July is the highlight of the Boy Scout season. After a long year of meetings, we are treated to summer camp, a weeklong camping trip held at Goose Pond Boy Scout Reservation that is a lot of fun.
Troop 160 came to camp July 7 and stayed until the next Saturday. We set up camp in the pioneer campsite. This campsite is above the main camp and has been used by Troop 160 for a long time. The first day, we unpacked all of our gear and set up the entire campsite. This involved setting up tents, preparing our cooking stations and unloading our trailer. A lot of work was done on this day and afterward the scouts ate a chicken and steak dinner with potatoes and corn.
Sunday was when camp really began. A lot had to be done. We got a group picture taken in our class A uniforms in front of the Goose Pond entrance. Then, we had to quickly go back to our campsite and change into our bathing suits to take our swim test. We walked down to camp and got our entire troop registered. About a dozen Troops stay at Goose Pond each week. Later, we completed a simple swimming test. This decided where the scouts are allowed to swim for the week. Now that we were registered, we were free to wander the camp or return to the campsite.
Every morning, we woke up at 7 a.m. and fell into our patrols for the morning flag ceremony. There were five patrols with seven or eight scouts each. Their names were the Combat Bats, Wall Floors, Alliance, Bananas and Fire Heads. This year was special because we had a troop bugler. A tune was played for waking up, falling in, raising the flag, lowering the flag and going to bed. After the American flag was raised, the patrols cooked their breakfast. After they ate and cleaned up, they went to their merit badge classes.
From Monday to Friday, scouts took one-hour merit badge classes. Each day, we took four classes and one lunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. From 2 to 3 p.m., patrols partook in patrol programming. These are very fun activities designed to encourage teamwork and communication within a patrol. Activities included flag making, fire building, extreme camouflage, greased watermelon and much more. Patrols must do this at least four times throughout the week to get the Green Bar Patrol award. Free time was 3 to 5 p.m. Scouts had the opportunity to do whatever they please. They were able to swim, go boating, do COPE courses, explore the nature lodge or practice shooting sports.
Everyday at Goose Pond was special.
Monday was sports night. Scouts from all the Troops came together and played a variety of sports including soccer, ultimate Frisbee and volleyball.
Tuesday was outpost night. Several outposts took place late at night. There was an astronomy outpost, camping outpost and a wilderness survival outpost.
Wednesday was parent's night. Parents were invited to see their sons and tour the camp. Troop 160 held a special party for the parents. A feast of hot dogs, hamburgers, salads, fruit and a lot of desserts was served. A bonfire ceremony took place soon after. Skits and songs were performed by scouts and announcements were made.
Thursday was dedicated to the Order of the Arrow. Members of the honor camping society showed their spirit by wearing the organizations clothing. That night was also the adventure race. This is a race that takes place all over camp. It requires a whole troop to compete. Several events occur and troops try to get the best time. Events vary from diving, kayaking, identifying trees, tying knots, running, and much more. A whole troop with varied skills is required to win this race. This year, Troop 160 finished the race in 21 minutes and won the adventure race.
Friday was the closing campfire. Skits were performed by troops and awards given out. Troop 160 managed to win several awards. One was the Green Beaver award. This requires scouts to bring in 10 species of animals and identify them. They also had to become educated in leave no trace principles. Another was the Davy Crockett Man Scout award. This was a new award which required troops to show their manliness by proving their scout craft skills. We had several scouts complete the polar bear swim. This required scouts to wake up early and go swimming in the frigid Goose Pond waters. To get a certificate, we had to go on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Finally, we received the troop honor camping award. This had a lot of requirements.
Saturday was a sad but relieving day. Scouts were sad that they had to pack up and leave but they will remember all of the fun things that they did. They should be hopeful of the great times that they will have next year.
Summer camp is a great and memorable experience. It is remembered and loved by all those who participate in it. It's a time to have a lot of fun and cement friendships.
Remember a scout is friendly.
Tyler VanGorder has the rank of Eagle in Boy Scout Troop 160 from Clarks Summit. He is a student at Abington Heights High School. For more information, visit troop160bsa.org.