Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Laid-back Scout weekend

Our Boy Scout troop camped out at our local scout reservation this past weekend ... just for the heck of it. We had originally planned to travel over the mountains to Lake Sherando but the group campsite was already booked every weekend in September by the time we got our ducks in a row. In attempting to come up with an alternative we were reminded of desire expressed by some of the boys during summer camp for a campout just for the sake of going camping. No structured activities, no big event, but just camping for the fun of it. So we got a reservation for a campsite in Douglas Fleet and actively engaged in non-planning of activities.

And it was great!

Aside from the rain while we were setting up on Friday night, the weekend couldn't have been much better. On Saturday and Sunday we were blessed with perfect camping weather. Bright sunny skies with highs in the upper 70s and lows at night down around 50. Absolutely beautiful.

Through a reservation quirk we also had the entire reservation to ourselves. Turns out that the council office shouldn't have allowed us to camp as there was a big triathlon taking place on Sunday. The camp director, who I know pretty well, stopped by on Friday night to ask how we managed to get a reservation. After we discussed the circumstances he said we'd be fine as we would be leaving before the activities took place and even though the organizers were setting everything up on Saturday we should be okay using the trails and such.

While no formal activities were planned, the adult leaders (all 3 of us), and the older Scouts all said they'd be happy to help anyone complete rank requirements or teach Scout skills. This worked out extremely well with some motivated youth learning woods tools, fire building, knot tying, lashings, cooking, plant & animal identification, among other topics.

Around 2pm we led the Scouts on a 5-mile hike using the new circumferential trail that goes around the reservation. Again, the weather was perfect and everyone got to see whole sections of the camp that we hadn't been to before. Near the start we stopped by to admire the new shooting area at Brady Saunders before diving into the woods and heading over to the Cub Camp side of the reservation. This was nice because we took "Angelo's Trail" over which is a nature trail dedicated to one of the boys from our Cub Scout pack who died when he was just eight years old.

I think this campout may become a staple for us in September as it doesn't require a lot of pre-planning and was very well received by the boys who went. We do our annual program planning in August so September is always one of the harder campouts to plan because of the short amount of time available to make reservations, secure equipment, line up transportation, etc.

A great way to spend the weekend.

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