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Eamonn

A Visit To Camp. A Walk Down Memory Lane

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A couple of weeks back both OJ (my son) and myself were both free and made the trip up to our council summer camp.

Not sure if it's old age? But I really can't remember the last time I was there when camp was up and running. I'm thinking that it's been three or maybe four years.

The camp is very special for me. It was there where I spent my first summer in the United States and this camp was my reason for being in the United States.

It was at this camp back in 1977, that I first met the young Lady who was foolish enough to later become my bride and who has stuck by my side for over thirty years.

A good many of the young guys I worked with that first summer are to this day my nearest and closest friends.

 

Over the years I have helped build and improve the camp. That summer in 1977 I remember teaching rappelling using two tent platforms that had been bolted to a couple of trees, now there is a very fancy tower, the small creek where we canoed and tried to row boats has been replaced by a really nice lake.

The Cub Scout Camp is a little way down the path and I have fond memories of taking OJ there when he was a little fellow. Great memories of him and his pals making rockets, splashing around in the creek, supposedly looking for signs of wildlife. I remember paying a fortune for owl balls that I bought from somewhere in Washington state and me being almost as excited as the little guys when they found bones and skeletons inside the balls.

Anyone who hasn't worked with boys of Webloes Scout age has missed a lot.

I think that I ran just about every BSA  outdoor training course at this camp.

Working with adult leaders is always fun and anyone who knows me knows that I think fun is the main ingredient in Scouts and Scouting, without fun it just doesn't work.

I have wonderful memories of truly great campfires, everyone singing' yelling, involved in skits where they made real fools of themselves.

 

The camp is very special for me.

OJ camped there every summer with his Troop and served on staff for four summers. He got deeply involved in the Order of the Arrow and served as a Vice Chief for what seemed a very long time. I was more proud seeing him get Vigil Honor then I was seeing him get Eagle Scout, maybe because he got it before I did! 

I was so very happy that he seemed to make the same real friends at camp as I did when I was there and was overjoyed that he opted to run with these guys who while none of them were Angels and were great at finding mischief and ending up in hot water, never messed with drugs or really bad stuff. 

 

Much as I love the camp and hold it so very dear to my heart. I have to admit to having never been a fan of  these Council Summer Camps. I feel bad admitting that.

I don't like that that always seem so over organized.

I love summer and believe that summer is the best time for a boy to be a boy. The idea that he is running from class to class, eating food that is cooked for him in a mess hall? Really isn't my cup of tea.

As an adult leader I looked forward to our UK type summer camp of two weeks with a van load of gear Scouts camping and hiking in Patrols. My great joy was in watching and seeing each individual Lad grow.

 

Before we took off for the ride to camp OJ brought up the camp web site to see who was in camp that week. Looking at the entire list for all the weeks he noted that almost half the Troops attending this summer were Troops from out of council and without these out of council Troops the camp would be half empty.

Kinda sad. Back when I first went to the camp it was ten weeks with most of the weeks full, now it is down to six weeks with a couple of those barely half full. 

The weather was really beautiful, a warm summer day and when we arrived at camp there was a nice warm breeze in the mountains.

The camp itself looked good. There have been years when thanks to improvements it has looked more like a building site.

We were both welcomed as if we were long lost friends.

The Reservation Director is also the Assistant Scout Executive and my first night in the States was spend on his couch.

The Camp Commissioner reminded me that I had been his grandsons Cubmaster and  the Ranger was in my will which gave him OJ should both Her Who Must Be Obeyed and myself die when he was a little Lad.

I ran into adults who reminded me that I had been their Wood Badge Director or had taken their son to the Jamboree or sailing when I had the Sea Scout Ship.

A couple of Troops asked if they could visit me and do some real pioneering. (My gear is far better then what the camp has! and I'm kinda good at that type of stuff.)

We visited the Cub Scout camp and I was asked if I'd take a couple of Dens on my Dog Walk Hike. ( I know the fields and nature around my home and have taken the little guys out for about three or four miles just looking for and pointing out what's out there. I normally take my dogs and they get to play with them and love to play fetch!) We sometimes light a fire and cook foil packs.

 

They say that when policemen start to look young that this is a sign of old age? I don't know about that but one thing that really struck me at camp was how young the staff were. In fact everyone seemed very young.

There wasn't hardly any older Scouts to be seen and when I asked I was informed that there wasn't any programs offered for older Scouts because over the past few years there hadn't been any takers.

This is really sad.

 

We had a really nice day.

It was great seeing old friends.

I'm a little worried about how much longer the camp can remain viable with so few local youth using it?

I don't think that I will ever in a million years like or get used to the idea of a Lad in the summer running book in hand from class to class. I know and understand that this is what it is.

To be fair, the Lads doing the running all seemed happy enough.

The camp looked great. Everyone seemed safe and well looked after.

It was worth the trip.

Eamonn 

 

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I guess my most vivid memories are not from the council camp (which is now part of a big gated 'community' on the land near a big lake). Rather, my best memories are the real summer camps in which the troop packed up a pickup and trailer full of gear and we headed into the mountains for an variable amount of time, usually about 10 days but sometime a couple of weeks. Those trips (with no MB involvement whatsoever, only adventure) are the ones that made lasting good memories of other scouts and places which, in some cases, I doubt I'll ever see again. Those were times in which the only structure was making the meals, doing some rank advancement stuff, and going on the hikes.

Later, as an adult volunteer, I have been involved with taking the unit to the council camp in this part of the country. I wish I could say that that experience has left the kinds of memories that Eamonn has mentioned but nothing can take the place of those long summer adventures, so long ago.

Edited by packsaddle

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