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The Saga Continues
Wow, just trying to get caught up on the blogs as we head through camp!
Thursday morning dawned cloudy with some rain. Patrol C is off this morning on an overnight bike trek, following the same path along the rail trail that the Patrol A guys took earlier in the week. With their leader Reggie unavailable, they had one of those great Troop 8 "learning moments." They rode out to the road, then realized that they didn't have maps, and rode back. Then they rode out to the road and realized that nobody had packed the cook gear, which was going to make it very difficult to cook dinner and breakfast. So they rode back. Then they rode out to the road and realized Nick didn't have a helmet. You might wonder how they had missed that up until this point, but, well, Nick is thin. So he rode back. Then they all realized that they didn't have their TCP which told them where to go on the map. And rode back. Then Ben Pernick's bike tried to kill Seth who was riding it, by exploding its front tire as they finally headed out of camp. These improvised explosives, so unreliable. It needed to wait for a few more minutes until Seth was riding full speed down the hill. Ah well, a replacement tube and finally the Patrol C guys were on their way.
All in all, we lost count of the number of times they rode back and forth, but eventually it was confirmed that they did actually leave. The bonus was after all that time the sun came out! We hope to have full updates when they return Friday evening.
Patrol A today got to do a whitewater kayak clinic. Hooking up with our local outfitter friends, the entire patrol plus the Fretzman, Scoutmaster Steve and Death Ray got outfitted in kayaks. They spent an hour fitting and adjusting their kayaks and gear. No one complained about having to wear a "skirt" [the neoprene flap that seals water out of the kayak], and having several folks with prior kayak experience helped things along. When the guide started explaining what a "sweep boat" was, the river rats of T8 were already up to speed.
The first step in learning to kayak is learning how to get into the boat (not too hard), and then learning to get out of the boat (harder, since you are upside down in the water). This is a very stressful activity until you get confident about it, and everyone completed at least one escape. Old hands like Connor and Peter blazed through, and first timers Mik and Jackson got the "wet exit" treatment with only a little hesitation.
Having established that no one was going to drown, the guys worked through paddle skills in a protected cove with some Class I riffles. Kayak paddling is a bit different from canoeing, that's for sure! The boys spent some time chasing the guides around in a game of tag, I think the older boys like Ray, Connor, Nathan, Max and Mik were more enthusiastic chasing the guide named Tiffani, but that may just be my impression : )
After a sandwich lunch we carried the boats about a half mile upstream to shoot "Z" rapid, since the guides felt comfortable with the boys' progress. Man, those boats are not fun to carry! THe rapid was a fun class 1-2 that provided some "water over the bow". Mason, who chose to not use his skirt, stated after running the rapid, 'I have water in my boat!". We're all about experiential learning in Troop 8!! Connor flipped his boat while mugging post-rapids for photographer David Michaels, which provided an interesting set of photos!
After that the boys spent the remainder of the afternoon 'surfing' the wave under the Ohiopyle bridge, with Jackson and Nico and others enjoying fun. Scouter Fretz sat in the middle of a shallow area and created the "Fretz Eddy" which the boys took turns getting pulled into with considerable amusement. Mason abandoned his boat and chased others' kayaks in the shallows, catching them and beaching them in some sort of odd game. Then we called it a day and headed back to campl Somehow Peter came out of the whole day with that same mop-top "Beatles" hair he started with, not even one hair out of place, amazing!
Patrol D spent their day on the River Hike, down Meadow creek through the gorge and the series of natural waterslides. While a few of the adults chose to hike, most of the boys used their life jackets to good advantage floating the river whenever they got a chance. Jason Dean as an old hat at the river hike motored along this year, while our adventurous fellows like Sam Taylor and Chris Kuzel challenged the leaders to keep up with them (and keep suggesting rather loudly "No, Sam, jumping eight feet between one slimy wet rock and another over the top of a crazy water shoot is probably not the best idea your neurons have come up with!"). Crazy Ivan was his typical insane rock-hopping self, while Patrol Leader Tim Kenny did his best to keep a handle on his herd of cats. To keep his sanity, he engaged in a protracted debate on social issues with Steven Lawton. Ah, Troop 8! Only we could ever be found walking in the middle of a river down a gorge while discussing policy issues and moral philosophy!
The Natural Waterslides were running at the same great level they have been all week, and all of the guys got their shot at shooting down water streams over slickrock. Matt Epperson I believe was heard to quietly suggest that this was insane. Well of course! Sanity is overrated. The gang made it through to the pickup wet, tired, and happy.
Thursday evening seemed like "meetings night". Patrol Leader Meetings. Adult Meetings. Patrol Z meetings. Adult and Patrol Z meetings. Adult and Patrol Leader meetings. Meetings about when to meet next. A lot of the best lessons for boys in camp are learning to work with (and deal with!) each other in an environment that's challenging, where others are relying on them and their choices have pretty clear consequences and effects. The boys are doing really well together, but there are always a few things here and there. Those are our special "teachable moments" and we wouldn't sacrifice them for the world.
Some of the meetings, too, were our camp masters Ryan and Ben doing what we call "Hyperplanning" the Saturday events. It's going to be wild!
Evening storms mostly miss the camp this evening, so the adult mud fun doesn't grow this evening. Small favors are always welcome!