Troop 75 enjoyed a fun and successful week at Yawgoog Scout Reservation’s Camp Three Point.  Forty-Niner, the campsite with The Rock and its very own swampy waterfront on Winchek Pond, was again home to twenty-four Scouts and five adult leaders from this unit.  Troop 75, a Yawgoog Honor Troop, has been returning here annually during week 5, which this year was from July 27th and August 3rd, 2003.  One Scout was back for his seventh season, but for nine others, it was their first time at Yawgoog. 

In all, forty-six merit badges, and about a dozen partials, were completed.  These included swimming, canoeing, rowing, small boat sailing, orienteering, pioneering, environmental science, mammal study, weather, oceanography, first aid, citizenship in the world, art, wood carving, and leatherwork.  Three Scouts advanced in rank to Tenderfoot.  One made First Class, and two others just need to finish their Scoutmaster Conference and participate in a Board of Review for their First Class.  All nine first-year campers earned their Bronze CY segments, a Yawgoog familiarization award for novice campers.  Three others earned Gold CYs, for Scouts who are beginning to accept leadership responsibilities.  Coincidentally, forty-six program participation segments were also earned.  Each commemorates the first time a Scout participates in an activity program offered at various camp centers.  This year, segments were awarded for participation in nature center programs, challenge center activities, campcraft center programs, sailing, canoeing, rifle, and archery.

The youth leaders did an outstanding job.  They worked together and got the job done with a great deal of courtesy and respect for each other, other Scouts, and the adult leaders.  Older Scouts helped younger Scouts.  The sudden departure of our Senior Patrol Leader, Tom O., thrust a couple of other veteran Scouts, Matt C. and Andrew R., into new leadership roles.  All three of these young men did a fine job leading the troop.  Acting Patrol Leaders, Brian L. and Nick Wi., and Troop Guides, Patrick M. and Tim R., provided particularly strong leadership as well.  Each of our four patrols (Dragons, Flaming Arrows, Owls, and Raccoons) earned the Honor Patrol award.  Other Scouts in camp were:  Ryan B., Mike C., John C., Chris C., Paul D., Steve D., Tom F., Ian G., Joe G., Tom H., Kyle K., Rich L., Kris M., Nick S., Daniel T., Anthony T., and Nick Wh.  Adults in camp were Mark L., Mike F., Paul D., Bill D., and Anthony T.

The weather was mostly warm and very humid, with a few rainy periods and a couple of cool nights.  We were also treated to hot, sunny days; spectacular sunsets over Yawgoog pond; and clear, starry skies.  The lake was surprisingly warm.  Wildlife was abundant, and not just the insect variety (although they were well represented).  Bats, skunks, snakes, frogs, chipmunks, squirrels, and raccoons were all spotted around camp.  Frogs could be heard throughout the night, and they’re not quiet.  Bats were heard fluttering between the roof of a leader tent and its rain fly.  A couple of wolf spiders were observed, and an energetic orb spider entertained the adult leaders with its hunting prowess one evening. 

The dining hall got pretty high marks this year.  A sampling of first-year Scouts rated the food an average of better than eight on a ten-point scale.  The junior leaders, Yawgoog veterans, concurred, giving high marks on the camp evaluation form.  Despite the jokes about camp food, almost every table went for seconds at every meal.  No one left the dining hall hungry for lack of food.  And the meatloaf…it’s really just a big hamburger. 

Yawgoog is permitting fewer Scouts in each tent, so the boys had a bit more elbowroom than usual.  That also means more space for stuff to spread out into.  Still, everyone quickly got into the routine of getting all of his gear properly squared away each morning, with only shoes on the floor and his pack in line.  Parents, take note!  The tents did a good job of keeping everyone, and their gear, dry through a couple of nighttime showers and a thunderstorm.  But towels and suits on the line and swampy footwear never seemed to dry completely.  Scouts shared a number of chores.  Assignments like campsite cleanup, fireguard, and latrine duty rotated daily among the patrols.  Dining hall waiter duty rotated among tablemates with each taking a turn for a day’s worth of meals or so.  The boys helped each other out, and there was very little friction. 

Sunday.  Everything went smoothly with the ferry crossing and buses to camp.  Access to the Orange Trail was restricted (a familiarization hike), so the troop took a different walk while we waited to be allowed into camp.  Mr. L. and Mr. Da. checked the troop in during this time.  Once in the site, the Scouts got busy setting up the campsite.  Then everyone ate their brown bag dinner and ironed out their bunk arrangements.  During the evening, Scouts settled in to their tents and bunks while the adult leaders began to conduct program interviews with each in order to firm up his goals for the week and create a schedule.  Merit badges were selected, blue cards were issued, and newer Scouts were encouraged to participate in the New Frontiers program, which offers basic skills instruction to help them progress more quickly in rank.  Then it was time to turn in, but there was an awful lot of energy in camp.  All the tents were still making some noise as late as midnight, and one was heard twice around 4am.  It was a very warm night.

Monday.  We woke up groggily to our first morning at camp.  Troop photos and swim qualifications were between breakfast and lunch.  Program interviews were finished up.  Waterfront orientation followed lunch, and all camp centers opened at 2pm.  Time to start getting signed up for all those merit badges.  We went to the waterfront for free swim during “troop time” in the late afternoon, a common block we used for building spirit within our troop.  New Scouts began to learn the songs and cheers in the dining hall.  Following dinner was a rehearsal for the Sunday dress parade.  The Scouts enjoyed the evening welcome campfire at Camp Three Point’s lakeside amphitheater.  Anthony T. liked one of the songs so much he spent the rest of the week driving his tent mates crazy singing it over and over.  The junior leaders teamed up to quiet the tents at bedtime, a technique they used with excellent results for the remainder of the week. 

Tuesday.  For our first campsite inspection of the week, we got a First Class rating with a little one-time assistance provided by the adult leaders.  Mr. Da. left before lunch.  Everyone was getting underway nicely with their programs during this first full program day.  The Scouts hiked a trail during troop time to satisfy their CY requirements.  They returned in enough time to get into uniforms for dinner and write home.  Each Scout is required to turn in a postcard or letter as his admission ticket to Tuesday dinner.  After the meal, everyone went to an evening activity.  Then it happened…  While hurrying along the swamp trail to get to the Three Point trading post before it closed at 8pm, Senior Patrol Leader, Tom O., broke his leg in an incident involving an uncooperative rock.  Yawgoog’s medical response was strong, but he did need to go to the hospital.  He got there courtesy of the Hope Valley ambulance squad (but without sirens).  Mr. Di. and Mr. L. followed by car after making necessary arrangements in camp.  Tom O. was back at Yawgoog’s health lodge shortly after midnight, with his medications.  Try that at a hospital here on Long Island!  He got to spend the rest of the night in a real bed and probably set a record for the most visitors the next day before his dad arrived to drive him home. 

Wednesday.  We got only a Second Class campsite inspection solely because the fireguard chart had not been signed.  And that was only because of some confusion on the part of the junior leaders who were coping with Tom O.’s absence.  The campsite was in excellent shape, and the troop was disappointed.  We had gotten the only Second Class rating we could afford to get in order to qualify for Honor Troop.  Tom O. left around lunchtime, and we said good-bye and were sad to see him go.  In the early afternoon we welcomed Mr. T.  He was splitting the week with Mr. Da.  Scouts busied themselves with their programs and activities.  During troop time, Tom F. led a small team in preparing two Dutch-oven-baked peach cobblers for the camp-wide bakeoff.  The recipe and original inspiration came from Billy D.’s winning entry in the troop’s beach campout bakeoff in June.  Tom F. and his team - Tom H., Rich L., and Daniel T. - did a great job, but we were all disappointed when our entry was overlooked in the judging after dinner.  While they were baking, the rest of the troop had fun playing volleyball.  Ian G. and Joe G. showed surprising skill at volleyball by heading the ball like in soccer.  Tom. H., who said he doesn’t play, has an excellent serve.  A couple of Scouts had been having some bouts of homesickness during their first few days, but they were completely over with by dinnertime.  In the evening, we had a campfire and enjoyed watermelon and peach cobbler.

Thursday.  We got a First Class campsite inspection.  Scouts busily worked on their individual programs and enjoyed what Yawgoog has to offer.  A few ran younger Scouts through courses they had created for the orienteering merit badge.  Others delivered presentations that were required for the weather merit badge.  Ian G. stepped on a fishhook that was easily removed by Mr. Di.  Bet he remembers to wear shoes at all times next summer.  After dinner, while Mr. L. attended a training course, the troop had fun with the camp-wide scavenger hunt. 

Friday.  We got another First Class campsite inspection.  We said good-bye to Mr. T. before lunch.  During troop time we did war canoes and had an absolute blast.  They’re very large 12-man canoes.  We took two of them out in a steady downpour onto a hazy Yawgoog pond.  Maybe the rain stopped, but we didn’t notice, nor did it matter.  After racing each other (boy do those things move) everyone was in the mood for a water fight.  Our canoes were beset by swarms of kayakers who were also looking for action.  After a number of engagements, some of the kayakers got out of hand, capsizing and swamping one of our canoes.  Of course, everyone was swim qualified and wearing a PFD (personal flotation device), and no one minded being in the water!  In fact, several of the Scouts in the un-swamped canoe were a bit envious.  A war canoe is too large for a standard T-rescue on the pond, so the aquatics center came to our rescue with their motor launch, the Charlie Brown.  The kayakers were ordered to shore and had their tags taken away.  We got shuttled back to bail the swamped canoe.  Scouts were heard to ask Mr. L. if we could do war canoes again next year…every day!  Mr. Da. had returned to camp while we were out on the pond.  Somewhere along the line, Tom H. banged his head on a rock, from which he recovered rather quickly.  A couple of second year campers accompanied the first years to the challenge center after dinner where they did “A1” elements including some field games, a stump-stepping team activity, and a hanging tire group obstacle.  They had a lot of fun.  Also after dinner, Chris C. and John C. represented Troop 75 in the sailing regatta.

Saturday.  We got the last First Class campsite inspection we needed.  This was the day to get all of the merit badges finished up.  Scouts spent the morning collecting their blue cards and frog hunting.  A couple of older Scouts from another troop asked permission to practice “bouldering” on the back side of our campsite’s big rock.  Bouldering is a competitive sport that incorporates elements of rock climbing.  There is a very challenging overhang on the big rock, which these guys described as having a difficulty rating of five out a possible eight.  They drew an audience as they demonstrated advanced free-climbing techniques.  The afternoon was spent on the waterfront for the camp swim carnival.  Rich L. and Anthony T. were entered in the ping-pong ball-on-a-spoon relay.  Nick S., Kris M., Nick Wh., and Mike C. were our sweatshirt relay team.  Tim R. “dove for silver.”  John C. and Nick Wi. entered the canoe in and out race.  Patrick M. was a last-minute replacement in the all-out tin man race.  Although he didn’t finish on top, he beat a bunch of guys who were all a lot bigger than him.  Mr. F. won a coin toss with Mr. L. and claimed the singular honor of representing our troop in the Scoutmasters’ splash, where success is measured in terms of style, air, and the all important pain (i.e., splat) factor.  He did extremely well and had the redness to show for it.  Apologies to the mixed-stroke relay swimmers, water basketball shooter, and anyone else whose participation was not properly noted here.  Nick S. strained his shoulder during the swim carnival, but it wasn’t seriously hurt.  Following the swim carnival, a contingent took a hike to satisfy CY requirements.  They found the marker for the Rhode Island / Connecticut state line, which is also the Yawgoog property line, and had fun being in two states at once, etc.  They returned quite late for dinner, but sat down as everyone else was being dismissed.  Later, it was time for the Saturday night show.  It featured the Three Point staff and included a campy, ongoing skit called “The Yawgoog Quest.”  The show also had songs, campfire skits, and some really cool music between elements.  It ended with Scout vespers, and troops returned to their campsites in silence.  Once back, Chaplain’s Aide, Chris C., led an inter-denominational field service at our flagpole by dimmed lantern light.  Everyone named something for which he was thankful, and the atmosphere was genuine, sincere, and moving at times.  It was obvious that our week at camp had brought us closer and had deepened our commitment to Scouting.  No one had any trouble falling asleep.   

Sunday.  We went to early breakfast.  Then, most Scouts attended religious services or fellowship.  Afterward, the troop set about taking down the campsite and readying their personal gear.  Our campsite was inspected one final time for checkout, and Scouts carried their gear back to the Scoutmasters fly by the dining hall for loading onto the gear truck.  Ian G. and Joe G. were shocked to see that their parents had come up for the dress parade.  Scout camp has a lot to do with developing independence, and parents are discouraged from coming up mid-week.  But, Sunday’s a great day to stop by and take in the pageantry.  The dress parade followed lunch.  It was sunny and quite hot.  Matt C., who had expressed some hesitancy earlier about representing the troop in such a visible manner as being SPL on the parade field, rose to the occasion and looked proud to do it.  Mr. L., who as Scoutmaster got to watch the troop pass in review, noted how fine they all looked.  Then, it was on to the buses for the ride back to New London.  Again, everything went smoothly with the ferry.  Our loved ones greeted us with big smiles, hugs, and kisses.  It was a great way to cap our week away.  Next year will be even better!

 - Mr. Lowen



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