More of June 30 - Day 1 at Camp Geiger

Once at Geiger itself, the first order of business was to collect the boys’ electronics. Once all devices were turned in, the boys could exit the bus to complete the paperwork check-in. One of the pluses to being at camp the 4th week of the season is that the camp staff has worked out all the kinks. The check-in process worked like a well-oiled machine and was completed surprisingly rapidly.

We then headed to our campsites. This year, Troop 451 is split between two sites, Arapahoe and Sioux Lookout. Because we arrived so early in the day, our sites were not yet ready for us to ‘move in” so we repaired to the Trading Post nearby to wait. The boys passed their time running about, playing cards, swapping tales, and generally blowing off steam in one way or another. The adults rested, conserving energy for later in the day.

Settling into our camp sites consisted of setting up cots, rolling out bedding, and stowing our footlockers. This phase was also done efficiently. A few who finished especially quickly were able to eat their sack lunches before the next big event. Others had to wait until afterwards but everyone who felt the need was able to eat by early afternoon.

The highlight of day 1 at Camp Geiger has to be the swim test. The BSA has strict regulations ensuring swimming safety and one of those regulations is that the swimming ability of each person engaged in aquatic activities must be assessed. There are three classifications available: 1) non-swimmer; 2) beginner; and 3) Swimmer. Non-swimmers are restricted to waste-deep water over an even bottom and their area must be clearly marked off. Beginners are allowed a bit more freedom but again, their designated area must likewise be clearly marked off. Swimmers are allowed in water over their heads (8 feet for turbid water, 12 feet in clear water. In a natural body of water, the swimmers’ are must be marked too, but unlike the non-swimmers’ and beginners’ areas, the swimmers’ area need not be formally roped in. 

All people who want to enter the water at a BSA event, adults as well as Scouts, must be classified. If no test has been taken, the default level is non-swimmer. Beginners must demonstrate some proficiency and swim a short distance. To be classified as a swimmer, a person must jump into deep water (over one’s head) feet first, come up, and begin swimming. This is in contrast to a head-first dive and helps make sure that the swimmer would be unlikely to panic if they were to fall in accidentally. The swimmer must also be able to swim 100 yards without resting; 75 yards of a strong forward stroke, such as breast stroke or crawl and 25 yards of basic backstroke. To complete the test, the swimmer must briefly demonstrate the ability to float on his back. This is not an involved or arduous test but it helps make sure that people who want to be in deep water have the ability to be there without undue risk to themselves or others.

The boys from 451 dutifully hiked over to the swimming pool and waited patiently for their tests. A number of the adults elected to be tested as well, even though most anticipated doing no more than splashing in the shallow end (the non-swimmers’ area) to cool off. Just as with the morning’s check-in procedure, the swimming tests were administered quickly and efficiently. Virtually everyone achieved their desired classification. Afterwards, many folks decided to check out the Trading Post. Well-known for its ever-popular slushies, the Trading Post also purveys a variety of Scout Gear, ranging from essentials such as Scout socks (a must for proper uniform) to BSA pocket knives and souvenir T-shirts. They also carry more camp-specific necessities such as insect repellant. This writer found their selection of attractive, reasonably-priced walking sticks irresistible.

With 62 boys and 23 adults, the Troop 451 contingent comprises some 20-25% of all folks attending Camp Geiger this week. We will definitely make sure that our fellow campers know that the boys from Texas are in town. Tonight, we partake of our first meal in the dining hall and will have a chance to meet our fellow campers.


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