I have been active with my son’s Boy Scout troop, Troop 199, since he started in 2012. I may have been a little hesitant in the beginning to get involved, only because I didn’t know anything about Scouting. My husband went to all the Cub Scout meetings and I only went to the ceremonies when my son earned an award or to the Blue & Gold ceremonies. As a girl, I was a Brownie for a short time, mostly because we didn’t do anything “fun”. I remember going to the parent meetings for Troop 199 and telling my husband that I would only go the first campout, I wasn’t going to go to all of the campouts, I wasn’t going to volunteer and be involved with the troop, and I most definitely was not going to buy and wear the uniform! Well, I learned very quickly, never say “never.”
I now do everything that I said I never was going to do! I enjoy the adults in our troop, and most importantly I enjoy the Scouts – learning from them and watching them grow individually and together as a whole. I camp monthly with the troop and have only missed a few camping trips and have been to every summer camp so far. This year, Troop 199 went out of council for summer camp, to Camp Buffalo in Monticello, Ind., which is part
of the Sagamore Council. We left on Sunday morning with 106 Scouts and 16 adults; four of which were females. Once we arrived at camp, the gear was unloaded and the Scouts set up their hammocks and shelters for the week long visit. We also had a few shelters and large tents for those who did not want to sleep in hammocks.
It would seem that with that many Scouts who heavily outnumber the adults, there would be chaos during setup; but it is a well orchestrated plan that is done quickly. Scouts jumped into action and knew what needed to be done. The older Scouts helped the younger Scouts and adults pitched in as needed. Everyone, Scouts and adults, had a chore during the week. Scouts and adults both served as hoppers, some cleaned the showers, some passed out mail, some took care of trash, some handled Scout medication and some directed the showers (much like a traffic cop!). Others were in charge of the money for the trading post. I know I have missed some of the other chores, but it is something to watch all of this come together and work throughout the week.
It was hard to believe that it was mid-July. The temperatures were so low. During the day it was under 80 degrees and at night, under 60 most. We wore our sweatshirts during the day – in July!! Our troop was the largest troop, which is usually the case, so we had several campsites to accommodate everyone. Because there were only four females we had a campsite to ourselves. But, we held several meetings with the other adults around the
campfire ring where we did everything from just hanging out and talking to providing updates on what was needed. During the day, the adults would find things to occupy their time and if we were at the trading post long enough, we would see Scouts from our troop come through.
On Monday, we had a nice long, rainstorm; long enough to keep everyone in a shelter until it passed. I, along with another adult, happened to be at the trading post when it started to rain. Before we knew it, there were at least 20 other Scouts taking shelter with us. There were various aged Scouts including a younger Scout who was very concerned about the weather. The other Scouts took notice of this and made sure to make the younger Scout feel more comfortable and help take his mind off of the storm. Trust and friendships were formed that day and what a great way to get to know Scouts – just hanging out talking about life!
Camp Buffalo has a large campsite, 500 acres and has plenty to offer. Several adults took advantage of riding an ATV during the last day of the merit badge class. Also, because the Tippecanoe River runs along the camp, canoeing and tubing were offered as activities to the adults. I, along with two other adults, took advantage of the leather works shop. I was impressed with how easy I could make something out of leather! Earlier in the week, I attempted to wrap a couple of bottles with paracord. The first bottle was a challenge, as I couldn’t remember what direction the paracord was supposed to go, maybe with practice I’ll get it! The second bottle was much easier to remember which direction to wrap, so I haven’t entirely ruled out using paracord.
Summer Camp is also an opportunity for Scouts to advance in rank. That meant that we held about 30 boards of review for Scouts during the evening. Talking to Scouts is an chance to learn more about them while offering valuable tools for success. During summer camp, we always offer the Scouts the opportunity to earn Camper, Woodsman or FireCrafter. The Sagamore Council does not currently have a FireCrafter program, but we had several Firecrafters in our troop and were able to offer it to the Scouts interested. That being said, we had eight Firecrafter candidates that completed their requirements during summer camp. And, our Scoutmaster was presented with a Sagamore Council FireCrafter belt buckle by the staff at Camp Buffalo during the closing campfire on Friday.
The staff at Camp Buffalo were very friendly and excited, from the time we pulled into camp until we left. You would not know that our week with them was their last week at camp, you would have thought it was their first. This was my third summer camp and each year I am amazed at how well run
and how fun camp is. This was by far the best summer camp yet and words simply cannot explain it. I have five more years until my son ages out to experience summer camp again! Did I mention that I barely saw my son at camp? He was so busy having fun that I only saw him in passing and took just one picture of him. That is the way camp is supposed to be – having fun, learning and building friendships.