“Be prepared for what?” I always ask our Scouts.. “Anything” is the answer and they are correct.
This last weekend, the Scouts of my Troop went camping out at one of our favorite Scout properties, Royce Finel on the Oregon Coast. Heading out to the coast in November is as the young guys say “Sketchy”. You never know what kind of weather to expect, but for the most part you can expect to get wet.
The plan for weekend was to work some camp skills and have a cook off for the dinner meal. The weeks leading up to the camp out I kept hearing the SPL announce to Be Prepared to be cold and wet. The week leading into the camp out a couple of the older scouts brought in their packs to show how to pack for wet weather and gave some tips on staying dry.
Well, the proof is in the pudding as they say and Friday night arrived and it was time to go. It started raining while we gathered in the parking lot at the church and got the packs loaded into my truck. When we got to the trail head the rain had let up a little and we started our hike in to camp. The heavy coastal rains from the last couple days made the trail interesting, especially when we got to a couple of areas where crossing swampy land was made difficult due to high water and some of the foot bridges being washed out. But we arrived in camp and got things set up.
The first thing that I noted was that instead of jumping right into setting up tents, they had carried tarps in and set them up and got all the packs under the cover. Then the older guys helped the newer Scouts get their tents set up and their gear put away. The next morning after a night of heavy rain, everyone was dry and ready to have a great day. The Troop cooked breakfast and got things cleaned up and we decided that since it was raining, and it looked like it would rain all day, that we would hike back out to the cars and head to Ft. Stevens and tour the museum there.
After a couple of hours at Ft. Stevens we loaded up and headed back to camp. The hike in this time was drier as it stopped raining. Lunch was prepared and the Scouts started working on skills, namely getting a fire going. There was nothing dry in the camp, but they managed to find some undergrowth beneath a fallen tree that would prove to be just the thing to get a fire going. They gathered anything, wet or dry, lying around that would burn and they were successful in getting a fire going. I checked on the guys sometime after the fire was roaring, the scouts were dry and having a great time.
The cook off went well, and everyone was thankful that the rain held out. Around 6 PM it was dark and we all stood around the fire singing songs and telling jokes. At 7:30 it started to rain, then came the thunder and lightning. The guys decided it was time to head to their tents and we all went down for the night after the fire was put out.
Sunday morning we had a little drizzle, but the Scouts got packed up, ate breakfast, and we hiked back to the parking lot. At the end of the parking lot is a dock going out into the lake, it was decided that the dock would be a good place for our Scouts own service. At the conclusion of the service, the SPL went around the circle and had each Scout tell us what they learned over the weekend. Some talked about how they learned to make fire in the rain, some talked about their gear, some talked about what they need to do better next time. As I listened to them talk I heard one theme come out, and that was being prepared.
Knowledge, skills, learning from mistakes, the right gear used correctly. All of these things lead to being prepared. Prepared for anything.
As we arrived back in town for pick up, one of the parents made a comment about how clean everyone was. Yeah, we had muddy boots, but uniform pants, and wet rain gear, were all clean. One of the newer Scouts looked to his dad and said, that’s how you stay dry and warm and have a good time camping. I smiled and said to the dad, “well I guess they do listen.”
Whether it is gear, skills, or knowledge, putting it together is the key to being prepared. It is great when you see it put to the test and when the Scouts see themselves a success in being prepared. It is a lesson that they will never forget and one that they will use more often in scouting and in life.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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