The Highland Games - a whole weekend of Groundskeeper Willie imitations, Braveheart yells of "Freedom!", haggis jokes, some Scottish games of skill and - wait for it - catapults! About every 2 -3 years, our council holds a camporee at one of it's scout reservations to promote the age-old traditions of the Scottish clans - throwing stuff. This was a weekend camp from Friday night to Sunday morning, with the actual games held all day Saturday.
The day started with a 6:00AM revelry. We needed to be up and the troop fed by 7:00AM. We had hot and cold cereal, fruit and granola bars. We had 3 patrols entered (the Flaming Eagles, the Phoenix and the Raging Ravens - the boys like fire and anger), each with 5 - 6 scouts. To even out the skill levels and prevent troops from stacking patrols, the events had 2 classification - heavy weight and light weight. Boys in high school or above the rank of First Class were considered heavy weight. We're a young troop and we only had one scout in the heavy weight class. There were about 18 troops, 35 patrols and over 200 scouts participating. One troop actually showed up in kilts, which was pretty cool.
Get your Haggis right here! Chopped heart and lungs boiled in a wee sheep's stomach! Tastes as good as it sounds! ~ Groundskeeper Willie
|All nice and quiet just before we got the boys up. It was a balmy 32 degrees!|
"It won't last. Brothers and sisters are natural enemies. Like Englishmen and Scots! Or Welshmen and Scots! Or Japanese and Scots! Or Scots and other Scots! Damn Scots! They ruined Scotland!" ~ Groundskeeper Willie
The games consist of 15 skill stations that each patrol must negotiate. Most of the skills required throwing something - rocks, stones, cabers, spears, etc. The remaining stations were feats of strength like the tug-of-war or log drag. And each troop had to host a station and have it set up, ready to go at 7:30AM. Our station was the Hammer Throw. Our scoutmaster made light and heavy "hammers" out of free weights, 1" pipe and clamps. They worked great and I think we had one of the better stations at the event.
We only had 3 adult leaders on this trip, so the scoutmaster and other leader set up and ran our station while I followed the three patrols and hustled them around to make sure they got to the correct station at the right time. A monumental task made more difficult by a bunch of un-prepared troops. When the games officially started at 8:30AM, about a 1/3 of the stations weren't ready or even identified. It was slow going at first.
|Here's our station - the Hammer Throw.|
|The Pudge doing the log throw. He used a windmill technique that got him the 3rd best distance of the day.|
“"Bonjoooouuuuurrrrrrr yer cheese eatin' surrender monkeys"” ~ Groundskeeper Willie on the French (or other troops in the competition).
The power for the catapult could come from the boys (boys pulling a rope), springs, bungees or counterweights. We chose to use counterweights and two garage door springs. The catapult had to throw a full, 2-liter soda bottle as far as possible.
|Here we are on the "line" preparing our catapult to lay siege.|
|Another view of the catapult with ammunition.|
“Now we're wasting more energy than Ricky Martin's girlfriend.” ~ Groundskeeper Willie
There were nine catapults in all. I don't have pictures of them (for the public). It was an interesting group of engineering marvels. All different in varying degrees, most not really functional. After the order was given to commence firing, you could fire as many times as you wanted, tweak the catapult for maximum distance and you would be measured on your longest shot.
The catapult that ended up winning didn't look like much, but it clearly out-distanced the 2nd place winners by a good 30 - 40 feet. And those 2nd place winners - would be our troop. We narrowly edged out the 3rd place winners (and a rival cross-town troop at that) with an unofficial distance of about 50 feet. Doesn't sound like much, but it was good enough that day.
"Come on ya pansies, I've seen fiercer fights in parliament." ~ Groundskeeper Willie
The camp provided a dinner of chicken, pulled pork, ham and ziti (guid Scottish fare), so no cooking again. Unfortunately, we couldn't have a camp fire because of drought and fire restrictions, so we had a camp-wide meeting under the large pavilion for the awards. Out of a possible 45 ribbons in the lightweight class (15 games, 1st, 2nd and 3rd places), our patrols took home 15 ribbons. Most by the Flaming Eagles (9, I think), the rest by the Phoenixes (Phoenii? - we always have this discussion) with the Raging Ravens getting skunked. But the one that really mattered to us, the catapult siege 2nd place ribbon, was truly a troop effort and currently hangs from the troop flag pole. Not bad for our first time in the Highlands.
|The boys after a very long competition and guid dey (good day).|
Skinner: Not DEAD!
Groundskeeper Willie: Aw, you never let Willie be Willie!