The site was a mile hike from the parking lot and backpacking skills really helped a lot in getting our “scout essentials” to the lakefront site called “Kit Carson”.
Interestingly, the 777 Patrol Leadership Council also wanted to include demonstrations of ideal “dutch oven cooking” on the same weekend — and while these two activities rarely go together, we had a lot of fun building our own shelters and then enjoying very hearty chilis, stews, casseroles, fried eggs, etc. The cheesy cornbread was also a big hit, too.
An unexpected and unwelcome visitor joined us for our dinner – a big, fat, rolly-polly raccoon. The raccoons around this camp often trash-pick from the homes that encircle the scout reservation and have become quite aggressive from dealing frequently with noisy neighbors. We were careful in how we “urged” the raccoon to move along, but all he did was pop up on a different quadrant of our campfire circle, looking for a way to sneak in and make off with anything edible. Thankfully, he eventually gave up and left for the night.
Mr. Falciola provided a wonderful evening devotional focused on God’s care and protection — drawing from Exodus 33:22 “And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:” and the hymn by Frances Crosby “He Hideth My Soul”. It was very fitting for a “wilderness survival weekend” as we made use of boulders, rock outcroppings and overhangs to place our branches and construct our huts.
Verse two of the hymn (and the refrain) go like this:
A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, He taketh my burden away, He holdeth me up and I shall not be moved, He giveth me strength as my day.
Refrain: He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, That shadows a dry, thirsty land; He hideth my life in the depths of His love, And covers me there with His hand, And covers me there with His hand.
God protects us and cares for us greatly — we need to place our trust in Him since He desires the best for us. (To view the full hymn lyrics click HERE)
Morning came early at 06:45 and we all got working on breaking camp and prepping breakfast. The adults had grilled bagels, fried eggs and strong (but tasty) french-press coffee. Immediately following breakfast, ASM Smith explained the process of selecting appropriate recipes for dutch oven cooking and how to bring it all together at the campsite following some prep work back home. He prepared a beef stew with quartered potatoes, chunked up carrots and cubed stew beef. Various seasonings and home-made beef stock came together for a three hour simmer blending all the flavors together nicely.
While the stew simmered, SM Vigario led the combined troops through wilderness survival basics and signed off on various requirements for the merit badge.
Before the stew was ready to eat, we showed the scouts how to mix up two batches of cornbread — one featuring shredded, sharp cheddar cheese. Using gallon sized zip-tight bags as mixing bowls, we were able to neatly pour our batter into the dutch ovens for a quick roast over the campfire.
Following lunch and clean up time, we noticed a shift in the campfire smoke and the rolling in of darker and darker clouds. A low pressure system was moving in on us. We decided to finish the wilderness survival program at the parking area and got on the trail just as the rain started. Fortunately, by the time we arrived at the parking area, the skies were becoming clear again so we packed the cars and finished the presentation.
It was a lot of fun to camp with Troop 777 again. We really enjoy their company, and the scouts have made lots of friends over the years.