Today I am diligently working on clearing my desk and packing my stuff. It it is that time of year again. Yes it is time for Boy Scout Summer Camp! Tomorrow I will hit the road, along with 11 other adult, to take 36 boys for a week at Camp Thunder, Georgia. Yeah, that’s right.. 36!
If my math is correct, this will make 20 years that I have been involved in making preparation, loading up the trailer and hitting the road to Scout camp. That makes a lot of miles and a lot of memories. Our first trip was i 1994, when my oldest son Tyler made his first trip to camp. Jo Ann and I and the two youngest boys tagged along to Camp Comer in Mentone AL, a beautiful spot in northeast Alabama on Look Out Mountain. Little did we know that it would be the beginning of an annual pilgrimage that would last all these years.
That first year there were about 12 boys in the Troop. Over the years, the Troop has grown.. and grown.. and grown. Last year we took 27 Scouts to Camp Buck Tom in Tennessee. That was a record number for us. This year we are blowing that record out of the water!
We have been fortunate that we have had many wonderful trips over the years. The fun and camaraderie are hard to put into words. There is something special about taking a group of boys, most of them between 11 years old to 16 years old, on an extended trip and seeing them not only have fun, but also grow, mature and become self reliant. For many of them, this is the first time they have gone off “on their own” for an extended period of time. Remarkably, they seem to have no problem leaving Mom and Dad at home. The problem, particularly for first timers, is getting Momma to be cool with her baby going off in the woods for a week. LOL.
I should say here, that getting everything together and pulling off a successful trip doesn’t just happen. It takes a lot of work and planning. Planning is not my forte’. I am more of a big picture kind of person. Fortunately, my wife Jo Ann has a head for logistics that would be the envy of a four star general. People often tell me what a good job I have done putting together a summer camp trip. The truth is, if it were up to me, we would still be sitting around trying to figure out where we were going to camp for 2008. But fortunately, she is a master at figuring things out. When I left home this morning, she was sitting at the kitchen table with a stack of small bills, stuffing spending money envelopes for everybody. And that is only a small part of what she does to make these things go off without a hitch.
Our summer camp trips generally involve some sort of fun activity on the way to camp. Camp Thunder is just south of Atlanta, so Sunday we are taking a detour for a day at Six Flags over Georgia. Some of our other fun days have included Disney World, Rock City, Silver Dollar City, Desoto Caverns and Raccoon Mountain. Last year, we went caving in Chattanooga and spent the night sleeping in the cave. Hopefully, we are making memories that will last a lifetime.
We try to keep things fun and light at camp. We do things like declaring that today is Crazy Hat Day:
Our guys always take pride in looking sharp for evening flag and dinner. Here is a pic from 4 years ago at Camp Comer.
By the way, although they weren’t then, I count 8 Eagle Scouts in that picture.
One thing that always amazes my about camp is the fact that our guys, who I have reliable reports can’t see the floor in their room at home, always keep things ship shape enough to score 100% on campsite inspections.
While camp can be a lot of fun, it is important that discipline be maintained at all times:
There are always lots of activities and Merit Badge classes to keep the guys busy. But every once in a while you have to just take the opportunity to do something different and let boys be boys. Like spending an afternoon hiking to a waterfall which empties into a very cold swimming hole:
I don’t know yet what this Summer Camp will hold. But you can bet I can’t wait to find out!