Back in the day, when my younger son was in the troop, the adults were definitely challenged with the younger members of the troop. As I was camping a lot with the troop, I learned more and more how the scouting world worked and things to watch for (no matter what time of day or night). This particular campout was at a local ranch near Pleasanton.
Friday night was the usual brown bag lunch (for supper) because the troop doesn’t cook on Friday Night due to camp getting set up. Scouts were up late getting camp gear unloaded from vehicles and setting camp up. Camp needed to be set up so by that morning, all could get up and start breakfast without setting up all that was needed. Scout patrols, including Leadership/adult patrol, are responsible for cooking their own meals and doing their own dishes for each meal (even today). There are normally activities set up for all to do. On Saturday, right after breakfast (about 8 AM), we did a 5 mile hike with all scouts before it got too hot. As usual, you walk as fast as the slowest person (which normally was me). All had to participate and didn’t have the choice to sit in camp and do nothing. Scouts were required to take some kind of water bottle, canteen, camel back (pack that you can use on your back like a daypack), and wear good hiking shoes and if wanted a walking stick... As we walked, we watched things in nature such as animal tracks, birds, animals, flowers, trees, etc…many newer scouts earning Tenderfoot through First Class have to do this to qualify for those ranks. It was a pretty interesting hike, which also qualified those who need the hike for First Class using the compass that a few adults had carried to teach scouts how to use them with the land (has to be a five mile hike to qualify for rank purposes).
Scouts saw a lot and learned a lot about nature that day and were ready to get back to camp for lunch. Each patrol prepared their lunch. It was always a learning curve for the patrols because the meeting before the campout, they had to plan their meals for the weekend and purchase the food for those going. Many times, too much food or not enough food was bought. If it was a severe case of shortage, a trip was made to town to purchase what was needed…with the life lesson of learning how to plan menus and food quantities. After lunch, scouts were on their own to investigate around the property (within limits and always had to have a buddy). A few hung around camp and wanted to go fishing. Several of the ranches that we have visited over the years have stock tanks that have allowed the scouts to fish.
I like to fish also still do today but don’t have much chance to with life’s ongoing. Quite a few of us trekked to the tank and spent the afternoon fishing… and had quite a catch for our evening meal. We cleaned our fish (and yes, I cleaned my own fish) and prepared them for cooking…which we made sure the fire had good coals for cooking, wrapped the whole fish in foil and seasoned the fish with what we could find to season it with. Each person seasoned their fish to their liking, finished wrapping it up and put it in a small bed of coals, watching the heat so as it didn’t get too hot but there was enough heat to slowly cook the fish. The fish finally cooked and all was put out on the table for all to share in taste testing and eating so scouts could learn how to cook the fish and how different seasonings affected the taste. It was quite a treat along with all that was already prepared for the evening meal. Several scouts needed work in their books for Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class ranks so all that had their books got them out to prepare for working in them. For those that didn’t bring their books, those that had them, shared with those that didn’t. Scouts earned a lot towards their ranks, with planning and preparing their meals, setting up camp with their patrol and sleeping in their tents, cooking the patrol’s food, working on the compass work with the hike, participating in scout events, etc…the list goes on. It was a little cooler out so we had a fire started. After the evening meal, scouts sat around the fire for quite awhile.
Lights were to be out in camp by 11:00 PM so scouts could get a little rest (ha! ha!) for the next day. About 9:00 PM (as it started to get dark) some of the younger scouts turned in for the evening but had cards or dominoes that they played for awhile. In the meantime, the older scouts were a different story and of a different breed…this is when they came alive. Back in the old day, scouts would play a game at night and labeled it “war games”…, which was nothing more than a glorious name for hide –n- seeks at night. For those that wished to participate, teams were broken up and “base—Ollie in free was picked”. If a team had an odd person, scouts tried to recruit another scout to play to even out the team but if not, they played handicapped. The scout that was tagged as handicapped had to play on both teams (scouts always wound up interchanging scouts to make it more interesting). Of course, one team had to stay in camp with their eyes closed (ha! ha! like they could really see 10 feet in front of them in the dark) and the other team hid away from camp….and the games began. Scouts had to be pretty close to camp so those seeking those hidden didn’t have to go too far. It was so funny because in the still of the night, you could hear the scouts that were hiding across camp…hide here…no that’s not a good spot, hide over there…not realizing their voices carried into camp. You would know that they were ready for “seek” to begin because it got quiet and didn’t answer to “Are you ready?” The scouts in camp would buddy up and start seeking in the last place they thought the voices were coming from. Some of the team hiding would be found really quickly because they hid close to camp. Sometimes it took a little time to find the scouts that hid. All went good through the evening with all scouts having a good fun time. Most everyone not playing had crawled into their tents to settle for the night, except for me and one other adult because we knew we still had scouts out and about. They were allowed to play until 11:00 PM and then had to be back in camp for settling down. A few of the younger scouts sat out on the last two hide-n-seek because they were tired, so they crawled into bed. As it got close to scouts getting back to camp, those of us that were still up heard this really loud crack and noise going on. As we were trying to figure out what was going on, we headed for our tents to find flashlights and put on good shoes (flip flops don’t work as you are going through fields and brush). We had hiked through two fields and into some brushy area. We could here the few scouts that were still out but couldn’t quite figure out where they were. I think they found us before we found them, with us having the flashlights and calling out the names of the scouts who were still out n about. As the scouts approached us, they were all excited because they had knocked down a couple of dead trees that we could get to camp the next day, break up and use for fire wood for future use. As adults, we had to check on the scouts to make sure of what they were doing and what the noise was to make sure no one was hurt plus no mischief was going on (not our scouts…). As we got back to camp, the scouts that were still out and about got a really stern lecture and had to hit the sack once back in camp. The next morning, all got up bright and early (especially the scouts that were out late) and fixed breakfast. Scouts were looking to break camp early and be back in town before 10:00 AM BUT the adult leaders had a quick chance to visit and decided that the scouts that were out and about late had to try and recruit younger scouts to help them go fetch the dead trees that they downed the night before, figure out how to drag them to camp, decide how to break them up and stack them in an out of the way place for future campouts (which we camped at this ranch quite a bit). As the older scouts worked towards getting everyone involved, (we let them work at it for quite a few minutes), adults finally chimed in and had all scouts help…with life’s lessons about the things we do in life has consequences….