Rain, chill and gloomy skies won’t stop our troop from camping! We headed out to the Montville Park on Friday evening with our Klondike sleds, tents and extra sets of dry clothes (just in case).
Unfortunately, heavy downpours of rain during the early morning hours managed to invade many of our tents. Struggling to sleep in chilly weather isn’t terribly difficult when you’re dry, but rolling over into a puddle of rain water is a horrible way to wake up at 3 AM. Still, the scouts endured and learned lessons about double checking rainflys before going to bed, adjusting them in the middle of the night and being glad that they brought a sleep matt to “float” on the water instead of laying “in” the water.
Morning brought brighter skies even though we didn’t see sunshine until heading home in the late afternoon. Breakfast was another good learning lesson that hot breakfasts that are also simple to prepare and clean up make more sense than getting fancy. Stealth patrol greedily ate their oatmeal while Lancers patrol struggled to cook chocolate chip pancakes in a pot with no butter or non-stick spray. Unfortunately, there WAS a non-stick griddle packed and this wasn’t discovered until everyone had gotten their share of “crispy” flap jacks.
Notwithstanding a slow start to the morning, we did get camp broken down and stowed quickly. Everyone piled into vehicles (or walked) over to Trinity Baptist Church (which adjoins the park and local High School properties).
The Klondike competition got underway with much excitement and patrols sped off in different directions with their sleds in tow (or being carried as there was no snow to ease the ski runners over hard surfaces.)
Our scoutmasters organized a fire building event — scouts had to construct a fire using tinder and kindling wood that would burn through a length of twine suspended roughly 30 inches above the base of the fire pit. As a timed event, the scouts needed to work quickly and plan how to build the fire so that the flames would reach high before they ran out of wood. Bonuses were provided for those who would start their fire without the use of matches. The team with the best time completed the task in three minutes and fifty-five seconds.
Other stations included quizzing on nature, first aid, orienteering, scout history and more. Some stations required the construction of equipment by lashing together poles and timbers with ropes and twine.
The final event was a cooking competition to ensure that everyone got a hot lunch, and to verify that the scouts would plan a healthy, satisfying meal. Some of the requirements for the event included:
- Print (neatly) the recipe used for each dish in the meal
- Determine the cost per serving of each dish, and for the total meal – provide documentation on how your team arrived at this cost figure
- Print (neatly) how the menu includes the foods from the food pyramid and meets nutritional needs.
- Print (neatly) which pans, utensils, and other gear will be needed to cook and serve these meals.
- Print (neatly) a brief description of the procedures followed in the safe handling and storage of any fresh meats, dairy products, eggs, vegetables, and other perishable food products actually used for this meal. Also, describe your team’s plan on properly disposing of camp garbage, cans, plastic containers, and other rubbish
- Print (neatly) a duty roster including: grubmaster; cook; clean up and any other positions you care to delegate to your team.
- Prepare the planned meal – there should be enough to serve each member of your team and at least one additional serving earmarked for the Mayor and his assistants.
- Lead your patrol in saying grace at the meal (First Class Req #4)
- The team should supervise cleanup to Leave No Trace – messy cooking, trash left behind may disqualify teams.
Following the event, we published the various recipes used by each patrol in a mini-cookbook, and we updated our “Patrol Cooking Tips” guidebook to include these recipes. The Patrol Cooking Tips guide can be viewed or downloaded at this link.
All the scouts who attended, including some scouts from Troop 2678 (Sparta, NJ) who joined our patrol teams, agreed that they had a great time and offered a big THANK YOU to Troop 777 for hosting the competition.
Competition is important to developing young men since it motivates them to do their very best instead of settling for goals short of the mark.
The details of the competition come from basic requirements that all scouts must master to become recognized as First Class Scouts, and this helps older scouts remember, teach and lead while younger scouts practice and master new skills.