Posts Tagged ‘camping’


It is usually not a problem keeping Boy Scouts busy when we go to summer camp. Between merit badge sessions, troop activities, and open programs there is plenty for them to do. Summer camp is designed to keep boys busy.

Adult leaders have more free time. Oh, we could follow the boys around as they go to their classes. We can partake of a few training adult leader training sessions or activities, but we still end up with time to kick back and relax. And think of things to do.

I do not know why, but when I packed for camp this year I threw a little Piglet figure (Winnie Pooh’s friend) into my briefcase. When I got to camp he moved into my day pack with his head peaking out so that he could see where we have been. The Boy Scouts pulled him out during lunch early in the week and had a little fun with him. When the dining hall steward walked by our table we gave him Piglet. He put it on his hat and made a face while I took his picture.

Then it hit me! I have a mission for the week. How many members of the camp staff could I get to pose for a picture with Piglet?

I took Piglet with me nearly everywhere I went: to the beach, to the ranges, to the climbing tower, wherever.  The staff had fun with it. I was even able to get the camp director and the program director to pose with the little guy. But the end of the week I had pictures with 17 members of the staff, plus a few other pictures with the troop.

The pictures have been posted in an album I created on Facebook. Check them out by clicking HERE.

You can also view the pictures on Flickr by clicking HERE.

As scoutmaster I always keep an eye open for the latest camp gadgets. I usually only buy gadgets that I think I would actually use, but once in awhile I will buy something because it has the “cool” factor. Unfortunately, I now own so many gadgets that more stay at home in the garage then go along on a camping trip. But that does not stop me from looking for something new.

This month I added the Kamp Kadi by Nebo to my collection. I was able to buy it at less then half the MSP retail price. It was cheap enough that I thought it was worth giving it a try on the next Boy Scout troop camping trip.

This gadget is basically a simple camp kitchen organizer. Everything fits on a single metal pole that can be stuck in the ground or attached to the end of a picnic table. It comes with a bag to for storage. This is for drive-up camping. It is too heavy for a backpacking trip.

While it is not the most elegant looking of camp gadgets, it does appear to be very functional. The two things that first caught my eye were the trash bag and paper towel holders. I am hoping this will create a more “user friendly” environment so the Boy Scouts keep a cleaner cooking area. The shelf and utensil hooks are a bonus to me. (I think we will find something other than a radio to hang on the other bar.)

Will this Kamp Kadi be worth my investment? We will find out in the spring when the troop begins its camping season again.

Does your troop use the Kamp Kadi or something similar? Leave a comment on how it has worked for your troop.

(This is part 3 of one of the worst days I had at Philmont Scout Ranch. Amazingly, it ended pretty well.)

Wednesday, August 5, 1992, Day 8

A buck, two does, and a yearling are grazing in the meadow that borders the east side of our site. Tom is trying to in get close for a good shot with his camera. Corey has grabbed mine and moves in on the yearling. The fawn avoids him but the nine point buck moves closer. Tom sneaks around behind the buck and tries to steer him closer to Corey. We are going to have many pictures of deer when we get home.

The excitement never ends. Jason’s water bottle has been attacked by a chipmunk. Greg and Paul keep pushing the blame on each other for the sticks being thrown at each other. I wish they would shut up and drop the subject. It is shortly after 5:30 when the crew gathers around the campfire ring. For the last two days Al has been working on his version of how Santa Claus Camp got its name. It has developed into a full fledged story. The group grows quiet as he begins to tell his tale.

Suddenly, Peter yells. A chipmunk screams. That is right, screams! Everyone turns to see Pete standing halfway up the hill holding a rope in his right hand. Hanging, and I do mean hanging, from the rope by its neck is a chipmunk. Peter has finally caught one after patiently waiting with the noose lying over the burrow hole for the last fifteen minutes. The poor little creature is squirming around like crazy, trying to get get out of its predicament. Finally, after a few seconds, the noose loosens enough for the critter to fall to the ground. In a flash it vanishes. We are not bothered by mini-bears any more that night.

The laughter dies a few moments later and Al once again begins the story of Santa Claus Camp. Al has written an excellent story. The crew agrees. The meadow is a popular place with the deer this evening. There are even more of them grazing. Maybe they wanted to hear the story of old White Cheeks too.

Supper was pretty good but several scouts are complaining that there is not enough food. Josh seems to be near starving. If this is any indication then the Spoden monthly grocery bill must be in the thousands of dollars.

Several of us sit around they campfire and discuss world matters after supper. Others go to the edge of camp to watch the nine deer that are grazing. Four of them are bucks. One of them has a very nice rack on his head. Tim can’t believe what he sees. He sits there with his back against a tree and just watches them.

This is part of the magic of Philmont. Even in today’s fast paced electronic age boys will sit for over a half hour and watch the deer as they graze only twenty feet away. There are not many places left where a person can do that anymore.

Greg, Nathan, and Paul walk down to the showers. They want to get some of the Philmont grime off their bodies. Tonight we have our first campfire. Ross seems to the one who actually wanted it. We all sit around it and enjoy its warmth for the next twenty minutes.

It is time to do Roses and Thorns. Most of the crew agrees that the last thirty minutes of today’s hike was the thorn. Josh and Tim choose their rose and thorn as there being only three days left. Corey surprises everyone by naming today’s hike as his rose. Greg’s rose is taking a shower and being clean again. My thorn is the ‘thirty minute’ hike. My rose is the end of the ‘thirty minute’ hike.

Most of the crew is in bed by 8:45 p.m. Al, Ross, Pete, and Jason stay up a bit longer to enjoy the fire. The evening is turning cool.

(This is part 2 of an excerpt of my 1993 trek at Philmont Scout Ranch, about the day that everyone was exhausted and ornery, and I questioned my own sanity.)

Wednesday, August 5, 1992, Day 8

Webster Park is an unstaffed camp with an excellent view of Tooth Ridge. Those who stay here have to entertain themselves. Or do like our crew did and get the animals to provide the entertainment. Jason and a couple other guys try to catch a couple of bold chipmunks who have been trying to get at our food. They have taken one of the ropes, tied it to a stick, and set a pot on it. When a chipmunk tries to take the bait placed under the pot they would pull the rope and have themselves a mini-bear. What they plan on doing with one I have no idea.

My body is letting me know that it does not appreciate what I have been putting it through these last few days. I have a blister on the big toe of my right foot and another one on the second toe of the left. The right side of my head, from the top, past the ear, to the neck, has been painful the last three days. I have no idea what the problem is but I hope it is not the start of something permanent.

It started drizzling around 2:30. Time to catch up on some shut eye. It is rather amazing. I am getting more sleep out here on the trail then I do at home but I still feel like taking a nap in the afternoon if the opportunity arises. Maybe it’s the fresh air. Maybe it’s the hard work of hiking. Whatever it is it is rather weird.

Shortly before 4:30 p.m. there is a bit of a commotion in the camp. I get up just in time to see a seven point mule deer buck walk by the camp. Nathan quickly grabbed his camera and began to stalk it. He was able to get with twenty-five feet of it before it moved on. The pictures he took should be pretty good ones.

A half hour later it started to rain again. The temperature is down to 57 degrees. Josh and Tim are in their tent. Tim is having fun irritating Josh by passing gas…constantly.

At this particular moment I would not mind if this trip was over with. I am getting bored. I am tired of backpacking. I am not looking forward to tomorrow. When I look over tomorrow’s hike I begin to wander if we did not make a mistake when we planned our itinerary to include a trip to Harlan Camp.

To top it all off, the kids are starting to use foul language quite a bit again. This is one of the things that scouts do that really bothers me. And it doesn’t help my point of view on the subject when other advisors use it. I feel so helpless against it. It seems that no matter how often I tell the guys to stop using it, that a good scout refrains from using foul language, it just seems to go in one ear and out the other.

Why am I here? Why did I come? It is hard to remember why I was so enthusiastic about going on this trip. I want to be home near my own bed, my shower, my chair and my stereo. I am ashamed to say it, but I even miss going to work! THERE ARE FOUR MORE NIGHTS OUT HERE !!!!!!!!

It is amazing how much a person can miss something when he does not have it anymore. Out here we have too much time to think about things, things at home that we would like to have right now. Things we could be doing.
Six years ago I was here for the first time. It was new. It was fun. It was exciting! It was with a small group of only five scouts. Three years ago I made another trek with a group that was slightly larger. Why? To see if Philmont really had the magic that I remember.

Coming a third time is staring to sound like the idea of a lunatic. I always seem to forget the hardships that come along with a trek. The heavy packs. The long strenuous hikes. The complaining and arguing. Yet here I am with ten teenage boys, none of who are mi¡ne, out in the wilderness where practically anything could happen. Why?

Sure, it is the experience of a lifetime. (How many adult leaders can brag about going to Philmont three times?) Someone has to take the boys. (Parents don’t just jump out of the woodwork to volunteer for a trip like this.) Hopefully, it is a growing experience for the boys. Gee whiz! I am thirty-two years old. I made my first trek when I was twenty-six. How long do I plan to keep doing this?

Who knows? In four days I will probably start making plans for my fourth trip.

Yea, right!

(The following is an excerpt from my 1992 trek at Philmont Scout Ranch. It was not my best day at Philmont Scout Ranch.)

Wednesday, August 5, 1992, Day 8

“Wake up,” Josh yells in the early morning stillness. A new day is upon us. The sky is clear and it is a cool 46 degrees. Breakfast consists of slim jims and granola, a hearty breakfast indeed. We left camp at 7:45 a.m., way ahead of schedule.

Today would be the longest hike of the trek. It would be a 12 kilometer hike that would start out at an elevation of 7700 feet, take us to over 8400 feet as we climbed Deer Lake Mesa, back down to 8000, and back up to 8600 feet. We would be going through Upper Bench Camp, Deer Lake Mesa Camp, Ute Gulch Commissary, Aspen Springs Camp, and Cimarroncito Camp before arriving at our final destination, Webster Park Camp.

We hiked along at a good pace. By 9:25 we had reached our mid way point, Devil’s Wash Basin. Somewhere between camps the guys up front saw a deer but it vanished before the rest of us caught sight of it. At 10:15 we arrived at the Ute Gulch Commissary. Here we would be picking up our final four days worth of food. The commissary is equipped with a trading post. Everyone decided it was time to pig out on junk food and stock up for later. We left a lot of money behind in the forty-five minutes we were there.

Someone once said that this is a small world. We experienced the meaning of that comment when we met a crew from Little Canada, Minnesota as we rested at the commissary. They are also on the eighth day of their trek.

Shortly before noon we arrived at Cimarroncito Camp. We are exhausted. It was a tough hike and we still have a kilometer to go. As Josh signs up the group for the rock climbing program I look over the staff’s quarters. The building is much the same as any other back country, except for an eerie decoration located at the top of a pole in front of the building. The head of a ten point buck, complete with rib cage, has beêen wired there as its final resting place. Someone has even given it a red bow tie.

Al got the idea of asking if we could stay at this camp instead of going on to Webster Park. The staff turned us down flat. They explain that they really do not have room for us. Besides, the logistics back at tent city would not let them do it anyway. They have tried this before with other troops. Moral plummets. Everyone had their heart set on being able to stay here. I almost wish Al would have never asked in the first place. The staff member tries to cheer us up by telling us that Webster Park is only fifteen minutes away, but it is uphill.

There is no reason to stay any longer so we put our packs back on and begin the last leg of today’s hike. The guy was right. It was an uphill journey. He forgot to mention that it was a steep uphill battle. Everyone’s mood is turning foul. I am glad that staff member is not with us. I probably would not be able to stop the crew from tearing him apart.

We came across a fork in our path. The maps are not clear on which way we should go. Josh and a few of the guys head down the left trail while the rest of us wait. Several minutes later they come back. It is not the one we want. We need to keep going uphill on the right path.

There have been few times in my life that I was as tired as I was when we finally arrived at Webster Park. Josh actually dropped his pack and let himself fall to the ground. Everyone is fatigued and angry. The fifteen minute hike had become a thirty minute trip through hell. Webster Park is not our favorite camp at the moment.

Most of the crew takes it easy as we set up camp, until it starts to drizzle. Suddenly a last reserve of energy is found and camp is quickly finished. Everyone was famished so a decision was made to make a supper for lunch. A problem is discovered. Webster Park’s water comes from a pipe in the ground. The water comes out of it at a trickle. I do mean a trickle. It takes us fifteen minutes to collect two quarts of water. It is another reason to hate this camp.

A few of the guys decide to go back to Cimarroncito Camp to take a shower. They take along a few canteens. Might as well make use of the trip.

(to be continued…)

Hundreds of thousands of Boy Scouts attend summer camp every year. The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 are no exception. Five Scouts and two adult leaders attended Many Point Scout Camp, located north of Park Rapids, during the week of July 11-17.

A typical day at camp began with breakfast in the Buckskin dining hall. Then the boys would spread out throughout the camp as they worked on their merit badge advancements. After lunch, there would be troop activities. The Scouts were free to participate in any of the open program areas in the evenings.

The Melrose Boy Scouts kept quite busy at camp. Monday afternoon began with an Ethics In Action team building program. Then they spent an hour at the beach enjoying the camp’s aquatramp (sceen above). A service project of installing a new bench around the campfire ring finished up the afternoon.

The troop helped row a 30 foot long voyager canoe across the lake Tuesday afternoon to visit the new Frontier Camp. The camp was set up to be similar to an 1800′s logging camp. The Scouts cut logs using a two person saw, split lumber with an ax, debarked logs, branded beaver cookies, and played horseshoes.

Wednesday activities began with a round of disc golf. The Scouts climbed the climbing tower before heading to the archery range for the troop’s annual “Robin Hood” competition. The troop visited the Many Point History Center after supper and climbed to the top of the 100 foot high fire tower.

Thursday afternoon found the boys at Scoutcraft to learn some new cooking skills, including how to bake lembas bread, the bread of the elves in the Lord Of The Ring series. Then they went to the rifle range for the troop shoot. The afternoon ended with a relaxing hour at the beach front sauna house.

The troop began Friday afternoon like every troop in camp, with a camp reflection period. Then it was back to the waterfront for two hours of sailing on the Many Point Sunfish sailboats. The closing campfire program was held Friday evening with every troop in camp performing a song or skit. The Scouts of Troop 68 did a great job with their skit and got several laughs during their performance. (Watch for a future MSPP episode for the video of the skit.)

The five Scouts of Troop 68 did well during their merit badges programs. Each Scout completed two merit badges. The badges earned this year were Weather, Archery, and Lifesaving. One Scout was able to finish his Camping merit badge while at camp.

The Boy Scouts and adult leaders had a great time at camp this year and already have made their reservation to attend many Point Scout Camp during the 2011 season.

The Boy Scouts of Troop 68 used to like to song songs, mix them up a bit, and write new lyrics to them. They would then perform these “new” versions at campfire programs or during their annual Laughs For Lunch Show. This episode of Melrose Scouting Productions Podcast features one of those songs.

The troop has been spending one spring weekend a year at Camp Watchamagumee (private land north of Melrose). It is one of the Scout’s favorite places to camp. We usually have a great time there, but one year things did not go very well. A local farmer had cattle grazing on the forty acre site. Usually, the cattle are not a problem. We leave them alone and they leave us alone. Not that year. The troop was away from camp for awhile to play some softball. When we arrived back at the site the cows had invaded the camp and had damaged equipment along with a few other problems. It was the one time we left camp due to cattle issues.

A couple years later we decided to take the song “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” and rewrite the lyrics to describe what happened during the weekend in which the cows drove us away from our campsite. Everything in the song did actually take place. This video was taken from the 2001 Laughs For Lunch Show performance. I forgot where the cow costumes came from, but they did add a little something to the song.

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The following is an excerpt from the journal I kept during my Boy Scout troop’s trek through Philmont Scout Ranch in 1986:

Ute Springs Camp was the smallest of the various camps at which we stayed.  The site we chose was quite small.  A little trickle of a stream bordered the east side.  The south and west sides were rimmed by steep hills.  The sloped gradually upward toward larger site which the PA group was using.  The stream had to be crossed to get back to the trail from the site.

Ute Springs was so small that we decided to leave the tents packed and sleep under the dining fly.  By adding a tent fly to each end of the dining fly we increased the sheltered area enough for everyone to sleep under and have enough room left to store out packs.  It was pretty nice little idea.

A commissary and trading post was located a half mile down the main trail from the camp.  We collected our next four day s worth of trail food there.  Everyone also stocked up on batteries and junk food.

The scouts had a surprise for me when we got to camp.  The commissary had a “swap box,” placed outside the door.  Crews could swap food they did not care for for foods that other crews had left behind. When I was not watching the Scouts traded some of the food we didn’t like. In the trade they picked up a couple of boxes of tomato flavored cup-a-soup since they knew there were some meals coming up that I did not care to eat. I thought to myself that this act of consideration was quite thoughtful of the guys. It also restored my confidence in them regarding thinking about others.

The campfire program we held at Ute Springs was quite unique from others we had held. We set the stage for a reunion of our crew members which was to be held in twenty years at this very campsite. Each person would give an account of the last twenty years of his life. All life accounts had to be fairly believable.

Scott volunteered to be the first Scout to arrive for the reunion. According to the scenario, he had already made camp by the time the rest of us had arrived, one by one.  The guys were a bit confused as to how they should enter camp as if twenty years had past so I set the stage by entering the campsite “first”. Brian came in next. Jeff and Robert came in together having met along the way. Gerry was the last to arrive. When he walked into camp we all busted out laughing. He looked and walked exactly the way his father does. It was uncanny. We exchanged greetings and handshakes as each person arrived. Each of us found a place to sit around the campfire. Then the stories began.

Gerry was the first to tell about his life “since he left the troop.” When his wife received the invitation in the mail regarding the reunion she had had to contact him at his archeological dig in Africa. He left the dig site, and the 500 workers, in the care of his assistants. Gerry’s wife had already written two lusty novels and was currently working on a third. Her first novel, Sex Under The Eucalyptus Tree, was a bestseller. They have son, who they have named Gerry.

Brian is a staff sergeant in the army. He is currently stationed in West Germany. He has fifteen years of military experience and plans to retire from the army in other five years. He hopes to receive a government job after his stay with the army. Brian has remained unmarried and has no children.

I live in California with my wife and four children, three boys and one girl. My sons, ages 15, 13, and 9, are all involved with Scouting. I hold the committee chairperson position of their troop. Several years ago, I sold my shares in the three lumber years I had a partnership in, and started producing movies. My first films, Rocks Of The Piedmont and The Red Bandanna, broke even at the box office. The next project I will work on involves the adventures of a troop of Boy Scouts.

Robert has chosen Montana as his home. He and his wife are raising two children, and boy and a girl. Robert has always been interested in cars. His automobile collection includes fifteen cars, one of which is a Lambourgine(?). His three auto body shops keep him quite busy.

Jeff is still unmarried. Ann, his girlfriend while he was a Scout, dropped him in his senior year for a basketball player. Florida is were Jeff calls home. He works at a school for handicapped children where he receives a lot of pleasure from working with the kids. He has adopted two children, one boy and one girl. Both kids are handicapped. Jeff spends as much time with them as he can. They often go to amusement parks, museums, or other fun places in his 1986 black Jaguar.

Scott, his wife, son, and daughter have made a home in Texas. He owns his own architectural firm which is doing quite well.

It will be interesting to look each other up in twenty years and see how close these predictions came to real life.

Tonight was Jeff’s turn for the first bear watch. Robert agreed to stand watch with Jeff if Jeff would do the same for him. They woke me up at 11:00 for my turn. I was tired, and did not want to get up, so I traded watches with Robert as long as he was already up anyway.

Thirty minutes later our camp was hit by a downpour. Jeff and Robert scrambled for shelter under the fly. Within minutes small streams were flowing down the hills, and we were in their paths. Everyone was moving gear and sleeping bags to drier spots. The plastic ground cloths were repositioned to to keep the water from flowing over them.

Gerry missed it all. Once again he was unwakeable. He never saw the rivers of water as they past below our plastic sheets on their way to the stream on our east side.   Fifteen minutes later I too was asleep. Needless to say, bear watches were canceled for the rest of the night.

As we expected, our gear was drenched in the morning. Within a few minutes over two hundred feet of rope was stretched between the trees. Sleeping bags, foam pads, clothes and ground cloths were hung on every available foot of line. We waited as long as we could before repacking it, but it was not long enough to dry everything completely. There was a good chance that we would be sleeping in damp bags tonight.

This and other Philmont journals and photo galleries can be found at http://melrosetroop68.org/highadventure.html

Footnote: It has been over 20 years since that night at the campfire. Gerry still lives in the area but the rest have moved away from Melrose. Robert stops by for a visit a couple times a year. Jeff and Scott live near the Twin Cities. I have not seen either of them for years. Brian is the only one who came close to doing what he said he would do. He did actually enter the military and made a career of it. I think I have seen him twice since he graduated from high school.