Scout days happen throughout the year for various athletic team competitions including: football; ice hockey; basketball and lacrosse.
Having parked at the base commissary and PX parking lot, we took a shuttle bus to the Parade Field to watch the Cadet Review scheduled for 9 AM.
The Cadet Review provides an opportunity for the cadets to practice their marching and teamwork, and celebrates the pride in their efforts to perfect their leadership skills and precision in drills.
Across from the Parade Field, there were cadet club sponsored activity pavilions for special interests like army engineering, robotics, tae-kwan-doe and small arms tactics. These interest areas gave scouts a first-hand look at some of the things that cadets spend time on during their four years at the academy while studying engineering or science.
After stocking up on hot dogs and hamburgers cooked by the cadets to raise money for their club activities, we visited the Scoutmasters Council (http://www.usma.edu/scoutmasters/SitePages/Home.aspx) — a club run by cadets who were scouts prior to coming to the college. The council “…was established in 1953-1954 for the purpose of planning and conducting the Annual West Point Camporee; of assisting the Scoutmasters of Troops 23 and 123 in the training and development of their Scouts; and of providing escorts for visiting Scout and Explorer groups. Its objectives are to support the mission of the United States Military Academy, and to provide the Cadets with increased opportunities for the development of leadership, self-confidence and technique of instructing and controlling groups of people.”
During scout days, cadets from the council will provide either walking tours of Trophy Point, or escorted bus tours of the campus. On this Scout Day, there were troops from as far away as Vermont in attendance!
Unfortunately, we didn’t take advantage of the tour on this trip since we wanted to get to the stadium to watch the precision parachute drill team in action.
The team leaps one-by-one from a helicopter at a height of about 4,000 feet above the stadium. They gently glide and twirl in acrobatic maneuvers as they descend to the field and land on the fifty yard line.
They make it look like they’re simply riding an escalator from the helicopter to the ground.
Here is a picture showing the lead jumper with the football fastened to his harness so that his hands are free to work the various cords that control the parachute/glider.
The helicopter crew orbited the stadium to be certain that their colleagues were down safely and then buzzed the field only a hundred feet off of the grass! It was exciting to watch the control and power of the helicopter as it twirled through the lighting towers and exited behind the ridge beyond the stadium.
The resounding booms echo off of the Hudson river valley making it sound like thunder on a sunny day.
We were treated to a strong game. Army’s Black Knights played with effectual defense for most of the game and kept it close for the first half. Seated in the South Endzone (with all the Stanford fans) left us with seats close to the field and the sun to our back.
These mascots had a competition during the half time to celebrate the college’s increased emphasis on recycling to reduce trash on campus. Call it sustainability or just good stewardship, but I like the idea of being smart about our available resources.
Most of the mascots were visible standing with their cadet classmates throughout the game — I’ve always said that you can spot an Eagle from a long ways off, but here’s one that was especially noticeable.
All in all, it was a great day.
Unfortunately, the scoreboard didn’t register an Army win, but we all had a great time and were exhausted.
Thankfully, the shuttle bus system saved us a long hike up to the PX parking area, but it didn’t save us from having to stand in line to wait our turn to ride.
We may be back in the winter for basketball or even ice hockey. We’ll see what’s on our plate by then, but we know that USMA, and particularly the Scoutmaster’s Council really understands the value of open hospitality and always makes us feel welcome.
Our next troop meeting is this Monday evening from 7 PM to 9 PM. The SPL/ASPL team have planned several key agenda items for the troop to work on in addition to some sports/games time in the gym.