Before scouts were allowed to leave camp, they had to ready as much as they could for any rain that was forthcoming. It was about 9 or so in the morning and scouts were out and about. Scouts had to buddy up with another scout before they were all allowed to leave camp for any reason. Several of our older scouts buddied up and went to check out trails and caves (scouts were warned about the dangers of caving…) and many of the younger scouts checked things out but had to stay closer to camp. The clouds were rolling in but didn’t look like it was going to be a bad storm, just rain and maybe some thunder & lightning. I wasn’t worried about the older scouts because they were used to being out in the rain and storms. I knew that they would find protection if needed. Well, the rain rolled in on a mild note and didn’t look like it was going to last long. It rained for about an hour or so then let up… and the sky turned blue again…… The other troop didn’t tarp the wood so it would stay dry so quite a bit of the wood had gotten damp from the rain. I had made a few suggestions on how to get things set up to dry out the wood and get the fire for lunch going. Well … the suggestions didn’t go over so well cause the guys knew what they were doing….. (Or so they thought). As far as our younger troop planning for the campout, I was quickly finding out that the adults and scouts didn’t quite know how to plan for alternative weather hitting us. Two of the young scouts were allowed to pack their backpacks by them selves (had only been on a couple of overnighters). Needless to say, these two scouts didn’t pack any extra clothes at all (only had the clothes on their backs) so when the first rain came through, they wound up soaking wet. Their scoutmaster sent the two scouts to their tents so they could take off their clothes in hopes that we could dry them by the fire. Of course, the scouts had to stay in their tents during the duration of trying to dry their clothes. Several of the other younger scouts didn’t plan on eating/drinking utensils or proper scouting gear for the campout. I sent several of the younger scouts out to find some very long logs/tree branches or whatever they could find. My scouting senses had started to kick in high gear because no matter what, I knew this was going to depend on me, experiences that I have had in the past and my more experienced scouters. I sent several of the younger scouts out to find some very long logs/tree branches or what ever they could find. My older scouts were still out and about which was nothing new. The scouts didn’t let me down. They brought in four large posts/limbs that we could lash and a lot of smaller wood we could use if needed for a fire.
Then the big storm started to roll in right behind the previous storm…with threats of heavy rain, thunder and lightning. The younger troop adults with me couldn’t figure out what we were going to do, how to do it and get it going even though I had tried to explain to them… The only thing I could tell them is, let’s collect everything we need and go from there. A couple of my older scouts had come back to camp already so I tapped in on their talent and experience. We managed to scrounge up a tarp, rope, duct tape, fire starter logs and matches (most of which I had brought with me) I had been camping just enough to know that these were some basic items to carry and the scout motto is to “be prepared”. We had a head count of who was in camp and who was still out and about. We had three sets of older scouts still out and about but all of the rest of the scouts were in camp or very near camp. Our younger troop leadership wanted to go looking for the three sets of older scouts as the storm was rolling in with vengeance. My quick response was that we can’t leave camp and let the rest of the scouts dangle in mid air during the storm… that they have enough experience to find shelter to be safe or are on their way back to camp. We found a really good spot to make an Indian style tepee with the four poles the scouts brought in and quickly lashed it all together. Finally the younger troop understood what I was doing with the four poles and tarp because we didn’t need any tent stakes to put it up. We balanced the tepee on a rock formation and started to build a fire. By the time we got our “tepee” up, it really started to rain very hard, with thunder and lighting. Most of the scouts stayed in their tents and we three adults stayed under the tepee working on the fire to get it going and keep it going. We had a rock formation that was slightly higher that the rest of the rock around it so we were able to start the fire with fire starter logs and put some of the wood around the heat to dry it some. Our fire was going soon (of course had some smoke but the tarp didn’t go all the way to the ground so had some venting going on). We had already prepared our meal for lunch (which was going to be Chili) before the storm hit us again. We worked on cooking the meat with onions/bell peppers, etc first. We were facing camp so we could keep an eye on the scouts in camp to make sure all was secure. The discussion of the three sets of older scouts kept coming up and I had to keep assuring our younger troop’s leadership that they would be fine… this was not their first time out in a storm.. Our younger troop leadership was very amazed with the “tepee affect” and how the rain water was running down the hill around us, through part of the tepee and we had fire, protection from the rain and still cooking lunch will all that was going on around us. Lunch did take a little longer to cook due to the wood being wet and the rain around us. As we used the wood drying out around the fire, we would add a couple of more pieces of wood to dry. It didn’t look like the rain was going to subside soon. We finally got lunch cooked. We had all we needed in the tepee to get scouts in to eat. They had been bouncing in and out of the tepee during breaks in the heavy rain. Most of the scouts took their meal back to their tent with the understanding that once the weather broke, dishes would be done. And the rain kept right on a coming…..Finally about 2:00 in the afternoon, the weather broke and the rain stopped…for the time being. We had water on the fire getting hot so we could do the dishes so when the time presented itself, we were able to gather all of the dirty dishes and work on getting them cleaned up. Within a half an hour of the storm breaking up, our three sets of scouts that were out and about came back into camp, dry as a bone. Our younger brother troop really had a hard time figuring out how they didn’t get wet, stayed dry and got back to camp dry….it is the resilience of older scouts that have been on the high adventure treks that deal with these situations and have no place to go but what they can find on the trail. These three sets of scouters out there found protection in caves and cliff overhangs to get into. They had backpacks on that carried nutrition bars, snacks and camel backs that carried water. I had the three sets of scouts explain to the group what they did, how they did it, and how they carried out an emergency plan. It was a very good learning experience for all attending. We had rain throughout the evening meal but still had our tepee standing tall and workable… We did have the scouts scout out some more wood that we could use to keep the fire going so all could huddle around the fire and warm up if they chose to do so. Supper meal (stew) was cooked the same way because of a constant mist/rain. It took awhile, but eventually got done and we were able to get a couple of cobblers cooked also. By the time scouts were ready to eat, the rain had stopped for awhile so the scouts were able to eat out in the open. The rain finally subsided towards the evening giving all a much needed break from the weather. Scouts were able to get out and do some activities, play some games and have some fun. Needless to say, the couple of scouts that didn’t bring any extra clothes and got wet in the ones that they had on, were still confined to their tents because it took forever to get their clothes dry by the fire with the moisture in the air. There wasn’t any rain over the night and the next morning the sun was shining very bright. Scouts got up and cooked breakfast early. Once breakfast was cooked and all had eaten, dishes were done. Then we worked on breaking down camp so we could head home. Of course, we had to haul everything back to the parking lot to the vehicles and a lot of it was wet. We left camp and headed home and reached there safely. Of course, we had several parents from both troops upset because of the weather and being out in the open… The first words out of the other troop’s adults were “We were in very good hands”, which made me feel really good because our troop didn’t have any adult males attending. I relied on the older scouters that I had attending and they came through in many ways. There were a few groups still out during the storm, but did have several older scouters in camp. It was quite an experience for me, our troop and especially our younger troop that we brothered on this campout. And to know that sometimes we ladies do know a little bit about the scouting world.