And more sunshine, and more rain!

By Bob Geier - Posted on 21 July 2009

Some things are just a part of camping.  Oatmeal is one of those things.   What's fascinating is how many different ways a boy scout can cook instant oatmeal.  However, we tricked them, and gave them real oatmeal.  Confusion ensued.  There were a number of attempts at oatmeal soup, oatmeal souffle, oatmeal flambe, and that funny oatmeal paste you use to hang wallpaper.  But hey, they all have calories, and the last one sticks to your ribs.  Really.

Today the Patrol C gang headed off to meadow creek to do what is commonly known as the river hike. Most of the crew had done this before, and were aware that rather than a hike beside the river, they in fact were hiking straight down the river. PJ Mahowald was a brave soul and decided that both rain pants and boots were necessary for this endeavor. Both of which were summarily soaked within the first five hundred feet of river. The bunch continued on and learned that floating down the deeper (read: three feet deep) sections of the river introduced the risk of encountering rocks to the nether regions. This was all to be expected and all took the bumps in stride. Before they knew it they arrived at the cascades waterfalls for lunch. Knowing that there was a path nearby, Lincoln Soucy hiked up the trail by the side of the river to go and visit patrol D who was climbing. After he returned, a well sugared Chris Kuzel came and decided to run around the rocks a bit before returning up the trail.

Later that day all of the patrol enjoyed the natural waterslides. Ryan Hibbs was seen going belly first with his arms out chanting "Eagle! Eagle!". One can only hope that he means his secret ambition to eventually attain that most elusive of scouting ranks, but for now that will remain a mystery. Once the pleasures of that waterslide had been exhausted the crew moved on out to find that Nick Wei had been mysteriously stricken by a first aid scenario. After administering treatment and receiving a lecture on the proper treatment the hike continued to the larger natural waterslides. Unlike the first ones, these were larger and attracted quite a crowd beyond the occasional troop 8 outing. Despite an actual line (who knew real people went outside?) much fun was had, even as scouts had to push themselves onward when the current grew sparse. Camp counselors for another youth group there were impressed at the scouts fearlessly attacking the wet rush. Vaughn Epperson and Kenny Nao made quite a show of going down both the slides twice after even resident crazy man Ryan Hibbs was put off by some mere two foot drops. Somewhere in there James Dunbar decided to turn his frown upside down with at least one trip through the watery rush despite initial trepidation. Patrol C clearly brings out the weirdest in people.

Patrol D was the last and greatest of the climbing crew today.   The evening rain made the rocks a bit slick, but that didn't slow these guys down at all.   After an intro to climbing by Ray Batra, Matt Karls was the very first on the rope, launching over the edge on his first 50-foot rappel.   The slick rock at the top gave him some initial difficulty, but he got it under control and finished with a big thumbs up.   Ivan the Terrible then demonstrated perfect form zipping over the edge and down.  Now that he was at the bottom, Crazy Ivan set about the Vulture Challenge - finish all 4 climbs and the rappel.   Ivan zoomed up the easiest climb, took an attempt at the second hardest, nailed number three, went back and topped out on number two, and then battled his way up the hardest route to nail the challenge in record time.    Inspired by his insanity, I mean example, Chris Kuzel fought his way through the whole challenge as well, totally bomber on his rappel, whizzing through the early climbs and then redpointing the hard climbs after a couple attempts.    Next came Sam Taylor, who joined his patrol mates in completing the Vulture Challenge, even though he was fearful of allowing the Vulture to belay him on the last climb (got to love a kid who's not afraid of climbing a 60 foot cliff but who is afraid of the Vulture... it might have been because Bob kept singing songs about death and falling....).   To cap it off, Patrol Leader Tim Kenny, after belaying and coaching his guys most of the morning, finished up all four climbs along with APL Luke Mahowald in the late afternoon, making a total of FIVE Patrol D guys matching Nico's mark to beat from Patrol A.   

In other records, Matt Epperson set the record for the most rappels in a day.  I think he was up near 10 or so... he kept going up and down, then started doing what the Venture guys call "unusual attitude" practice.  Things like flipping upside down 40 feet in the air, or doing spinning crashes into the cliff.   Weird kid.    Jason Dean managed to overcome his fear of heights long enough to accomplish a 60 foot climb all the way to the summit while his patrol mates cheered him on.   Along the way, the patrol D guys also got some real practice with "simple cuts and scratches" first aid, as well as a first aid scenario put together by Steven Lawton.    "D" clearly stands for "Awesome."

The climbers and creek hikers all made it back to camp ahead of today's afternoon buildup thunderstorms, which only hit us with a glancing blow.   We expect the bikers in Patrol A to be returning sometime soon and will post their exploits when they do.   If they didn't miss the turn and head to Washington, D.C. that is!

Tomorrow is a "special day" midweek to celebrate the midpoint of camp.   Our younger scouts and guys who are less confident swimmers are heading off to Seven Springs, where they get to ride the ski lift to the summit to hike over to the Sporting Clays (shotgun) facility.   As good friends of Scouting, the Seven Springs group are providing Level II shotgun instructors essentially for free for all our guys... so the guys get to blow away lots of clay birds and rabbits under expert tutelage.   We'll see if we get any Shotgun Merit Badge qualifiers!   They'll head back by way of the awesome alpine slide.  

Meanwhile, the older guys and confident swimmers will be heading down the Lower Yough whitewater river for some Class III+ paddling.   The water levels are running just perfect for us, with enough rain to keep things up but not too much to make the paddling too crazy.   First time we've run the full Lower with the troop in a number of years.  

In the evening, the whole gang will be forced to take showers, then we're heading into town for a mid-week break featuring Italian food and the latest Harry Potter flick.   Your friendly correspondents will be out late with the gang, so we might not get another report up until Thursday.   In the meantime, all is well in camp, Earl is being very generous with sunshine and some light rain on our fields, and our adult and youth camp masters are staying ahead of the massive planning / logistics puzzle.    Things are looking great!