During my tenure in the scouting world, I have learned so much about scouting, survival and life. As I went through the cubbing world, I never realized what the boy scouting world would lead me to once my boys transferred into the troop…both cub scouting and boy scouting are connected in many ways but are so different as to how the young scouts are learning to deal with every day life and how to handle situations—survival. In the cubbing world, young scouters are just finding their world and how it works. In the boy scouting world, scouts are learning how to survive situations that they may not normally encounter in a normal day’s life. Most young men don’t learn to cook for themselves, shop for groceries and be frugal, do their own laundry, clean house, etc.
The scouting program does this for scouts of all ages no matter how much they want or like to…depending on when and how long they are in the scouting world, they will take something of this nature with them into the big outside world whether they realize it or not. This particular campout that I was on with two other adults, we had several scouters at that time that were self resilient in the things that they did and had the skills to do so. We were camping at a ranch south of Pleasanton that was way back in the boondocks.
(needed a GPS to find your way in and out but really didn’t exist in the day). Well, needless to say direction wasn’t one of my strongest points so I had to follow other adult leaders to camp, in which I had to leave for a few hours on Saturday due to sports going on. As we got up on Saturday morning, a couple of the older scouts got up and decided to go check the hog traps that the rancher had set to catch wild hogs ruining crops, land and livestock, in which they had permission from the ranch owner the night before to do.
The troop would not allow scouts to do so without permission. All scouts were sent on a task to find wood for a fire early Saturday Morning if they were not cooking the breakfast meal and doing the dishes. Once scouts returned with firewood, it was determined what wood could be used for cooking (mesquite, oak…etc)….lots of woods and downed trees were available…ranch was a couple of hundred acres strong. As scouts were bringing back firewood that would be great to cook with, one of our older scouts started a fire to build coals to cook with. As they left camp about 8:30 AM with a couple of older scouts and an adult, they left camp with instructions to keep the fire building up to make a good hot coal bed. So as they left camp, we kept watching the fire and kept the coals building.
We sat around camp and the fire (was during a cooler part of the year so the fire was welcome) and working on scouting stuff to help the younger scouts out. As the adults in camp were visiting with younger scouters, we realized that they had problems setting up their tents and gear the night before (Friday Night) but didn’t say anything to anyone…part of rank is to be able to set up your tent on an overnighter and sleep in it.
The other adult and I left in camp walked the campsite to check on everyone’s tent and campsite to make sure it was set up properly and to help those that weren’t and hard a hard time doing so. It took us awhile because of several younger scouts in the troop that had borrowed troop gear but for some reason, it was not complete. Scouts were showed how to improvise the things they needed… straight sticks for tent poles that were missing (two man tents), tarp for a rain fly for the rain we were expecting, etc…it is amazing the things you can improvise with to make something work,…just have to think about it and realize that it may not be the right thing to use but it will work… As the day went on, our scouters that were out and about came back to camp right before lunch time all excited about what they had, including the ranch owner. The scouts returned with a large wild domestic hog that was caught in a trap set by the rancher and that they had already gutted and cleaned up. Our oldest scouter found several sticks that he could make two tripods from and a stick that could be used for a skewer for the pig. The older scout dug a deep hole to put the fire in and tripods with a long skewer stick over the hole. The older scouts prepared the hog for cooking and pierced the skewer through the hog. Hot coals were transferred from the fire pit to the pit to cook the hog. We had continuously kept the fire going and hot coals building, which takes a while to build up. The older scouts put the pig over the open fire like a rotisserie type of cooking and started to cook the pig. This was going to be quite a long process because the pig had to be cooked thoroughly before it could be eaten. Scouts prepared their lunch in the patrol method and then ate. Patrols had to clean up their own dishes after lunch. As the day went on, there was a vigil kept over the fire to make sure of enough heat to cook the pig as needed. A couple of adults in camp took the younger scouts on a hike around the premises to check out wildlife and nature as needed for rank and/or just pleasure. Quite a few older scouts didn’t need the requirements for rank but joined in the hike for the pleasure of doing so. We were gone about two or so hours and returned to camp. Several scouts had their books with them and brought them out to be signed off. As we checked on our older scout cooking the hog, realized that it would be finished by the time the supper meal was ready. The hog was good and golden brown already but was not burned in any way, shape or fashion.
Just enough heat was kept on the hog to cook it but not burn it… hot coals work wonders. Supper time rolled around and scout prepared their meals. To supplement all meals prepared, we all shared in the roasted hog…best cooked hog I had ever eaten….cooked over the open fire. You never know what you can do with what you have until you have to do it…improvisation works wonders…. As we stood around the fire as the sun set enjoying a great dinner and a hog cooked in a naturally made rotisserie and all meals were finished and completed, scouts were still munching on the leftovers of the hog, taking their pocket knives and cutting chunks off to chew on. The landowner stood around the fire with us and the stories about life were going round and round the campfire till wee hours of the morning…needless to say the sun came up awful early.