Thursday, June 30, 2016

Wednesday - is it here ALREADY?

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Another day, another early dawn and another lovely sunrise. It is great to be outdoors on a beautiful Missouri morning in June. The day is quiet then, before the boys awaken, and the peaceful moments offer a chance to reflect. It is well to keep in mind that summer camp is all about the boys – we adults are here to ensure that they have a successful, enjoyable experience. The fact that we enjoy it too is pure lagniappe.

The morning was rather cool – enough so that jackets or sweatshirts were comfortable. The breeze that brought the change in temperature was the harbinger of oncoming rain but not before breakfast.

The morning meal was, of course, preceded by the raising of the flags and once again, our Scouts proudly served as color guard to raise the Texas colors once Old Glory had been hoisted by the Camp Staff color guard. Our troop earned the privilege of the recognition by keeping a clean, ship-shape campsite that garnered top marks in Tuesday’s camp inspection. Special recognition goes to this year’s Campmaster, Eric Bussey and his assistants. While Eric will be the first to assure you that a clean campsite is the result of a team effort (and it is), team efforts require leadership and this he has provided. Thank you! We enjoy having his efforts, those of our Scouts, and those of our Scouters, recognized in this very public fashion. We enjoy having a clean camp at least as much! It just makes camping more pleasant.

This morning, Troop 451, along with everyone else in camp, dined on pancakes and bacon. Simple fodder, yet effective.  

Following feeding, our Scouts headed out to Merit Badge classes or Trail to First Class. Then came the rain. We enjoyed a brief, heavy rain. Although it was not quite so intense as a Texas frog-strangler, it was, nevertheless, steady. Under the shelter of the pavilion, we hardly noticed and everyone’s gear stayed safe and dry. The experienced camper, not trusting tents, or even foot lockers, to resist the rain indefinitely, relies on packing clothes in plastic bags. Ziploc technology is a beautiful thing. In any event, we survived the short shower and enjoyed the cool contrast to the recent heat.

After every meal, the Troop 451 “Bank” is in business. While a Scout is thrifty, experience has taught that not every Scout is adept at handling a week’s worth of spending money all on his own. Thus, the Bank. This storied institution is managed by three adult “bankers” who oversee the disbursement of funds. As parents know, before we take the boys to camp, parents have the opportunity to deposit funds in a Scout’s ‘bank account’, which is cash, kept in an envelope with a disbursement log.

 Here, withdrawals are noted and signed for by the recipient Scout and counter-signed by the responsible banker. Parents may specify the amounts for daily withdrawals and our bankers duly comply. In addition to the week’s spending money, each Scout’s envelope includes separate funds for lunch on our return trip (Pizza Ranch! more on this later), along with his locker combination or spare key. Experience tells and we, as good Scouts and Scouters, like to be prepared. Our bankers for this session are Kevin Bryant, Roger Branson, and Gary Lueking.

Today, more than one first year camper seemed sadly surprised to discover all allotted monies had been expended already with the week only half-done. Call it a learning experience. One of the great aspects of Scouting is it gives our boys a chance to make decisions and experience the consequences. 

Young men in or about adolescence do not always make the wise choices we might wish for them to make. Yet Scouting offers them the chance to make decisions and deal with the consequences in a relatively safe, reasonably controlled environment. Thus, while they may make less-than-optimal choices, the impact of these suboptimal selections is limited. For example, a Scout who has spent all his money merely wants for goodies; food, clothing, shelter, and transportation are provided for irrespective. Spending all one’s pocket money may have undesirable consequences but it does not have devastating consequences. The lesson experienced and, perhaps, even leaned, the Scout takes one more step towards responsibility and honorable manhood.

Speaking of spending money, another popular feature of Camp Geiger is the Flaming Crow Trading Post! This center of camp life may be best known as the purveyor of the famous “slushy”, a frozen ice-and-syrup concoction of various colors and flavors, none of which are naturally occurring. However, on a hot, muggy Missouri summer afternoon, those features may not matter. Of supreme importance is the temperature of the thing and they are indeed cold.

The Trading Post's inventory includes T-shirts, knives, patches, and belts. Also sold are various camp necessities such as walking sticks, sleeping bags, Scout socks, water bottles, etcetera. Can you imagine a Scout arriving at camp without his bed roll? (I thought you could!) All of these things see a steady custom. However, next to slushies, the most popular article in the inventory may be the Camp Geiger messenger bags. These are durable and just the thing for slogging essentials from camp to classes. Another feature of the trading post that surely does not escape the boys’ notice is the air-conditioning. This surely must be another point in favor of a brief visit on a hot afternoon.

Alongside the Trading Post is the Inner Circle Trading Company, the store for most things Mic-O-Say and open to tribesmen only. There is also the Jumping Bear museum. This museum focuses of the history of Camp Geiger and the Tribe and is open to all the curious.

The morning is filled, as always, with myriad activities ranging from Trail to First Class to climbing the COPE tower. This latter is a tall structure, exceeding 60 feet in height. The main operations occur some fifty-or-so feet above the ground. The COPE course is as physically-challenging an activity as Camp Geiger offers, the mile swim notwithstanding. One set of tasks is illustrative of the activities on offer. Note that every moment a participant of the COPE course is above the ground, a safety line is firmly affixed to the harness. Thus, a plunging fall is not possible. However, even a short fall can create substantial forces and everyone on the tower grounds is required to wear a certified climbing helmet in deference to this fact. Safety is fundamental to the COPE concept.

This route begins with a climb up a narrow ‘rope’ ladder (actually steel cables and tubing) that is free at its lower end. If you have ever attempted even a short such ladder you know how tough that can be. Short, however, the COPE ladder is not. Via this pendulous ascent, the Scout reaches the upper level. Once there, he is first offered the opportunity to cross from one high platform to another via a pair of cables, one suspended about 4 feet above the other. The lower one serves as barely a bridge for the crossing, while the upper offers some measure of stability to the
non-Wallendas among us. The traverse is some 20 or 30 feet in length and looks sufficiently long from the perspective of terra firma. For the adventurous Scout, it may seem considerably longer. The next route is similar, although a pair of parallel upper lines serves as a railing of sorts, allowing the intrepid traveler to grasp a cable in each hand to help steady himself as he crosses back. Then comes the slat bridge.

Have you ever seen a movie, something about Indiana Jones, perhaps, where the protagonist must cross a rotting vine bridge above some impossibly-deep ravine? This is like that. The crossing is like an old, gap-toothed, unmaintained bridge where the bridge deck (such as it is) lies across two lines (cables in this case). The rub is that the slats are 18-24 inches apart! It takes some careful footwork to cross this obstacle without a resort to the safety line. But for those who make the trip, the destination is worth it. Remember, all of this is happening more than four stories above the ground.

The ‘reward’ for successfully surviving to that point is the zip line. The zipline is a cable suspended from the COPE tower on one end and a tall pole on the other, forming a catenary curve between. The route runs over open grass and along a broad cut through the trees, making for a scenic, if scary, journey. Down the cable’s arc, our climber slides at speeds thrilling to behold as he heads across the valley that lies between COPE and the rest of Camp Geiger. You may wonder how one completes such a descent, given the considerable velocities achieved along the way. Well, the momentum developed on the descent cannot (owing to those pesky laws of thermodynamics) carry something to a higher point than that at which it started. The simple solution to a gentle ‘landing’ is to let the momentum carry one partway up the ascending half of the catenary curve, until one begins to slide back down it. When the process is complete, the intrepid zip-liner comes gently to rest at the lowest point in the arc. There, a small platform supports a ladder that is raised to enable a safe descent from the line. Once the adventurer is back on Earth, the ladder is lowered so as not to present a hazard to the next adventurer.

Although the journey is brief, those who have taken it assure me that it is worth the effort to get there. Riding the zip-line is that intense an experience. Your correspondent, alas, must take their word for it.

Lunchtime saw us gather at the Flag Plaza (“where the flags are! The place of the flags, where the flags hang out”, according to a chant that seems popular with the camp staff). Once we were assembled, we were invited inside the dining hall with the traditional formula, “Now, with our hats off, let’s quietly enter the dining hall.” Yes, it may be summer camp but certain civilities are strictly observed and dining sans chapeaux is one of them. Today, we dined on breaded chicken fillet sandwiches. The salad bar, of course, saw a brisk business. The salad bar is simple but on par with many comparable commercial offerings.

Classes and activities resumed after lunch.

Camp Geiger has an outstanding shooting complex that offers traditional archery, 3-D archery, rifle shooting, and a shotgun range. Several of our Scouts took the opportunity to earn the corresponding Merit Badges. For example, Ryan Turner and Aiden Zentner were at the archery range Wednesday afternoon, poking arrows into bull’s eyes from the regulation distance. Meanwhile Jack Tyson was signed-up for shotgun shooting. A long trek is required to get to the ranges and a long, steep hill is involved. As a bonus, the shotgun course is in a beautiful, shady vale with a creek running through it and this setting is notably cooler than the sun bathed expanses further uphill.

In addition to its impressive facilities, Camp Geiger is located on a beautiful piece of real estate that is just right for being out-of-doors. The vale cuts deeply through ancient layers of limestone that sometimes give the steep hillsides the appearance of man-made masonry. The effect is eerily beautiful when a small spring plunges from one limestone course to the next. Often, the softer substances between the layers of limestone have eroded well-underneath the upper layer the creek is running along so that the small waterfall has something of a cave behind it. Several such geological features are in evidence as one strolls along toward the shotgun facilities, enjoying the break from the warming afternoon.

 While the Scouts were thus busily engaged, many of our Scouters were putting the finishing touches on Thursday night's "Tapping Fire" (more on this later).

Dinnertime seemed to arrive early and Wednesday night of each camp session is “Family Night.” This is a chance for Scout’s families to get a chance to see what their sons are raving about. Traditionally, the troops from nearer-by dine with their families in their campsites but since Texas is an awfully long ways away, many members of Troop 451 enjoy the dining hall’s offerings. That said, once again, an impressive number of Troop 451 families made the long haul to Missouri to visit their Scouts and Scouters and bring them a welcome meal of food from outside. For the rest, there was pizza, ice cream, and, of course, the salad bar.

The highlight of Family Night is the campfire at the Running Horse Council Ring. This traditional camp extravaganza features songs, and skits, like any campfire. It begins when each troop processes in, carring their American and Troop flags. These are left respectively to the left and right of the stage (from the audience’s perspective) as the troops silently file into their seating places.

 After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, we were treated to a repeat-after-me song, led by a camp staffer.  Then came the skits presented by various troops. Our Scouts presented “Listening to the Rolling Stones”, featuring Aiden Zentner, Julian Razavi, Nipun Grandhi, and Ryan Bussey, and “The Grumpy Monk” Featuring Ben Bryant and Neetin Khadka; our adults presented “Director’s Cut.” This Hollywood-style blockbuster featured spicy meatballs, an ambulance, and a saucy 9-1-1 operator, as well as the eponymous director. The cast members were Kevin Bryant, Eric Bussey, Mark DiCiaccio, Jessica Harris, Jim Koonce, Steve Kral, and Kevin Lee. Contact their agents for booking information.

After the skits, the braves and warriors of the Tribe of Mic-O-Say treated the awaiting crowd to a display of their feathered finery and their dancing skills. The sheer numbers of dancers in their carefully crafted costumes is awesome. To see them dance “The Warrior’s Dance” by the fire’s light is a sight indeed. Not quite the equal to Thursday night’s impressive spectacle, it is moving nonetheless. Among the dancers were Troop 451’s Alex Brock, Austin Curtis, Brant Goodrich, Nick Harris, Ian Hollenshead, Thomas Sorensen, Alex Tyson, Jack Tyson (no relation), and Jace Westfall. Congratulations to our Scouts on creating their marvelous regalia and for their excellent dancing. They did our Troop proud.

It seemed unlikely that the dance performance cold be ‘topped’ but Wednesday’s campfire closing did the trick. We listened to a recording of the late comedian Red Skelton doing a serious interpretive reading of the Pledge of Allegiance as the camp staff unfolded an enormous American flag, sufficient in extent to completely cover the Council Ring floor. That is large indeed. Members of our armed forces, both active duty and veterans were invited to join the staff in holding this great Stars and Stripes as the audience looked on in respectful silence. It was a most moving finale to a great campfire.

We then repaired to camp, some to sleep, and others to complete the day’s unfinished labors. While most of the costumes had been completed in time for the campfire, some details always remain. Moreover, the vigorous dancing results in repairs being sometimes required of even the most well-built regalia. Then too, tribesmen of more-advanced rank need additional costume components such as leather leggings and various other items. Thus, there is always something to be done.  A Mic-O-Say costume is not a destination; it is a journey!

The hour draws late, or, rather, early, and so to cot.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Tuesday - Another Great and Good Day!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Gettin' Up Time

In the cool hour of dawn, it is hard to recall the Amazonian heat and humidity of the day before. The sky begins to lighten shortly after 5:00 AM and the sun is up just before 6:00. The temperature is a welcome respite.

In keeping with the dawn’s early light, the camp stirs early too. Even before it is light enough to see the ground underfoot, folks are up and heading to the storm shelter/wash house in hopes of enjoying a warm shower without a wait. The storm shelters deserve a digression here.

Storm Shelters
Owing to the potential for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, the good folks of the Pony Express Council of the BSA and Camp Geiger determined that each campsite needed a safe, tornado-resistant refuge. Scouting is an outdoor program and being in the outdoors entails, inescapably, some degree of risk. That does not preclude prudent precautions, however, and these shelters are just that. They are an effective means of reducing some of the risks of enjoying the outdoors.

The basic concept is that of a concrete blockhouse, half-buried into the hillside so that the roof of the shelter is level with the ground above and the entrance is level with the ground below. Geiger is well-endowed with such hillsides in or nearby each campsite. The shelter itself is constructed of steel-reinforced concrete several inches thick and the doorways are fitted with heavy steel doors. Even the air vents are covered with heavy steel plates and mesh screening. The sign on the shelter says is can withstand a 250 mph missile impact. I suspect that is an underestimate. These structures look as though they would withstand plunging howitzer fire. The ceiling, for example, is at least a foot thick.

The innermost chamber is a room large enough to accommodate an entire campsites worth of people. While it would not be the most comfortable experience to spend several hours there with 60+ other campers, it would surely beat being out in the storm.

The entrance to the shelter is covered by an overhang and the entry doorways flank this porch, facing each other rather than straight ahead. This too is in deference to the possibility of folks needing access during severe weather; the doors can be opened without letting the wind straight in. Each doorway opens to a hallway. The outer wall abuts the soil while the inner one has doors leading to toilets and showers. In total, there are three of the former and two of the latter. Beyond, at the end of these hallways, are the entrances to the main shelter room. The facilities are Spartan compared to what we know at home but compared to summer camps past, they are luxurious. Our thanks go out to those who donated to make these shelters a reality. Few of us would consider donating a storm shelter to be a glamorous act and the vision of those who donated nonetheless is greatly appreciated. One hopes these shelters never prove needful but, if ever they do, those campers who use shelter in them will be grateful.

Part of the cost of these shelters was covered by grants from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) and with FEMA funding comes some strings. Well, for a Geiger camper, these are more like silk ribbons. That is because the FEMA standards for such shelters include running water, and sanitary facilities. This makes sense, if you may house a large crowd for several hours, certain needs will arise and must be accommodated. The “silk ribbon” here is that this means, since every campsite now has a shelter, every campsite now has flush toilettes, hand washing sinks, and (wait for it) HOT SHOWERS!

No longer do those who desire a certain level of personal hygiene need to trek across camp in search of a simple shower. The necessary facilities are now right at hand. You may imagine what a tremendous upgrade this is to the camp experience, at least for the Scouters in attendance. From experience, we know that not every Scout is quite so assiduous in attending to these matters on a daily basis, although many do shower in consequence of using the swimming pool! The showers there were once noted for being hot and plentiful, a detail that matters so much less now that the shelters are here.
Another marvelous feature of these shelters comes from the vision of those who imagined the possibilities. Every shelter is provided with a sturdy pavilion on top. The dimensions of the shelters, about 21 x 36 feet, make for a large, flat, solid surface. Fitted with railings and roves, these make for commodious platforms for campsite activities such as putting finishing touches on dance regalia. This is especially appreciated when comes the rain. While we have had no intense storms since arriving Sunday morning, we have enjoyed a few brief, light showers.

Learning from last year’s experience, when Sioux Lookout was one of the few campsites whose shelter had a pavilion atop it, this year, Messrs. DiCiaccio and Koonce brought enormous industrial fans to provide some air circulation on those windless, muggy afternoons. With this addition, the pavilions are downright comfy. They are a great venue for crafts and conversation.

Following reveille at 7:00 AM, we repaired to the dining hall, by way of the hilly Silver Eagle Trail. There, we had the distinct pleasure of seeing our young men (Nick Harris, Ian Hollenshead, Jeremy Halbach , and Thomas Sorensen) serve as color guard for raising the Texas flag alongside the Stars and Stripes over the Cloud L. Cray Plaza. We were awarded this signal honor by once again garnering “Cleanest Campsite” honors after Monday’s campsite inspection. While we keep a clean campsite because we like it that way, it is nice to have the efforts of our Scouts and Scouters recognized in this way.

Waiting Tables
Let’s take a tour of the typical meal service at Geiger. Seating for meals is at tables that are about four-feet square and that accommodate eight individuals, two-to-a-side, seated on benches. Each table is assigned to a certain troop who appoints a table waiter to tend to the needs of that table. For each meal, Troop 451 needs 8 waiters and those selected for this duty serve for a whole day, three meals. The table waiters lay out the flatware, bring the serving dishes, and make sure napkins and condiments are in order. As one may have surmised, meals are served “family style” from the serving vessels at each table.

Because this assignment requires genuine effort, we rotate it among our Scouts, eight each day, starting with dinner Sunday evening and continuing through lunch on Friday (Friday’s dinner is served al fresco). This means 8 Scouts for six days and as we have just 38 boys with us this summer, some Scouts pull double duty. Among the more onerous aspects of this service is the need for the waiter to keep the water pitcher filled. At summer camp, proper hydration is heavily emphasized. Owing to the good offices of our dutiful waiters, each table is ready when we enter the hall after the flag ceremony.

Breakfast, served at 7:30, was the traditional Tuesday fare of Cheesy eggs and ‘hash browns.” Filling and fueling, the meal was consumed with a gusto that comes from spending one’s days out-of-doors. In addition to a troop’s Scouts, each table is usually host to a Camp Geiger Staffer. The staffers sit at the same table each day but our Scouts are free to rotate around as they wish. Of course, people being people, we tend to return to “our” seats each meal.

Every breakfast features a presentation of the “Knot of the Day” by Camp staffers. For Tuesday, this was the bowline. We learned about rabbits, trees, and rabbit holes, and how which runs around what and into where.

Morning Activities
Following the meal, our Scouts enjoyed a brief break before Merit Badge classes commence at 9:00 AM. Our First Year Scouts, of course, attend Trail to First Class in the mornings.
While your correspondent repaired indoors to sort out some technical issues with photos and blogs, Chris Samson took over photographer duties for the day,
following our boys from Scoutcraft to the Nature Lodge, to the pool with our First Year Scouts,
wherever else our Scouts were learning new skills this fine, cooler, day. Though the day did grow quite warm as the afternoon came, we were grateful that it was not the more uncomfortable conditions of the previous days.

Midday Mealtime
Lunchtime saw us gather again for “riblets”. These patties are made of flesh, flaked and formed, perhaps from a pig but bovine is barely possible as well. In any event, drenched in barbeque sauce and served on a bun, they, along with plentiful French fries, assuaged midday hunger. As always, the salad bar adds a lighter, fresh touch to each lunch and dinner. Of course, it is a delight to see our troop flag on the dais, in recognition of our "Sharpest Unit" honors.
We were in suspense as today’s “Cleanest Campsite” results were read off. Today’s inspectors had noted a scrap of paper in our campsite and a branch touching a tent that we had not trimmed. Nonetheless, we again merited top marks in this friendly competition. It is GREAT to be a member of a sharp, neat, and tidy unit!

Today’s paraprandial entertainment consisted of two lads attempting to unwind toilet paper from the roll and around both arms in record time. One participant was so skillful at this arcane task that one might be tempted to assume he had done it before. Alas, none of our Scouts got a shot at this particular glory today.

Afternoon Activities
This afternoon, our Scots who are braves and warriors in the Tribe of Mic-O-Say, along with those from every troop here this session, again rehearsed the dance they will perform publicly at Thursday night’s Tapping Ceremony (more on this later). Others went to the archery range, the rifle range, or the shotgun range to hone their skills and earn the corresponding Merit Badge. Others went to the lake to reinforce canoeing of kayaking skills. Some of our Scots and Scouters took advantage of the COPE tower to exercise their rappeling. Project COPE is a kind of "ropes" course where Scouts can improve both their climing skills and their self-confidence. Again, Mr. Samson was good enough to capture some of these experiences to share on SmugMug.

Building a Bonfire

While our Scouts were busily honing their various skills, many of our adults were busily building the enormous arrangement of logs that will be this Thursday’s Tapping Fire. Among those contributing were Roger Branson, Eric Bussey, Richard Covington, Kaleb DiCiaccio, Mark DiCiaccio, David Gonzalez, Dennis Goodrich, Jessica Harris, Lynn Hatter, Jim Koonce, Kevin Lee, Gary Lueking, and Wes Williams. This is a true construction project, requiring chain saws and gasoline-powered drills. The huge lower logs, some 18-inches in diameter, are notched to accept the next layer. This stabilizes the structure and keep the logs in place as the tower grows. Each tier is finished with a layer of slightly smaller logs inside the larger ones and the tiers rise at right angles to one another. Once the smaller logs are in use (“smaller” being the diameter of telephone poles!), the logs are held in place by boring holes through one and pounding a piece of rebar into the one below it. The result is a tower of timber that will exceed a dozen feet in height.
So dedicated were our Troop 451 Scouters that they opted to forgo lunch rather than delay their progress. Steve Kral, Dennis Goodrich, David Gonzalez, and your correspondent assembled box lunches for or busy colleagues. Today’s efforts complete the ‘log cabin’ phase of construction. Tomorrow will see the project completed.
Eventide Commestibles
Dinner arrived almost before we knew it. Owing to the “Geiger Cup” competition immediately after dinner, tonight’s attire was our “activity uniforms”. These erstwhile “class B” togs consist of a Troop T-shirt, scout socks, shorts, and belt. This contrasts to the “field uniform” (aka “class A”) attire, which includes the above plus a Scout shirt and neckerchief. Even so, the “Sharpest Unit” competition was on and, disappointingly, we were outclass B’ed by Troop 21, who seemed as delighted with their achievement as we are when we earn that recognition.

Dinner arrived, courtesy of our table waiters. Tonight we dined on “burritos” with Spanish rice and chili sauce. This meal is legendary for its post-consumption consequences. The wag who provided a whoopee cushion may have hit the nail on the head with that one.

A feature introduced to mealtimes last year was "radio station" KAMP, 193.5 on your dial. At each meal, they provide a musical accompaniment for our dining pleasure and tonight's theme was Taylor Swift. When her song "Love Story" came on, a spontaneous dance demonstration ensued.

The Geiger Cup
The Geiger Cup is awarded to the champion team at the uniquely-Geiger game of “Human Foosball”. This is played in a specially constructed arena in which the participants are arrayed on rope “rods”, in mimicry of the smaller, indoor sport. We fielded two teams from Troop 451, one of which advanced as far as the semi-finals before being eliminated from cup competition.

Once back in camp, the pavilion was again the site of costuming and card games. At length, the need for rest overcame the desire to experience every possible second of camp and our boys trickled to bed. As usual, the last lamp was extinguished by your correspondent.
And so to cot.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Monday, Monday (How we LOVE that day . . .)

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Our boys had busy days Monday as they settled in to the week’s routine. Notionally, the day begins with reveille at 7:00 AM but most folks are up and about well before, owing to the early sunrise. At 7:30, all troops in camp gather at the Cloud L. Cray Flag Plaza outside the dining hall to raise the Stars and Stripes. Then, it is in to the dining hall itself to break our overnight fast.
After a breakfast of French toast sticks and sausage, the Scouts headed out to the first activities of the day. Our first-year Scouts attended the Trail to First Class session. This program is designed to train new Scouts in all the skills required to earn their rank advancements from Scout through First Class.

For our first year Scouts, the first day or two’s sessions are largely review as they have covered significant portions of this material in our troop’s own program. Nevertheless, reviewing these skills is productive as it helps Scouts retain what they have already learned and they will need these skills throughout their Scouting careers. Each of our five first year scouts reported having a good time, and claim they look forward to Tuesday’s long hike.

In the afternoon, they tackled an ambitious program of merit badge courses, taking classes such as swimming and cooking. Both of these merit badges are required to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
They finished their day with a surprising amount of energy left! This is all the more striking in the face of the unusually hot, muggy weather. Both the high and the humidity were in the 90s. Our experience was less what we have come to expect from a Missouri June and more like what one might associate with Equatorial Africa. Maybe we should have gotten a clue from the fact that the next nearest place on the map here is Amazonia!

Our older Scouts had their own full schedule of merit badge courses, including pottery, environmental science, first aid, and Nature among many others. With as many young men as we have with us here at Camp Geiger, our boys are in most of the merit badge classes offered this session.
We all look forward to the next Court of Honor on Sunday, September 18th, 2016, where their achievements will be publicly recognized in front of their peers and families. We look forward to seeing you then!

The adult members of our troop were not idle by any means. Each year we perform a service project for the camp and this year our volunteers started in on constructing the massive, carefully constructed pile of logs that is the Tapping Fire (more on this later).

Monday’s lunch was simple fare: hot dogs, chili, and Fritos corn chips. As always, proper hydration was emphasized and Scouts are reminded to drink water every hour at least. Our noontime entertainment included a race around the dining hall that featured Troop 451’s Kevin Koonce. Kevin strove valiantly, finishing ahead of two of the four contestants.

The hot afternoon saw our Scouts attending more Merit Badge classes and, for those who have previously been inducted into the Tribe of Mic-O-Say, dance practice in the Running Horse Council Ring, where campfires are held. In the sunny early afternoon, that ring gets rather Saharan in temperature.
A little dancing raises a considerable cloud of dust but our boys gamely met the challenge of rehearsing their steps along with tribesmen from many other troops. Among our dancers are Brady Jones, Jack Tyson, Alex Brock, Jace Westfall, Cameron Breding, Alex Tyson, and Brandt Goodrich. Admire their dedication and their stamina.

Back at Sioux Lookout, many Scouts worked diligently to complete different aspects of their dance costumes. For this activity, the new pavilions that adorn the new storm safety shelters are an excellent venue. It is not all work, fortunately. There is fun to be had as well. Taking advantage of the shade the pavilion provides (and the moving air courtesy of the enormous fans Messers DiCiaccio and Koonce provided), card games were a popular afternoon diversion.

At 6:30, we gathered on the flag plaza to honor the lowering of the flag. A light, cooling shower precluded lingering long outside. Monday’s dinnertime saw us once again garner “Sharpest Unit” honors. Congratulations to our Scouts! We are holding our own against some very sharp units. It is great to be part of such a sharp troop!

We dined on chicken Alfredo and green beans. Again, the salad bar was popular as is ice water. Dining is followed by the evening mail call. Even on this, our second evening at camp, packages from home are greatly appreciated by all and sundry.

After dinner, worship services were offered, both non-denominational vespers and a Catholic mass. A Scout is reverent. The chapel here at Geiger is a beautiful setting. It is an open amphitheater as befits a Scout camp, with a simple open-fronted A-frame shelter for the sacred proceedings. It the dappled light from the setting sun, it is a gorgeous gathering place that makes one mindful of creation and its author.

Following vespers, some of our adults took advantage of the open shoot at the shotgun range to warm up their clay-busting skills. Many Scouts returned to the pavilion to continue work on their dance regalia. Others got up an informal game of stickball. As the lengthening shadows disappeared into darkness, the pavilion was lit by a few of our Coleman lanterns, whose brightness make detail work possible, at least for the younger eyes amongst us.

The brief shower of early evening seemed to have broken the grip of the tropics-like heat and the evening was considerably cooler than the high temperatures of earlier in the day. This afforded the prospect of comfortably cool conditions for sleeping.

For those in the throes of creating costumes, Taps sounded far too early; for Scouters, it couldn’t come soon enough! Your correspondent falls squarely in this latter group.