning and we were to head to the dining hall. We were in the campsite furthest from the dining hall of course. The scoutmaster slept with an axe so that we could break into a nearby storage building. Needless to say I sat up all night praying. I was channeling my Granny and pleading the blood of Jesus over every person, tree, and pebble in that camp. It was long night. On Thursday it rained about every 30 minutes. Kid. You. Not. Then the lightning started and my oh my was it close. I had a boy do the duck and cover move at my feet. About 3pm I received a phone call from our scoutmaster to take all the boys that I had in camp at that moment to the dining hall because he'd received a phone call from someone back in civiliation that there were tornados in the area. I told those boys to move it and they didn't ask questions. As we were walking the sirens went off and we ran for cover. Well, they ran for cover. I ran about 5 steps and practically had a heart attack so I walked the rest of the way. (Now I understand the need for physicals and weight guidelines. My goal is to lose 70 lbs. before I go back next year.) Staff members were stationed all around the dining hall watching the skies. Two funnel clouds were spotted but none touched down. It was a scary couple of hours. Keep in mind that this was all happening on the first anniversary of the tornado that killed scouts at a camp in Iowa. We were all very aware of how real a threat we were under. The boys were real troopers throughout the threat and did exactly what they were told. I can't even begin to describe how scary it was to be mom to 13 boys when there are tornados close by.
So really, that's camp in a nutshell. There were so many fun and touching moments that it's hard to remember them all or write about them. Chris volunteering to say grace at a dinner with a couple of hundred people in attendance, Nigel ( a brand new scout and the youngest in our troop) wanting to go home Mon night because his "body just felt funny all over like it wanted to go home", Rocky (sitting in a lawn chair staring at his flooded tent) telling me that tent was 'harshing his mellow".... We also had a difficult night around the campfire with the boys speaking openly to an adult volunteer that they were having trouble with. (This adult has a long military background and there have been conflicts.) It was hard to watch this man that only wants the best for the boys hear how the boys felt and equally difficult to watch these young boys speak from their hearts. In the end though, relationships were strengthened.
We had fun. We got muddy. I didn't find any long lost twin and my true love was at home working but I'd do it all over again in a minute!