I'll warn you now, this one is going to ramble a little...
One of the advantages of living in the country is having your own campsite in the back yard. We have 5 acres, 4+ is fairly wooded, with river-front, and a nice bluff to climb and all the firewood a scout could want. I even have a small cave in the bluff they can hike to and explore. I do try to use the site sparingly because I don't want the scouts to be too bored with the location, but it's a good place to camp for our first camp of the season as we go through the tents and gear before heading anywhere further from "home". I call it "Scoutmaster's Farm Camp" and this was Farm Camp III!
We held a two night camp this last weekend, starting Thursday evening because our scouts were on spring break over Easter weekend. Top that off with uncharacteristically warm & dry weather for April and it made for fantastic outing weather. Not too cold, weeds, nettles and trees not overgrown yet, no mud, it was great!
I strung up my invisible flagpole, had new staves & holders for the patrol flags, and had the scouts build a nice generous fire-ring. My ASM/Troop Committee Chair brought his chain-saw and cut some fallen/falling trees down and into bench length logs for us to use around the fire ring.
Patrols set up their tents together, and then commenced to have dinner. Food preparation/clean-up is one area that our troop really struggles with. A Lot. Camp started at 7pm Thursday, but they were just finishing dinner clean up at about 11:30pm.. Friday breakfast preparations started at about 6:30am, but clean up wasn't done until almost 11am.
We had a lot of fun activities planned that we just didn't get to because a lot of time was spend avoiding the chores. But the SPL knew the schedule, and knew what needed to be done, so I sat in my chair by the fire like a dutiful SM and watched, offering periodic advice and guidance where necessary.
Around midnight it was finally time for bed, but a couple scouts wanted to stay up and talk around the fire. That was fine, buddy system intact, scouts calm and responsible, so I went to bed and listened for awhile.
Then the fun began. First I realized that at 36, I'm too old to sleep on the ground with just a foam pad. It's time to get a mattress or something. I still have a major kink in my back that's making me walk crooked..
Then about 2:30am I awake to the (very loud) voice of a scout, sounding teary, yelling at his Mom on the phone that he wants to go home - now! He says he's cold, and doesn't want to sleep in the cold tent on the ground. I sit up and open my tent fly, and he's standing in the woods, in his nice warm coveralls, with his gear all packed beside him. I call him over and ask what's going on. He reitterates that he wants to leave. No encouragement or coaxing can convince him otherwise so I put on my shoes and head out with him to meet his Mom with his gear. He said he was cold and couldn't sleep, but from the look of it he never even pulled out his sleeping bag.
He was one of the scouts that stayed up around the fire. Chances are when everyone turned in and went right to sleep (about 1:30am I'm told) he decided he wanted to go home and was either homesick or lonely and just didn't want to stay. His Mom and didn't know what more to say than I did, but convinced him to come back in the morning on her way to work. Which is good since he's the cook for one of the patrols and is working on his 1st Class cooking requirements!
He came back in the morning, but again that evening he said his parents were going to come get him because they were going to town to go out to eat and do some shopping and he needed to go with them. Curse cell phones, and being close enough to home that make such mutiny feasible. Time to revisit the rules with scouts and parents because I'm not sure anyone would have told me he was leaving if I hadn't had my heightened scouty-sense firing on all cylinders and heard him on the phone. That would have caused quite the problem in the morning to have misplaced a scout..
We had a pretty good outing otherwise. Took the scouts to a state park and ran an Orienteering course, scouts did some fishing in the river, plenty of hiking/wood gathering, recruited a new scout, reminded another that he likes scouting (he said this was the second best campout ever), covered Toten'chit for the new recruit and refresher for those that needed it, and for one scout to complete his Paul Bunyan requirements as well. We had a lost cell phone, scouts talking in their sleep, and my ASM lost his day planner somewhere. Fortunately the phone and the planner turned up, and nothing major was injured, broken, or otherwise remiss.
Time for another campout next weekend.. are we ready?