Greetings from the field!
One of the Patrol Leaders' goals for this summer camp is to work heavily on each patrol's camping skills. Of course in Troop 8 tradition, that means actually doing things a lot to get good at them. So the summer camp masters opted to have each patrol on multiple out trips to different campsites around the area. In addition to our "home base" at Scarlett Knob, we have had patrols camping at the Bear Run Conservancy next to Fallingwater (about a mile backpack trek in, with some good basic map work), at the Army Corps of Engineers campsite at Yough Dam (a really nice group site near our sailing lake), and at the Ohiopyle State Park site near Kentuck Knob. Each day the guys have to tear down and set up camp, and do it in time to make it to their other crazy patrol activities for the day.
We started the week with realllllly long and slow times. Watching most patrols was a bit like watching a first grade soccer game, with everyone chasing the ball at the same time. Everyone had to set up tents. Then everyone had to move to the kitchen and cook. Then everyone had to stare at the dirty pots for an hour and wonder why they didn't magically clean themselves like at home. Slowly but surely as the week progresses, we're seeing the glimmers of teamwork and playing positions and getting better at all these camp things, on the way to Level 1.
While it's great fun and the guys are getting a lot of experience, we've found that it makes doing field updates much harder, since everyone is scattered about! So we apologize to our loyal readers. Scouter Steve has been heavily involved in the logistics of having all these moving parts in play, and by late Wednesday night he was seen stumbling around and muttering "need to print maps, need to mint pramps, feed mints to pants" so we had to send him to bed without sending an update.
Your friendly commentator for tonight is Scouter Bob who was leading the climbing activity, so we have some words for the loyal followers of Patrols A and E in this update, and we'll catch up with others hopefully tomorrow.
Patrol A on Wednesday was located at Kentuck Knob campsite. They had arrived Tuesday afternoon and took so long to set up that in the spirit of Troop 8 boot camp, Scouter Bob and Scouter Greg made them do it all again. Ah, second time the charm, up in 29 minutes start to finish, just ahead of the incoming thunderstorm! Wednesday morning saw Shawn get a bit behind on the morning cooking operation, so Patrol Leader Drew stepped in. Things were going well with young Brian Boehman getting truly efficient at tent tear down and packing, but then suddenly things jammed up with some of the other packers. Hmmm... Nobody seems to know who is carrying what group gear. Didn't we do this on Monday and Tuesday? We set all the group gear out and low and behold Ben Sherrick is carrying about half of it. "I can take more" he says. True Venture group member down the road. We resolve all of that, and then they do it again. Practice makes perfect! Success in 30 minutes on the second round.
The first climbing patrol was Patrol E on Wednesday. The weather broke into beautiful and the guys headed out to the cliffs. Patrol Leaders Pike and Jack helped Scouter Max rig up the climbs with ropes and anchors, while the rest of the gang put on harnesses and helmets for the adventure. After the Vulture's talk about "what not to do around cliffs", all of them proceeded to jump off, well, rappel backwards off the cliff. Not much fear in this group! First years Jacob I., Jack B., and Joe W. were not daunted in the least, and Jack B. even came around for a second go. Where this group really shined, though, was in climbing back up the cliffs. Jacob translated some of his indoor climbing skills to the harder world of outdoor climbing well, and worked his way up several of the routes. Both Jacks proved to be unstoppable climbers, with Jack Flash nailing all four climbs of the day. Patrick Wellman demonstrated how to make the hardest climb look easy to an experienced Troop 8 scout (long legs do help too!). Dylan V. took the hardest climb and then wandered all over the cliff, crossing another climb and coming up such a unique route that Scouter Bob had to rig him a second belay. Summiting was a well-deserved victory for him!
Patrol A was the climbing group for Thursday, an even more beautiful day. They sort of made their departure time, but are clearly still working out some kinks in the morning pack-up system. When they hit the cliffs, though, Ben Sherrick was determined to beat Patrol E's record, so he personally logged seven climbs on four routes. The Patrol Leader duo of Sam and Drew also logged all four routes, while Lucas surprised himself by doing 3 rappels and 3 hard climbs. There was a comical moment when he was almost going to give up on the last one and be lowered off, except that Scouter Bob was in the way so he just had to go up instead of down. Brian Boehman complained of fear of heights but that didn't seem to stop him from blazing up multiple climbs and down the mad rappel. Fellow first-year scout Robbie Morris cruised down the rappel like a champ, and then discovered it was really fun to climb half way up each climb and jump into space. This adds excitement to the life of your belayer. Thursday night the Patrol A crew hiked out with the Patrol E group to the Bear Run area and bedded down for the night.