I would guess that Capture The Flag has been a popular game among Boy Scouts since the beginning of the Scouting program. I do not recall playing it as a youth so when I discovered the game in a Scouting game book I introduced it to the troop. Since that first game in the 1980’s it has become one of the most popular games to play while we are camping, especially when we go to Camp Watchamagumee.
I am not going to go into all the rules of Capture the Flag, but it involves two teams chasing each other through the woods while trying to find the other team’s flag. It is a great game for getting the boys to burn off some energy.
Being 50 now I prefer to sit in my lawn chair and watch the boys run by, but in my younger days the other adults and I would play with the boys. There is one particular game that I will always remember playing.
The game took place one fine afternoon at Camp Watchamagumee. The side boundaries were formed by a beaver pond on one side and the top of bunker hill on the other. The road into camp was the end of one territory, the stream marked the end of the other. The dividing line was the path from the beaver pond to the campsite on bunker hill. One territory was completed wooded, but the other one had a small swampy pond in the middle of it.
Once the boys had divided into two teams Dave, the assistant scoutmaster, and I joined opposing sides. He joined the team with the swamp pond in its territory.
The game was going well. Everyone was having fun. I ran into the other team’s side once again to find their flag. Suddenly, Dave appeared between me and the safety of my side. He ran toward me, planning to catch me and put me in “jail”. I had no intention of being caught so I took off running, away from my territory and safety. I ran toward the swampy pond.
Dave was not far behind me when I reached the edge of the swamp. I did not have any time to think about it or react. I ran into the swampy pond. I thought that Dave would not follow me into the pond. I also thought that the water would only be about a foot deep.
I was wrong on both accounts!
The water was nearly to my waist after only a dozen steps or so. It was too late to change my mind, especially since Dave had decided to follow me into the swamp. We both ran through the pond, losing speed and energy as we drenched ourselves.
When I reached the other side I noticed that it was uphill to the road, the end of this side. I was getting tired but I summoned another burst of energy and ran up the hill. I planned to get to the road, run along side it for a short distance, then run down the hill on dry land back to my team’s territory, safety, and a quick rest.
Unfortunately, Dave was determined to catch me. He followed me up the hill, along the road, and down the path. Our wet clothes and water filled shoes were weighing us down. But he would not give up!
I was half way back to the safety of my territory when my adrenaline finally gave out. I slowed to a walk. Dave caught up with me about three steps later. He grabbed my arm, and through deep breaths said, “Caught. Caught. Caught.” I was going to jail.
As he was leading me to the tree stump that was the jail he turned to me and said that if I had taken only a few more steps he was going to let me run free. He had also reached the end of his energy.