Troop 353’s colors at Camp Read.
There was plenty of activity during our week at Camp Read, for both the adult leaders and the Scouts. Many, many miles were walked. Chores were completed. And the schedule was a busy one. But don’t get the idea there wasn’t any down time. We had plenty. Each day, there was the post-lunch siesta – which allowed the boys to catch up merit badges or chase after frogs and newts and for the parents to, well, take the word literally. And during the course of the week, the guitars came out (along with a bass and a mandolin), more than one Harry Potter volume was seen in camp, and we even made our own ice cream.
There was down time and then there was down time. On day three, many of the Scouts and couple of adults took that literally, meaning down as in underground. With the help of an expert guide, the Troop explored an underground cave over at Camp Waubeeka. They scurried down what appeared to be a glorified rabbit hole and scrunched through an underground passage, complete with stream, to the exit a couple of hundred yards away. A unique experience and one that all the participants found illuminating – and drenching as well: there was one part where they had to briefly swim underwater to pass between caverns!
A word about the weather. While we thankfully missed a heat wave by a week, we did get our fair share of rain. The tents are canvas, but they held up well. Ponchos were necessary a few days. And one night we had a real downpour, with the rain drumming on the tents. Most of us stayed dry, and we kept an eye out for violent weather as well.
After a morning of classes and a quick lunch, the Troop hit the road down the Northway toward Lake George. It was good to get a break from the camp routine, and the boys were excited about the outing. A gorgeous day with bright blue skies provided the perfect backdrop for our ride at Saddle Up Stables, just up the road from Lake George Village.
We went off in two groups, with all boys wearing helmets. Some had horseback experience, others didn’t but everyone seemed to do well (despite a few allergic reactions that required a brief Benadryl break afterward). The ride was a good hour up into the hills, along a few narrow trails. The highlight for me was a sweeping view of Lake George from the mountain before heading down.
After the ride it was off down the road to Lake Luzerne to the Painted Pony Rodeo. It was strange to find a western/country style attraction in upstate New York – complete with a vocal ‘twang from the announcers – but it was also great fun. We gorged on all-you-can-eat barbecue and the boys played keep-away in one the fields (they met up with another Scout troop from Pennsylvania), and eyed the bulls in their pens. Then it was showtime: a real competitive rodeo, featuring cowboys and cowgirls from the region in fast-paced competition. The Scouts watched amazed at the Bareback Bronc Riding, Saddle Bronc Riding, Steer Wrestling, Tie-Down Roping, Team Roping, Cowgirls’ Barrel Racing, Cowgirls’ Breakaway Racing and the most dangerous of them all: Bull Riding. It certainly put our own hour in the saddle into perspective!
Troop 353 enjoys the rodeo.
We got back quite late from our “western” outing, and for once, the Scouts hit the sack in voluntary fashion. They knew that the next day was the big rafting trip – and for one Scout, a test of survival.