Back in May, our pack had its annual camp out. In the past we have camped in tents at our council’s “primitive” camp close to our meeting place. We typically rent a shelter by a campsite for cover to eat and do some activities while doing others out and about around camp. This year we decided to try out the Fort at the Cub World on the council’s scout reservation. When planning for this last year, we thought it would be a different experience that the boys would enjoy. I think the moms in the pack were looking forward more so to the indoor flushing toilets and shower facilities. 🙂
With the Fort as our backdrop, we decided to have a Wild West theme. We got bandanas, cowboy tattoos, sheriff’s stars, water pistols and other themed knickknacks. We even had t-shirts made up (thanks classb.com).
Friday night was essentially set up with a little bit of free time. Our Webelos (having just learned to tie their knots for Outdoorsman activity badge) led a demonstration on their own to teach the square knot to the other boys in the pack. It’s never too early to get them performing in leadership roles in front of their peers in the pack. Since we have only three Webelos, they decided to split up the pack into three groups to have each Webelos teach a smaller group of other scouts. A true learning moment came when the Webelos were trying to get the younger scouts to line up and split into the three groups. My oldest quipped to me, “this is hard to get them to listen and line up.” “Welcome to my world.” I replied. When not learning knots, the boys enjoyed scouting out the Fort by running around the top-level and through the courtyard. As nightfall came, we had a small campfire, roasted marshmallows and performed a flag retirement ceremony. Again the Webelos took a lead and performed the color guard duty of lowering the colors from the flag pole and also assisting with the retirement of the tattered, worn flags. I noticed that throughout the weekend, the Webelos really showed a lot of maturity and leadership. I think they have finally realized that they are the oldest in the pack now and need to set a good tone and example.
Saturday morning came and gorgeous weather along with it. The month of April was the wettest April in the history of the Cincinnati area and the first part of May was very wet and rainy as well. We had our fingers crossed we’d have a break in the weather in time for the camp out and for a change, Mother Nature delivered in our favor. After breakfast, the boys went out to learn and play flag football. Each year at our campout, we do an activity that involves a belt loop. The boys that attend the campout and participate earn the belt loop. We then present it that same night at our pack meeting campfire. That is about as immediate as you can get with recognition. After flag football, the boys received their water pistols and played capture the flag throughout the Fort. The fun part about this activity was that at the end of their game, we set all the kids outside the fort, closed the door and told them we were “hiding the flag” so that they needed to work together to find it. The ruse was that we parents were filling up our own water guns and super soakers to ambush the kids as they “stormed the fort” looking for the flag. They had no clue what we were up to and when we let them in, an all out water gun war broke out between the parents and the kids. Everyone got wet and had a blast.
After lunch the boys along with the parents went on a scavenger hunt around the grounds of Cub World. Upon completion of the hunt, the boys were awarded a goody bag of more Cowboy paraphilia. Everyone then made up their mountain man dinner packet (hamburger meat, potatoes, carrots, onions wrapped in foil), put it on the fire coals and headed off on a nature hike. This was the first time we had tried this for a meal so sorting the foil packs was a bit of a challenge after the hike because despite each person putting their name on their foil pack in sharpie marker, those that did not apply the marker liberally had their name worn off by the heat and fire from the coals. The other item was that depending on where the packet was placed on the coals, 25-30 minutes per side was waaaayyy too long and some hamburger was well done. Luckily there was other food so no one went hungry.
Once dinner was cleaned up we had our pack meeting campfire. Each den always prepares a skit or song to perform and everyone joins in for a song and a cheer (or two or three). Then it is on to awards. We handed out the Flag Football belt loops from the morning activity. Most of the boys had earned their rank earlier this year. We did however present a Wolf badge, the Webelos received their Outdoorsman activity badge, we awarded some Outdoor Activity Awards, Leave No Trace awards and a few World Conservation awards. The highlight of the meeting is the boys get to “crossover” into their next rank. We have a wooden bridge that we use for crossing into Boy Scouts as well as for rank crossovers. We start by having the first year Webelos cross first to become second year Webelos. Then the Bears are next. Last year we started the tradition of having the boys in the existing rank welcome and present the books, neckerchiefs and slides to the boys crossing over. So the existing (now second year) Webelos welcomed the Bears to the Webelos den. The (now) former Bears, welcome the new Bears. The (now) former Wolfs welcome the new Wolfs and so on. This year we did a spring recruiting and had two new Tigers join (one of whom is my youngest son). When they were called up to receive their new handbooks and neckerchiefs, they were so excited that they were now officially Cub Scouts. After the meeting we then do s’mores over the fire. We do them with a twist. Instead of melting chocolate bars with the marshmallow between graham crackers, we use Fudge Round cookies. It’s one less thing to care for and generally the chocolate doesn’t melt as easily. This year we also had Peeps that the boys could roast (got that idea from Scouter Mom). Once the fire died down, we let the boys run off the sugar in the fort by giving them glow sticks and rings and they were off to bed. For some reason, they fell asleep much quicker than on Friday?!?!?!
Sunday morning brought another bright sunny day. After our worship service, we had breakfast then began cleaning up and packing to go home. All in all the boys and the adults had a great time. So much that we will be having our spring campout back at the Fort next year.