Monday, July 8, 2013

What a Week We Had! - Thursday Night

The high point of any week at Camp Geiger comes Thursday night. This is the night of the “Tapping” ceremony, when new candidates for admission to the tribe of Mic-O-Say are publicly selected. The tribe is the honor camping society of the Pony Express Council, the Heart of America Council, and Camp Geiger. In some ways, it is similar to the national scout camping honor society, Order of the Arrow, but Mic-O-Say is unique. For example, both groups make extensive use of Native American lore and traditions but the tribe of Mic-O-Say maintains greater adult involvement in its leadership. Many camping honor societies arose in the 1920s (the tribe goes back to 1925) and most of these were eventually subsumed into OA. Yet a few, like the Tribe of Mic-O-Say, maintained their independence and thrived.

While current tribesmen are busily tending to myriad duties, everyone else enjoys dinner and then assembles for the evening’s events. Tribesmen first lead the campers across the camp to a glade where a small fire is burning in the gathering dusk. There, an elder of the Tribe of Mic-O-Say, decked in full Native American dress, tells a story about the tribe and its history while his audience listens in silence. Accordingly, this is known as the Story Fire. From there, the campers are led back across camp to Tapping Valley. In the center of the valley, tribal Firebuilders have constructed a huge and elaborate bonfire that looks something like a giant wooden tipi. By the time campers arrive from the Story Fire, the bonfire is already beginning to blaze. Approaching it from a distance in the evening dark, the fire looks like a small torch. The flames continue to get bigger as the campers move closer. The sounds of tom-toms and native chants grow louder and the silhouettes of the dancers become visible as they move about the fire in a ring.

By the time the campers reach the fire, it has grown so big that it lights up the whole of Tapping Valley, casting flickering orange light on the hillsides and trees, and on all the scouts and friends in attendance. The Indian dancing is a fantastic spectacle. The sight of a hundred or more young men in full Native American dance regalia, dancing and chanting in native tongues to the rhythmic boom of the tom-tom is truly impressive. (You can view a photo here:

Tribesmen work long and hard to construct elaborate costumes based on traditional, authentic Indian garb. The most obvious and impressive components of the dance regalia are the bustles. These large fan-like feather appurtenances accentuate the dancers’ every move. Each dancer is expected to sport a full bustle and these range from the merely quite showy to the awesomely-elaborate. Back bustles, worn between the shoulder blades are a popular option, as are the smaller arm bustles adorning the upper arms. The choice of colors is as varied as the young men who make the bustles. Some go for traditional color schemes while others opt for bright, modern colors, including day-glo orange and green. The dancers also wear breech cloths or leather leggings, various hairpipe breastplates and collars, and headdresses according to their station. All of it looks great! The dancers also wear a variety of bells, from sleigh bells, to sheep bells, and even some cowbells. These may be arranged on a belt around the waist or on leather straps for the ankles and wrists. Their jingle-jangle adds to the atmosphere as the dancers circle the fire. Hollywood does not present a better spectacle. (You can view a photo here:  All the light comes from flame and the sound, though considerable, is unamplified by any electronic means. Standing in the firelight, immersed in the sights and sounds of the fantastic performance, one imagines that one feels what it must have been like to see such a gathering a century or two before.

When the dancing is done, tribal leaders briefly address the gathered crowd before the night’s real drama begins. All scouts and leaders who are not members of the tribe of Mic-O-Say are arranged in a ring around the bonfire. The ring is quite large since there are a couple of hundred such scouts at any given summer session. A group of tribesmen stand on the hillside above the valley holding aloft brightly burning torches. (You can view a photo here: A chilling, loud ululation rings out and from among the torches, the Tapper emerges at a run. Holding a tomahawk high in one hand and a blazing torch in the other, he races down the steep hillside, through the ring of scouts and all the way around its inside one time. Then begins the selection itself.

No one outside the tribe knows who the candidates for admission are. While candidates are typically third-year Geiger campers who have earned the rank of Star Scout, these qualifications are not hard and fast. Thus, any scout at the fire can hope to be selected. The tension is palpable as the tapper circles the ring once more. This time, he stops in front of a scout and ritually taps him twice on the chest with the tomahawk. Tapped, the scout is now recognized as a candidate for admission into the tribe of Mic-O-Say. The drama is repeated again and again by the dancing orange firelight, with the tapper running around the ring, tomahawk in hand, torch held high, until every candidate has been tapped. To add to the suspense, scouts are not necessarily tapped in the order in which they are standing. Sometimes the tapper will pass a candidate two or three times, tapping other candidates around the ring, before finally circling around once more to tap him. Thus, even if the Tapper has run by you several times, you may yet be tapped. The suspense is unmistakable, as is the candidates’ relief and joy at being selected.

This week, 75 young men were tapped. Surely, some scouts who had hoped to be tapped are disappointed not to be but the candidates, naturally, are thrilled. Many have been looking forward to this moment since the first time they attended a Tapping Ceremony two or three years before. Fourteen members of our troop were tapped this year.

The candidates assemble at the center of the ring of spectators, near the roaring fire. After a review, involving ritualized questions from tribal elders about the candidates’ fitness and suitability for membership, the candidates are led off to be instructed in what will be expected of them before they are admitted into the tribe. As of that point, their status is “Foxman,” a rank before membership. As Foxmen, they are given charges and challenged to work to improve the Camp. Then, tribesmen known as “Runners” take charge of the Foxmen and lead them off to do what Foxmen do to demonstrate their worthiness to become part of the Tribe.

Adults who were not admitted as youths are also eligible for membership in the Tribe. Young men are admitted as Braves while adults are admitted as Honorary Warriors. This is in contrast to the earned rank of Warrior (the hard way) to which braves may advance. Selection of adult candidates recognizes their service to their units and to Scouting. The elaborate, dramatic tapping ritual is reserved for the boys, however. Adult candidates are called out by name rather than by being ceremoniously tapped. This preserves the very special nature of the selection process for the scouts themselves. This year, four adult members of Troop 451 were selected as candidates. Like the younger Foxmen, the adult candidates are given charges and tasks to accomplish as they demonstrate their merit for membership. The adult candidates are likewise led off while the remaining scouts and leaders enjoy the concluding ceremonies of the fire.

After nearly a century of practice, the Tribe of Mic-O-Say has perfected the process of inducting new members in ceremonies that are both spectacular and meaningful. Membership remains a major goal for most campers at Geiger and it is a strong motivator for many boys to remain in Scouting and advance in rank. This is not by chance. Mic-O-Say is not a group alongside Scouting but, rather, a group within it. It exists to support the principles of Scouting and promote retention and advancement. At this, it has been remarkably successful; members of the Tribe attain Eagle Scout at a rate far exceeding the national average.

The tribe admitted all of Troop 451’s candidates this year, adults and young men. Mic-O-Say is a great tradition for our troop to be a part of. If you have the opportunity, attending a Tapping Fire is an experience well worth your while!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Camp Geiger : Saturday July 06 - Going Home

“...For a century, Scouts just like you have served your communities and your nation in ways both large and small. During World War II, Scouts played a vital role in supporting the war effort at home by running messages and selling war bonds....Today, Scouts across the country
continue in the tradition of collecting food for those in need, improving our neighborhoods, and reaching out to those less fortunate....
Congratulations on your first hundred years. I’m sure the next hundred will be even better.” 

President Barack H. Obama at 2010 National scout Jamboree

It is 11:06 and we are out of the camp crossing River Missouri @ St. Joseph. It was 81 degrees, with slight breeze. Looks like rain is headed to Camp Geiger. This my third time here and I truly felt this was the best, we could not have asked for better. Some of senior leaders can answer in Circle Up, if there was better week they remember.

Thank you "God" for such a great week.

We did get the award for "Sharpest Troop" and "Best Camp Site" for the week. However, "Scout Spirit" award alluded us this time. Congratulations to Troop 67 and Troop 47 for winning. Some of our scouts won in "Geiger 60" Games

A quick look at our braves, I believe we have 14 of them who tested and came out in flying colors. If the goal of scouting is to become a respected Eagle Scout, for Mic-O-Say it is to become a "Runner". Congratulation to Joesph Martin, who has now advanced to become a "Runner".

I am sure many of have seen pictures of scouts with Hats that are highly creative and customized to every one who wanted. The man behind the hats was our very own "Mark Borst". Was wondering if the trading post folks would approach him to see, if they could add to their inventory. We now have 2400+ pictures posted to SmugMug. Mark was also key to taking these pictures.

Taking of trading post, I am sure one of the first questions my wife is going to ask my - "Where did all the money go ... ?" Figured it would be a nice way to cover the "Trading Post" - The center of all activity at Camp for scouts.

So here is a quick preview of the merchandise ... if you forgot camping essential like flashlight, mosquito repllert, do not worry they have it. Need to Regalia for  Costume it, they have it. Finding it too difficult to find a walking stick, no worries they have one that will meet your fashion sense. Need a sugar rush, they have candy, ice cream, soda pop and more
Oh well this is not going finish anytime soon, no wonder they say "A picture is worth a 1000 words". I give in.
8 Flavors mixed into three Slushies
The king of them all "Slushies", with 8 flavors. I am sure our great weather ( not too hot ), did not have any impact on sales numbers of these slushies.

Well we are now on a movie marathon in the bus, looks some of the braves have gone to sleep given what they been through. Going thru Mic-O-Say ceremonies last night it was clear how adults who are fully engaged make a huge difference in kids lives. We had a scout talk to us on how he scouting and Mic-O-Say helped him stay focused on School and how proud he is that he is now able to go to college  and still stay engaged with the program to help other new scouts. We truly are fortunate to have committed leaders like Gary Leuking and Richard Covington representing at the highest levels in Mic-0-Say.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Would like to close today by saying - Thank you for reading this blog, more pictures at smugmug. We are now stopped for lunch,

Home sweet Home - Here we come

Camp Geiger - Friday July 05 - Ceremonies Day

We were once again announced as "Best Camp Site" at lunch today, that makes it - 3 of 5 days.

Today our leadership team presented a Plaque made by Mr Rawson to Mr. Tony Sasso, thanking him for all the support the camp provides us. It was later signed by all leaders here.

Unlike our foxmen, who were seen running and working all around camp today, we adults who got tapped had an easier time with service projects and meetings. (Taking foxmen picutres in the camp is not allowed, we did take some when they stopped by for lunch)

At the start the week, merit badges were looking like class rooms, middle of the week they were bustling with activities, today it looked like they were all relaxing. We also had our senior scouts proudly wearing - I survived C.O.PE T-Shirts

Early in the evening, our scouts started closing the camp down. Dinner was outside in tapper valley. The scene resembled a big picnic celebration. Plenty of food, lots of noise, weather was great.

We came back to tent from the ceremonies around 1:00 am. As usual we had pizza and everyone is now asleep.

Hope to wake up early ... cannot wait to be back home.  As usual pictures have been posted to smugmug.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Camp Geiger - Friday, July 05 - Foxmen on Run

We must change boys from a ‘what can I get’ to a ‘what can I give’ attitude.” Robert Baden-Powell

Today, I am in a rush so will try to keep this short and sweet.

Yesterday, We are again voted as the "Sharpest Troop" at Camp. So far - We have been the sharpest troop here every day this was announced so far

I have been here 3 times, yesterday weather for the Tapping Ceremony was perfect. It was not hot, It was nice 70+ degrees with breeze.

Our camp site Entrance has a make over. Mr. Rawson showed our entire camp, how with a little creativity and commitment, you can take a pile of burnt wood and convert them into meaningful use.
From this : 

To This :

The weather continues to be really good ..... and am sure everyone is waiting to see us come back from camp tomorrow. We are looking forward to it too ....

As usual more pictures posted to smugmug this am... take a look. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Camp Geiger - Thursday July 04 - A big day for Tribesmen

I urge you to rededicate yourselves to the ideals of the Scout Oath, and to reaffirm your obligations to your God and to your country. In so doing, you will contribute to the strengthening of America’s heritage and thereby to the realization of our common goals in the Great Society. —Lyndon Baines Johnson

Happy July 4th to everyone from here at camp. It is bright and sunny here. 85 degrees with a slight breeze. Should be a great night. Looks like the tapping fire is completely built and Ready to Go.
Mr. Covington, Enjoying the ride to dining hall
I realize this year, I have very few pictures of Mr. Covington. Just wanted to go on the record that - "The fact that he is not in picture is a testimony that he is not over committing to working hard. Mr. Covington continues to be the support the boys with what they need at camp. Not sure how the boys would get by without his support. Before I get into more trouble with him for this picture .. I will end this commentary by simply saying "Thank you" for being here so soon after surgery and supporting the boys and adults. You truly embody the spirit of what President LBJ quoted.

Today we again place second in the "Camp Site Inspection". We were behind two other troops who tied for first place. 

Lin with Nathiel Curry (Counsellor) showing Pipe he made
Recent we looked "Jumping Bear Museum" as something new at Camp Geiger, in the same vein here is some thing new : "Plumbing Merit Badge". This being offered for the first time. Kaleb DiCiaccio, Lin Beau, Lin Ryan and Sam Spence from Troop 451 are taking advantage of the course. We have lot more photos posted to Smug Mug.

Some videos to check out :

1. Archery Skill Demonstration

2. C.O.P.E Zipline

3. God Bless America : Song after lunch

4. Shot Gun Skills Demonstration

As usual, we do have many more pictures posted to smugmug. Please check them out

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Camp Geiger - Wednesday July 03 : Family Day Summary

The continued to be great day, I walked into the woods and found birds, bunnies etc. Find below the view of the camp from the river side.

Activity is at a high gear. I got lucky to catch our mountain cyclists going down the hill into tapper valley.
It was nice to see all the families join here tonight for dinner. We had so much sugar - Cookies, Brownies sent by family that was shared across the troop 451. Thank you -- to one and all -- you made the day special for everyone here.

It was probably the first time when some of the parents here at camp could spend some time closely with their sons. 

Today was also the first day that we got see our Mic-O-Say tribe members dress fully. It is truly impressive see them in their full costume. 

As usual lot more pictures posted at smugmug related to all of today activities.

Looking forward to a great day tomorrow. Don't forget it is also the Tapping Day and there are many aspirants within the troop... Good Luck to everyone.

Want to experience some of the fun activities at the dinner and camp fire today... watch the videos embedded below. 
1. First sing along song
2. Our skit at camp fire

3. We had the teapot song again today ! look at video to find out who lost something
4. Video of Tribesmen performance - Clip 1
5. Video of Tribesmen performance - Clip 2

Camp Geiger, Wednesday July 03 - Family Day Early Post

“I admire the Boy Scouts of America because the BSA has meant finding real solutions to some of the problems plaguing our country and has kept the faith in what America is and must mean to the world. You show that character comes from one small act at a time, caring for each child as if he or she were our own.” George Bush, former President of the United States of America

It just after lunch, so far the day is sunny and bright. We did not have any more rain since the downpour last evening. It is nice 83 degrees, sunny with a slight breeze. Today Texas Flag was raised at the camp by some of senior scouts at camp. 

As with all good runs, our good run paused today. We were placed second in Camp Site just one point behind Troop 67 (Congratulations on competing hard and getting there).
Per Program Director Aaron Lewis, the winning score was a record breaking score of 113. We still continue to be the standard to over come here at Camp Geiger. Kudo's to Troop 451. In addition we did have a couple of strikes against our boys here at camp. This led to Mark, Gary and Richard speaking to the boys on proper behavior. At the end of the day :- Boys will be boys and we need keep providing the right guidance.

A patrol celebrating "Lighting a fire" (Trail of First Class)
We continue to have great camp. As much as I had trouble writing the previous paragraph. Though we compete with other Troops and there is always this aura Texas vs. the rest here at camp, there is significant positive impact of this interaction. The are making new friends who eventually can be their blood brothers, they are learning the key skill of working together and working with others. Just see the picture embedded here. It says more than what my words can express.

The weather continues to be picture perfect here at St Joesph and for families visiting here today it should be a great night. As the day progresses the fun continues. Here is a small event : a staff member greeted our troop with this picture as we were entering the dining hall for Lunch ....

Who will be the National Champion in 2013 ?
Our Response :- Nebraska does it in paper, we will get the job done on the field ! Go Texas ....

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Camp Geiger ; Tuesday, July 02 - Sunset Report

Not really sure where to start writing this report so let me begin with the end and track back to where I left off this afternoon.

The sunset was again some thing to watch and enjoy. Wish I was on the river taking this picture, however time, sun and natural wonders wait for no body. It also made me realize there is no bad place in the camp where a good picture cannot be taken. So here is the picture I took right from our camp site

Today's surprise rain, and followed by the gorgeous sunset truly reminds of this quote from Nobel Laureate Shri Rabindranath Tagore, "Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky." Sunset here today truly feels that way. Want to get a feel for the rain we had here today, take a quick look at this video: 

At dinner our team was announced as the "Sharpest Unit". This is three dinners in a row, we were awarded this. Getting this award three days in a row for a troop our size is testimony to our Scouts, who go the extra mile to follow rules and make us proud. Dinner today was Burritos, Rice and Brownies.

KP's in Action
Some of the videos, I have posted were recorded in the dining. One has to be wondering how this many of us get served food, drinks and what it takes to clean up. One of the key role in this process is the role of KP. Each troop assigns a one scout per table. For troop of our size we have have 12 tables and hence assign 12 Scouts / Adults for KP duty. Assigned KP setup the table and when the meal is over, with the help of everyone at the table clean up happens in two-minutes and it is called the "two minute drill". I am sure my wife "Bhramara" is wondering how she can enforce this at home ! ... All I can say is good luck.

Dining hall celebrated birthdays for the week today. Surprising we have no one in the troop here at camp with his birthday falling this week. Mark took this as an opportunity get Mr. Koonce added to the celebration. So Mr Koonce got to celebrate his birthday early with a really special person: USA. Want to get feel for this and celebration, watch this video

As I was taking pictures yesterday there was very little activity, it was mostly introductions, theory and getting to know each other. I started wondering when are these guys going to get their hands dirty. 

Scouts at Work
I did not have to wait long, look the collage created from metal working, basketry pottery and mountain biking merit badges in the arts and crafts area. This evening, astronomy folks are watching the stars and early in the morning bird watchers will go bird watching.

As usual lot more pictures posted at smugmug which include trail first class in the shooting complex.

Geiger Samples: 2

The adults of Troop 451 are not simply looking after our Scouts and enjoying otherwise-leisurely days at Camp Geiger. One activity that is a long-standing Troop 451 tradition is the Service Project. In years past, Troop service projects at the camp have ranged from roofing and decking new buildings to constructing platforms for the new shotgun range.

The Crew, hard at it. From Left to Right: Mr. Williams, Mr. Lueking, and Mr. Kral.
This year’s project was rather less demanding than those from previous years (and a bit reminiscent of this year’s Hammerhead Day!) Several adult members pitched in to finish a new set of steps by the headquarters building.

Mr. Williams takes a well-deserved break.
Headquarters sits on a steep slope. From the drive, it looks like any other one-story cabin; from the rear, a clear two stories are evident. Owing to the declivity, going from the front, above, to the rear, below was a hazardous undertaking for camp staff, campers, and visitors. To reduce the potential for harm while traversing the sharp incline, the Camp Ranger decided that a decent flight of outdoor steps was in order.

Mr. Lueking tamping the steps.
When we arrived for our project, the wooden forms for the steps were already in place and mostly filled with a fine, almost sand-like dusty grey gravel fill. Our task was to wet the fill gravel and firmly tamp it into place. When done properly, this yields a very firm, nearly concrete-like surface for the pathway. Unlike concrete, however, this “rammed-rock” drains easily. Tamping properly is obviously a crucial part of the entire process. Fortunately, an adequate tamper was on-site so this part of the job was not overly arduous. This was helped by the fact that we routinely rotated tamping duties. As we tamped, however, the fill was compacted more and more, lowering its level (just as intended). This meant that more gravel fill had to be added to the steps. We then shoveled in more fill gravel, raked it level, re-tamped and re-wetted it. For each step, we went through several cycles of this process  before the level of the steps was up level with the form boards (the desired standard).

Mr. Kleid waters the gravel.
Of course, getting more fill gravel meant running the wheel barrow back up the hill to where the extra fill was piled, shoveling in a load, and then bringing the now-much-heavier barrow back down the hill. Controlling a loaded wheelbarrow on so steep a slope is a feat of strength and skill. This task was mostly managed by Mr. Kral, who also shoveled and raked quite a bit. Other members of the crew also pitched in with shoveling, raking, tamping, watering, and shoveling again. In addition to the steps themselves, the Troop 451 volunteers were asked to rake and seed some bare areas of the slope beside the stairway. While we were working, our task seemed to take quite a long time on that warm Missouri morning. Camp staff, however, inspected the job and declared it done before it was time for us to break for lunch and join the troop. 

In addition to Mr. Kral, the crew members were Mr. Covington (who, wisely, stuck to supervising), Mr. Kleid, Mr. Lueking, Mr. Rawson, and Mr. Williams. Other would-be volunteers were needed back at the campsite or at the swimming pool and thus did not get a chance to pitch in here. Of course, if they had not been tending to those duties, the service project crew would not have been able to accomplish its goals.
Mr. Covington makes sure the job gets done right!

Survivors of previous service projects probably sneer at our own meager effort. Nevertheless, once again, Troop 451 has done what was asked of us in order to make Camp Geiger an even better place and ensure that it will be there to serve our Troop and many others in days to come.