I was disappointed to hear that Justin would not be attending this campout and I was super psyched that we had 6 adult leaders. As we waited in the parking lot we enjoyed the warm sun and I hoped all the kids were prepared for 30 degree weather. I warned the group that I was as talented a navigator as I am a pop singer. I was second to last in the caravan.
Once we made it to our campsite, our senior patrol leader organized all the gear getting unloaded. Tents went up and I think at least a little bit of learning happened with some of the kids who have only put them up once or twice in the past. Our camp site had 3 picnic tables and we put up 3 popups over them. We gathered around a fire and the boys stared at the flames. Fires are cool.
In the morning the boys were up early. Well, some of them were up at 7:00am… and some much later. We went to start breakfast and saw that our propane burners were not in the trailer. We got our breakfast made with a coleman can of propane and all was good. Cleanup went fairly quick and we were off for horseback riding.
Our group was broken up into two groups to go out riding. It was a long trail (over an hour) and we trotted several times, we went up and down hills, and we saw several deer. It was a great trail ride, and I would love to go here again. We got just a little bit of rain, but mostly it was clear and 40 degrees. All of the boys had a good time while we were there. The trail ride was fantastic for new and veteran riders. Ralph the owner is quite a character. If ever there were a TV show waiting to be made, I think it is ‘Saturdays with Ralph’. I heard stories of him hunting and wrestling deer for hours. He gets wild Mustangs and breaks them and trains them to be ridden by kids as young as 5. He teaches his grandson to barrel ride. He has his 7 year old grand daughter out on the farm playing in gravel, moving fences, literally frolicking in fields. I spoke with him for only a short period, and I believe that everything he does, he does with conviction and respect. In his barn, the boys played games, climbed on 6 foot gravel piles, played on timbers, and pet several cats and a deaf dog. While horseback riding, the boys did much more than just ride horses.
I was designated lead driver on the way there and the way back. Mr. Potter took over after the 3rd bad turn I took. I think he has good instincts. My car navigation is limited to listening to the nice woman in my car – either my wife or the GPS. Since my wife wasn’t there, it was just the GPS.
By the time we got back we really only had time for one meal. The boys decided to make the fettucini (your choice of white or red sauce), chicken and salad. It was 5:00 when they started eating, and there were no leftovers. It started to rain shortly after we ate, so the boys decided to use the chips and cookies we had for their evening snack rather than cook the homemade doughnuts.
We kept the fire going the whole time (did I mention that fire is cool?) and kept an eye on the tents. Some of the tents have leaks in the seams and some sleeping bags got wet. We sent them off to get dried and while they were out, we did a clean up job on the tents to dry them out. By the time the dry sleeping bags came back, the rain had stopped and we were ready for our last evening entertainment.
Each of the tents of boys came up with a skit and some groups had more than one. I am not sure, but I think the driving force behind this campfire event was Warren. I could tell when his group was on stage that he enjoyed being up there, and he did a good job setting the stage for his skits. Some of the boys were more into putting on the skits than others and I want to extend my great thanks to ALL of them for my evening entertainment. The 38 skit I think was a group favorite. If you ever get near a cliff and hear one of the scouts saying “38. 38. Be careful of the 38.” just stay back. 🙂
All the boys were in bed by 10:30. Most said “Is it OK if I go to bed now?” No one was told that it was time to go to bed. Horses, rain, and cold can wipe a guy out. We were all up by 7:00 the next morning.
The fire was started early and even though I had been burning as much as I could on Saturday, I could not come close to burning all of their wood. Did I mention they had chopped wood? On Saturday they had once again made an axe yard and once again gave a short lesson on handling of axes and hatchets and care and sharpening of them. There we were many downed branches and logs that they chopped, and chopped and chopped. Clearly the intent was not for firewood since it was all wet and mostly green. I think the main reason is that they could chop wood to their hearts content (within the BSA rules – ask a leader if you are interested in what that is). We had wood up to our ears on Sunday, and the boys cleaned up their axe yard and stacked all the leftovers they had chopped.
After a fine continental breakfast and a thorough police line (again, another good question for your scout is “what is a police line” if you have never heard that term), The senior patrol leader and junior assistant scoutmaster gave a quick lesson on the maps for Mohican.
They were fairly detailed maps and useful for driving, hiking and finding facilities all over the property. After the boys learned where they were on the map, they took a quick walk down one of the marked trails to a beautiful overlook of the gorge. The sun was rising and the hawks were hunting below us. It was a magnificent scene. Someone even made a “38” joke.
Our ride back was safe and uneventful except for the fact that the sunny 43 degree weather we had on the ride home made the rainy 40 degree weather of Saturday a distant memory. I asked the kids about their favorite part of the weekend and the overwhelming response was horseback riding. There were a few other answers, some expected some less so. Here are a few of the others – the food, the skits, going to sleep, watching the deer, chopping wood and cooking