Tonkawa District Youth Leadership Training, 2018
On November 16th, 2018, Troop 451 once again presented the Tonkawa District Youth Leadership Training at Hills and Hollows Scout Camp in Denton, Texas. This training supplements that now-standard Youth Leadership Training (YLT) that all Scouts should attend, typically within their first year. In the past, leadership training had three phases, YLT, Brownsea, and National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT), known, in the Longhorn Council, as "Twin Arrows". "Brownsea" was intermediate-level - more advanced than YLT and less intense than Twin Arrows, it was long the prerequisite for that more-advanced training. Named after an island in Poole Harbor, England, where Lord Baden Powell first held leadership training campouts for his original Boy Scouts, Brownsea was long a staple of the BSA leadership training mission. For reasons unfathomable to this long-time Scouter, a few years ago, Brownsea was eliminated in favor of taking Scouts directly from YLT to NYLT. Many in the Tonkawa District recognize that our Scouts' success at Twin Arrows will be enhanced by reinforcing and expanding the lessons imparted at YLT and thus, in the absence of Brownsea training, the Tonkawa District Youth Leadership Training was born with Troop 451 serving as its midwife. This year's program was organized by Eric Bussey and supported by a strong cast of Troop 451 Scouts and Scouters. Our own Senior Patrol Leader (SPL), Nick Jansen, served as SPL for this weekend's training, ably assisted by other Troop 451 Scouts: James Morales, Austin Reid, and Matthew Richards as Assistant SPLs. Many of our first- and second-year Scouts attended this important raining, including Dylan Beaver, Jake Mahdak, Landon Pratt, Julian Razavi, Kaleb Rutherford, and Winston Smith. We arrived Friday evening to pitch camp and get to know the others in attendance at a simple-but-hearty "Cracker Barrel" of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, cut into cubes and (who could have guessed it?) crackers. Well, there was some smoked sausage on offer as well. Soon, it was time for lights out and a cool, but pleasant night's sleep before the full day of Saturday's activity. Typically, when we camp, our Troop 451 Scouts do most every needed chore for themselves, including cooking and KP. This weekend is an exception. Because the boys' schedule is filled with training, there is no opportunity for them to prepare most of their meals and thus, we Scouters fill in for them. In addition to a course-wide Cracker Barrel, we also prepared Breakfast, lunch, and snack on Saturday and breakfast Sunday. As part of their training, the boys did prepare their own dinners on Saturday evening, feeding several Pack 3040 Arrows and Webelos as their guests. Your correspondent was preoccupied with comestibles and was unable to note much detail of the training itself, which followed closely the traditional, effective Brownsea curriculum. What was apparent, even to one focused thus elsewhere was that the Scouts in attendance were themselves occupied in productive activity throughout their long day. Our Troop 451 Scouts were joined by a good-sized contingent from Troop 437 out of First Presbyterian, Lewisville. Other troops with Scouts who attended were 281 and 822, with two each. We launched the morning with a “Mountain Man”-style breakfast. To feed an anticipated crowd of approximately 38 people, we prepared 6 lbs of ground sausage (Owen’s regular); 6 medium onions, diced fine, 8 lbs of potatoes, cut into 1/2” cubes (we leave the peel on - good source of dietary fibre!); 4 lg green Bell peppers, diced; 10 doz eggs, scrambled. We added some pepper, seasoned salt, and herbs. In a large skillet, we browned the sausage until it was crumbling and added it to a lightly-oiled 16-quart Dutch oven. Then, we browned the potatoes, onions, and peppers in sausage grease and add to the sausage in the Dutch oven. This was stirred all together until well mixed. Then we added in the eggs and stirred until firm. This, we served to the hungry crowd. Fewer folks actually showed up than had registered and, thus, the meal proved to be prepared in excess. Nevertheless, we are always grateful when there is enough for all. No meal is finished until the clean-up is complete and camping meals are no exception. One of the goals of the Brownsea level training is to ensure our Scouts know how to prepare food safely and ensure future health with proper post-prep hygiene. The wash station is set up atop three eight-foot tables. On the first, the dirty dishes and pots are assembled. The second holds the tubs of washing water. Typically four in number, we used five upon this occasion as we shall explain. The third table is where the newly-cleaned dished are dried and left until reclaimed by their owners. In the four-tub system which we teach the Scouts, the first tub is filled with very hot water. Once the excess food is scraped from the dishes, they are rinsed in this tub to remove the bulk of any remaining food. The second tub holds hot water with detergent and this is where the real scrubbing occurs. Then, the now food-free dishes are moved to the third tub, which also contains very warm water, to be rinsed before a final, sterilizing rinse in the fourth tub. This last rinse may be hot or cool but the key is that the water contains a capful of chlorine bleach. The strongly oxidizing sodium hypochlorite is inimical to the existence of most any human pathogen. Microbial mischief is thereby precluded and our Scouts and guests are assured of consuming their next meal uncontaminated. Because of the fairly large number of people dining this weekend, we added a second ‘first’ tub so that the water would not become more like “Guess What” soup. Thus, we employed five tubs. The important goal was proper sanitation. [Warning: skip this section if you do not wish to read a rant] The other cleaning effort is caring for cast iron. As Chris Samson will attest, I can get picky about this topic. There are at least two ways to do this important task: the old Troop 451 way and the right way. I become irrational about irrationality and the care of cast iron currently abounds with irrationality. At every troop outing, I (and others) end up cleaning not only the cast iron vessels we ourselves use but many others used previously and cared for incorrectly. Doing it right is easy, easier, in fact, that doing it the other ways (see Caring for Cast Iron Cookware) if you want to know more. [Thus endeth the rant] In any event, we cleaned a LOT of cast iron this weekend in addition to the significant amount we used. The boys busied themselves with their training all morning and had worked up a good appetite by lunchtime. At this juncture, we were delighted to be joined by Arrows and Webelos (and parents) from Pack 3040. For lunch, we offered sandwiches of cold cuts (ham and turkey breast). We had both store-bought white and wheat bread as well as sourdough on offer. All selections were popular. We also served sliced cheeses (cheddar, Swiss, and Colby/Jack). We sliced-up several pounds of tomatoes and offered lettuce as well. Varieties of chips (potato, corn) were available and apples and oranges too, For dessert, there were sandwich creme cookies in chocolate and vanilla. All of this was accompanied by abundant ‘lemonade’. The Scouts returned to their instruction and we adults tended to much of the clean-up. At 3:45 pm, Saturday, it was time for a snack. We intentionally offered nachos. Abundant corn chips were presented to be smothered in a cheddar cheese sauce as the Scout desired. Pickled jalapeno peppers and a bit of taco beef were available to add spice and savor. The point is, this recipe produces a fairly challenging set of messy, greasy dishes upon which the Scouts must exercise their dishwashing skills. By the end of this training, they know the elements of hygienic food handling and clean-up. For dinner, each patrol prepared its own meal from a recipe and ingredients we provided. No, we did not do a reality-show-like cook-off but we could have! The Scouts made ‘chicken spaghetti. This simple, camping-friendly meal begins with cooking a pound and a half of pasta (we use the eponymous spaghetti). Then, in a large (12-inch) Dutch oven, the Scouts sautee a diced green pepper and chopped celery. Once that is done, they add in 1 can each of cream of celery, cream of mushroom, and cream of chicken soups. A can and a half of chicken is added too. Once the pasta is done and drained, it is added to the pot and all stirred around together, This makes a hearty, surprisingly tasty meal that easily feeds 10 hungry youth. Each patrol hosted a few of the Pack 3040 Scouts for dinner. I am assured that no one left the table hungry. For the adults, we prepared 10 lbs pork loin, stuffed with dried apricots and cherries; 8 lbs medium potatoes, halved; 4 medium onions, sliced thin; small apples, cored (as many as fit). 2 hrs (this can be done up to overnight) before serving, we pierced the center of the loin with a long, sturdy knife, to create a central cavity. We stuffed this cavity with a mixture of apricots and cherries. I should have remembered to bring a couple of bay leaves. You might not think it, but a hint of bay with the sweetness of the fruit actually works quite well. The more tightly packed the better but this particular cut of loin precluded the most typical treatment. It worked anyway. When we were ready to start cooking, we browned the loin in a large skillet. We lightly oiled the bottom and sides of a 16-quart Dutch oven (using cooking spray) and added the half potatoes to make a pavement of potatoes across the bottom of the oven. We laid the pork on top of the potatoes and sprinkled on the remaining apricots and cherries. We also threw in some cored apples around the pork. Lastly, the onions were layered on top of everything. On the three-burner camp stove, we heated the oven over the lowest possible flame and add 40 or so charcoal briquettes on top, replenishing as needed. Although this makes a reasonable one-pot meal, just as does the chicken spaghetti, we also prepared corn and green beans. After dinner, we enjoyed a great campfire with skits from all patrols and two from the Pack 3040 Scouts! Troop 451 Star Scout Ryan Bussey built the entirely successful fire itself. We also were treated to songs and an outstanding series of truly bad jokes! This was a delightful way to spend a pleasant autumnal evening in the company of friends both old and new. Seeing the earnest efforts of our youth is always a treat and often a treasure. Our evening wound down with a movie in the pavilion. The recently-deceased William Goldman’s ageless tale, “The Princess Bride”, as envisioned by director Rob Reiner entertained our erstwhile entertainers. A highlight of the experience was homemade root beer, ably prepared by Kevin Lee, who also procured the ingredients, and hot popcorn, also cooked over a camp stove. As with so much of the support this weekend, it is not possible to record just who contributed what. Alex Cobb filled a wide range of needs, pitching in with cooking and elsewhere, as required. Patrick Rutherford did likewise and was a crucial component of success. He solved a key problem with popcorn, production, for example, and led the bagging efforts. Eric Bussey’s contributions were not limited to planning and organization but extended to every opportunity to put his shoulder to the wheel. He was there to help wherever possible. Steve Kral did a masterful job hosting our guests from Pack 3040, adults and Scouts, and also pitched in with cooking and, especially, with clean up. I cannot ignore Doug Mahdak or Chad Kral either. All who attended helped make the weekend a success, Scout and Scouter alike. I do not by any means disparage the contributions from the Scouts and Scouters of Troops 281, 437, or 822 but, in a Troop 45a blog, I have focused on our own. Lights out came not long before 11:00 pm and the night remained quite pleasant. Preparing to sleep, I wondered if I should put on my cold weather sleeping gear as it was yet so warm. Prudence dictated that one should prepare, given the forecast, and I am glad I did. Between 12:30 and 1:00 Sunday morning, a cold North wind brought falling temperatures and, in the space of about 20 minutes, the temperature fell from between 60-65 °F to 40-45 °F. With that wind to drive it, we really felt the chill. We came prepared for this and it seems that everyone enjoyed adequate sleep. We broke our fast on Oatmeal with brown sugar and raisins, scrambled eggs, and sausage. Breakfast was followed by the Scouts’ Own Sunday Service. Once that concluded, striking camp was the order of the day. With so many people in camp, this was an involved process that required reassembling for each Troop 451 chuck box its proper complement of equipment, so recently reorganized by our Quartermaster, Patrick Halbach. This done, there were breakfast dishes to wash and a camp kitchen to disassemble. The Scouts repaired to their own tents to strike and pack their camps and those who finished their own duties early typically assisted the stragglers. Our assembled crew, staff, Scouters, and trainees, was done before 11:00 am and headed out to return to Lewisville High School by the projected noon return time. In all, it was a great weekend. If the Scouts who attended had half as good a time as I, it was a roaring success! I believe, from the comments I heard, that they did. Thanks to Eric Bussey and all the Troop 451 Scouts and Scouters who made this success a reality.