We want to be a part of it, New York, New York!

By Bob Geier - Posted on 27 July 2017

Wednesday has dawned bright and clear, with the rain finally gone. Traditional Troop 8 camp Wednesdays we take a break from the camping life and head in to a local town for a civilization fix. This year, the target is New York, New York! The group assembled at the cars, reasonably freshly showered, as Junior Assistant Scoutmaster Pike laid down the rules for NYC travel - buddy system, how to deal with panhandlers, how to protect yourselves from pickpockets, what to do when lost, how to tip buskers, the basics of subways and other important life skills.

The group met up at the Staten Island Ferry terminal after some adventures in navigation and trolling for parking ("Where is Jason Dean?"). Bob led then up to the "hurricane deck" at the top of the ferry as we set sail for Manhattan's southern shore. The Venture sailors pointed out the lateral aids to navigation and were impressed by the large vessels anchored off in the Hudson. As we passed the Statue of Liberty Bob read Emma Lazarus's famous poem:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Thus inspired, each patrol went off on their own New York adventure...

Patrol A headed off and descended into the bowels of the Subway, which elicited much confusion as they faced a new sort of navigational challenge. Robin failed to enter the subway at one point, seeming incapable of inserting the subway card the right way. They launched for Central Park early on, and bee-lined straight for whatever rock climbing they could find. Yes, that's right, when Troop 8 scouts leave a park to go to a city, they head immediately for the city park to go climbing. Ben led the bouldering efforts, with Wyatt demonstrating good moves for the onlookers. Heston opted to use the rocks as a sort of natural slide, and happily managed to stop before going off a ten-foot cliff. The group explored more of the park, and Kantaro and Luca led an effort to stop and cheer for random people playing softball games, much to their confusion. Despite a food tour at lunch through some great local fare, the gang went off to a chain restaurant for lunch, leaving their adults very sad.

Coming off the ferry, the Patrol D gang headed to the Ground Zero/World Trade Center memorial for some patriotic reflection. It's easy to forget that these guys don't remember this event, and there was some confusion of the "This is the World Trade Center memorial. Where's the 9/11 memorial?" variety. This group also went off to Central park and hiked a good portion of it, climbing to the top of Belvedere Castle for a view. At one point, Daniel and Will who had been "holding it" a bit long went native, demonstrating that you can take the scouts out of the woods but you can't take the woods out of the scouts (and giving the adults an opportunity to discuss appropriate etiquette and propriety). The gang went to Chinatown for an authentic Chinese lunch, and on all their subway rides and hikes of the day only got lost once, but that was when they listened to Mr. Fretz. The subway experience was novel, with Finn, Daniel and Will at one point using the subway car rails as a sort of cross-fit gymnasium, Joey Simon giving a substantial supply of cookies and brownies to a homeless man seeking help in his daily good turn, and Evan Kanji asking the adults "Ummm... what's a Russian mail-order bride?"

Patrol E also went and visited the World Trade Center memorial, before heading off to Battery Park and taking in a bunch of apparently "lame" street performers. Patrol Leader Liam navigated well. By lunchtime they had made it to Chinatown where they all had some bubble tea. The boys were weirded out by the more authentic chinese dishes, but after some exploring went to a nice Chinese noodle chain. In Chinatown Tommy learned the fine art of haggling with street vendors, and managed to haggle down the price of a fancy fidget spinner from $25 to $8. After that experience, the Tommy and Sawyer buddy group did a street vendor tour to practice their new-found skill. Following the Chinatown adventures, this group also repaired to Central Park, where Bradley, Sawyer, Emmet, & Tommy followed Heston's earlier example and turned the local rocks into natural slides. As afternoon wore on, they elbowed their way through Times Square, checking out the various characters on the street (Spider Man! Bane!).

Patrol G got off the ferry and launched on A Hike. Rather than take the subway, they hiked past Wall St. They went to the 9/11 memorial, and hiked past it. They went to Trump Tower, and hiked past it. They were solid, they were strong as a team, and they kept hiking. They hiked to Chinatown for a lunch stop, and hiked past it. They finally stopped hiking briefly in Little Italy at the first cheese store in America, where they settled in for some very large hoagies to refuel. They were scared of cannolis, but Mike Simon managed to talk WildMan and Jimmy into that new culinary experience. The adults then got harassed for eating their hoagies too slow, because the group wanted to start hiking again! After lunch, Patrol G then hiked to Central Park, and through it, and around it, until they discovered the perfect climbing/bouldering spot where Jimmy and Gus led the afternoon climbing activity. Parker was also demonstrating top climbing form. Evan Rago learned some good smearing moves on steep slabs. After some expeditionary climbing they warmed up their hiking shoes again and hiked to a candy shop in Times' Square, only, to discover that it was only M&Ms and was really expensive (like everything in Times Square). Thrifty being the better part of valor they passed, and headed off to meet the rest of the troop for dinner.

Dinner was a specially arranged affair set up by Pike and Thomas at John's Pizzaria, a famed NY-style pizza place at Times Square. The troop got catbird's seats on the third level, overlooking the whole establishment, and were served a full meal of salad and garlic bread (yes, parents, they were all hungry enough that they actually ate salad!), a wide variety of NY-style pizzas, and some mixed cookies and brownies for dessert.

Well fed, the whole troop then set off for a final exam on subway navigation as they made their way back downtown to the ferry terminal. Thomas and Pike yelled at Bob for going the wrong way and lectured him about not holding up the group. Seventeen year olds are always right, of course, so Bob naturally arrived 15 minutes before everyone else. The whole group got a view of New York at sunset and early twilight as we ferried back to Staten Island, and headed back to the Delaware Water Gap to continue our camping adventures after a fine urban exploration.