I know, the sugar buzz from the Halloween candy is just starting to wear off, while the stores have already moved on to the season of gift giving. So where does that leave the most American of holidays, Thanksgiving? I can tell you – at Camp Dan Beard just up the road in the northern suburbs.
Members of Troop 79’s PLC began the weekend on Friday afternoon with a five mile hike up the DesPlaines River Trail. Mr. Carter and Mr. Keats patiently stoked the home fires awaiting their arrival. By twilight the Scouts appeared from the treeline and into a celebratory “Bill and Ted” pose. Friday dinner was hunted and gathered locally from Joe’s Pizzeria. Temps dipped below freezing to create a frosty Saturday morning wake-up with batches of “Waffle Balls” fabricated in cast iron and chopsticks to rotate them.
Saturday morning the rest of T-79 campers arrived, tents went up and marinated steak taco meat went onto the fire-pit grill. Meat and lunch plan provided by Mr. Carter – thank you! Scouts sliced and diced ingredients for the South of the Border (of Lake County) lunch with some Scouts creating “burritos as big as your head” as seen on Halsted Street.
Falllll innnn! After lunch the Scout-led troop marched into the forest for three hours of compass orienteering course and daylight Capture the Flag. By nightfall a traditional Thanksgiving dinner prepared by the Scouts for the Scouts was enjoyed after the Philmont Grace. Much to be thankful for on a beautiful Fall weekend spent outdoors.
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Another October, another beautiful weekend for a bike trip through the Chicago suburbs. Apparently the members of the Patrol Leader’s Council thought last year’s cycling event was worth redoing. So we did! Like in 2017, a hardy group of older Scouts started at the east end of the IL Prairie Path in Forest Park and pointed their handlebars west for a 25 mile ride.
Meanwhile, back at HQ, the 10 mile riders were literally bouncing off the wall they were so excited to go! Both groups met up in Wheaton to start the next segment of the ride to camp as the SAG wagon baton was passed. Finally rolling into Camp Blackwell, the combined 10 & 25 mile riders paused for a group photo at their nice site on a little knoll with views of the surrounding fields beyond.
After going about the usual business of setting up camp, most everyone took advantage of some “feet up” time to rest their legs. Until it was time to make dinner. The patrol menus were just right for a chilly fall evening: foil meals with burger & potato or tomato soup with grilled cheese. This year’s dessert was a new one – cherry/apple cobbler using a corn bread mix. Perfect job for a couple Scouts to assist while the sunset lit the sky on fire. As the heavens faded to black, the Scouts headed to a nearby field to play “Commando”. Hot cobbler and stories around the toasty fire were waiting for their return. Nothing like a good day of fun to wear everyone out just enough to call it quits around 10PM.
Even a beautiful fall weekend of camping has to end some time. With the bikes and gear packed after a hearty breakfast, the Scouts were ready to head home. Many thanks to the adult leaders who accompanied the Scouts on the trip, as well as the parents who drove out to Blackwell to help transport the Scouts back to the city.
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Besides just having fun, our Scouts contribute to their community in many ways. Whether it’s supporting the annual Old Town Art Fair or the many cheerful hours of individual service, Scouting includes serving. The service project required to earn the Eagle Scout rank, however, may be the most visible example.
As you know, it takes Scouts several years to hike the path to Eagle, and not many make it to the summit. Earning merit badges, demonstrating leadership, and living by the Scout Oath and Law are all part of the program. Read on to hear about a few more of Troop 79’s Scouts working towards this goal.
August 25 I completed my Eagle Scout project at Andrew Jackson Language Academy last Saturday, It was a daunting task of putting their library back together. We worked for 5.5 hours (that’s a combined total of 132 hours of work!) and shelved thousands of books. 23 people helped to make this project a success, and because of it, 565 kids will have a library to walk into on Tuesday.
A special thanks goes to Troop 79 scouts and parents.
September 2 Thank you so much to everyone who came out and helped. Because of you, we were able to build both swing sets and the refrigerator shelter as well as paint them.
Patchwork Farms, a non-for-profit organization that helps provide healthy, locally grown produce for little to no cost, has seen the finished project and are very happy with the results!
Again thank you so much to everyone for your help.
September 29 My eagle scout project worked with the Ginkgo Organic Gardens, a community garden located in the Uptown neighborhood that has worked with victims of the HIV/AIDS crisis for over two decades and provided organic produce to the community. The Scouts built a new storage structure, revarnished a gardening shed, painted a bench, and worked around the garden. Overall, the project was a major success and will benefit the gardens for years to come.
Jake and Michael, two of Troop 79’s Life Scouts, emceed this fall’s Court of Honor to a packed house of Scouts, parents and siblings.
The evening kicked off with a flag ceremony and included Committee updates, presentation of about 130 merit badges, many rank advancements and recognition of the troop’s newest leaders. A special “changing of the guard” was also conducted to hand over the Senior Patrol Leader and Assistant SPL roles from Elijah and Edward to John and Colin. Seemed like the clapping would go on forever!
Following all the pomp & circumstance, the audience was treated to several multi-media presentations of the summer’s highlights. Whether it was winning the Camp Cup at Owasippe, riding the 3/4 mile long zip line at Summit, or paddling / portaging over 175 combined miles at Northern Tier, there was a lot to share. Of course, the evening wouldn’t be complete without an inspiring minute from our Scoutmaster, Mr. Keats.
Many thanks to all the Scouts, Committee members and parents who support Troop 79 and help make it the fun Scout-led organization that it is.
What better way to kick off the Scouting season than with an overnight at 31st St. Harbor courtesy of the Chicago Sea Scouts! Besides our own Troop members, we also hosted about a dozen Chicago-area Webelos Scouts and their families to learn about T-79.
Our guests were treated to a cookout, games plus a tour of a working Coast Guard search and rescue boat. But then it was time to hit the water for real. Between a 28′ Catalina sailboat and the Sea Scouts with their high-powered Boston Whaler, the Webelos seemed to have a great day out on beautiful Lake Michigan.
By late afternoon all the Webelos families had gone home, and will hopefully consider Troop 79 when the time comes to bridge over to Boy Scouts. Afterwards, most of our Scouts went for an early evening cruise, while others kayaked around the harbor.
What an experience, watching a beautiful sunset over the city skyline from the deck of yet another Sea Scout boat, then settling in for the night on a 40′ ketch; some on deck and some below.
The next morning it was time to pack up, eat breakfast and head home. Not our typical camping experience, but that’s partly what made it so memorable! Thanks again to the Sea Scouts and Mr. Keats for so generously including their fleet in the overnight.
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Troop 79 invites all Founders District Webelos Scouts to join our members at 31st Street Harbor on Chicago’s beautiful south shore on Saturday, September 15 from 12-4 PM. Food, games and weather permitting, sailing aboard one of several vessels will be available.
Even though our Troop has plenty of activity during the school year, we typically plan a summertime trip geared towards our more experienced Scouts. And while many Scout Troops journey to a BSA high adventure camp, Troop 79 planned for two in 2018, and both were successful! Here are a few highlights from our trips to Summit and Northern Tier.
From Summit participant, George H:
“Troop 79 just finished our Summit Experience at Summit Bechtel Reserve/Christen High Adventure Base in West Virginia. Activities that we participated in included white water rafting, BMX, skateboarding, high ropes course, target sports, and climbing. While there was some rain and wind during our time at SBR, we were also fortunate enough to enjoy plenty of sunshine. In addition to normal activities, we also partook in the festivities of the Appalachian Celebration, where there was an abundance of sweet treats, games, a cooking contest, and a SBR branding station.
We would also like to thank our troop’s adult leaders, Mr. Chambliss and Mr. Huebner, and our Crew Leader, Andrew. Our Summit trip would not be possible without them!”
From Northern Tier crew member, Colin G:
“Crew B had an adventuresome and immersive week in the backcountry splendor of Charles L Sommers Northern Tier. From strong winds to still water, crystal clear lakes to sticky swamps, large leeches to rambunctious rock jumping; crew B did it all! Amidst the action the Scouts earned awards such as: Historic Trails, Duty to God, lake monitoring, and the 75 miler! Scouts also learned about the history of the Voyageurs, the native Ojibwa, and Dorthy Molter (the root beer lady). Overall a wonderful voyage and an amazing experience!”
And from our other crew, as reported by Mr. Nitzsche:
“The crew that Roger and I “advised” was led by returning NT veteran John P who apparently had something to prove now that he is 17 years old and 6 foot tall and can do push ups with me sitting on his back (maybe a slight exaggeration). Kyle, Jack, Oscar, Andrew and Jason joined John and our Interpreter/“guide” in planning our trek. Despite our “advisement” the Scout led crew agreed to a 100+ mile trek to places most staff had only heard of but never been “lucky” enough to go. In hindsight, I think it seems they were never able to talk a crew into going with them… Although we did not have our Canadian passports, John was able to share his experience from 3 years ago on his Canadian expedition as we paddled the border northwest of Ely. We traveled 30 miles our first day on the water including over 2 miles of portaging.
After reaching our destination on day three 52 miles away on Lac La Croix (the boys were hoping to get a can of flavored seltzer water), we enjoyed a wonderful day at a terrific campsite thinking that it was all downhill as we headed back with the wind to our back. We planned to take a nice river paddle back on day 4 down the Bear Trap river to a lake at the end of the river where we would arrive at our campsite by 3-4 pm with only a few labeled “low maintenance portages” to start the day. Well, we all quickly learned to very much dislike beavers as we found our first portage (before we got to the river) ended at a lake that had recently dried up because of a failed beaver dam resulting in a swamp walk with 50-80 pounds on our shoulders around and across a “damp” lake the size of a football field that had fallen trees throughout. We found it easier to pull the empty canoes through the muck and over the fallen trees than carry as we sunk in the muck up to our knees.
When we landed on dry land, we started our 3/4 mile portage to the next lake… After that we finally found the river, only to be disappointed again to find it was 2-3 feet low because of a beaver dam upstream. When a small river gets low it results in many many (in this case 6-8) unplanned portages that were just created a week ago by the first crew that could not canoe sections of river because the water was too low. These trails are not at all cleared and never maintained – only a path between trees that could not be walked through that typically included hiking through and over fallen trees, swamps and very steep inclines. Our last unplanned portage that day was in darkness with headlamps to lead us to the lake where our campsite and dinner await (it gets dark at 9:30-10 pm up here this time of year). At the end of day 4 we were all at our breaking point but all recovered nicely and all apologized to each other the next morning for our moments of irritability the night before.
After day four it was mostly really really wonderful with any rough spots seemingly “not so bad” as we remembered day 4. We had great camp sites, fishing, stars, moons and clear days and nights. Perfect weather most of trip, really – only one day (#2) of overcast and rains to paddle through. The last night at camp our fishermen caught a 30+ inch Northern Pike for an after dinner fish fry – great ending to a great adventure.
The Scouts were really amazing and resilient and never gave up on their pursuit of the goal they had set. Roger and I shook our heads a lot wondering how the heck we were unable to advise them against such an endeavor but also paddled and portaged on in amazement that they (and us) were conquering the challenge. I captured much of the journey with camera pics and videos and the scouts will tell many many more details as they arrive home. The only memory I was unable to capture with photos was our swamp walk across the “damp” lake and a picture is the only real way to fully understand the really bad situation we were in. There was no energy to spare to figure out how to get the camera and risk dropping it into the swamp and losing or breaking it – terribly brutal trek in the moment.”
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It was an eventful week at Camp Owasippe, according to camp coordinator, Mr. Carter.
As always, Troop 79 represented ourselves well, winning the Camp Cup, collecting a record number of merit badges, and chillin’ in our chairs around the fire.
The weather started out unusually hot and sticky. On Sunday, we checked in, but had to endure a downpour that nearly knocked out the opening campfire. Fortunately, the storm passed through just early enough, contributing to the fun atmosphere of the festivities. Otherwise we avoided any more rain. Though the steamy weather came back a bit in mid-week, it became very pleasant as the week ended, even being a little on the chilly side the morning of departure.
The Camp Cup consisted of daily challenges. We won canoe swamping and the waiter challenge, finished strong in gaga ball and the dry match race, and did just well enough in the frozen T-shirt competition to win by a score of 108 to 107. Expect to see the Cup at the next Court of Honor.
Scoutmaster Mr. Keats, Mr. Recinto, and Mr. Carter completed enough of the requirements (taking a 30-minute nap is a requirement) to get leader recognition. We also appreciated the assistance of Mrs. Smith and Mr. Barich.
Andrew completed his Order of the Arrow ordeal. Congratulations!
Pathfinder Scouts learned about the details of Scouting and moving up ranks, and finished with Swimming and First Aid merit badges. Older Scouts took many newly-offered badges. Much time was spent hanging around the Trading Post and visiting with Elijah.
So what exactly does the Patrol Leader’s Council do? In a Scout-led Troop like ours, the PLC decides what the guys want to do with their monthly outings and presents the plan to the Troop Committee.
Thanks to Edward and Hayden for gathering input and presenting to over 20 adults at last week’s Committee mtg. The PLC has spoken. The themes they chose to incorporate into our activities were advancement, environmental impact and quality of food. Here’s the plan for fall 2018:
Our first event will be on September 15 -16 at 31st St. Harbor courtesy of the Sea Scouts. Games, food and other things to entertain both our Scouts and the Webelos (5th graders) who will be invited for the day. The Troop members will have a place to sleep on the big Sea Scout boat, with additional vessels to be added as needed. Sailing an option depending on weather.
Next up is October 13 – 14 at Blackwell forest preserve in DuPage County. This will be a bike overnight with potential for two different mileages similar to what we did last year on the beautiful (and flat!) Illinois Prairie Path. This location is ideal for exploring both on foot and on two wheels. Campfire expected as well.
Third is scheduled for November 2 – 4 at Camp Dan Beard in Northbrook. No school for CPS on Friday gives us the option to do an extended two night event. This property in Cook County offers opportunities for hiking, orienteering and pioneering (building cool stuff out of branches & rope).
Check your schedule and save the dates! Also posted on the Troop calendar.
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