Our final day started as any other day. We had a wonderful breakfast with most of the troops joining us in the “dining canopies” – set up adjacent to the Beaver High Adventure Base lodge – where we found ourselves the final week of camp. Then came the camp wide flag ceremony. Troops had great energy with their troop yells (some troops more than others) and general enthusiasm for the day ahead. Then the Scouts were off for free time. The rifle and archery ranges were open and Nate and his ACE boys and other Scouts were looking forward to a challenging day on the zip line and high COPE course. Staffers from all program tracks were available for Scouts to complete the last few requirements for their badges.
I spent my morning with Scouts Aidan and Landon. We learned lashings and then constructed a small lashing project. In between the lashings, I also taught and passed Scout Devaun on his Woodcarving merit badge (more on this later!). Aidan went on to other programs. Landon and I sat in front of the trading post (with Director, Tonia nearby). Together we completed nearly every requirement for his First Class rank. Landon was pretty excited. And Scouts everywhere could be seen doing different things. It was a great day to be alive – “a great day for up!” (Dr. Seuss)
At lunch time I dined with Troop 605 in their own campsite. My mission was to share with them the blog that I had written about their super week at camp. They loved it, and I loved my time with this extraordinary troop. I visited all of my other troop sites as their Commissioner.
Then, with all of the track and requirement work completed, it was time to relax and have some fun. The Scouts all gathered to the majestic meadow of the Beaver High Adventure base – with full view of the mountain splendor around us. All of the staff guys (and Elizabeth) each had their own game to stage for the Scouts. We had the Mafia game, giant Twister, sword fighting and more. Leg wrestling was a major hit and loved by Scouts and adults alike. The favorite game of all was the “Human Laffy Taffy”.
In this game, Scouts laid with tightly locked arms in a circle – laying like spokes of a wheel. – this week on a plastic tarp. Then “sharks” took hold of the legs of the Scouts and tried to extract them from the tight circle. Some Scouts came off easily – but some of the stronger, more buff guys held on for dear life and it sometimes took three or more big guys to pull them off from the circle. And Scouts wanted to keep playing this game over and over.
As the games waned, I took Aidan and Landon on a nature walk to do their plant identification requirement. They collected their ten leaves and were pretty happy to have had this adventure. It was a fun hike together.
Then it was dinner time – our last meal together. We dined on meatballs over rice. Thanks, cook, Steven. Over dinner, I visited with Camp Director, Nick Hutchinson, and Utah National Parks Camping Director, Bob Gowans, and others around us. Since we were all involved with the tasks of closing the camp – putting away tents, and such, the weather naturally became the topic of conversation. Bob emphatically said that it was not going to rain. Clouds seemed to be heading a different direction so we all agreed with him. Lou and I went to our tent to prepare to go visit our troops in their camp sites.
That is when it hit. The rain came down in torrents.
There was water everywhere. Then it began to pound down hail. Our tent was pelted with hail and soon the whole camp was covered in a white layer of hail. It quickly blanketed the entire camp area. I thought that the staff area looked like a logging camp out in the wilds somewhere. Winter had definitely arrived. And then came the thunder on the ridge. And come it did. It began to flash and strike – seemingly right by where we were. And with that thunder, Lou and I decided it was probably much safer in the lodge at the Beaver High Adventure Base. So, we both huddled under Lou’s umbrella and made our way there – stepping on the crunchy hail and the mud holes along the trail.
I guess all of the rest of the staff had already found safety in the lodge and were hanging out there. And they must have been worried a bit about Lou and me. For as we entered, the whole group began to clap – acknowledging our safe arrival. And the final camp flag ceremony and campfire program (with Troop skits) were cancelled. That was a bummer. Some Scouts were trapped with the storm and spent time with us in the lodge.
The staff was all huddled together in the lodge and some were engaged in Larry’s games. But, we could tell that morale was a bit down with the storm. Lou and I decided that anything is better with sugar on it so we checked our ingredients and found that we had sufficient flour, oil, sugar, yeast, etc., to make scones (fried bread with sugar and cinnamon or honey on top). I braved the storm to once again go out in it – to get the stuff from our car.
Lou and I then made a huge batch of the scones. She made the dough and I fried them in oil in a Dutch oven on the kitchen stove. We were pleased to have Alex and Caleb as runners from the oven to the staff serving area. These scones were a great hit.
Later, after the storm had subsided, I noted that we had remaining scones – after the staff had all stuffed themselves with them. So, I had Alex and Caleb sugar up all of the rest of the scones. We headed off to deliver these to all of the Scouts and leaders who were still in camp. Many of the troops had already left. They had determined that their Scouts (and themselves) were all rain drenched and cold. Two or three troops came and found us in the lodge and told us that they were leaving. Others just packed up and left camp. We found Troop 605 in the Enos campsite only partly there – with four (of fourteen) Scouts and three leader/parents. We found only the Scoutmaster alive and alert (kind of) in the Troop 405 Ether campsite. Landon, SPL Ben, and the other Scouts were in the tents and he was in hibernation in his car – there with the radio and heater on. We could not awaken them for scones – but the Scoutmaster did get one. We later learned that the leaders of the troop (and others) had totally wet gear, tents and sleeping bags – and they had sent a leader down the hill to Beaver to dry the bedding at a laundromat. Their whole troop decided to “weather the storm” so that the boys could experience “some hard things”. (A great subject for a talk or fireside!) Troop 672 Scouts in Jacob were all asleep in their tents and could not be awakened – even for scones. They told us later that they had gone to bed at 9:00 PM. So, Troop 605 had to rough it with seconds and thirds on the scones. (A tough job … but someone had to do it!)
Our own tent had some leaks. We found that the rain had run in a river under the tent floor. We had some wet blankets – down by my feet – but otherwise it was not too bad. We moved all of our stuff away from the tent walls. Somehow we survived the night.
Saturday morning – our final day of camp came with a drenched calmness. The water and rain – and hail had filled the trails the night before but now were mostly drained. The white hail clumps remained all over the staff area. We heard a very large noise – like a shotgun being fired – and wondered what this was. We later learned that a giant tree had fallen not far from the campsites.
I got three milk crates for the remaining troops and with the help of staffers, loaded these with muffins, bagels, and Danish rolls – and white and chocolate milk and orange juice. Staffers were anxious to help me get these to the wet and frozen troops. The Scouts and leaders were grateful for our service and goods brought to them.
Troop 672 reported that they had rivers of water running through their camp. They weathered the storm fine, however. Troop 405 shared their war stories with us. They said that rivers of water were running down and across the dirt roads to and from the camp. I said to them, “It looks as if you survived!” One Scout said, “No, I died!” I said, “Oh I guess you are like Lazarus – you died and came back alive.”
Troop 605 – with Aidan and Nathan and others – said that they had sat last night under their canopy and had watched the hurricane like storm as it pelted their site. (And parent, Ned Sorenson later published a video of the scene on his Facebook page. He said, “The storm was cool … but WILD!”) They said that they had heard thunder (“1-one thousand”) and thought that the clap was right over in the staff area. Ned reported that he had little sleep in his truck – with a blanket totally wet. They said that a #10 can had filled with hail. And since we had no campfire program, I called an impromptu gathering to present the camp’s Baden Powell Patrol and the Honor Troop Awards to them.
All of the rest of the troops of the camp were gone. And we noted that as they left in a hurry, they did not clean up the trash from their sites as they normally would have before camp check-out. So, Lou and I went through camp sites and picked up a lot of trash left by troops. Later I took a crew of four staffers – Michael, William, Jason and Rylan to clean out fire pits (with ash put into 5-gallon buckets – and then dumped in the official ash pit). We noted several fires that were set – with a TIPI, paper, etc, but in the storm, were never lit. Lou and Dan cleaned the showers near the sites.
Other staffers had other jobs to help close the camp. There were a lot of tasks that we couldn’t do – because of the wet tents, etc. We did, however, leave the camp very clean and nice for the incoming NYLT course – who began arriving before our departure. Several of us cleaned the kitchen and got rid of trash.
And with all that, the camp came to a close. Wow! What a summer we have had. (I’ve already blogged about many of our summer adventures – but will promise a summary blog with summer highlights and links.) And what a grand finale – with thunder on the ridge and a hail of a time. What a send-off! Time now to head home. It was sad to bid adieu to our summer camp friends as we all headed off to school and work in other times and places.
Thunder Ridge 2017 adventures … Ahhh … The memories!
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevinthescoutblogger
See this link for an introduction to Kevin the Scouting Trails Blogger. Blogging articles have excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”, and others at his Scoutingtrails website. Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy Scout, The Scouting Trail and the Voice of Scouting. Feel free to comment on anything you read! Find Kevin on Facebook at: Scouting Trails Books and Blogs.
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