07/30/2006 – 08/05/2006
Camp Squanto is one of the best experiences for a Boy Scout. Surrounded by an atmosphere of fun and camaraderie, scouts work on Merit Badges of their choosing over the course of a week. This year we had thirteen scouts at the beginning of the week, which is a relatively large number for our small troop. We also had two adult leaders who stayed with the scouts at our campsite for the whole week. Several other parents and a recent Eagle Scout came to stay for a night or two at a time. We all arrived on Sunday afternoon, our personal gear was trucked to our site and then we handed in our medical forms and medication. Since we would only be using less than half of a site, we shared with Troop 39 from Halifax as we have done in the past. The Troop 28 trailer is brought to the site by adult leaders before we arrive and they set up a large tent shelter above it to provide protection from the elements. This year, we were one of the last troops to be brought in so by the time it came to hand in our forms the check in line was gigantic. However, we were able to sit down while waiting making it easier on everyone. After we were finally able to hand in our forms, we then went to our site, set up our bunks and prepared to take the Swimming Test. When everyone was ready, we headed down to the waterfront and after a lecture on waterfront safety; we took a test to gauge our swimming ability. Depending on how well you are able to swim, you are allowed access to different areas of the waterfront, and allowed to take out more advanced watercraft than those of a lower level. Watercrafts which can be taken out on the pond include: boats, kayaks, canoes, and rowboats, among several other things. It is stressed that everyone goes swimming with a buddy; in fact you are not allowed to go swimming or do anything on the lake without one.
After the swim test, we had time to relax before we went to Colors on the Parade Field, followed by dinner. Before breakfast, lunch, and special events, there is a ceremony in which news is given to all scouts, flags are raised and lowered, etc. All meals are served cafeteria style and one site is picked to clean up during and after meals by emptying trash bags, sweeping, and washing tables. On the first day, camp staff handles clean up; however a list is given out after that point of randomly assigned meals for sites and all the troops staying in them to clean. After dinner we had an Open Areas period of an hour in which all areas of camp were open for anyone to use. After this all scouts returned to their sites for a short time before everyone headed to the Parade Field. After all troops had arrived, we were all taken to the Amphitheater for the Opening Campfire. On the first and last night of the Camp Squanto week, there is an Opening and Closing Campfire, respectively. Campfires involve the camp staff leading songs and acting out skits around a large fire. The skits are found to be more enjoyable than the songs for many scouts, though sometimes skits and songs are mixed for entertaining possibilities. After Opening Campfire we headed back to our site and prepared for bed.
A typical day at Camp Squanto is an easy day. Scouts awaken around seven or earlier if required by their troop, and begin to prepare for their day. Next, troops head to the Parade Field for Colors at seven forty-five, which is followed by breakfast. Morning Merit Badges start at nine o’clock and end at noon, followed by lunch. Lunch is followed by an hour long Siesta in which scouts can take showers, do any homework they might have, or just relax. At two, classes start again and end at five. Evening Colors, also on the Parade Field, is at five forty-five and is followed by dinner. Dinner is succeeded by open areas or a special event at seven depending on the day. The rest of the evening is basically free; however open areas ends at eight and scouts are expected to stay around the campsite after that unless there is another, later event. Taps is at ten and though younger scouts often try to get away with talking late into the night, more experienced scouts know that they will feel very tired the longer they stay up and make sure they get to bed as soon as possible. Scouts select their own Merit Badges classes, which are typically only an hour long; the day allows for a total of six. Nevertheless, three is recommended for new scouts, and there are Merit Badges that can last for two or three hours, and even one that lasts all day.
There are numerous special occurrences that take place in the evening, either during the time allotted for open areas or after that ends. These include: Opening and Closing Campfires on Sunday and Friday nights respectively, Theme Night on Tuesday, the Apache Relay and Family Night on Wednesday, and the Order of the Arrow Callout Ceremony on Thursday. On Monday is troop pictures; after a troop finishes lunch, it has pictures taken in the Pine Grove before heading back to its site for Siesta. I have previously explained the Opening and Closing Campfires, which are basically shows performed by the staff. Theme Night contains several events which are all based around a specific theme. This year it was Superhero Night, and troops dressed up, competed in tug of wars, showed off super powers, pongo board raced (pongo boards are like skateboards however they allow tilted movement; one tilts backwards to move forwards, etc), and the Scoutmasters Chili Cook-off returned under the guise of the Kryptonite Chili Cook-off. Theme night is not well announced beforehand, and though we knew it was going to be Superhero Night shortly before we went to camp we were not told of any of the events making it impossible for us to prepare realistically. This year we had one scout who was not having a fun time at camp and left on Tuesday, probably due to homesickness. It is not uncommon for scouts to miss their family and home, we try to do our best to help them have a fun time but we do not always succeed. In this case, the scout tried to have a good time, and did for a while; however he couldn’t make it the whole week and went home during Theme Night activities.
The Apache Relay is a large relay race around camp in which we have teamed up with Halifax for the past several years. This year, Wednesday was very hot and so the Apache Relay was postponed until Friday night. The waterfront was even opened up during Siesta that day to try to help scouts and adults “beat the heat”. Usually Family Night is during the relay so that parents can come down to see their kids participate. Parents Night was not called off, so parents ended up seeing more of their kids than they would have if the relay had taken place because scouts are extremely busy during it. During the relay this year, we came in second to last, which was the same position from the year before. During both last year and this year’s relays, we had similar problems. Last year we were doing very well until it came time for a team of two to canoe across the pond from a beach on the far side back to a beach at the camp waterfront. Both years Halifax teams have been in charge of that section of the race, last year our canoe went to the wrong beach and this year it was just a bad choice of paddlers who could not keep up a steady pace. The rest of the race went almost flawlessly, with excellent performances on all counts. However, with our number of scouts and an almost equal number of scouts attending camp from Halifax’s troop, not everyone from both troops had a part in the race. Next year, if we have more scouts from our troop attend; we can have our own Apache Relay team, and maybe even our own campsite. Lastly, the OA Callout Ceremony is an event in which scouts who were elected by their troop during an election earlier in the week are “tapped out” and given the opportunity to join the Order of the Arrow. New scouts find the ceremony to be boring; however those who have been to camp several years, especially those who are in the Order, know it really isn’t that bad.
The camp week finishes on the following Saturday. We were unlucky enough to have to handle clean-up from breakfast on that morning so we had to rush when we got up to try and get everyone to pack. One of the adults who stayed the entire week brought his truck up to the campsite and we attached the trailer to it and then we piled everyone’s gear into the back of the truck and onto the top of the trailer. When it was time for us to head down to Colors, he drove the truck out into the parking lot so we could pick up our bags from there when camp ended. After breakfast and our cleaning duties ended, we went back to our site where we made sure we had picked everything up and that we had left the site in good condition. Finally, it was time for us to head down to the Parade Field for the Closing Ceremony. Awards were given out, information on how many Merit Badges were completed by each troop was read off, and final words were said. We had thirty-two completions and ten partials, which was an excellent job on everyone’s part. After the ceremony ended, we met by the trailer, scouts grabbed personal items and everyone was given a copy of the troop picture from the week. In closing, I would like to thank all of the adults who spent time out of their week to come down to camp and help watch over the scouts, and I would especially like to thank Nelson Pratt and Dr. Reel for staying with us the entire week and making sure that everything went smoothly for the scouts.