Saturday & Sunday - Geiger Ho!

Saturday, July 25, 2016/Sunday June 27th

Once again, the intrepid Scouts and Scouters of Troop 451 headed northward to our beloved Camp Geiger, in Saint Joseph, Missouri. As is our wont, our travelling band gathered at First United Methodist Church, Lewisville to board our luxurious bus at 10:00 PM, Saturday night. While not cool, the temperatures were comparatively mild for late June in North Texas and for that, we were grateful.

Many have inquired, “Why do you leave so late?” The answer lies in the transit time for a busload of Scouts and Scouters to make it from Lewisville, Texas to Saint Joseph. With stops to change drivers, give the boys (and adults!) a break, and eat breakfast, the trip typically requires 11 hours or so.

The first day of each camp session at Geiger (third session for us this year) begins after noon on Sunday. By departing at 10:00 PM, we usually arrive at camp about 9:00 AM Sunday. There is no real point to arriving any earlier than that. Even 9:00 AM is early and thus, the camp may not be ready yet to receive us. If we wished to time our arrival for later in the day, our departure would need to be at midnight or 1:00 AM. Such a departure hour might prove challenging for Scouts with other siblings at home, or who have parent who simply prefer to retire at a reasonable hour. Thus, 10:00 PM is a compromise between departing at a not-too-late hour and arriving not-too early.

As usual, the adults who are attending camp were afforded the courtesy of boarding first to stake claim to seats. The adults are spread throughout the bus rather than being exclusively at the front, for example. Then, our Scouts board. Rank has its privileges. Our Eagle Scouts board first, followed by Life Scouts and then those of Star rank. This continues until our Scouts have all boarded and located a seat. The well-prepared camper knows to bring a pillow on the bus to make sleeping during the drive a possibility.

In addition to Wi-Fi connectivity, our Village Tours bus features video screens and a DVD player. Though we pass through some gorgeous countryside on our trip, there is little to see in the dark and a movie can help the miles pass easily. For starters, we were treated to “Space Jam,” featuring classic Bugs Bunny characters in a live-action/animation mix that also features some notable pro basketball players. This was followed by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, a film that may be more impressive when viewed on a screen larger than 12 inches. Nevertheless, the boys seemed content with these selections even if some adults were indifferent.

In between showings, we stopped, briefly, outside Oklahoma City to switch drivers and the second film had a short intermission when we stopped at Love’s Truck Stop for goodies and other needful things.
To watch our young men and their enthusiasm for food products not found in nature, one might imagine these boys were malnourished at home, although their healthy appearance belies that conclusion. No, something there is about a road trip that just makes food flavored with synthetic compounds attractive.

Well-provisioned for the grueling several hours remaining in our expedition, the boys returned to our chariot and resumed “Star Wars.” After the movie comes “quiet time.” Many of our Scouts and a few of our Scouters take advantage of the comparative quiet to catch a bit of much-needed sleep. Summer Camp is great and packed with excitement. This means sleeping opportunities are not abundant, nor do our campers necessarily avail themselves when such opportunities arise. Thus, sleep is a valuable commodity in the coming week.

Some of our Scouters rotate through watch duty, such that two of our adults are awake throughout the trip to deal with what eventualities might occur. Dawn comes earlier as we head North and East of home and the increasing sunlight makes further sleep more challenging.

Thus, it is a groggy crew that arrives in Platte City for breakfast Sunday morning. We partook, variously, of the savory comestibles on offer at the famous MacDonald’s restaurant and the lesser-known Waffle House. Not being in any rush, we tarried just a bit and those who partake had no need to gulp their coffee. Then, it is back on the bus for the last 40 minutes or so of our journey. There was a shout of joy when the Camp Geiger gate was spotted.

Settling in to camp has its routines. Our advance crew had our truck unloaded and everyone’s gear laid-out and accessible.

Once tent inspections were done, we settled in to our home-away-from-home for the week. Many campers take the designation “home” seriously and do their level best to make their tents their castles. Everything from pools, to patio lights, to picket fences was soon in evidence, neatly arrayed around various tents. Our Scouts are nothing if not creative.

Next, we enjoyed the lunches we packed Saturday, fresh from our large, ice-filled coolers. Yum. Next, several staffers who are well-known to our Scouts and Scouters alike escorted us to check-in. Alex Adams, Andy Turner, and Jay Rawson were our guides. Other Troop 451 Scouts on the Geiger staff this year are Ayrton Harried and Chad Kral. Ellis Covington is on staff this summer as well. He has recently become a Scouter with our troop, having been a Scout the eight previous years.

The Camp Geiger staff handled check-in with their customary efficiency, receiving each camper’s medical forms, etcetera, quickly and with minimum fuss. Thanks to our careful advance attention to our paperwork (thanks to all who helped, especially Mrs. Koonce and Mrs. DiSalvo!), our registration went smoothly and was quickly completed. Then, it was off to the swimming pool for BSA swim tests for those who wish to swim this week.

The Boy Scouts of America requires that each participant in any water-related activity be evaluated and classed by swimming ability. The classifications range from “non-swimmers”, who are restricted to shallow water, on to “beginners”, who are given a bit more challenging test – swimming 50 yards.
However, if one wishes to go into water over one’s head, one must posess the skill 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. Among the pool staffers were Troop 451’s own Ayrton Harried and Ellis Covington.

Almost everyone who attempted the test earned the rating of “swimmer” and kudos must go out to all of our Scouts who braved the test even though they were unsure of success. One of the things Scouting offers our boys is the chance to face their doubts and overcome challenges. Congratulations to everyone who tested! By the way, these tests are not for Scouts alone. Adulat Scouters who wish to participate in aquatic sports must pass to the the same standards.

The rest of our afternoon fairly flew by. The time for dinner arrived surprisingly quickly. On this, the first night of Session 3, it took a just a little while to get every troop organized and lined-up for the evening flag lowering ceremony and the evening sun made for a hot, muggy wait. But with the appetites that come from an active day, every one was ready when the time came to take our seats in the dining hall.

We dined on Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, corn, and brown gravy. The dining hall staff was happy to accommodate those of us with differing dietary needs so we all went away well-fed. The food at camp is good solid fare, made all the more enjoyable by being quite hungry. The salad bar is always popular with both Scouts and leaders. The highlight of the evening came after we had eaten. Each night, there is a uniform inspection and the troop with the highest score is designated “Sharpest Unit” and earns the privilege of displaying their flag in the dining hall the next day. On Sunday evening, that troop was 451! We have a proud tradition of winning Sharpest Unit honors each night at camp and it was a great feeling to get a good start upholding it. This is all the more true as we face genuinely tough competition from another very sharp outfit, Troop 21. It is GREAT to belong to a snappy, properly-attired troop.

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 SIX staffers from Troop 451 were introduced, we sent up a ringing cheer. As with any respectable camp fire, it included silly skits and singing, followed by a moving closing song.
Then, it was back to our campsite and so to bed. Those in-the-know brought battery-powered fans to move the muggy air. Although the night does cool substantially, in the early part, the day’s warmth makes itself keenly felt. Sleep comes quickly for most, hastened by what borders on utter exhaustion. We love summer camp!

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