Summer camp is clearly the high point of the year for most scouts and this year was no different! Our scouts began preparing for camp by sponsoring a car wash to raise money to spend on the planned extracurricular activities while at Curtis S. Read Scout Reservation in Lake Brant, NY, about 30 miles north of scenic Lake George. This year there was nearly a 50% increase in the number of Scouts (to 21) attending summer camp along with a corresponding 50% increase in the number of merit badges earned (to 65)!
The drive up to Lake Brant proved to be fortuitous about the unpredictability of Mother Nature. As we arrived into camp that Sunday afternoon, within a 250-mile radius there had been torrential downpours, lightning and what appeared to be a few small twisters in the low hanging clouds. The rain let up considerably by early evening, and luckily it had not really dampened anyone’s excitement about being at camp! As it turned out, throughout the week a few of our planned activities were either postponed or rescheduled due to rain…but not many! Rain in the mountains, we learned, often occurs rapidly and unannounced and frequently ends just as quickly as it started!
Overall, the weather was the least of our concerns. After all, as we’re fond of saying in Scouting, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate dress”! The bigger concern was the outbreak of the Norwalk virus throughout youth camps across the mid-atlantic and northeast during July & August. The “stomach bug” was NOT something anyone wanted to endure at summer camp, so we implemented procedures to ensure the boys practiced healthy personal hygiene habits while at camp. And, for the most part, it worked well, with only Tim D. getting sick for about 18 hours–much less intense than what had been experienced by other campers that had caught the “stomach bug” previously.
The adult leaders helped the boys create workable advancement class schedules to accommodate for some time planned to be out of camp doing the fun planned extracurricular activities. The game plan was to have something fun planned for every afternoon. With Monday and Tuesday’s planned extracurricular events getting postponed due to rain, the horseback ride in Lake George on Wednesday and the all-you-can-eat BBQ & Rodeo in Lake Luzerne was greeted with much anticipation! The food was terrific and the boys enjoyed the rodeo enormously, which included bareback broncos, barrel racing, calf roping, “half-time” entertainment and children’s games, & then the grand finale, bare back bull riding! The boys really enjoyed watching one stubborn bull that refused to exit the arena after he had successfully tossed his cowboy!
On Thursday, with light rain, many boys opted to sign up for the zip line. There was considerable energy put into creative water entries with Chris L., clearly mastering this skill! Earlier in the day, troop 353 pursued a novel service project for the camp, and created and hung a terrific new “Woodsman” campsite sign for the entrance off the Siberian Trailway. Many Scouter dads & scouts took advantage of the free time in the afternoon to shoot a few skeets at the shotgun range. Many scouts in the Emergency Preparation merit badge class took part in a fun skit during retreat. While after dinner, Troop 353 long-distance runners (Brad M., Mike P., Matthew S., & Sean W.) won 1st Place in the 3-mile relay. Still, there was time for relaxing, chasing frogs, fishing and swimming. Speaking of aquatics, Joshua G. successfully completed the BSA 1-mile Swim that night–only the second scout in the history of Troop 353 to complete this enormous challenge!
For Friday, the sun was out for the most eagerly anticipated extracurricular activity of all: white water rafting! Unquestionably, this is THE most fun event of the week. Everyone spent as much time in the water as in the raft and all agreed that it was an “awesome” event! After a tasty dinner of burger & fries, courtesy of the troop’s car washing proceeds, the troop hurried back to camp to squeeze in one of the more unique activities of the week, caving at Camp Waubeeka! Though we could not leave the cave’s natural underwater exit (as water levels were too high due to rain), it was still a very memorable experience for all!
All in all, troop 353 had another great experience at Camp Read in 2008, reinforcing the fact that boys can still have a very special fun experience with considerable advancement completed irregardless of a little rain! There are over 300 great summer camp photos to view, just click here!