Friday is never an easy day at camp. It means it is the last day and it’s time to pack up and return home to our families. I know I had a few items on my ‘to do’ list for Friday as did the scouts. They had to wrap up their merit badge classes and a few of the younger scouts had to finish requirements for advancement to Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class – big moves for a first year scout. All I had to do was finish the Geezer merit badge and swim the mile.
Since I first came to camp in ’09 with Troop 35 I have gotten to know the scouts, the adult leaders, and a few of the camp counselors. Like our scouts they have grown, developed, and assumed greater responsibility. Noah, our SPL – Senior Patrol Leader was a first year scout two years ago and now he is doing an excellent job of leading 23 other boys at summer camp. That is an awesome responsibility. Davis, one of the camp counselors, is from our troop and I have seen him grow as well – now he is leading young scouts at the Eagle Quest program area. In ’09 when William came to summer camp, he spent a lot of time at Eagle Quest. It is the program area to help first year scouts practice essential scouting skills – knots, lashings, basic first aid, camping meal planning and cooking, and basic compass use. In that first year, we met Troy. He was one of the counselors assigned to Eagle Quest and I and the other adults that year spent a lot of time at Eagle Quest with our scouts. I was impressed with him the moment I met him his sense of direction and focus was very mature for his age. Last year, when we came back, he was at Eagle Quest, again, he was in charge (or seemed to be), and this year he has assumed even more responsibility on camp staff and he is off to college this fall. I have no doubt that when we return next summer, and the summer after next, he will be here enjoying teaching young scouts in some way. It has been a pleasure getting to know him and it has been even more of a pleasure getting to know our scouts this summer.
I have enjoyed my time at Tesomas and I have had hardly been unplugged from life back home. I have blogged, checked e-mail, and talked to Beth a few times. I carry my phone around camp with me and though it is on silent, I still check to see if I have mail or look at it to see the weather or make a call. Regardless, I am still plugged in. Wednesday at lunch, the phone vibrated and I pulled it out of my pocket, opened, it up, and discovered it was e-mail from Values.com, an organization I follow. They create billboards with the picture of a person and a character trait in white letters, in a red block, with the phrase ‘passes it on’ below it. They also have a print and television, in addition to their billboards. Their goal is to be inspirational to people in hopes people will pass it on and pay it forward, so to speak. They do not accept donations and do not solicit on their site, in fact, it is very vague about who pays for the ads, but I do have a hard time understanding why someone would be against them. Anyway, the e-mail was my daily quote from Values.com and it was:
“I have never been a millionaire. But, I have enjoyed a great meal, a crackling fire, a glorious sunset, a walk with a friend, a hug from a child, a cup of soup, a kiss behind the ear. There are plenty of life’s tiny delights for all of us.” Jack Anthony source: Values.com
I shared it with my table and it was, essentially, my big idea for the day. We talked about it for a few moments and then our lunch table was on to something else, like lunch, the song, the afternoon classes, and the OA ceremony that night.
But, I continued to think about it. The big idea that landed on my phone Wednesday is what MakingtheDaysCount.com is all about – making the days worthwhile and spending time doing what is important instead of what is urgent and pressing. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing my daily post from camp, sorting thorough pictures, and posting my perspective on Camp Tesomas for all of you to read. I hope that it has forced you or maybe nudged you to think back to the carefree days of your youth and realize, what really is important.
As for Friday, the scouts finished their week successfully. Most finished their merit badges, a few have some work to do to finish and earn them, but all of the scouts can look back on the week with a sense of accomplishment. I visited the Scoutcraft program area to watch William tell his Indian legend, I was also able to see William and Steven test their ability to ‘kill’ a deer with a spear. Before lunch, I passed out the mail to the scouts and watched as they opened their notes from home. After lunch, I visited Shooting Sports and watched a couple of our scouts shoot a ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ doll with arrows.
And then, I went to the lakefront and got in the water with William and five other swimmers and we swam the mile. I had two spotters with me in a canoe – John and Charlie and William had Joey and Jesse spotting him in a canoe as well. The weather was perfect; it was a hot and humid day and jumping into the cool lake was the perfect solution to the discomfort. The goal was to swim to a buoy across the lake, turn left swim to another buoy and turn left again, and then swim back across the lake. The hardest part was getting used to the pace and not getting off track and off line. I never thought I would reach that first buoy and then when I passed it, I was on to the second, and finally headed for the lakefront shore and the finish. Several members of our troop were there to greet me as I reached the shore and climbed out – I was exhausted. It took me about 50 minutes and William reached shore three minutes later. It felt great, but it also felt great that John, Charlie, Jesse, Joey, and others were willing to take time from their day to help William and I reach one of our goals. And, that is what scouting is about; giving back and getting more in return than you ever expected.
For Friday evening’s flag ceremony Troop 35 had the responsibility of flag duty. Five scouts were selected to participate: Noah, Mark, Dan, Brandon, and Adam lowered the flag, folded it, and presented it to the officer of the day. It is honor to do it and the scouts did a great job. After flags, it was dinner and the ‘Mountain Dew; song. Each meal ends with a song and it is an audience participation song with loud singing and table pounding – behavior that is frowned upon at home but is encouraged at camp. For the three years I have been coming to Tesomas, it has been the Friday night song and I was ready with my Flip camera when I have more time – it is late and tomorrow is a long drive for me and the rest of the troop.
We finished the night with the closing campfire with skits and fun. Troop 35 won a few awards during the week. On Monday night’s Battle of the Bands the Old Goat patrol finished second and one of the scout patrols finished first! The scouts finished first in the dodge ball competition and several other scouts were recognized. Nick had entered the create a slushy contest and won with his entry the ‘Wheaton Blood,’ a mixture of all of the red syrups – cherry, strawberry, raspberry, and something else. He got a free slushy as his award! How fitting. After awards, we sang the Tesomas Hymn and walked home, but not without a stop at the trading post.
It was dark as we walked back to camp and the clouds made it even darker. There was a frenzy of activity in camp as we were packing up some troop gear, loading bikes on the trailer, and scouts were preparing to go home. A storm was on its way and we wanted to be ready when it arrived. I packed a few items and went to Hannah, to start writing. Two hours and more, later, I am wrapping this up. It has been a great day, I cannot imagine how tomorrow could be a million and six times better, but I’ll give it a whirl. Making the Days Count, one day at a time.