Friday - The End Draws Nigh
Friday, July 1st, 2016
Where has the time gone?
Fridays at Geiger are bittersweet. The prospect of home and one's own bed is sweet, anticipating leaving camp is not. For those who have not yet had the opportunity to spend a week at this exemplary Boy Scout facility, its appeal is hard to explain. Sleeping accommodations are somewhat Spartan, the food, while decent is nevertheless camp food, and going anywhere involves climbing hills, lots of hills. And yet, these very features make Geiger special.
For example, the prospect of a half-mile walk to get to breakfast might not fill everyone with joy but it is a commonplace of the Geiger experience. To get from our campsite, Sioux Lookout, to the dining hall, one goes via "Silver Eagle Trail." This broad footpath makes truth of those old stories about walking uphill - both ways!
Uphill, BOTH ways!
From Sioux Lookout, one descends to the nearby Flaming Crow trading post. Just beyond that is the Silver Eagle trailhead. A simple gateway marks this spot. From the trailhead, one descends rather rapidly for the first 50-or-so yards to a level stretch shaded by lovely, stately trees.
Even at noon, the glade is cool and, if the air that day is still, muggy. This shady stretch makes up for the steeper, sunnier slopes ahead. For, to proceed onward to the dining hall, one must needs climb another declivity to reach the level of the dining hall. The climb on the dining hall end of the trail seems to get steeper and steeper as one rises. Thus, one arrives at one's meal with a feeling of having earned it! Truly, this route embodies "uphill both ways!" It is, notwithstanding, decidedly a part of the charm of summer camp.
Friday morning we dined on biscuits and gravy with hash browns, accompanied by orange-yellow liquid (your correspondent can offer no surer description, not having partaken of this or similar offerings).
The candidates for becoming braves in the Tribe of Mic-O-Say, styled "foxmen", are busily engaged in the various challenges set before them and even the adult candidates are kept busily-employed working on a service project for the camp.
Your correspondent, as mentioned previously, spent the morning assisting at the rifle range since an additional certified Range Safety Officer was wanted. Even when cleaning the rifles (the last step in qualifying for the Rifle Shooting Merit Badge) with the bolts removed, full safety precautions are still in force. There was a camp staffer present to do the actual instruction but a Certified RSO was also needed.
The Area director was otherwise engaged with the boys from the 'buckskin games', teaching them how to load, prime, and fire .50 caliber muzzle-loading rifles. This process involves filling a 30-grain brass 'measure' from a brass flask of powder and pouring that down the barrel. Next, one places a .50 caliber lead ball on a cloth patch over the muzzle (it is a muzzle-loader, after all) and pushes it down the barrel with the short ball starter.
Next, one pushes the ball and patch further into the barrel with the long starter. Then, with the ball and patch well into the barrel, comes time to use the ram rod. And ram one does, firmly tapping the ball, patch, and powder in place. The ramrod itself is aluminum while its business end is brass. Why all this brass? It is not just because it is pretty. Brass, like other copper alloys, does not spark when struck. Thus, it offers a safer alternative to iron or steel when handling flammable or explosive materials.
With the charge loaded, the rifle is ready for the primer. These are cap-and-ball rifles so, rather than being a touch of powder on a pan, the primers are small brass caps filled with a small amount of a concussion-sensitive explosive. Traditionally, mercuric fulminate was used. The percussion cap
is gently fitted over the corresponding nipple on the firing mechanism. The hollow nipple directs the small blast to the powder, which it will then ignite. Now, loaded and primed, all that remains is to aim and fire. As always, once the charge is loaded, the muzzle is kept pointed down range, even before the cap is on. This is just elementary gun safety - treat every firearm as a loaded firearm.
Brant Goodrich and Ian Hollenshead were official participants and both loaded and fired the rifle twice. In view of his evident amusement while observing the proceedings, Ryan Turner was also offered a chance to shoot. As with every
shooter on a BSA range, close supervision of all participants is the rule. Lastly Lynn Hatter and your correspondent took their turns. Running through the loading sequence, one can hardly believe that men used to do this while under fire. Yet, we are told that disciplined, well-trained troops could fire three rounds a minute using muzzle-loading muskets!
Every session of shooting necessitates a session of cleaning and this is all the more true since the propellant used in muzzle-loading firearms is much 'dirtier' than that found in modern cartridges. Interestingly, the preferred cleaner is a 1:1 mixture of Murphy's Oil Soap (the number one choice in America for washing elephants, we are also told) and alcohol. Swabbing the barrel is a vigorous physical experience.
Lunch Friday was chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. Again, simple, filling fare. A highlight of the mealtime was our First year Scout Akhil Kodali being selected to play "Peanut butter sticker." This silly test of unnecessary skill involves flicking cards at an open-face peanut butter sandwich. He who sticks the most cards wins.
Showing unexpected expertise at flinging playing cards, Akhil won by the margin of a single card, upholding our troop's "honor"!
Activities resumed after noon as our boys wrapped up their week's Merit Badges. In the lulls between activities, many boys returned to Sioux Lookout for a break. Many boys, having completed their costumery, indulged in card games along the lines of Crazy Eights and such. The powerful fans were greatly appreciated in the warm afternoon.
Friday's dinner is always barbecue al fresco n in Scoutcraft Valley, not far from Tapping Valley. We dined on pulled pork sandwiches, along with potato chips, pickles, and a cookie. Next came time for the closing campfire at the Running Horse Council Ring. After this, many of our Scouts returned to our campsite to begin the necessary business of striking camp. Members of the Tribe of Mic-O-Say repaired to wherever it is they go, doing what tribesmen do on a summer's Friday night.
As for Mic-O-Say, this was a great week for Troop 451. Our three candidates, Alex Jansen, Nick Jansen, and Randy Lee were admitted to the Tribe as braves. Eric Bussey and Kevin Lee were inducted as Honorary Warriors.
Brant Goodrich, Ayrton Harried (who is serving on Camp staff), Nick Harris, Thomas Sorensen, and Alex Tyson advanced from Brave to Warrior (the "hard way" as opposed to those of us who are Honorary Warriors).
We also had Warriors advance to Fire Builder: Alex Brock, Austin Curtis, Ian Hollenshead, Jay Jay Rawson (staffer), and Jack Tyson.
Fire Builders who advanced to Tom Tom Beater were Alex Adams (staffer; advanced 1st Session), Cameron Breding, Ben Bryant, Andrew Gonzalez, Josh Hatter, Brady Jones, Neetin Khadka, Chad Kral (staffer), and Andy Turner (staffer),
We had no Tom Tom Beaters eligible to advance to Runner this year but we had two Runners who advanced to Keeper of the Sacred bundle: Ellis Covington (staffer) and James Koonce (former three-year staffer at Camp Geiger). These last two are Assistant Scoutmasters with Troop 451, having previously been Scouts.
Others among our Scouters also received recognition for their service to Scouting and to the Tribe.
David Gonzalez and Rob Rawson were awarded the coveted White Coup of Service while Mark DiCiaccio and Jim Koonce were elevated to Sachem in the tribe and are thus now members of the Tribal Council. In recognition of his long and outstanding dedication to Scouts, Scouting, and Mic-O-Say, and to the dance team, Richard Covington was made Medicine Man Big Iron Wheel. You may recall that this signal honor was awarded to Gary Lueking last year, recognizing his similar service.
It would not have been possible for so many of our Scouters to attend these momentous ceremonies had it not been for the good offices of Chris Samson, Roger Branson, and Venkat Kodali. These gentlemen stayed in camp to provide the required two-deep leadership that ensures the safety and security of our Scouts. Not all of the boys who attend Camp Geiger with Troop 451 are yet tribesmen. Thus, while the tribesmen go off to do what they do, these Scouts need leaders too. Our sincere thanks go to these dedicated Scouters. Special thanks to tribesman Chris Samson, who forewent the ceremonies so that others, including the listed honorees, might attend, confident that our Scouts were properly served. These Scouters helped oversee our younger Scouts as they began the complex process of striking our week's camp. Thank you for your service to our Scouts!
Tribesmen returned to Sioux Lookout in the wee hours of Saturday morning, greeted by cheese and pepperoni pizza, procured by Janice Hatter and Angie Kral, with help from Jordy Hatter. We thank them for a nice wrap-up to a busy, long, and demanding day.
In all, it was a great week for Troop 451 and the Tribe of Mic-O-Say. With five of our Troop 451 Scouts and one of our Scouters on staff this summer, it has also been a great summer for Camp Geiger!