Summer Camp 2015 Communications Zone

Camp Read, Day 5

posted Aug 7, 2015, 4:24 PM by Rick Sutton   [ updated Aug 8, 2015, 6:25 PM ]

Hooray! We made it! Friday at last!

Well, the weather has been great all week; the coldest night was last night. Ben's Wilderness Survival outing (none from Troop 154 this year) was actually allowed to bring sleeping bags on their overnight. I'm told that it even snows here during the summer in the wee hours of the night...

It's been cool and dry, dare I even say that we could use a little rain?  Ssshhh!...

Speaking of cold, we took another early morning dunk today (well, three of us did-- Jonny, Tristan, and myself). Why, you wonder, when you only need two dunks for the Polar Bear patch? Well, two reasons. One, we love the early morning invigorating cool water of the Adirondacks and would never miss an opportunity to take a plunge in arctic pond water. And Two, Tristan actually only had one plunge so far because he had a hard time getting up on Monday. So who actually wins the Polar Bear award? I'd have to give it to Jonny for his extra effort...well, in truth, we're all winners, except those of us who took no plunges at all (name withheld.)

Speaking of having fun in the water, yesterday a group of boys took a break from their busy schedules to participate in the Zip Line. This is a hanging trapeze that slides across the water and jerks to a stop, where you are forced to hang there indefinitely or, drop to the cool water below and swim half the length of the pond back to safety. The Zip Line is not for the faint of heart. Those who have done it before know the ropes (well, the wires), but for the first timers like Zach and me, it took a little more courage. But, I'm happy to say we all took the plunge (see pics), and are the better for it.

What else? Oh yes, last night was our traditional Un-birthday, in honor of Ben W, who couldn't attend this year. I introduced Gemma to the Dutch Oven culinary arts by helping her prepare a wonderful yellow cake with chocolate frosting. After last year's fiasco, I decided to enlist the help of one Betty Crocker, and for once, this was a can't miss. A little burnt on the bottom, but overall, a huge success. I don't think any of the boys refused a second helping.

You may be wondering, boy, it sounds like a lot of work. Keeping the boys on task, maintaining the site (we are in the running for the White Glove Award), and resolving disputes, prompting, (and more prompting). Don't you have any fun? Believe me, this has been fun for me as well. Over the course of the week, I've done a handful of things which I've either never done or haven't done in years, and I've had fun doing so:

Horseback Ride - only did once before
Archery (open shoot) - haven't done in years
Zip Line - never did before (over water, that is)
Rifle Shoot (open shoot) - never did before
Hiked up Mt. Stevens - never did before

How was I able to do all these things? Two reasons. One, the group of boys is, for the most part, self sufficient and well-behaved. Two, Gemma has taken it upon herself to hold down the fort at the site while I go off with the boys or by myself to take advantage of what Camp Read has to offer. In particular, the hike up Mt Stevens is a relentless 1000 foot climb which I did this morning; I would have taken some boys but again, they were focused on other things. So I would like to publicly thank Gemma for all she's done this week to make it fun for the boys. She is quickly becoming one with nature. Once they install flush toilets here, she can outlast anyone. Outwardly she may complain, but inwardly she knows she can compete with Bear Grylls. 

Well tonight we are expecting a visitor from civilization and I know one scout in particular who is eagerly anticipating his arrival. Tonight we celebrate the end of the week with the closing campfire (with more skits, songs, and good cheer), and hopefully a small campfire back at the site before Taps at 10. BTW, many of the boys have been joining Ashton to look at the stars (Ashton is taking the Astronomy merit badge class) around 10 each evening, and they are a sight to behold up here when the air is clear (always) and the light from the "grid" is minimal. 

Gemma and I have enjoyed our week, and I hope your boys did, as well. Signing off,


Camp Read, Day 4

posted Aug 6, 2015, 8:44 AM by Rick Sutton

Hello Again

Another day has passed, and the boys are doing great. They seem to be on track with their merit badge goals, and are having a lot of fun in the process.

Yesterday, Wednesday, we had our second Polar Bear Swim at the crack of dawn. Once again, Gemma did not join us at the waterfront, but everyone else took a dunk at least. The older boys seem satisfied with just jumping in and getting out (been there, done that?) whereas us youngsters (well, young at heart anyway) prefer to savor the cool morning water of the lake and go for a more substantial swim.

We had quite a time during our "Siesta" yesterday. Some of the boys were (fortunately for them) engaged with other priorities, but James, Zach, Tristan, and the adults were tasked with cleaning the latrine behind the the mess hall. Here at Camp Read, everyone chips in, and this was our assignment for the week. Needless to say, I did not take pictures. But the boys approached the task with a positive attitude and we got the job done. 

Here at Camp Read, having skills in time management is paramount, both for adults and kids. You have to be on your toes in terms of being prepared for whatever happens next. The first couple of days are particularly difficult. Let me give you an example. As we arrived at Read on Sunday, I realized that I did not have the permission slip from Zach's parents for him to leave camp. Those taking the Forestry merit badge leave on a short trip on Thursday (today) to visit a managed forest. Well, simple, right? First we had to get confirmation that Zach was allowed outside of camp from his father. This was done with a simple text. Then, I just tell the Forestry merit badge director that I have permission via e-mail. Well, I tried that, but he needed more proof. So I mosied to the camp office with my computer to print the pdf. Another simple task, of course. Or not. First, I had to log into the system; no one was around to help me. Finally I got in, got the pdf up, and hit "Print". Then I waited, and waited. Guess what? Printer problems. After some frustration, I was never able to print it, so I had to call in the Econ director to sign off on the visual confirmation. The moral of the story? This whole problem could have been avoided with 15 seconds of forethought. It also happens to be the Boy Scout motto. BE PREPARED. BE VERY PREPARED. BE VERY VERY PREPARED.

Last night was the Camp Buckskin Triathlon, or Quadathlon. Four events, four scouts, four opportunities to stick it to Troop 1 Crestwood. Did I mention that Troop 1 Crestwood has, like, 35 kids, and was able to field 7 teams? With six kids, we could only cobble together one motley crew. With James swimming, Jonny climbing, Freddy arching, and Ashton running, we thought we still had a chance against Crestwood's "A" Team. Well, to make a long story short, we came up short once again, not placing in the Top three groups. But another moral victory was had, as Stony Point dethroned Crestwood as the new team to beat!  Go Stony Point!

Some years ago Freddy found a board game called "Camp" which he bought and we played once or twice as a family. (Think Trivial Pursuit with all camp-related questions.) Here at Read, the game has been an invaluable source of amusement for the boys at night when they are winding down. The laughter from the boys' sector is well worth any hardships that we have to endure!

Looking forward to tomorrow!


Camp Read, Day 3

posted Aug 5, 2015, 7:12 AM by Rick Sutton

Hello Parents and interested parties--

Well it's now Wednesday, and the boys at Camp Read are working together as a well-oiled machine. Well, a machine that's a bit rusty and needs a some lubrication, but a machine nonetheless!

The weather continues to be clear, but I'll say no more as to not jinx anything.

So, let's see, where did I leave off? Yesterday morning the boys continued on their merit badge progress. We regrouped for lunch minus Ashton who cooked his own hamburger under the direction of Ben W at ScoutCraft. Speaking of Ben, yesterday was his birthday! Happy Birthday, Ben! Per tradition, Ben was honored with the Order of the Oar at dinner last night. What is the order of the Oar? Ssshhh...A secret society that I am under strict orders not to talk about. 

Under Gemma's direction, the boys wrote postcards home at Siesta (which is right after lunch). You might even receive them before the boys arrive home, but it's not likely. We tried to edit out any complaints, whines, and criticisms, but a few may sneak through (JK!)

There were two highlights of our day yesterday. The first was the horseback trail ride, scheduled for 4 o'clock. We drove down to the Horse Barn and got saddled up with the help of the counselors there. I was on the only mare, "Sheba", but the four boys who participated had colts. Zach rode "Doc", another on Hercules, I can't remember the other names, but they seemed to fit each boy's personality.

The ride took us through some scenic woods and fields of the Adirondacks; cameras were not allowed on the trail, but trust me, it was idyllic. Some of the horses were a bit hungry, so it took some prompting by the riders to keep them focused on the ride and not the grass and leaves along the way. When we arrived back to the corral, we had an extra bonus in that we got to help feed the horses their dinner (buckets of oats). Ashton's horse took a particular shine to the boys as they petted him; you can ask him about that later. All in all, a relaxing and fun experience. 

Highlight number Two was the Pie-Eating Contest. Zach was Troop 154's lone representative so he was under a lot of pressure to curb his appetite throughout the day. As 7:30 approached, the tense nerves of the group were apparent as Zach pumped himself up by singing "Eye of the Tiger." With 53 participants, the competition was tough. Finally, the GO signal was given and Zach planted his face in a chocolate cream pie and started gorging. He seemed to be poised for victory about halfway in, but we soon realized that eating the crust once all the chocolate pudding is gone is a technique reserved for the experienced scouts who have been doing this for years. Apparently you have to flip the pie tin over with your tongue and remove the tin from the pile of slop on the table. That way, you have easy access to the crust and your chances are good. Zach, unfortunately, did not know about this technique. So he ended with a very clean pie crust! Well, a great effort Zach!

Okay, time for some pictures...I lied before about the technical difficulties. It was really a time management I seem to have a little (time that is)...

Okay, signing off for now-- until tomorrow

Rick S
Gemma S

Camp Read, Day 2

posted Aug 4, 2015, 8:54 AM by Rick Sutton   [ updated Aug 5, 2015, 8:02 AM ]

Hello Again from Camp Read!

Well it's now Tuesday morning and things have been going smoothly so far. We had some thunder and a threat of the skies opening up yesterday afternoon, but we only got a sprinkle. Luckily, I had my trusty umbrella handy. Yes, you may laugh and poke fun of my umbrella advocacy, but rest assured, I will have the last laugh.

The boys have now completed the first, and traditionally, the most trying day. Why trying you may ask? Well, mostly because they have to figure out how to navigate between their merit badge classes, and secondly, the content of the classes is somewhat introductory and not as much hands-on. As I sit in the Trading Post pavilion now, I hear gun shots from the rifle range which means that classes are finally under way.

The meal dynamic is a little different this year in that, with six scouts and two adults, we only have one table reserved for us. This means that Gemma and I get to witness the spectacle of 6 teens and tweens chowing down, first hand. Believe me, this is a sight to behold. No sooner do Freddy and James grab their grub from the assembly line, their trays are empty, the food having disappeared within seconds. Also, they've introduced us adults to the Broken Telephone game, which, given the loud din of the mess hall, has provided much amusement.

Last night was the Staff Hunt, where the boys go on a wild goose chase for their favorite staff members. The staff are either quietly hiding in strategic positions, or just grouped together behind the mess hall having a snack. Either way, they are a challenge to find. Fun was had by all, and the buddy system was in place. Although we did not place in the top 3, it was a moral victory for Troop 154 as we learned today that Troop 1 Crestwood did not win either!

Finally, the Monday night tradition is to have a quiet campfire in Teheco. The boys had some trouble getting the fire going, and I'm sure they will blame the damp sticks from the earlier sprinkle. Finally, after some minor intervention by yours truly, a warm and controlled fire was providing the site with a glowing ambiance. Conversation revolved around the merit badge classes and the many different types of martial arts, which seemed to engage all the boys for a long time.

Today we are planning on a horseback ride, the pie-eating contest, and other fun things. Pics and more in a bit!


Camp Read, Day 1

posted Aug 3, 2015, 12:59 PM by Rick Sutton   [ updated Aug 5, 2015, 7:46 AM ]

Hello Troop 154--

...and greetings from Camp Read in the Adirondacks!

Well, the first 24 hours is under our belt and we are well on our way to having a great week at camp!

We arrived yesterday (Sunday) before 1 and got checked in and quickly got unpacked, toured the various pavilions, and went down to the waterfront for the first-day swim test. The test involves swimming the length of the swim area four times -- 3 your choice and 1 elementary backstroke. The boys were tired (and a little hungry) but I'm happy to say that they all passed and were awarded the blue swim level, so they can all swim in deep water, participate in canoe sessions, and jump in to the lake for the Polar Bear swim (more on that later). I think it's the first year since I've been involved that they're all blue.

Our two site guides, Dan and Dan, have been very friendly and helpful in answering questions and steering us in the right direction.

Yesterday's dinner was chicken parm and pasta, and the boys had their fill of bug juice. No, it's not made from squashed bugs, it's bright red sugar water (although the dead bugs would probably be healthier!) 

We quickly moved back to Teheco (Troop 154's traditional camp site) and the boys filled out their merit badge cards in anticipation of the merit badge sessions which started today. 

Then we mosied over to the opening night campfire, a lively program put on by the staff of Buckskin. Stories, songs, skits, and jokes were on the playbill, and the program was given a solid 2 stars on the Rotten Tomatoes site. The veterans of the group have heard the story about the AMAZING PIG more than a few times, yet Matt Taylor's delivery is always fresh and inventive. 

Speaking of veterans and rookies, Tristan is the only rookie this year and is settling in well after a tiring day yesterday.

Today (Monday) we woke early thanks to Freddy (the SPL) and headed to the waterfront for the Polar Bear swim. You may be wondering, where are all the pictures of the Polar Bear swim? Well, our designated photographer, GS, was sleeping soundly at 6:45 AM, while we were over our heads in the cool lake water of the Adirondacks! Stay tuned for part two of the Polar Bear swim on Wednesday; maybe we'll have some pics then.

The boys transitioned from the swim to breakfast to their morning merit badge sessions with minor, but predictable, bouts of forgetfulness. I'm happy to say that by luck, all sessions are within the Buckskin camp, with none of last year's snafus related to the bus schedule and getting down to Waubeeka. After lunch was the group photo, and Ben subbed in for Gemma as the adult leader in the photo. Gemma's flowery camp outfit (she's "glamping", not camping) didn't seem to fit in with the earthy, grungy, outdoorsy atmosphere. Still, having a female perspective has been invaluable already. 

Pictures in a bit, once I get through some technical difficulties.

Stay tuned.

Mr. Sutton

Camp Read - getting ready!

posted Jul 23, 2015, 6:59 AM by Rick Sutton

Hello Troop 154

I hope everyone is getting ready for a great week up at Camp Read

1-6 of 6