Day 34: Flags

The flag flies over Camp Tesomas

Daily life at camp has its rituals and routines. At the troop level, each day starts by rising, cleaning, dressing, and in general getting around. Sometimes we rise alone, other times we are greeted by others and we talk about the day before and the day ahead of us. Some mornings it is time to look out over the lake and enjoy the peacefulness of nature. Thursday morning was cool, but warmer than Wednesday morning, it had been a late night for our scouts. The Order of the Arrow ceremony and the fellowship afterwards had our scouts walking back into camp close to ten and lights out soon after. The activities of the week had tired our scouts and they were content to sleep. In camp, the next group to wake is usually the SPL or other scouts who get up and shower, clean up, or just get ready for the day. At  seven the SPL begins to wake the scouts, there is a little grousing but, most scouts simply wake and are excited about a new day. The hoppers are the first to leave for the dining hall because they need to set up tables before breakfast. By 7:35 to 7:45, the rest of the troop begins to walk or cycle down to the dining hall and form up at the flagpole for the flag ceremony. Troops can sign up to lead the flag ceremony in the morning or evening, but we did not sign up this year. The camp staff assembles on the steps above the flagpole and the officer of the day calls attention and orders the color guard to advance and post the colors. The color guard marches the flag toward the flagpole attaches the flags to the halyard and awaits further instructions from the officer of the day. The OD orders the scouts to attention and to salute the flag or hold their hands over the hearts as the color guard raises the flag while the bugler plays reveille. Then the OD leads us in the Pledge of Allegiance:

 I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.  Source: Section 4 US Flag Code.

The scouts release their salute and can stand at ease while the color guard retreats. Once the color guard retreats, the OD dismisses the color guard, staff, and scouts all walk over to the dining hall. This is how we start; it is routine, and a great way to begin each day. We will form up at the flagpole for evening flags later, but we have much to do in between and we will start all over the next morning.After breakfast, the scouts are busy with their routine with classes and activities. The adults have meetings or follow the scouts. I write about Wednesday. It is Thursday and I review the hundreds of photos I have downloaded from Charley, Kevin, Diane, and Jonathon as well as my own. The camp is looking for photos to include in the end of camp slideshow we will see Saturday morning. Diane helps me review the pictures, almost 3GB or 1,327 pictures, and we decide on 93 that we think are excellent, and we pass them on to the camp staff. The geezers have a training session on Leave no Trace, a camping philosophy about putting nature first. It is interesting and it satisfies a requirement for the Geezer merit badge. I only have a few requirements to check off and I will earn my 2010 rocker. However, it has been equally fun to get to know the leaders better and engage in fun activities. It has helped me understand who they are and why Boy Scout Troop 35 is such a good fit for William and me.

Lunch comes and goes. William is off to swim and I am back to writing. I did not write much in the morning, but the looking at the pictures and selecting them for camp helped me focus on what I wanted to write and share about camp life. I finally finished writing, uploading pictures, and publish the post as William comes into the PC to get me. He wants to go to COPE and the climbing tower. Today is the final day for the zip line. I told him to go ahead and lead, I would follow him and I packed up. I rode back to camp, stopped at my tent to drop my bag, and walked over to the climbing tower. William was in line and motioned me to join him. Instead, I joined at the end of the line. Michael, a first year scout, and Keenan, a second year scout are at COPE with William. I looked up at the tower and wondered why I am here? What am I doing? What if doesn’t work? At the same time, William is thrusting a helmet at me and directing me to step into the harness. Soon, I am ready, but am I really prepared to jump off the tower?

The line moved slowly as the scouts and adults ahead of us climb the tower and zip down the wire. The process repeats until, it is William’s turn. He raced up the steps, hooked in, and jumped out the open door, screaming as he slid. He wanted to go down again, but the zip line closed for the day and he jumped in the line for the climbing wall, instead.  Michael is climbing on the wall and they encourage him as he struggles. They call up, “Move your left foot to the right, up, to the right.”  Keenan, a second year scout from our troop, was in front of me and he goes down the zip line. Afterwards, he too decides the climbing wall is good idea and gets behind William who is on the wall and is halfway up, when it is my turn to climb the tower and slide down the zip line. Do I go? I asked an adult from another troop to take my picture, showed her how to use the camera, and I began the slow climb to the top. At the top, I asked myself, again, why am I here? I asked the instructor to check my harness, he made a few adjustments, I was clipped on the line, and the door was opened. It is 6o feet from the top to the ground – a long way down, and I was not looking. The Geezer merit badge requirements require I yell ‘rock on’ at the top of the tower before I descend. Do I jump? I hesitate and I jump, but not far, enough and I bottom out on the platform and zip down the line. Gravity works and I am screaming ‘rock on.’ Zipping down the line is exhilarating, the ride ends, and I am okay. It was fun, but I cannot do it again, the line is closed, we will need to wait for another time, next year, perhaps. William was close to the top of the climbing wall and ready to descend, then it was Keenan’s turn.  He quickly climbed halfway up and kept climbing until he reached the top and rang the bell. Mission accomplished. We were the last climbers at COPE for the day and leave for our camp.

Dinner was less than an hour away and we needed to get ready. We had flag ceremony at 6:20 and the retreat of the colors. I would not be able to attend flags, because I had one more Geezer requirement for the day – an act of service. We had decided to volunteer to help serve dinner and asked Josh, the dining hall director, for permission. He suggested Thursday when pasta and meatballs would be on the menu. We are all excited and looked forward to ‘helping’ our scouts get their meal. Unfortunately, when we arrived the side we wanted was taken and we served the right side of the dining hall, instead. Nevertheless, it was fun. I had the breadstick station and had directions to serve two per scout, or diner. I was at the end of the serving line and was beside the green beans. My fellow geezers staffed the pasta, sauce, meatballs, green beans, and bread sticks. The scouts cued up and filled their plates – first pasta, then meatballs, sauce, green beans, and finishing with me, breadsticks. I noticed the scouts were avoiding the green beans and soon I was withholding breadsticks until they take green beans – for fun. I was having fun with the scouts and created a slogan – ‘green beans, the new broccoli.’ It was fun and my breadsticks went quickly, much quicker than the green beans. Once the breadsticks were gone, I was dismissed from duty and could eat dinner. The others finished and soon joined me at the tables. Dinner finished and I helped clean up the table before opening the bank for the evening.

A determined Kevin works on Hoppers.

The bank was open on the picnic tables in front of the dining hall and a few scouts made withdrawals. Most scouts have plenty of money for Friday, but a couple of scouts have been cut off with only ten dollars remaining for the ride home. The waterfront was open and several scouts partake: rowing or canoeing. Some scouts play volleyball or others just take time to be with their friends. With the bank open for business, I wanted to be available at least through nine before heading back. Kevin and Diane joined me at the table and soon a couple of scouts sat down. I pulled out my games – Hoppers, Shape by Shape, and Rush Hour loaded on my iTouch. Kevin has been working on Hoppers and is engrossed on one puzzle. Scouts enjoy playing the games and remembered last year when I had the Rush Hour game. The games are excellent and soon we have four scouts all working on puzzles or coaching one another and suggesting a move or just watching. It is great to watch but the sun has set and it is time to walk back to camp.

Back at camp, the scouts file in, group by group. A few fished and William caught a 12” bass too bad he was not in the fishing merit badge class all he would have had to do would clean and cook it. By 10:15 or so all scouts are back in camp and in their tents. It is lights out and the scouts were soon asleep. Thursday is a memory. Scouts, I am sure, dreamed the possibilities of what Friday would bring. It is our last full day of camp and our last chance to finish a merit badge or swim a mile. It will be a great day, possibly the best day ever.

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