Summer Camp Day 2: The Adventure Begins!

By Eric Fretz - Posted on 23 July 2012

A busy and mostly rain-free day was filled with fun! Patrol G went climbing. Along with Noah and Dawa the youngsters did GREAT! Young Ryan Tokarz, after some expected initial trepidation, did a great rappel, and then he completed ALL FOUR climbing routes (and tried to climb them all a second time! I think he got three). Will and David also did all four climbs… a very energetic bunch!

Patrol A endured a tough set of assessment navigation exercises from Mr. Fretz, showing what they did not know. Then, highly motivated, they did some classes and activities before making small groups and planning a hike on unfamiliar trails. Happily, they all navigated perfectly, even around some map errors (which is the type of robust skill we want to see!). Dylan chose to try the hike, without pack of course, and despite a sore foot he completed the route his group planned, on time! The Four Amigos (KurtShawnSamLucas) managed to find bunch of odd colored mushrooms on their trek. I asked if they ate any, and they said “no, but we peed on them!” Mr. Fretz was so pleased with the group's excellent navigating, he became “confused” when leaving the Bear Run park, and “accidentally” turned the wrong way. He only realized his “mistake” when they came across an “unfamiliar” convenience store on the country road, so they of course had to stop, you know, to get oriented. COINCIDENTALLY the store had ice cream, so it seemed only fair to get everyone some.

Patrol D led by the always noisy and troublesome (ha!) Nema, did a kayak intro clinic. Everyone bravely completed their “wet exits” from an upside-down kayak, and they all went down Z rapid AND got to try the new craze of SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding). Nice work aquanauts!

Patrol E did some mountain biking. They started by zooming down the huge hill from camp to Ohiopyle (like 1 mile of 40 degree downhill!). First years varied in their approach to this. Young Adam Ruff preferred the more leisurely, if brake-smoking, pace to the bottom. Young Arul preferred the “Brakes? What brakes?” philosophy, zooming to the bottom only slightly behind the older boys. Once in town they did miles on the local rail trail, and they attempted to summit Sugar Loaf Peak, but the steepness stopped them. After returning to town, and doing some service work cleaning up a parking lot (which may or may not have been related to forgetting to pick up some trash at lunch), they then attempted to ride ALL THE WAY BACK UP THE HILL TO CAMP. This is a MASSIVELY difficult task. Only patrol leader PJ and young Pike completed the ride, BUT first year Brandon Blazer, who has guts for three kids his size, ALMOST made it the whole way. Amazing work for a first year.

Patrol F went geocaching. Being the more mellow patrol, they just went on about their business learning how to use GPS units and then searching for hidden caches of prizes. Devin tried three different models, and eventually found one that worked for him. Maybe GPS units just don’t like him. : ) They found three of three of their main targets, and reportedly were having such fun they ran to find them. There was apparently some confusion at one point with one car going the wrong direction (which is odd, given that everyone was operating a GPS…!), but they sorted it out. The final cache required patrol leader Mason to figure out a code, to find the camouflaged cache.

We also had a round of Merit Badge instruction. My charges had fun burning holes in things with a giant lens, and learning about survival techniques. All six of them (Jack, Stephen, Daniel, Evan, Nathan, Drew) chose to attempt the “build a shelter and spend the night in it” requirement. So, I list those names to make it easier to know who is missing when we come back, you know, in case their shelters aren’t up to par…. KIDDING! All graduates of the Fretz Survival School are HARD CORE!

Guys were also busy learning about kayaking, cooking, chess, gambling (a special troop merit badge focused on probabilities, game theory, and learning how casinos always win), and a lot of new scout instruction to get them ready for Tenderfoot/Level 1 Trial of Fire.

All the other adults are off now in the woods setting up the low ropes course for tomorrow, as I hear the clanking and hollering of five (FIVE!) patrols cleaning up their dinner. Everyone is doing a great job so far in making this a great camp week! You should be proud of your scout! : )