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 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.
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.