Sunday began at the Band Shelter at Memorial Park in Wheaton, Illinois. William and I had gotten up early, about 5:15 AM and met the troop to drive to Tesomas Scout Camp. I had volunteered to be the banker, which means that I hold the scout’s money and when they want to visit the trading post to buy candy, souvenirs, or need money to shoot at the shooting sports venues they need to see me. Scouts checked in with me and gave me their envelopes. We formed up, had our picture taken, and were off by 7:15, not bad for a scheduled 7:00 AM departure.The drive from Wheaton to Tesomas takes about six and a half hours. It is about 350miles from Wheaton. It is a long drive for excited scouts. But, we stop and have lunch in Wausau, Wisconsin and often need to make at least two stops before lunch for obvious reasons. Obvious, that is if you have ever traveled with children. It has been wet in the Midwest recently. I have written several posts about the weather in Chicago in the past week or so. The weather has been wet in June in our area and Rhinelander, Wisconsin has been wet as well. The forecast for our week at Tesomas was rain on Sunday, clear, and mild the remainder of the week. Wheaton’s forecast was similar. We left Wheaton and headed west toward Rockford and on to Madison, WI. The skies were dark ahead and we drove into a downpour so thick, I could barely see ahead of me. Once we were through Rockford and driving north the rain cleared. There were clouds and rain on the horizon but it was mostly dry on the way north.
We had lunch at Culver’s with all of the drivers arriving within twenty minutes of each other. It is important to arrive before 2PM and we need to time our arrival at Tesomas so we can check in as a group. Checking in is a ritual to make sure all of the forms are taken care of and it always dreadful for our scouts. They are excited and cannot wait to get their tent set up and get into camping. By the time, we were checked and were at our campsite it began to lightly rain and then the heavens opened, not once but twice. It rained very hard for almost thirty to forty minutes. Several of the adults checked their phones for weather information and learned the storm would be brief and we predicted the rain would stop about 4:15 or so.
It did and the scouts – ever the optimists they are – learned two very important lessons. First, where not to place your tent; the puddles of water pointed out all of the low spots in our campsite. Second, putting tent stakes in the ground is much easier when the ground is wet. Excellent observations, but the troop would not be able to pitch our tents until after dinner and the campfire.
Dinner is at 6:30 and we had our dining room orientation at 5:30. Several scouts wanted to make withdrawals from the bank but I did not have the bank with me. After dinner, we took a camp tour pointing out the different program areas: Eagle Quest, Personal Fitness, Handicrafts, the Waterfront, Scout craft, the Trading Post, and finished at the Campfire Bowl for our evening campfire. This is William’s second year at Tesomas and our troop’s fifth year and we recognized several of the camp counselors from last year at dinner and in the evening program. The evening’s emcees had been in charge of the shooting sports area – shotguns and rifles – the previous year. They made quite an impression on the scouts as characters larger than life. It takes quite a person to be a camp counselor, especially a highly regarded camp like Tesomas. This is Tesomas’ 75th anniversary as a scout camp and the evening program included a campfire, skits, and songs it was fun and the scouts laughed and enjoyed themselves. The evening program ended at 9:00 and we hiked back to our campsite and stated to set up tents.
Sunset occurs around 9:00, at this time of the year, with enough light to last until about 9:30. However, we were under trees, where it was a bit darker and we had to rely on our flashlights and lanterns. Before leaving for dinner, we had unloaded tents from the troop trailer and left all of our bags and gear in the trailers. Before long, we had pitched our tents with scouts helping scouts and adults waiting until scout tents were up. We unloaded the trailer with scouts sorting their gear and setting up their tents. It was dark and scouts settled in for their first night at camp. They were tired, and so were we. It was 11:30 and lights were soon out. The scouts drifted off to sleep with the leaders not far behind. Our first day of camp was a learning experience with morning coming quickly and our first day of merit badge or advancement work ahead. These would fuel scout dreams for the night – if they had the energy to dream! Day 30 of my summer vacation came to a close, so did my eyelids and I was fast asleep.