Light comes early at Tesomas, about quarter past five and I stirred but didn’t get up. It had been a late night Sunday and I was enjoying snuggling inside my sleeping bag. I am certain I wasn’t the only one. My alarm sounded at six and I reluctantly crawled out of bed and joined the group of scouts at the picnic table. They were excited about the coming day and possibilities it held.
It was our first full day at camp with so much to do. The scouts were anxious about starting their advancements or merit badges. William is working on four merit badges: Leatherwork, Small Boat Sailing, Painting, and Indian Lore. I know he’ll have a great week. The younger scouts are working on rank advancements at Eagle Quest and focusing on learning and honing their scout skills: lashings, knots, cooking, minor first aid, and orienteering. The older scouts – second and third year scouts are working on merit badges some which are required for Eagle rank and others just for fun and learning. That’s what it is about. We have two older scouts with us and they are working on the last pieces of their scouting career. One ages out, or turns eighteen in late summer and the other, his younger brother, is not far behind. Both are looking ahead to Eagle rank and they are well on their way to earning it. I know William, as do many other scouts in the troop, looks to them for leadership and the example they provide with their ‘scout walk.’ It is very hard to believe how far William and the scouts his age have come in just over two short years.
Each day begins the same with the flag ceremony at 7:50 followed by breakfast at 8:00. I don’t normally eat breakfast, but eating breakfast (or lunch or dinner) with 400 other people takes a while. There are lines, announcements, and singing in addition to eating and getting ‘seconds’ – no one will go hungry at Tesomas.
After breakfast the scouts are off to their classes and the adult leaders – that’s me and my peers – are off to meetings with reminders about administrative details and program notes. I was fixated on solving my problem with the slide show and hence a second post in the middle of the day when I finally figured it out. I broke for lunch and finished my work. In addition to blogging and goofing off, I have a job and it is keeping track of advancements and merit badge work for all of the scouts. Each day, I get a slip – showing how things are going for every scout and I have to keep up on it or it will be a mess when the scouts get home and are expecting to advance in rank or earn a merit badge and there was requirement they missed or was not signed off at camp. And somehow, I am supposed to have time to earn the Geezer merit badge! I earned it my first year and again last year. I am proud of my accomplishment to ‘slack off’ and kick back. In reality, adult leaders earn it for being active at camp, having fun, and sharing in the scouting spirit; that’s what it is all about.
At 3:30, it is free time and scouts and adults are free to go to open program areas as they choose. I am swimming the mile Friday. I swam the mile when I was a scout in 1974 and I can swim, but I have never swam that far in a lake, I really appreciate the line at the bottom of the pool and a wall to kick off of every twenty-five yards. William plans to swim, too. Last year he swam and inspired me to swim this year. I met him at the waterfront and after staring at the water for a few minutes hesitating to jump in to experience the shock of a cold Crystal Lake; I jumped in and swam the laps I needed for the day. William swam alongside and when we were finished he headed off to sail with his buddies. The lifeguard marked our swim tags and I watched from shore. The scoutmaster, Mr. Cat (a.k.a. ‘Rocky’), fished and we talked. While I snapped pictures, I thought about the friendship, which has developed among the scouts in the troop and realized these kids would likely have never met if it weren’t for scouting. They attend different schools and their paths may never have crossed if it weren’t for Troop 35. It was fun watching. In the distance, I could hear faint thunder and just before six, a thunderstorm blew through soaking camp with rain. The storm lasted less than half an hour but it left puddles everywhere. It also soaked the ground and we will have less dust on the trails tomorrow.
During the storm, we took shelter in the building near us – the Hannah Venture Base – and while the camp got wet, we were high and dry. However, the storm did prevent us from being dressed for the evening flag ceremony. We arrived at the main camp just as the flag was lowered and in time for dinner. One of the requirements for the Geezer badge is to help in the dining hall by serving a meal. Tonight was or night – I got vegetables. When it came time to serve dinner – no one wanted vegetables – chicken, pasta, sauce, and bread sticks – yes, but no vegetables. It was fun and when it came time for my dinner, I took vegetables – extra vegetables.
The evening’s activity was Battle of the Bands a competition for scouts and adult patrols – groups of four to eight members. The staff planned stations around camp with challenges and activities such as dodge ball with cutout Yellow Submarines, placing a lampshade on another members head, or painting one of our patrol members face like a member of the band KISS. The Geezers worked together and we had a lot of fun. The best part was when we worked with one of the scout patrols to help them and in turn, they helped us with a challenge. It was a good evening and we walked back to camp when it was all over talking about the day.
I am sure the scouts did the same, I saw scouts working together in camp to clean up, a few scouts were fishing in the fading light, and a few were playing cards at the tables. By 10:30, Noah called lights out and by eleven they were all out and the scouts were fast asleep – they were tired and will get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow will bring new challenges and opportunities. Tomorrow night we cook at camp and will have chicken chili – a scout choice. It sounds good. We’ll follow it with cobbler and a campfire. It’s all about being a scout.
Today was a great day and the forecast for tomorrow is a million and six times better. Making the Days Count, one day at a time.