Canoe Trip 2019

The troop has just returned from a great day on the Delaware River and this year’s Frank McCluskey Friendship Outing. Here are some photos:

Thanks so much to Mr. William for getting us trained and to Mr. McCandless for coordinating and supervising our paddlers!

Have a great summer, and we’ll see you at camp!

Shooting Sports Weekend

The troop had a great time at this year’s Shooting Sports Weekend at Ten Mile River, and four scouts brought home trophies!

Congratulations to:

  • Joe V – Top Shot Class A, 1st Place Shotgun
  • Jon V – Top Shot Class A, 1st Place Archery
  • Sam C, Class A, 2nd Place BB
  • Yoni P, Class C 3rd Place

Way to go, guys!

“Ice Fishing” 2019

Our annual “ice fishing” trip to Ten Mile River is one of the most popular events of the year… even though we haven’t actually done any fishing in forever.

This year the ice on the lake wasn’t thick enough to walk on, so our crew of scouts and dads went on a hike instead. Then, back at the camp, a number of our younger scouts completed some key cooking requirements for rank advancement. And the whole trip became a very nice send-off for some of the troop’s Eagle Scouts.

Annual Canoe Trip — Best Weekend of the Year!

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Our scouting year coincides with the school year, so we always plan a blow-out canoe trip bash at the end of June.  This end-of-year paddling extravaganza is extremely popular with our troop as guests and family are invited and alumni scouts often come out for the day.  It is not uncommon for us to have over 30 canoes and kayaks spread out along the Delaware River–it looks something like a Spanish Armada…except with water fights!  Getting everyone (including the many adults) paddle-ready, means lots of prep work:  BSA Swim test, Safety Afloat, Safe Swim Defense, review required equipment and parts of canoe and various strokes, and an actual paddle practice at a nearby lake.

Paddling down the Delaware River gap is indeed a national treasure.  The area is full of wildlife.  In addition to fish, we have seen deer, black bears and numerous eagles & hawks!  One year, several of us paddled through a massive 20 minute down pour–which was nothing short of exhilarating (except for the pesky flies afterwards).   There are plenty of places along the way to stop and enjoy lunch or a swim and it is not uncommon for scouts to spend more time out of the canoes than IN the canoes.  Typically, the other big challenge is ensuring the scouts drink enough water to stay hydrated under the summer sun.

At the end of the day, our caravan motors over to a nearby campsite at Ten Mile River scout camp where the scent of bug spray replaces the smell of sunscreen!  It is our tradition to have a yearend “spoof” awards at our post-dinner bonfire, recalling some of the funnier moments of many individuals during the prior 12  months.  The Annual Frank McCluskey Friendship Outing is destined to be a favorite for years to come!  Pictures say a 1000 words about how much fund this trip really is to everyone! Here are great pictures from 2011 and 2012!

Troop Tradition: Winter Wonderland at TMR

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Every troop has its traditional outings.  For Troop 353, it is the annual winter outing in January to Ten Mile River (TMR) Scout Ranch in the southern part of the Catskills.  The range of outdoor activities in this winter wonderland are more numerous than you might imagine:  snow ball fights, sledding, snowshoeing, quinzee-building, snow skiing, and even ice-fishing!  And even in years when snow is not as abundant most of these activities are still possible.  This cabin campout is a clearly a troop favorite and you can see when viewing the pictures.

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The typical schedule involves a 2.5 hour drive to TMR, dropping the gear in the 2 cabins and rushing to our snowshoeing / hiking destination near the Delaware River.  After 3 hours on the trail, the troop comes back to the cabin for a quick lunch and then the ice fishing instruction by long-time troop friend Ray Evans ensues.  The scouts have a few hours of sunlight to try and catch a fish, but mostly skate across the frozen pond in metal chairs, aka “chair curling”.  The scouts often seem puzzled about the effectiveness of the small bait fish used, as they are literally frozen!  The grand Thanksgiving feast, a flag retirement ceremony, perhaps a skit or two and then a late night cracker barrel cap a day full of fun activities!  Many (but not all!) scouts typically have no problem falling asleep Saturday night against the backdrop of a warm fireplace glow.

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Perhaps it is the fact that the scouts do not do have to do much to prepare meals for this trip (adult-led Thanksgiving feast) or that the cabins are heated with full kitchens and bathrooms or the ability to play board games (Risk!) late at night or the special respectful flag retirement ceremony; or maybe it is the ice sledding on the lake, or maybe it is the whole weekend!!  The biggest challenge is always cleaning up Sunday morning and apportioning unmarked clothing that scouts leave laying around.  Unquestionably, it is a very fun event and remains one of the scout’s and scout leader’s favorite outings of the year!

As a testament to HOW much fun the trip can be, the recent Scout of the Year winner, Andy M, created a wonderful 5 minute video highlighting the recent 2014 trip — it is full of great clips of our scouts having a blast ==>  Awesome TMR video 2014!

Lots of great photos can be found here from each of the past three years:   2012, 2013 & 2014!

A Week of Fun at Camp Keowa!

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This past summer, 26 scouts enjoyed a wonderful week at Ten Mile River Camp Keowa. The fun-seeking scouts who came, earned over an amazing 100 merit badges. Badges that were earned included ones required for Eagle Scout, and many other merit badges were earned for fun. Many scouts also advanced to a higher rank such as, Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class.

Along with completing merit badges and advancements, the troop participated in events that were optional, but were still extremely fun.

These events were:

  • Archery shoot on Monday
  • Rifle shoot on Tuesday
  • Canoe / kayak lunch trip on Wednesday
  • Wayne County Fair in Honesdale Pennsylvania on Thursday
  • And the COPE course on Friday

Starting off with their adventure, on Monday, Scouts went to the archery range and competed with each other as well as the adults, to see who could score more points. Some Scouts were so good at archery that they took the badge.

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On Tuesday, the rifle shoot took place. Scouts had a blast, loading their bullets, and shooting at cans, targets, and piles of dirt.

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Wednesday afternoon was the canoe / kayak trip across Crystal Lake to a campground for lunch. The Scouts loaded up in their watercraft of choice along with a bagged lunch to start the ½ mile journey across the lake to eat. The trip included the usual water fight that happens whenever they end up in any sort of boat.

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On Thursday, the Scouts went to the Wayne County Fair in Honesdale Pennsylvania. They had an awesome adventure as they went on dizzy rides, drank homemade soda, looked at farm animals, and purchased random things as they walked through the fair.

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For their last event on Friday, scouts had a thrilling time, zip lining across wires, climbing obstacles, and grappling onto nets, as they tried the High and Low Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience (also known as COPE).

Besides troop events, the camp had other fun and daring things to try.

Such things included:

  • The Polar Bear Swim
  • Mile Swim
  • Camp Keowa’s Campfire Skits
  • Critter Hunt

At 6:00 in the morning five scouts woke up, put on their bathing suits, and dove into the freezing cold lake for over 15 minutes! This optional challenge called The Polar Bear Swim was achieved by Scouts Alejandro U, David E, Dillon P, James P, and Jeffrey F.

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For his breathtaking effort, brave and daring, Dillon P dove into the cold lake and swam One Mile.  This feat was only achieved by nine scouts in the whole entire camp! Dillon received the coveted Mile Swim award for his accomplishment.

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At the closing campfire the whole troop preformed a skit called “Raisins from Jamaica”. Of course the skit was the funniest of the evening.

Troop 353 came in second place in the critter hunt!  Scouts went out and searched for frogs, toads, snakes, bugs, and many other creatures to claim this rank.  Some scouts found critters in the most unlikely place!

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Other things that also kept us entertained were Matt I’s surprise birthday, singing and laughing at our troop campfires, Jack M and Alejandro U having guitar battles throughout the week.

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All in all, the boys had an amazing trip at Camp Keowa Summer Camp 2013, and plan to have another awesome trip next year.

A very special thanks to acting Scoutmaster Dave F who ensured that we all had fun, Assistant Scoutmaster Julio U for planning the trip and making sure everything went smoothly, and Mickey M for taking care of all the boys that needed medical attention as part of the Keowa medical staff.  We also would like to thank all the adult leaders who drove the boys up and stayed with them during the week Tom B, Phil K, Mike I, John M, Joey P, Ed P, and Matt S!  This trip, as well as all of the others, would not have been possible without all of the outstanding effort put into it by our adult leaders!

For more great pictures click here!

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