Kevin V. Hunt
Scouting Historian, Author, Scouting Veteran, Camp Director
I have been blogging about our 2016 summer at Camp New Fork. And so this blog tells of Week 7 – or session 6 with Scouts – in the series of eight blogs of the summer. We had a great week with the Scouts but it was traumatic around us. There was literally fire in the sky and it seemed to grab hold of all of us. My journal of the week tells more of the details. Read on …
JULY 24th – SUNDAY
Today again found me at Camp New Fork in Wyoming. And with it being July 24th, it is a day to remember my many pioneer ancestors. I arose at 7 AM and got ready for the day. I wore my new white shirt and tie. (As you may recall, I forgot to bring a white shirt to camp – and last week, I went to the BYU-I graduation of my daughter. I had not known until a day or two before the graduation that I was to wear “Sunday best” clothes. Hence, I stopped en route to Rexburg and bought a white shirt and tie.) I read from my scriptures. I then went to the dining hall to get Lou’s skirt that she left there to dry – and got some milk for breakfast. We ate breakfast in our cabin.
On Friday as I talked to a Scoutmaster about how he might prepare to get the most out of a summer camp experience, I realized that this subject might be one of general interest to Scoutmasters everywhere. I had several ideas come to me for such a blog and so today acted upon those urges and began to write on the subject.
We went at 9:45 AM to the camp chapel for church services.
The meetings were great. We opened with that grand old hymn, “The Spirit of God”. We sang from “new” green hymnbooks that a troop brought up and donated to us. Marina led us in singing. We have heretofore been using the old brown and red books that went out of true circulation 35 years ago. Now these new green books will jive with the electronics where many people sing from these days. Matt and Nathan were at the sacrament table.
The church attendees today included the Hunt, Emery, and Ranger Reed families. Also there were Matt, Andrew, Nathan, Kiara!, David, Diego and Jake, Gordon, Jack, Kameron, K-Kade, Jacob, Tyler, Golden, Kent, and Marina. We also had some visitors who are camped on the other side of the lake.
We had only one speaker – and that was a youth speaker. Golden talked to us for a few minutes and did a good job. After the meeting staff members took home copies of the old hymn books – that I guess we no longer need. They should be good keepsakes for former times. Nathan presented the Priesthood lesson. Matt and David gave prayers.
Back home at the cabin, I went out on the front porch and sat in a camping chair. This experience was now possible since the multitudes of mosquitoes are now gone. It was a really gorgeous day and I loved being outside in the beautiful world around me. I again typed on the “Camp Preparation” blog.
We went to the dining hall and we did the “get your own stuff” thing for lunch. I chose gravy on rolls, ham, and of course, cake. Did I say cake! You bet!
Every time that we have gone in to Pinedale, Lou has literally “drooled” each time that she has seen a lovely creek that runs under a bridge on the dirt road. And almost every time too, she has said, “That creek reminds me of home!” (She grew up in a rather secluded area down a country lane in Sandy, Utah. There were trees and greenery everywhere and her home was surrounded on three sides by a creek.) She has also said a few times that she would like to stop at this creek – just to relax and enjoy the scene. So, today was the day to make good on my promise to take her there.
I drove to the area that has caught Lou’s eye. Larissa was with us. But, we were quite disappointed upon arrival. We found a fence around the creek – on both sides. And the fences extended along the road and also alongside the creek banks. And there were “No Trespassing” signs. Caught up in the beauty of the place, we had not before noticed the fences or the signs.
Back in the car, we headed back up toward camp – with my plan to go to where the Pinedale Creek begins – as it comes out of the New Fork Lake – on the road toward the “New Fork Narrows” campground. I hoped that we might be able to get into this area. This proved to be a positive move. I parked the car and then the three of us – still in Sunday clothes – including my white shirt and tie – walked from the bridge down to the creek below. We were overcome with the beauty of the place. It was truly amazing and wonderful!
I found a nice place under a large shade tree and until my computer ran out of battery juice, I again took up typing on my “Camp Preparation” project of the day. Sitting under a large shade tree and writing has long been my ultimate dream and so this activity was truly a dream come true. (I love this activity so much … and I really ought to do this more often!)
Lou and Larissa were quick to take off their shoes and waded their feet in the water. This was a dream come true for Lou and she basked in the wonder and joy of the moment. And before long, they had me down there with them. I rolled up my pant legs and together the three of us felt the invigoration and thrill of the freezing cold water. Wow! What could be better? The place was truly fabulous and we all loved every second of this grand adventure.
After we had sat there for a while, we decided to head back home. Instead of going the mile or so back to camp, we instead continued up the road toward the Forest Service Narrows campground. The aspen trees were beautiful and the views of the lake – with the mountains in the background – were stupendous, amazing and wonderful. We gladly took it all in.
All too soon it was time to return to camp – but it had been a glorious afternoon. Back at the cabin I plugged in the computer and again worked on my project.
We held our usual 5:00 PM meeting for the camp’s area directors. We then held a general staff meeting. I conducted (still in my white shirt and tie – per my usual every-Sunday plan at home – after the Church meetings) and read just parts of the evaluation forms from the troops. Travis told of his recent trip to Philmont and of course exuberated the spirit and training of this great Scouting place.
David and Lou brought forward staff members who have served faithfully as troop friends. They wanted to try to inspire some of the not-so-friendly friends – with the hope that they might repent and do a better job. They had the staff (whom they brought up) share ways that they have been able to be friends. The good friends (named by Scoutmasters in evaluations) included Traeden, Jason, Brayden, Jacob and Daghen. We had a good discussion of why good friends are needed and wanted by the troops. We also announced a new policy that will allow all troop friends to go eat lunch with their troops. And at dinner meals they will now get to leave the parade grounds with their troops as they go to dinner. (Formerly, we have had the staff guys stay behind the troops – with the challenge that they find and eat with their troops in the dining hall. In theory, this sounds like a good plan, but in reality, most of the troops are done eating by the time that the staff gets through the long chow lines to get their food – and are outta there. It was me who suggested this change – with support of Lou and David.) We have high hopes for this new plan. We should have made the change weeks ago.
Golden was the staffer of the week last week and he requested lemon squares as his special treat from the cook. And so we all got to enjoy these. Wonderful!
After the meetings I went to “the office” (the milk crates located behind the dining hall) and used Lou’s cell phone to call our three sons. I found Rusty on his way from Arizona to California for a construction job he has to manage there this week. He said that little Lucas fell and broke his leg. Keith and family were driving from their home in Ohio to Arizona to attend the wedding of his wife’s sister. K.C. moved this week to a new home in St. George.
Back at the cabin I again worked on my camp preparation project. I finished the project and ended up with 14 pages in the document. This is a bit longer than desired, but I hope that the finished product will be found very helpful by Scouting leaders everywhere. I’ll have to blog this in a future day – when I again have working internet capabilities.
Lou and Larissa and I watched a movie entitled, “One Fine Day”. I poked around in my fingers again – still trying to get out all of yesterday’s splinters.
A ground squirrel or whatever – was in our extra bedroom. We created an exit path and finally got him to go out. I had heard some knocking in the room and discovered the creature in there. And we have had the door closed since Jackie and Michael left on Saturday. So, maybe the critter had been in there since then. Ironically, Lou did not get scared with the ground squirrel – though she does with mice. Figure that one out!
The staff was actually quiet at the 10:30 PM “lights out and quiet” time tonight. Wow!
I also created my usual journal note cards tonight. That is usually the last thing that I do each night.
JULY 25th -MONDAY
I got up at 6:00 Am and was at breakfast at 7:00 Am. As I do each morning, I tried to personally greet each person there. I think that this is a good thing and they seem to like and appreciate this gesture.
We had our flag ceremony with just the staff. David made the weekly report and distributed it to those who use it. The staff headed off to their posts. So, the admin team (of which I am a part) greeted incoming troop leaders on the porch. We have a new medical guy this week. His name is Cannon Parry. He brought his wife and four children. They seem like a great family.
The troop friends seemed to have a bit more interest this week in connecting with their troops. They all met their troops today. They escorted the troops down to the Waterfront for their swim checks. Some of the Scouts come having already taken their swim tests. But, with the freezing water – and weird things that the cold does to the body, we still give what we call a “chill test” – where the Scouts swim about a third as far as the regular test. I went down and watched these “chill tests” later in the afternoon.
I gave my “speech” several times during the check-in process. Again I had to do a “fast lunch” – sloppy joes – in order to be ready to conduct the orientation meeting for Scoutmasters and Senior Patrol Leaders. We held this in the Takota training campground. I did not know until a few days ago that this “Takota” name is in honor of Ron Blair – who worked in various roles here at New Fork – for twenty five years or more. Last year was his last year here and he was the commissioner. It is interesting that even not being a “local” guy, I know this Ron. He was my coach counselor when I first went to Wood Badge “a hundred years ago” down at Snow Canyon near St. George. The meeting attendees had some good questions for us.
I went to the cabin – finally about 2:00 PM – to ditch the coat. I needed it this morning but it got warmer fast. Lou and David conducted their training session for Scouting leaders. I typed the program for the campfire program. The program was almost exactly the same as last week. I worked at my laptop computer – connected in a rare moment to WIFI – and added some photos to the blog about the staff week. Actually the blog got published prematurely. Instead of hitting “save” I hit “publish” – so now I have to go back and edit and update as I can.
I went to the Nature area and hung out with them for a while. I then went to Climbing to be with Larissa and her staff. Kiara was conducting a class and was teaching her students Climbing knots. I have never even seen many of the specialty knots that they use in Climbing. I watched the staff putting Scouts down the zip line. I was curious about how long it takes to get each Scout or leader buckled up and down the zip line. I timed it and determined that with two pieces of equipment – and the current rider bringing it back after his ride – they can send someone down every three and a half minutes. This was much faster that I had imagined that it might be.
Next I went to the Waterfront and watched Will conduct his class. He did well. My next stop was the Handicraft area. Katie mixed up her staff – just to keep them interested – and assigned new classes to each staff member. Many other camp program areas also did this – at my suggestion. Jace is back in camp this week so was down there.
Back at the office I worked on my laptop computer. And somehow in the rush of life, I bumped the cord where it connects to the computer. So, I may have jarred the connection so that it came unsoldered – and likely will stop working now. Thrills! This happened one other time and I had to send the computer in to the company for repair. I am not having good luck with the whole computer thing here at camp.
We have twenty troops here in camp this week – and about 175 Scouts. But, we had only five troops who were on time for the evening flag ceremony. This was a bit frustrating. And those who came had absolutely zero troop spirit. In fact, they were pretty dead. I tried multiple things to lift them to a higher plane – but all to no avail. So the staff ended up getting the Spirit stick.
For dinner tonight we had BBQ chicken and salad. I like this every Monday food.
Two troops were a “no-show” today. Both showed as Troop #253 – so two different people probably registered the same troop – and then didn’t come through to get here.
Lou and I – with the help of Gordon, Jacob, and Tyler – cleaned the dining hall tonight. I made it back to the cabin – and got to sit down – for just 20 minutes.
By 8:15 Pm I was again at the parade grounds. I met the troops prior to leading them down to the campfire program. Jace was back tonight – so was able to beat his drum once again. I followed with the troops marching behind me – all in silence. This works pretty well most of the time.
We had a great campfire program. It really was a lot of fun. And it lasted only an hour!
Back at the cabin I checked out the laptop computer again and it appears as if it now has no renewable battery life. This is really sad news. I use the computer to create blogs and to create my campfire programs, and much more on behalf of the camp.
JULY 26TH – TUESDAY
Lou has always showered at night here at camp but suddenly she decided to change her plan mid-stream. So, this threw me off a bit. I got up and read my scriptures first and then showered – reversing my normal order of things.
Breakfast today was pancakes. I ate them and then headed off to my meeting with the Senior Patrol Leaders. At the flag ceremony we all sang the real bad “camp” version of “Happy Birthday”. We sang to staffer Jack who turned age 17 today. His mother brought up a cake a couple of days ago and Jack shared it with all of us.
Jeremy Bell, the Council Camping Director, was here from the Scout office today.He said that he loved the Staff week blog that I had published – by mistake, I told him. He said that he put it on the Trapper Trails Facebook page and said that it has had about 200 “hits” there. So, this was exciting and encouraging to me as a writer and blogger.
I went to visit the Shooting Sports area this morning. I went to two of the three ranges – the rifle and archery ranges. I did not make it to the shotgun range before lunch time. The staff at each of these knows what they are doing and they do a great job with all that they do – open shooting and merit badge work.
At lunch I visited with Cannon – the new medic. On the radio he calls himself “Cannon Ball”. He is a real nice guy – as is his family.
I went again to Takota to do the orientation for the outdoor training. Not even one leader showed up for this training – even after I waited for a while to see if anyone would come. So, having a few minutes to spare, I made a necessary trip to the cabin. Then as I got there, I got a radio call saying that there were guys waiting for the training. I went back to Takota and then found five guys there. I guess they got mixed up on the training location and had all gone to Outdoor Skills. I had to give the “Reader’s Digest” (condensed version) of the training since we were now cramped for time.
I walked with all five guys up to the Rifle Range. We held our weekly meeting there. I first talked and covered the program schedule for the rest of the week. Lou and David talked about hikes, safety and procedures. David handed out the maps to all of the troops – for their Wednesday hikes. Bruce then gave an introduction to the shooting sports training that the Trapper Trails council stages.
News of the cooking class came to me. It appears that a staffer there has been doing some strange things – that should not be happening. I went to Outdoor Skills to try to get this situation straightened out. The cooking class has been my nemesis this whole summer. I have suggested various things to try to get the program working – but it never seems to get any better. So, this has been a major frustration.
I took a boy named Parker to the Nature area to get help on his fishing merit badge. This proved a good experience for the Scout.
I went to a campsite and ended up talking to a Norman Christensen. It was interesting that we both went to the same LDS Church mission – to Florida-Tallahassee. He came there when I had about three months left. I could have been in the mission – and probably would have been in the mission office – but a few months previously I had been sent on special assignment to Nauvoo to work in the visitor’s center and restored homes. We knew a lot of the same missionaries.
Again there were only five troops on-time at the flag ceremony. Wow! I don’t know what is going on with these troops. They don’t want to show up on time for anything. One troop came up and did a run-on. They said, “How come there are two seats in the KYBOS?” Then after folks had had a moment to ponder this question, they said, “It’s the buddy system!” Now you know!
At dinner I ate with a family – parents and two Scouts – who came all of the way to Camp New Fork from Iowa. They are functioning as their own troop but have become soulmates with another small group that is in their same campsite. They seem to be having a fun time together.
Later in the evening I met the interested troops for the camp wide games. I assigned starting positions for everyone and then gave them schedules that showed the nine different events and their locations. After I got the groups going I went around following several troops and took a plethora of photographs of them doing the various events.
The Scouts – and their leaders – seemed to have a grand time doing the events. The events included knife and tomahawk throwing, the “Gumby” stick – where participants try to wrap themselves around the stick, leg wrestling, stick wrestling, standing sticks, log throwing (throwing large full logs about 2’ long), match lighting, stretcher building, and finger swords.
We had two boys hurt tonight. One was on the stretcher race. The other was when a boy and his leader were doing finger swords against each other. This Scout got his arm hurt pretty bad and the leader felt bad that the boy got hurt. I called for “Cannon Ball” to come to help him. He ended up with a BIG bandage on his hurt arm.
JULY 27TH – WEDNESDAY
I arose at 6 AM and read my scriptures before breakfast. I had no SPL meeting because the scouts were all off on their hikes. And we also had our flag ceremony just for our staff. Many of the staff were also gone – as friends on the troop hikes.
After the flag ceremony I sent all of the staff to their areas with the injunction to work on their area inventories. We figure that if we can get this task done this week, the camp closing will go more smoothly next week. We also told the staff that if it is no good, they should throw it out. Each area was also asked to make a “wish list” for next year.
Lou, David and I all worked to clean out the office. We threw out a bunch of old forms. I did a complete inventory of the office and everything in it. It was nice to get these things done today.
At lunch time we heard that a boy out on the high adventure trip had smashed his hand badly. He had to come in from the river to go to the Pinedale emergency room. The boy was hurt such that his family determined that he should go home for additional treatment. So, his whole group left today to return back home.
I had Diego inspect our knives and hatchets that we have used in our throwing events through the summer. They have been kind of thrashed through their normal use.
I mentioned before, the fire that has been growing near Bondurant. It has continued to burn and is growing more each day. The sky above is eerie and almost frightening. And the feeling just kind of envelopes us all – since it appears to be all around us. The sun has been darkened and is clouded by the smoke and is a strange orange color. The fire is about 25 miles from the camp. We have been watching the computer reports to check the fire its spread and the challenges of getting it contained.
I then made a master inventory spreadsheet for use by all of the areas. I got it set up on the computer so that there is a sheet for each area – and we can enter all of the inventories into this one master file.
Since it is Wednesday, I staged my usual “Program Planning” training session. I had five Scout leaders come to the training. They all really loved the training – the presentation and the material – so it was quite fun teaching them. One guy said, “That was THE BOMB!” He suggested that I record the training for distribution to others. Also in the training session, I covered the subject of the Troop and district and council resources – for Lou. They ran out of time in the session that she and David staged.
After the training I went down to check on things at the waterfront and found the same five leaders there. They were there for Safe Swim and Safety Afloat training. I put this on the program schedule but had forgotten even when it was held – since Rachae always stages it and does a great job with it.
At the flag ceremony I was very impressed with two troops that were there in complete Class A uniforms – for everyone. I called them up so that everyone else could see the example that they have set. In today’s world, many Scouts and leaders wear just the uniform shirt and then jeans under the shirt. So, it was refreshing and wonderful indeed to see two full troops with Scout pants. They sure looked sharp. I was very proud of them.
It was a pleasant surprise to me at dinner time when I troop came to me and invited me to eat with them. I conducted a branding session. I was pleased to have the help of Diego with the fire. And like most boys, he was fascinated with the fire aspect. So, he really got into the action. Travis and Reed and their families were in town tonight on “date nights”.
After the branding session I went with Lou to her Tatanka campsite – where Troop 447 resides this week. There were several of us staffers who were all invited to be there. They had their troop friends – and the friend of another troop that they invited to join them. The staff included Kameron, Max, Tyler and his cousin, Gordon, Lou and me. It was a rather solemn occasion but a special ceremony as they retired an American flag. This troops has this function as their mission for the week. They have staged a flag retirement ceremony almost every night. As a part of tonight’s ceremony, they invited any of us to share experiences with the flag.
Lou shared how she went on a church mission to Australia. And as she got home, she and her lady companion were able to go to Disneyland. (They don’t allow such things nowadays!) And that was the time that Disneyland – in all of its pomp and grandeur – was celebrating America’s Bicentennial with the rest of the country. She said that there were flags and red, white and blue everywhere. She said that this has made a lasting impression upon her and she still remembers the feelings that she felt as she saw the flag after being out of the country for a year and a half.
We walked back to the cabin. At the cabin we watched the classic “Where the Red Fern Grows”. This is truly a wonderful movie – starring the famous child actor, Stewart Peterson.
Well, it is official! My computer is officially dead. I did, in fact, break off the connection where the cord attaches to the computer. And so now it cannot be recharged. This is really sad news. It will be hard to live without my computer as I try to write and to create camp documents. And that also means that I can’t access my files on the computer. Luckily I have many files on my jump drive. But, with so many people wanting to use the computer – especially for inventories, I won’t have much opportunity to use the camp computer.
JULY 28TH – THURSDAY
Again, I was up at 6:15 AM and got ready for the day and read my scriptures. Breakfast was on time – so this was good.
Most of my Senior Patrol Leaders were late to our meeting. They are pretty much an unenthused group. Only two SPL’s said that their troops want to do skits tomorrow night at the campfire program.
At the flag ceremony I loved Troop 390. They are mostly all Spanish or Hispanic youth and they are wonderful. They also have full uniforms – so this makes them even more special. They are a very classy group. I also took a photo of them in their uniforms.
A couple of Scouts in camp were celebrating their birthdays so I called them forward and we sang the “Bad Scout Way” of “Happy Birthday.
Staffer Daghen has hurt his arm somehow and has it in a large wrapped bandage – such that it really is not usable. Yet he still wanted to help lead his song of Waddleachee. And helping him accomplish this was “stump” Jacob. The whole scene struck me as quite funny and I commented on it to the Scouts (knowing that Jacob is not offended in any way by the stump) and said, “That was excellent … Waddleachee led by two one-armed guys!” This brought a laugh.
I had to laugh at one Scout. I had with me my giraffe walking stick – which I carved. The giraffe spots are kind of different shapes but are all kind of a reddish brown color. The Scout said to me, “Are those spots pepperoni pizza?” So funny … maybe he was hungry.
I went to the Waterfront and found Rachae busy staining rowing oars. She made them look nice. I also observed several Scouts and a couple of adults at the lake working on their Fishing merit badge. One leader took it upon himself to teach the boys his skills and this was fabulous! Also, while at the Waterfront, I noted once more the sky – still full of smoke. This smoke has kind of enveloping feeling. It make it feel as if it is all around us – and ready to smother us. Not good!
My next visit was to the Outdoor Skills area. I found good action going on there. I observed several classes including C-Bas doing Wilderness Survival, Jacob doing his version of 1 ½ armed pioneering in a great way. And Jacob taught a Scout how mmake rope – along with his diagonal, and square lashings. Amazing kid! Johnny was taching Orienteering. K-Kade was doing a great job with Emergency Preparedness and Kent did a great job with the Scouts who are in the “Road to First Class” program. Traeden – who said a few weeks ago that he couldn’t teach First Aid as a part of First Class – ironically is now the First Aid instructor – and was doing good.
Then at the Nature area, I observed Marina as she gave a great Nature hike. Zach had the full attention of some boys whom he was teaching to create beautiful fishing flies.
I went to the Climbing Tower and it was great fun to again talk to Franco – the Scout who was injured during the “finger sword” activity with his leader. He and I have had some good conversations since his injury and he seems to be a really great Scout. I saw him go down the zip line – hurt hand and all. He made some funny comments afterwards – about what riding did to his manhood. It was funny that he said this instead of “That was awesome … Super fun …” etc.
By this time it was time to go to the Thursday Scoutmaster luncheon. I always enjoy these gatherings with the Scoutmasters of the camp. And of course the hot brownies from the kitchen are the absolute ultimate. We had a great – and short – meeting. I went over the upcoming Bull-Run relay race procedures and then Lou covered the check-out procedures for getting out of camp on Saturday.
One leader – Guy, from Troop 738 – came to me and asked me an interesting question: “What camp are you going to be at next summer … ‘cause that’s where we’re going! This is the best organized camp.” Of course I loved this comment and it made me (and later Lou) feel great. (We’ll have to keep you informed about that … since at the moment, we are “free agents” and are available for the summer of 2017. More on that later …)
I went to my own cabin for just a few minutes. Stops there during the day are always kind of short and usually on some specific mission.
All summer long I have heard the zing of the zip-line – and this can be heard all over camp as Scouts and leaders go down it. And I have said frequently to myself that “I really need and want to go down that.” But, then I never made the time to do it. I decided on the spur-of-the-moment that today was to be the day. So, I went to Larissa at the Climbing Tower and announced to her that I was there to go down the Zip Line. And boy was she ever surprised. I guess she had thought that I didn’t want to do it, was scared, too old, etc.
On my way there, I had also stopped to pull a couple of staffers there with me. One was Nature Tallin – who has said that he is afraid of heights – and Daxton. Neither of these guys had been down the Zip this summer. I told them that if I was going to do it, then they could also. They reluctantly agreed and followed me there.
And seeing the pending excitement, someone ran and got my wife – sure that she wouldn’t want to miss this grand event. So, as I was getting ready to get into the required harness, I saw her coming – brought by Ranger Reed. Larissa used her most persuasive skills to convince her mother to give it a try. She ignored, “I’m too scared …” and other artificial pleas to get out of it. Soon Larissa had both Lou and I into the harnesses (and we took a group photo of the three of us).
Larissa was beside herself with glee. She said, “I can’t believe both of my parents are going to do this!” (It was kind of unbelievable!)
I made my way up the multitude of stairs (and thought of the Washington Monument or the St. Louis Arch as I climbed all of those stairs). I went straight to the Zip Line launch area and got all hooked up. Larissa made sure that I was all connected properly – not wanting “to lose her father”. And at the bottom of the line were Tarrin and Kassi. I then noted that quite a crowd of on-lookers had gathered on the road under the line that stretches across it – to watch my grand event. I saw too that a couple of folks were set to film my adventure.
So, when all was ready and safe, I just sat down in the rope. And then with feet extended up a bit, I was set for take-off. I didn’t have to think about a specific launch from the platform. Sitting in that position, I just naturally started to move down the wire. And then after the initial trauma, I sat back to enjoy the ride. And it truly was amazing and fabulous. (I don’t know why I waited so long to give it a try.) As I neared the bottom of the 500’ line, I looked around me. I had a clear view down to the Waterfront area. I guess the word spread fast because I saw about twenty Scouts, staff and leaders standing alongside of the fence to watch me go down. And they made a great cheering section for me.
I was supposed to grab hold of a rope at the bottom – to help me to stop – and to keep my in place near the ladder. But, I missed the rope and so I “hit” the spring stuff at the end and back-slid quite a ways. This action meant more work for Tarrin and Kassi – but they took care of me. I got off of the ladder and then headed back up the hill to return my hardware for my other staff guys behind me to use. (And they did go down – and seemed to enjoy the ride!)
And yes, it was truly a miracle that Larissa convinced Lou to brave the trip down the line. I still can’t believe that she pulled off this one. And as Lou got to the launch platform she was hilarious. She put all of her “hug-a-tree” training (that she has given each Tuesday in our meeting to Scoutmasters) to good use. She was sure hugging the pole at the launch pad – still saying that she could not do it, etc. And also by this time she had garnered quite a cheering entourage – including me – on the road below. And many of the guys got it all on video using their devices. (And I later posted this on Facebook for all of our kids – and others – to see. And they found it hilarious.) On this video one can hear my dialog with the other leaders.
It took a while to get Lou to actually launch. And Larissa quietly admitted later that she actually had to pull her mother a bit and then gave her a nudge to get her off of the platform. And of course, the screams were worth it all to all of the gathered cheerleaders. It was all great!
So, I guess our Zip-Line experience created a lot of entertainment for a great many Scouts and leaders this afternoon. Fun times!
With this excitement history, I made my way to the Rifle Range. I noted the expertise with which Bruce worked with a few Scouts who were challenged trying to meet the stiff scoring requirements for their merit badges. He was very patient and kind with them. I got a kick out of him with his binoculars looking to see where they hit the target and then he helped them to improve on the next shot. It was great. There was a “special needs” Scout there and Bruce even got him to achieve his needed 5 targets.
I found the same scenario going on at the nearby Shotgun Range. Jonathan was again very patient and helpful to the couple of Scouts that he had there with him. All good stuff …
At the Archery range, I saw our two or three staffers busy with a long line of Scouts who had varying skill levels in their shooting. The Scouter from Iowa had adopted one of the Scouts from his campsite – not his own boys – and was giving him personal help and coaching to make his target scores. And ultimately, Parker was able to make his scores – and achieved the merit badge.
And once again while at the Shooting Sports area, many of us looked to the sky and noted the very orange hue that seemed to hang all around us. That fire stuff was really unnerving and unsettling. (And the smoke was not good for the breathing of some folks.) I had to laugh at the comments of staffer K-Kade as he sang that old Christmas song – but with his own variation: “Oh, The weather outside is frightful … and the fire is not delightful!” I think that expressed the feelings of all of us.
Again at the Outdoor Skills area, I found K-Kade and our David teaching Emergency Preparedness. And they were fabulous! Good job, guys. Kade is the area director so it was unusual for him to actually teach a class – but he did well. At the Handicraft area I watched Jace – after our discussion of a couple of weeks ago – and he was greatly improved. That made me real happy!
Also I again went to the Waterfront. I had hopes of seeing the guys doing the mile swim. But, I was disappointed. They were swimming in an area way out of sight of the Waterfront area. I later learned that staffer Theo had completed the mile swim. This was very exciting. Also at the Waterfront, I talked to Scout Jay of Troop 183. I congratulated him on his high score that I had noted at the Rifle Range. He has been all other Scouts and staff this week. This Jay seems to be a very impressive young man – in many respects.
At the flag ceremony tonight I led “Aardvarks are our Friends”. As I lead this song, I tell the Scouts how easy it is – because it has only four words and five syllables and that you just keep singing the same words over to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”. I also tell the guys to sing this in the car all of the way home and then to sing it several times to their mothers at home. “They’ll love it!” I promise them.
Lou put out the beads for the Scouts who have earned the first and second year bear claw awards this week. It is self-serve – so leaders can get whatever beads their boys need for their necklaces. And speaking of these beads, one leader talked to me and shared some of their inspiration for their troop. In addition to the bear claw beads, they also give out clear beads. And boys in their troop can receive one of these each time that he takes a shower! Ha, Ha! Clear for squeaky clean. Good idea!
Lou, Larissa and I then went in to Pinedale. A night out … in town … yeah! This was a much-needed break. We went first to the library. Larissa needed to apply for a job back at home. I had planned to call my mother from there but she beat me to it. It was nice to finally connect with her and to wish her greetings and best wishes on her 84th birthday – which is tomorrow. Of course, we will be miles away from her on her big day.
We ate dinner at a small Mexican grill place. Unlike the previous Mexican restaurant, I loved the food at this little place tonight. I had my favorite – a chimichanga with rice and beans and chips in bean dip. It was great food and I liked the atmosphere of the place. We made a stop at Ridley’s to get a gallon of orange juice. I am on a real craze lately for pure orange juice. It is so delicious!
JULY 29TH – FRIDAY
I followed my usual morning pattern this morning. The SPL meeting was kind of ho-hum. I can’t seem to light any spark of enthusiasm in these guys this week. None of them want to do skits with their troops. And the spirit this week – among the troops – has been so bad that I noted to the gathered flag ceremony group, “I’ve been to cemeteries that have had more spirit than you guys have!” In fact, I was in rare form at the flag ceremony. The funny stuff just kept rolling out. I was talking of the Scoutmaster belly flop and told the group … “And it is rather obvious that many of you have a lot to flop!” (Bad to say … but it was definitely true.)
The flag ceremony was fun for me – in spite of the lack of Troop Scout spirit. The staff had a good time in spite of them. And since it was Friday, the staff again performed “The Funky Chicken” – the song about all of the staff areas.
At the office I used the camp computer and my own “jump drive” to create the campfire program. I printed copies of this to distribute to Staff members and to the few participating troops. And with so few troops wanting to do skits, I had some space on the program for staff to do some things that they have been wanting to do. I showed David the program for the campfire program and he saw my note about Will’s “Agga Flagga” song. So, David then took over the keyboard and added his own description of the song. This later got a few laughs as others saw his description. Will saw it and said, “You spelled it wrong!”
I suggested to Travis that we do exit interviews with all of the staff members – and said that this practice has worked well for me with past staffs and camps. He liked the idea so I created (or revised) a form for all staff to complete prior to their interviews. Then Travis and I conducted exit interviews first with Katie and then with all members of her Handicraft staff. These went mostly well. It was then time for lunch! Lunch … glorious lunch! We had two more interviews after lunch.
Again at the waterfront, I talked to the leaders of the Spanish troop. They are great guys. At 3:15 Pm I met the troops at the parade grounds. I sent off the 1 to 6 groups of the race. I led the # 1’s down to the campfire bowl. David was there and sent them off in four heats. We also had two guys who ran the “Iron Bull” – meaning that they ran the entire relay themselves. And once again, per our tradition, he told them that they had to “have one cheek on the ground” as they took off. Some did the facial cheek and some did the other ones.
And still another time for the day, I went to the Waterfront to watch the end of the relay. The runners came from the previous leg of the race and ran furiously into the Waterfront. There they had to get paddles and life vests and then two guys for each team took off in canoes. They went around two buoys that were out in the water and then while out there in the lake, they had to exchange places with each other. This is always a fun race to watch.
After the Bull Run was finished, we then staged the always fun Scoutmaster Splash – where all the he-men and the big-bellied guys got to show off for the Scouts. As ever, it was a really great show.
I love this event – and it appears that everyone else does also. And once again, we judged the floppers on “redness of belly, style, and the size of the splash.”
So, we had some great contenders. Camp Director, Travis, even stripped down somewhat and made his own big splash. He was a big hit. (But he didn’t have quite the belly that many of the other guys have.)
Travis doing the flop reminded me of a funny incident that happened to me years ago as I was the Camp Director for camp Rancho Allegre in Santa Barbara California. We had a small leather circle – that we called “Susie” and which we circulated around camp. It could end up in anyone’s pocket at any time – usually without them knowing that they had acquired it. Then at the next flag ceremony, we would sing, “Where oh where oh where is Susie … Where oh where oh where is Susie, way down yonder in the paw paw patch.” And we would keep singing as everyone checked their pockets to see if they might be housing Susie in their pockets. Eventually, someone would discover hiding in their pocket and would bring her forth. Then the person who “got stuck” with Susie – got to draw from a large kitchen #10 can that had good or bad prizes.
And on this occasion, it was Saturday morning – the very final day of camp for the summer season. And at the flag ceremony, he had Susie and got to draw from the can. His “prize” slip that he drew out said, “The staff member of your choice has to jump off the diving board at the swimming pool in complete uniform.” So, you have probably guessed who that might be that got to take the early morning jump. That’s right! It was the Camp Director. The only problem was that my wife and daughter had left camp yesterday and had gone home. And with them they took all of my clothing except my uniform and my pajamas needed for the last night.
But, in spite of the clothing situation, I reported to the pool at the appointed hour for my little jump. And of course, the entire camp showed up to witness the grand event. So, I went to the diving board, did a few bows and then ran and jumped off of the diving board – in my full uniform. (I was able to get the wallet out of my pants before the jump, thankfully.) And then I had only my pajamas to change into. So, I did all of my camp closing duties – including staff exit interviews – in my pajamas! (But the activity was a great hit with all of the Scouts – so it was probably worth it!)
After the big splash event today I went to the office and hung out there on the porch for an hour or so before time for the flag ceremony. I quizzed one Scout about what he thought of the Bull Run. I liked his answer: “Yeah, it was AWESOME!”
An interesting development at the office: David connected with one of his troops of a couple of weeks ago. Then a few days later, the troop sent him a big bar of soap – shaped in the form of a Buddha. He has been pretty proud of this gift from the troop. Now Lindsay, wife of the camp director, has kidnapped his Buddha – and told him that it is being held ransom and that he has to perform in an angel costume at a meal in order to get the deal back. He’s trying to find a way to retrieve it without doing that. (Though he would look angelic!)
At the flag ceremony, I was talking to the troop who arrived first. They had attended Camp Loll last summer – so we talked about Delose Conner – the Camp Director – whom I have known for years. We talked of Delose’s story of “The Ugly Little Green Man.” There was one Scout who was kind of standing behind me. Someone, who hadn’t heard the story, asked if it was scary. I said, “No, it isn’t scary …” and I kind of grabbed the Scout behind me suddenly on the arm. And as I did so, I continued, “It just startles you.” The poor Scout nearly jumped out of his skin as I touched him. And the rest of the troop broke into a fit of laughter. It was all pretty funny.
The trading post held a big sale today. All candy bars were on sale for 2/$1.00. I don’t think that we can even purchase them (any more) for that price. Anyway, the sale brought on major sales from the Scouts. Some of them really stocked up on the bars. A few staff members made big purchases to create a candy stash to get them through next week. In order to enhance sales, the trading post has held regular sales and they post signs about what is on for each day. One day the sign said, “Craft like Grandma Sale” – and everything craft related was 10% off.
Three Scouts came to me after dinner with a dilemma. They said, “We can’t quite get the Aardvarks song right … can you help us?” Then two other Scouts – hearing what was going on, came and joined us. Iowa Rod standing nearby said, “Don’t you dare teach that to our sons again!” Ha, Ha … come on guys, where is your spirit? So again, the words … they are a challenge: “Aardvarks are our friends” – to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”. Pretty simple, huh?
And another interesting scene at the dining hall. On the dining hall there are two or three boxes. I asked about these once and learned that these are “bat boxes”. We noticed that something was happening to the bats – because we found several of them dead on the ground.
Our “Merit Badge Madness” event went quite well. We had only minor problems with merit badge cards but the staff was there to assist as needed – and they soon got everything straightened out. Of the event, one Scoutmaster said, “Whoever thought of this … it’s great. Keep it going!” The system really does work pretty well.
I talked to many leaders and all seemed very pleased with the program and activities – well, everything – about the camp.
The High Adventure staffers again managed the branding session. They had a real long line of Scouts and leaders wanting their goods branded.
I had just a few minutes to spare before I again needed to be back to the parade grounds. The Troops met there at 8:15 PM for the campfire program. Drummer Jace, was there in place with me and he took the lead. I had already gathered the group and had the Scouts lined up (using silent signals) facing 90 degrees from where they usually line up. I followed him and we led the group down to the campfire bowl. Again, the staff was there lined up and they looked really sharp. A real class act!
As we arrived at the bowl, several pre-appointed staffers were in the seating area and they ushered the Scouts into the bowl and their seats. Again, we tried to keep the troops together – for ease in leading them out of the bowl later for the Honor Trail.
We had an excellent program but in spite of my efforts, it ended up too long. Staff kept coming and begging to be on the program. And because we are nearing the end of the camp season, I was a softie and let them perform as they desired. So, here is our program for the evening (without the add-ons – and as saved on my jump drive):
NEW FORK CAMPFIRE PROGRAM – FRIDAY JULY 29th
PROGRAM ITEM WHAT TO DO WHO TO DO
Lead-in Drum beats and Welcome Jace and Kevin
Fire Starter Staff
Chant One Fat Hen Nathan
Troop Skit Passing Gas Troop 447
Troop Song Pink Pajamas Troop 81
Troop Skit Echo Troop 564
Song/Skit Jake the Peg Kevin
Song/Skit Bear Hunt Reed
Bull Run Winner Award David
Song AagaflagafleegaflagaishkanishkanogginoggaAagaflagafleegabirdiebirdie Will
Troop Skit Climbing Light Troop 78
Run-on Attention Troop 447
Troop Skit Firing Squad Troop 17
Song Teacup Troop 81
Skit Fastest Mugging Jacob and Troupe
Handicraft Awards Awards Katie
Song The Bear Song Jace
Shooting Sports Awards Awards Bruce and Lina
SM Training Awards Outdoor, SM Specific Kevin
Alice the Camel Scouters Kevin
Song Ukulele Katie
Commissioner Awards Jim Bridger, Honor Troop Lou and David
Quiet Song Scout Vesper Matt
Quiet Song Song Andrew and David
Quiet Song America Round Rachae
Flag Retirement Ceremony Flag Retirement Jonathan & Team
Scouter’s Minute Kevin
Quiet Song On My Honor, Vesper Matt
Honor Trail Honor Trail Staff
After I presented the training awards, I kept the newly trained Scout leaders up front there with me. I had to laugh as one Scouter said to the guy next to him, “Oh great! Now we probably have to dance!” And he was right. With the gathered group – and with the eyes of everyone upon them, I led them, as I always do – in my old favorite – even “Alice the Camel”. … And Alice the camel has no humps, because Alice is a horse,” I yelled with glee as I ran off of the stage to my seat. Such fun! Everyone seemed to enjoy the moment!
I again gave the Scouter’s Minute this evening – and Travis had his moment with the troops as they came to his “rock” after the Honor trail. And speaking of the Honor Trail, … it came off magnificently tonight. Everything fell into place as we had planned it and it was really great. The troops really felt the Spirit of the trail and many were visibly touched by it. I again got to lead out the first troop and as ever, I really enjoyed doing this.
It was sad as the staff again gathered in our traditional circle for our rendition of “Friends we are, and friends we’ll ever be.” This hit us a bit harder tonight as we all realize that we have only one more week of this grand 2016 New Fork adventure. That is truly sad. Where has the summer gone?
It was nice to finally get back to the cabin – after a rather long – but quite enjoyable day. It has been a great day. And it was nice to have some brownies – left from yesterday’s Scoutmaster luncheon – there waiting for us. Yum!
One other kind of happy/sad note … My friends of the Spanish troop left tonight right after dinner. I guess we had really worked them over. (And Lou and I got a photo out by the outdoor dining tables – of us and one leader, Amando – with whom we became rather close as friends.) I guess that the boys told their leaders, “We are really tired from our week here at camp. Can we just go home tonight?” And that is just what they did. They participated in everything with gusto through the week – and really had a grand time. And they even had an unplanned adventure of their own. They went out on the canoe trip as a troop. And they got out on the lake and somehow got turned around and mixed up. So, they were truly lost – per their admission – and they never did arrive at the overnight camping destination. One boat and the canoers of the group finally made it back to the Waterfront and then and knocked on the door of the Camp Director – around midnight and told him of their plight. He summoned the Waterfront staff – even at that hour – and they went to the rescue. And the funny thing is that the boys truly thought that this was to be their last night on earth. And so much did they believe this, that they got a guy’s cell phone and used it to record their final death messages to their families at home. So funny! I would have enjoyed hearing those somber messages. They probably made for good entertainment at their camp court of honor, however.
JULY 30TH – SATURDAY
Our last real Saturday of the summer season. Bummer! It really is sad to see the great summer come to its close. Wow! It seems that we just got here.
I got up at 6:00 AM and found Lou already gone to check out some early bird troops who wanted to leave real early this morning. As ever, she and David go – or went – to each site to inspect it and to make sure that it was/is all in perfect order and ready for the next incoming troop. Larissa came to our cabin to get her own shower for the day.
At the 7:30 AM flag ceremony we had only 5 troops present. The rest had either left camp already or they were back at their campsites doing major clean-up. We had a few more show up for the campwide breakfast in the kitchen. At the flag ceremony, Richae and Daghen wanted to lead the group (for the first time this summer) in the “Susie” song. That one brought back a few memories again for me!
We have had someone – a troop – staffer – or whoever – who has been cutting Waterfront dock ropes through the past week. They hit us twice and then got us again last night – even though we had Jonathan spend the night there. I was awake until midnight and then when he got up this morning, the deed had already been done. This is been a frustration to Rachae.
After the Scouts left this morning, we got photo of the entire staff. It was the wrong time of day and so my I-pad would not take a good photo with the sun shining directly onto it. I hope that Lindsay got a good shot with her camera that was shaded by the sun. Only Bruce was not there for the photo. He had left for the day. But, the staff looked really sharp in their full Venturing dark shirt uniform shirts, the gray pants, etc.
Travis wanted everyone to wear the staff hats but I noted that with hats on, you can’t tell who anyone is.
I gave staffer, Gordon (age 15), an orange knife left a couple of weeks ago by some Scout. At the time, I announced a few times about at the flag ceremony but no one ever came forth to claim it. Gordon was pretty happy about me giving him the knife.
As we let the staff go this morning from the flag ceremony, I instructed them all about things that they could do today in advance of but in preparation for our camp closing next week. They put in a good hour before we had the staff photos.
At 11:30 AM, I left in the silver council van – with a load of staff. The group included Lou, Larissa, Will, Jacob, Traeden, Diego and Jake, Jack C., Tallin (without a car since his accident), Theo, and Daxton. Upon arrival in Pinedale, we first stopped at the dollar store. Lou and I each got $5.00 gifts for the staff white elephant Christmas gift exchange that is to be tomorrow night.
Some of the staff walked away from the dollar store to do their own thing. We took some other staff to the library. Lou and I and Larissa went to Ridleys. We bought some supplies for Lou to make scones for the staff tonight. We got deli food and were not real impressed with it. (Again they had no tamales – that Larissa could eat.)
I went to a computer place to try to get a new cord and battery for my computer but the place was not open. So, I still don’t have a working computer. Grrr! We went to the thrift store and looked for a still for a computer cord – but had no luck there either. Lou bought a few more movies.
We took Larissa to hang out at the Pinedale Aquatics Center. Kiara was there with her visiting parents also. Lou had a good visit with the folks. Lou and I returned to the library and I found a nice over-stuffed chair. I worked on camp photos again. I named a bunch of photos and then deleted a bunch that were duplicates.
We went back to the PAC for Larissa. Then with her, we went for ice cream. We went to a place that serves ice cream and pizza. Several staff members were also there. I got a milk shake and it was fabulous. We then gathered up our staff (minus Jake and Diego – whose dad had met us in Pinedale. He came in advance of his troop who will arrive on Monday. We got back to camp at 6:15 PM. Larissa was anxious to watch the Annie movie that she got in town. Kiara was there to watch it with Lou and Larissa.
A bit later Lou and I went to the dining hall. Lou has been wanting to make some of her home made scones (fried bread dough) for the staff and decided that these would be good tonight. The high adventure team had planned a Waterfront beach party and so we decided that we would take the 2-burner camp stove – and the scone dough – down there for the event. Lou made the dough at the dining hall where she could use the giant mixing machine. We recruited staff to help take the materials down to the beach. And the High Adventure team got the stove set up and ready for us.
So, we got to the waterfront and saw that many staff members were already there. A bunch of them were having fun playing beach volleyball. It appeared to be a great activity. Lou and I put oil into the Dutch ovens – on the stoves – and got it hot enough to begin deep frying the scones. We got scones served to just a couple of staff members – while the rest were drooling as they waited for more to get cooked.
Then at moment, the wind became very strong and within seconds, it began to read quite heavily. And suddenly the great event was over. And this was sad. It could have been great. So, we scooped up all of the cooking stuff – and loaded it into a car that happened to be down there. We transferred our whole cooking operation – stove and all – down to the dining hall. And again we got the oil hot and were “were soon cooking with oil” (as they would say down South).
The staff was all hungry for the scones and each staffer there took four or five of the hot delicacies. We also had a variety of toppings to put on them. And they turned out excellent. Lou made a large pan of rolls with her left over dough and we will eat them tomorrow – Sunday.
When it was time to head back to our cabin, it was extremely dark – more so that we have ever seen it here at Camp New Fork. We couldn’t even see a couple of feet in front of our noses. We were glad that K-Kade was ready at that moment – to head down to the cabins – so we were able to borrow his light. We appreciated his help and service to get us down the trail safely.
And so we had another really great week in the camp. The staff, the Scouts and the leaders all seemed to have a grand time. But the challenge was that we all knew that the summer was ending all too fast. Week seven of eight. Only one more to go. That is a real sad thought. Fire in the sky … and all around us! It kind of freaked us all out but we lived to tell about it – though at the time we wondered for a while.
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevin
Excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership” and others at his Scoutingtrails website. Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy Scout, The Scouting Trail and The Voice of Scouting. Feel free to comment on anything you read!
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Contact Kevin directly via email: email@example.com
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevin
Excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership” and others at his Scoutingtrails website. Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy Scout, The Scouting Trail and The Voice of Scouting. Feel free to comment on anything you read!
Facebook: Scouting Trails Books and Blogs
Contact Kevin directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org