Settling in to Summer Camp

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

Our first day of Camp Geiger, 2015 draws to a close. The day started with continued bus travel through the vast expanses of eastern Kansas, mostly heading straight towards the rising sun, which popped over the horizon about 5:30. Needless to say, for many, the bright rays ended what sleep they may have been able to grab. With the prospect of soon being at Camp Geiger, however, it seemed a small inconvenience.

We stopped on the outskirts of Saint Joseph for a delicious, and oohh, so nutritious, McDonald’s breakfast. Well, it was a pragmatic choice and, for better or for worse most hunger was duly assuaged. Once the last of us had dined, it was back on the bus for the brief trip to Geiger itself.

The camp has a new director and some things are being done a little differently. One consequence of these changes was that we spent the time between our arrival and noon, or so, waiting. Again, our boys deported themselves commendably. One useful diversion came courtesy of Jace Westfall, who joined us from his new home in California. Jace was working on a requirement for his Emergency Preparedness Merit Badge and directed a ‘troop mobilization.’ In this case, the objective was to locate a supposedly-missing member of Troop 451. Not only did Jace learn useful skills, so did all the rest of our troop. Should such an undesirable eventuality befall us, we will be better prepared.

After enjoying the sack lunches we brought along, it was time for a camp tour. A must for first-timers at Geiger, the tour was interspersed with various tasks needed to get us settled in for a week of summer camp. Our tour guide was well known to our Scouts because he was James Koonce, serving his third summer on the Camp Geiger staff.

The first of these tasks was a visit to the Medical Lodge to check in with our medical forms (yes, there really is a reason we have to fill these out!) This was done in good time but, as ours is a large troop, even efficient paperwork processing can seem interminable. Again, our young men handled the wait well. After a couple of more stops on the tour, the Troop headed to the swimming pool for our swim checks.

The Boy Scouts of America have established strict guidelines for the safe conduct of the many adventurous activities that are at the heart of Scouting. Among these is a requirement that everyone who wishes to get into the water must have their level of swimming proficiency evaluated. “Non-swimmers” are relegated to a clearly-marked shallow area. Beginners are given a bit more challenge but if one wishes to go into water over one’s head, one must demonstrate the ability to jump into water deep enough to be over one’s head, swim 3 lengths of the pool in a strong, forward stroke, and one more doing the back stroke. Then the examinee must float on his back for a few seconds. One of the pool staffers evaluating the would-be swimmers' performances was Troop 451’s own Andy Turner.

Not every Scout in 451 plans to use the pool this week, but all of those who did merited the rank of ‘swimmer’, including every first-year Scout who braved the evaluation.’

After everyone from the troop was done, we repaired to our home for the week, Sioux Lookout. Both our boys and the adults settled into their tents, with many people going the extra mile to truly personalize their space. Check out the Troop 451 Smug Mug posts to see photos of these inspired efforts at personal expression.

At 5:00 PM, many of our adult scouters attended the first leaders meeting, ensuring that we were up-to-date on the latest camp information. Meanwhile, our Scouts were putting on their ‘Class A’, field uniforms for the first troop inspection of the week. This exacting inspection takes place when all of the session’s campers are lined-up, waiting to enter the dining hall for dinner. Before that can happen, though, the colors must be retired for the night. Seeing several hundred Scouts and Scouters saluting as the Stars and Stripes are lowered for the evening is a stirring sight indeed.

And then on to a filling dinner of Salisbury steak, mashed taters, and corn. When the time came to explain the drill for obtaining seconds, the staffer demonstrating the sector system was Chad Kral. As dinner came to an end, the evenings “Sharpest Troop” was announced.

In years past, we have often been assured of this award each day since we are the only full-uniform troop in attendance. This year, however, we face stiff competition in the form of Troop 360 out of Kearny, MO. Thus, we truly were anxiously awaiting this announcement. When the Emcee said that it was the closest such contest in recent memory, we all tensed. Then he told us it had come down to a matter of Scout socks. Many of us feared we had lost, as one of our members was not sporting official BSA socks. But no! When the winner was revealed, it was Troop 451!

We were delighted of course, from first year Scout to decade+ veterans. Yet we are on notice, if we wish to claim our crown as the sharpest unit of the week, we cannot slacken our attention to our uniforms.

After dinner, we enjoyed  the first camp fire of the session. Essentially, this is an opportunity to introduce the 2015 Camp Geiger staff to the incoming campers. When each of the FIVE staffers from Troop 451 were introduced (in addition to those mentioned above, Alex Adams and Ellis Covington are also staffing handicrafts and pool, respectively), we sent up a ringing cheer. The other troops present figured out that there was a connection. As with any respectable camp fire, it included silly skits and singing, followed by a moving closing song.

It has been a long, if delightful, day.

And so to bed.


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