Saturday, January 28th, 2017
The day began cool and early as Members of Troop 451, the Marcus Football Team, and fellow staffers from Camp Geiger showed up at the Universal Academy in Coppell to assist Alex Adams in completing his Eagle Scout project. While many, many adults also showed up, this was, as befits an Eagle project, an overwhelmingly boy-led and boy-done effort.
Alex’s project was to build five benches in an outdoor area for the Universal Academy in Coppell. To prepare the site, the boys first raked leaves, swept dirt, and generally tidied it up. The benches were constructed from concrete block and treated 8’ 4 x 4s.
As with any construction project, periods of intense activity, such as hauling the materials from the storage room to the site itself, were followed by stretches of comparative calm. One such occurred when the need for additional concrete was identified. During this interlude, the boys diverted themselves with a football in the parking lot of the Academy. Fortunately, no one seemed inclined to suggest they play tackle football!
Another popular way to spend these quieter moments was visiting one another, dining on donuts, and consuming coffee. I believe three separate runs to the donut shop were required to keep this large, enthusiastic crew well-fueled.
Each bench required 14 blocks and 6 4 x 4s to complete. First, the boys leveled the ground where each of the foundation blocks (two on the right side of the bench and two on the left) would sit. These blocks were then filled with concrete to add weight and stability. Two more blocks were set atop each of these foundations, affixed with a liberal doe of “Liquid Nails.” Two more block, similarly affixed, topped these, but these last two were turned sideways so that the 4 x 4s could bass through the spaces in the blocks. Two more blocks, sitting upright, hold the backs of the benches in place. Finally, the seating and back 4 x 4s were secured by screwing pieces of 2 x 4 to them along the inner edge of the concrete blocks. This makes it impossible to remove the 4 x 4s without a fair amount of unscrewing. Not an unbeatable security measure but certainly one that will deter any casual mischief makers. Once the foundation blocks were in place, the boys spread about a ton of crushed gravel to cover the bare earth around the benches.
Then, we broke to partake of pizza, both cheese and pepperoni. This meal too was provided courtesy of Linda Adams and it was eagerly eaten. To slake our thirsts, there was plentiful bottled water. All-in-all, an excellent way to spend the first part of a January Saturday.
When all was complete, an area of bare, hard-packed dirt and dry leaves had been transformed into an inviting place to sit for a while, perhaps when awaiting a child’s release from school, or to visit with other parents in a spare moment. The finished project looked quite good and the Universal Academy will, doubtless, be pleasantly surprised when school opens Monday morning.
Alex had scheduled his work day to begin at 9:00 AM and wrap up by 1:00 PM. In an unprecedented occurrence, his time schedule was easily met.
Scouts attending, as I recall, were: Alex Adams (of course!), Ben Bryant, Austin Curtis, Ethan Gardsbane, Brant Goodrich, Nick Harris, Josh Hatter, Nick Jansen, Brady Jones, Samir Joshi, James and Kevin Koonce, Chad Kral, Uthej Kunamneni, Stephen Lampe, Randy Lee, Aniket Pal, Pranav Pradeep, Jacob Samson, Thomas Sorensen, Andy Turner, and Alex Tyson. Several members of the Marcus Football Team also pitched in, but I did not get their names. Please let me know who else I should include on this list - one's memory is a fallible thing.
From Missouri, The Camp Geiger staffers who participated were: Harlan Johnson, Max Miller, Ryan Soldanels, and Austin Wilson. They left after school Friday, arriving in Flower Mound in the wee hours of Saturday morning. After a needful run to Whataburger for victuals, the boys returned to the Adams’s house and slept in until about 7:00 AM, when they arose to assist Alex with his project.
Among the adults who showed up (if I have omitted your name, please let me know so that I can correct my oversight) were: Linda Adams, Kevin Bryant, Richard Covington, Michael Curtis, Harshal Dave, Mark DiCiaccio, Audrey Gardsbane, Terry Goodnight, Dennis Goodrich, Jessica Harris, Lynn Hatter, Steve Kral, Mark Lampe, Kevin Lee, Gary Lueking, Chander Pal, Pradeep Parthasarathy, Rob Rawson, Chris Samson, Darryl Sorensen, Michael Tuggle, Michael Weatherford.
Our day was by no means done.
Alex wrapped up his project at 1:00 PM, in time to permit members of the Lone Star Dance Team to fetch costumes and head to Round Grove United Church UCC (United Church of Christ). There, the Dance Team would perform at an Arrow of Light and Bridging ceremony for the Arrows of Pack 729.
This time of year, such ceremonies are the Dance Team’s stock-in-trade but Saturday’s seemingly-ordinary-ceremony made history for the Lone Start Dance Team! We are familiar with travelling up North to join other dance teams of the tribe for various tribal events, such as the Winter Conclave or Fall Pow wow. Of course, each summer at Camp Geiger, members of the Tribe of Mic-O-Say from Troop 451 join Scouts from many other troops and Dance Districts in the ceremonies that make Camp Geiger a unique Summer camp experience for our boys and for so many other Scouts.
On January 28th, for the first time ever, our team was joined by Mic-O-Say tribesmen from another dance team. Having come all the way from Missouri to pitch in at Alex’s Eagle Scout Workday, Harlan Johnson, Max Miller, Ryan Soldanels, and Austin Wilson, participated in a Lone Star public dance as well! As befits their respective Tribal ranks, these gentlemen joined us around the tom-tom, providing extra gusto to the chanting that accompanies the primal rhythms of the great hide drum, masterfully managed by Alex Adams and Ben Bryant.
The turn out from members of the team was great but the addition of our four guests only added to the excitement and success of the afternoon. Starting off with the Belt Dance, The Cubs, Webelos, and Arrows (and their friends and relatives in attendance) were treated to several different dances, all based on Native American dances. The audience was treated to the Grass Dance, the Warrior’s Dance, and the Buffalo Dance.
Then, our ‘Chief’ for the Ceremony, Sacred Mask (Neetin Khadka), called Runner Swift Turn (Andy Turner) to identify the candidates for the Arrow of Light Award and bring them forward. This he did, brandishing his tomahawk the while. The Chief explained the significance of the Arrow of Light Award, an award so important that (other than the various Religious Knots) the Arrow of Light Badge is the only Cub Scout badge that may be worn on the Boy Scout Uniform. Each candidate’s name was called in turn, and each came forward to be awarded a stone-tipped, turkey-feathered arrow in honor of his accomplishment.
Next came the Bridging Ceremony, where each arrow ceremoniously crossed the bridge from Cub Scouting into Boy Scouting. Fittingly, each plank of the bridge was inscribed with a Scouting message, including each of the twelve points of the Scout Law. Once across, each boy was welcomed by the Troop he will join and awarded the green epaulets and troop neckerchief of a Boy Scout, replacing the familiar blue epaulets and plaid neckerchief of Webelos and Arrows.
To honor this momentous event in their Scouting careers, our team then performed the Eagle’s Dance. For this, two (or sometimes three) dancers appear, attired in great white eagle costumes, wings, beak, and all. The effect is quite impressive. Perhaps most impressive is the way our dancers adapt to the accommodations available. Typically, the Eagle’s Dance requires more space than the sanctuary of Round Grove Church could provide. In fact, this could be said of all of the dances performed this day. Nevertheless, doubtless, the audience was unaware of the instant adaptations our dancers make to the circumstances in which we perform.
Lastly, to conclude the occasion, all Scouts in attendance were invited to join the Dance Team in a ‘pow wow.’ This is a rather free-form dance, characterized most significantly by a great circling motion as everyone moves around the campfire. Scouts, ranging from Tigers to Arrows joined in the fun to help celebrate their fellows’ achievements.
When at last all was done, the Tribesmen assembled for those who wished to get pictures with the team. This last step is ever popular as people usually wish to have some record for themselves of the amazingly elaborate, colorful, and authentic-looking regalia our dancers wear. Each dancer, of course, constructs his own costume, a process that requires many hours of painstaking effort. Saturday, January 28th, 2017 was no different and our dancers did not don their civilian attire until every family that wished a photo had the chance to get one with the team.
To cap off a long, demanding, and successful day, many participants joined Alex at Babe’s in Carrollton to dine and swap stories.
Saturday was a very good day and that is all the more welcome when good days are so very appreciated. The good folks at Universal Academy have a treat awaiting them Monday morning.