Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Boy Scouts - Swinging From The Trees

Editors Note: Sorry about the paragraph spacing. I don't have the time or patience to figure it out.

A couple of weekends ago, the troop got together for a weekend camping trip to a Boy scouts of America Scout Reservation in eastern Pennsylvania. The purpose of the trip was to participate in the camps Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience project or COPE. It consists of different challenges for groups of scouts that involve teamwork and problem solving (Low COPE), and for individual scouts that test agility and individual skills (High COPE). The underlying purpose is to develop leadership.

The project varies from one reservation to another, but this one is suppose to be one of the best on the east coast. I personally had no idea what to expect but some of the older scouts knew what the course looked like from previous summer camps. The troop has been doing week-long summer camps here for the past several years and will be coming back again this year in August.

We set up camp Friday night. It was a beautiful night with the temperature in the upper 50s. The camp site had both 2-man tents and 3-sided wooden lean-tos called Adirondacks or Ads. They sleep 6 (3 sets of wooden bunk beds) and the boys used them instead of the tents. The site had a small pavilion and we draped one of our tarps over it to make a bigger dining and cooking area. The weather forecast for Saturday and Sunday was rain, so we wanted to take advantage of the dry night to get everything set for the rain.

Here's the pavilion and one of the 2-man tents (in the background) that we used for a supply tent.

Here's the pavilion and an Ad (in the background) and the fire pit in the foreground.

Saturday morning, after a cold breakfast of cereal, OJ and fruit, we headed over to the COPE course. The morning program was on the Low COPE course.

Here half of the boys are blind-folded and the other half have to guide them along a puddle laced dirt road with voice commands only. That's The Pudge with the red bandanna.

The boys have to balance on a beam while singing "Happy birthday". The COPE counselors were a sick and twisted bunch.

The boys had to get the patrol from one platform to the other using 2 short boards. It involved planning and counter-balancing.

This was a balance seesaw that the patrol had to balance on while singing "I'm a Little Tea Pot".

This is the Leap of Faith. The scout on the platform (The Pudge) has to fall backwards into the waiting arms of the rest of the patrol. This was a trust exercise and was great fun.

Here the boys had just finished the wall climb where you had to lift or push the whole patrol over the wall. They're just photo opping - and resting.

Lunch was ham and cheese sandwiches, juice, fruit, chips and cookies. There were 3 other troops participating and each troop brought their own food. The COPE counselors were suppose to have water jugs but didn't bring them. So yours truly had to hike back to camp and bring 2 - 3 gallon jerry cans of water (that's like 50 pounds) and it was about a mile. I was sweating pretty good when I got to the picnic area. The rain has held off so far to one little 5 minute shower.

The boys eating lunch under the soon-to-be-completed new pavilion.

After lunch the boys donned their safety harnesses and helmets in preparation for the afternoon High COPE course.

The Pudge all suited up.

The first thing they did was go over safety and "belay" training. The belay lines are attached to steel cables along the course with the other end looping through an overhead pulley and is then attached to the scout. Two boys man the belay line and walk along with the scout that is up in the trees.

Belay training.

The Pudge up on a platform (with a counselor) after having climbed the Giant Ladder. He's on a platform and is tethered to the tree - waiting his turn.

The Pudge walking one of the rope bridges.

Once again my photography skills are not very good. These bridges are about 30 feet off the ground and the belay line and boys manning the line are out of sight. This course is very safe and, other than some scratches and rope burns, no one was hurt. There is also a 300 foot long zip line at the end - a reward for completing the course that the boys really look forward to.

We got back to camp around 6:00PM and had a quick dinner of stew, rolls and devil dogs. We had a very mellow camp fire and got the boys in their racks by 10:00PM. They were so tired we didn't even have to tell them. By 10:30PM the rains came and it rained all night, clearing in the morning in time for breakfast. We had a big breakfast of French toast, sausage, OJ and fruit. We broke camp at around 10:00AM and were home by noon.

The boys had a great time and a number of them want to do the Endurance COPE during summer camp. That consists of High COPE, Belay Training, rock climbing and rappelling. They do it over the course of 5 days and can earn the rock climbing merit badge for their efforts. That should be fun.


Boxer said...

Oh, that's just the way you want them; tired! I believe all of this stuff should be required before everyone graduates from High School. Not just Scouts. How come the adults weren't doing any of this? Hee. Hee.

Nice post

Aunty Belle said...

Oh ho! All the "boys" had a grand time, I bet--nice of the rain to time itself so well.

These are times that remain in a chile's heart. cain't git these times back, BuzzK, an' that cute Pudge is weeding upwards on ya'.

Doan be humble---we KNOW the reason BK wuz the water fetcher is on account of youse the one in shape to tote 50 llbs a mile or so.

I gotta say, that "trust" exercise< I has seen it done at corporate events--uh, yeah. Sure.

Hope yore weekend is all ya need it to be.

Buzz Kill said...

There was a scoutmaster from one of the other troops doing the course, but he was younger. I was tempted but I'm still getting over an arm injury and didn't want to risk it.

Nice of you to say but the fact is that we didn't want the boys to stop the Low COPE program for lack of water and I was the only one not really doing anything. I had to stop 4 times and ended up drinking a bunch of the water when I got to the pavilion area.

We had one scout who absolutely refused to do the trust fall - to the point of tears (we didn't realize how scared he was and everyone razzing him went too far too fast). Even when the scoutmaster said he would do it if all the scouts did it. I wouldn't have done it either. Not because I thought they wouldn't try to catch me but because I'm so big, they wouldn't have been able to catch me. And I have a bad back already.

chickory said...

I thinking you get an award for COPEing. where was simple j? I love the Ads wouldnt mind having one at chickory. Pudge is a lucky little teapot. grrrrrhahahahahaha have a great weekend

Buzz Kill said...

The boys were very well behaved. There were only 9 and there were 3 leaders, so it was a very manageable group. Simple J was there. You can see him sitting next to The Pudge in the picture where they're eating lunch (he's wearing glasses). The Ads are definitely cool. A little dusty and cobwebby, but the racks are comfortable (if you have a mattress) and they stay dry. The troop is hoping to get this site for summer camp.

Karl said...

Good afternoon Buzz Kill,

What a neat trip. Although it seems as if the music director was a little twisted. NJDOT might be interested and getting a few other signs back too.

If Pudge enjoyed the belay training, he'll love repelling. If you've never tried it, do it with him. It's a lot of fun.

Enjoy your weekend.

Joanna Cake said...

Im with Boxer, I think all kids should get to do this type of stuff with adult male role models who are not members of their immediate family. It teaches them 'stuff' that so many young males miss out on these days.

moi said...

Good stuff. I've never done a ropes course, but I used to do a lot of rock climbing. Thinking back on what I've done based solely on the faith of a few knots, a handful of carabiners, and a couple of mop headed dudes, man. I scare myself.

Still, I advocate as much extreme adventuring as possible. It builds confidence, character, and muscles—-both physical and mental. Something today's youth needs in abundance. Major props to you for helping lead.

pam said...

Oh what fun. I think dad is having more fun than the kids though. What a special time in their lives. Good for you for making sure they are involved.

Buzz Kill said...

It's actually PADOT and they had a lot of signs all over the course. Maybe a dozen. I'm sure there's a story behind each one too.

The rappelling and rock climbing is why The Pudge wants to do the Endurance COPE at summer camp. I will conveniently - not be there.

You're very right. The boys don't appreciate the skills and life lessons until years later, but they're there. The ones that appreciate it the most are the few (about 1% of all boys that join) eagle scouts that make it through.

There were a few boys on the course (from other troops) that really had to be coaxed (and pulled with the belay lines) to get through. A few to the point of crying, but all that worked through the fear and physical assault on their muscles will be much better for it.

I was helping man the belay lines mostly. I really had intended to do the rope course, but I have had a nagging muscle pull in my right arm (over a month now, I'm starting to get concerned) that prevented me from doing it. Maybe next year.