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Troop 79 Hikes at Starved Rock

It was a dark and stormy night. Wait, that was Saturday…. Friday was a beautiful night – to be stuck in rush hour traffic leaving Chicago for Starved Rock State Park about two hours away. Three years ago the troop camped in the same field. Hard to tell when we arrived that night, but by daybreak on Saturday the place looked very familiar.

Our acting camp SPL, Oscar, gave the Scouts a demo on how to properly pack a backpack. This training will come in handy for several of our guys heading to Philmont next summer. Then it was time to hit the trail to St. Louis canyon.

The canyon and its caves made a great lunch stop. Most of the troop headed back to camp after a stop in the visitor center, but not the hardy Philmonters. They put another couple miles under their boots, including a lot of stairs. They seem to be off to a good start, but wait until they add four days worth of food to their packs in the high mountains of New Mexico next July!

As the sun settled into trees, out came the matches and fire for dinner, as demonstrated by our new SPL, Colin. Fruit cobbler and a game of commando on the moonlit field capped off the evening. At least things were mostly dry when we finally called it a night.

Here’s where the stormy night comes in. Sometime around 3AM, distant flashes of lightning became more frequent and insistent, followed by rain. Lots of rain. And wind too. Thankfully by morning the heaviest stuff had let up, leaving a brief break in the precip to make breakfast, pack up and head home to Chicago.

Member of our Google group? Click here for more photos.

[PHOTOS] Starved Rock camping @boylesfour

Troop 79 Sails the High Seas

This summer Troop 79 ventured to Sea Base in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Two crews boarded Celebration and Manukai, heading over to circumnavigate St. John.

Despite some initial nervousness, Scouts jumped in and easily completed swim checks to the satisfaction of the boat captains. We soon realized this was nothing compared to the lengthy snorkeling we did daily. Often tying up to buoys in particularly deep water, we would don our fins, masks, and fluorescent vests, “yeet” ourselves off the boat, swim across this deep expanse to outcroppings, and enjoy breathtaking wildlife. Trigger fish, parrot fish eating coral, squid that changed color as we passed, nurse sharks, blue flounder, swimming through sergeant majors in schools of hundreds, stingrays, a large number of sea turtles, and South Sea lobster. Celebration crew learned how to identify the lobsters’ hiding spots (not too difficult with their antennae sticking out), spooked them out, and successfully caught one. It turned their plain meal of mac and cheese into a gourmet meal of mac and cheese and lobster!

Speaking of food, the crews cooked on board most of the time, with the chance to visit the shore for a “hamburger” cook out over a charcoal fire. This was one of many opportunities to go ashore and play on the beach or go hiking. Land shoes and water bottles were critical, as the heat and terrain, often along rocky shores, made hikes a challenge. Both crews made their way to the Annaberg sugar mill ruins, and later, at a stop in Salt Pond Bay, we hiked to the southern-most point at the top of Ram Head. It was surprising to see so many cacti in what seems like a tropical area.

It was a rainy week. Celebration crew had gone to shore just before Manukai crew, and we all met at the Annaberg sugar mill ruins. Heavy rain seemed to be approaching, so Celebration crew headed back, but Manukai crew thought the rain would stay to the north. Celebration crew reached the shore just as the rain started, and made it back to their boat, but Manukai crew were caught out. With lightning hitting all around, including nearby Mary Point, Manukai crew were stuck on the beach. The downpour was so heavy, it was hard to see the boats from shore. In the rain, the crews danced and shouted back and forth. If there is one thing we learned from the trip, it is that when you are wet multiple times a day, being rained on means nothing.

Both crews spent time sailing, with such lean that the side rail would be in the water. Scouts helped tie up the boat to the buoys, let out/bring in the sails, and any other ways they could assist in sailing. Evenings were spent playing cards. Sleeping above deck was a challenge, as there was considerable rain nearly every night, so Scouts found spots on the floor in the cabins.

Crews went into Cruz Bay separately and enjoyed lunch and a chance for souvenirs. A tropical fruit smoothie where the fruit is just picked is a delicious respite on a muggy day.

The trip ended with the return to the Sapphire Beach harbor, cleaning of the boats, a quick meal, and brownie and ice cream treat at the resort up the hill. Except for a little sunburn, all ended healthy and happy.

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[PHOTOS] Sea Base St. Thomas @K Carter, E Schechter

Troop 79 Repeats the Owasippe Blackhawk Camp Cup

Another successful week at summer camp, according to Scoutmaster Mr. Keats. “We ate, we competed, we merit badged, we flopped, we won the Cup, we shot, we sweated, we swatted, we swam, we sang, we saluted.”

New this year was a camp-wide carnival, complete with food, games and a Scoutmaster karaoke competition. America’s got Talent?

The weather was cooperative this year: warm and summery, with only a few passing sprinkles. After the cool and wet spring we’ve had, the clear water of Big Blue Lake was a treat for boating, tubing, swimming or the camp favorite – Battle Boat!

The Camp Cup consisted of a number of daily challenges throughout the week including gaga ball and match splitting. Who’d have guessed our strongest finish would be in the water balloon toss? We will proudly present the Cup at the next Court of Honor.

Scoutmaster Mr. Keats, Mr. Recinto, Mr. Martin and Mr. Carter were our adults on duty for the week, enduring the “point five” star food and lodging. We also appreciated the assistance of Mr. Barich and Mr. Bui.

In addition to all the fun stuff, there was some serious work getting done. The new Scouts earned their first of many requirements on the path to Eagle. Our more seasoned Scouts took home many newly-offered badges. And of course, plenty of time was spent hanging around the Trading Post and stocking up on treats.

[PHOTOS] Troop 79 at Camp Owasippe @K Carter

Another Troop 79 Eagle candidate serving the community

As you’ve seen here before, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout requires several years of effort. The capstone of which is the Eagle service project. The popular Bryan on Scouting blog defines the service project this way: Five words make all the difference: “plan, develop and give leadership …”  In other words, it’s not your standard Scout service project!

In Life Scout Simon C.’s own words, “On Saturday, I completed my Eagle Scout project. For my project, I built and painted shelves for an animal rescue shelter called the Wright-Way Rescue animal shelter. We worked in two shifts, one consisted of painting and assembly at my house, the evening shift was installing the shelves at the shelter. Thank you to all the Scouts who spent their time to help me on Saturday.”

Enjoy a sample before and after photo of the project. All the best to you, Simon, on your path to Eagle!

Storage area – BEFORE
Storage Area – AFTER

[PHOTOS] Wright Way Rescue @KCarter

Summer 2020 High Adventure Plans!

Troop 79 Scouts and adults – check out the details, eligibility & cost below, then sign up today for EITHER Summit or Philmont. Neither get in the way of Owasippe, but due to scheduling Scouts/adults can only participate in ONE of the two high adventure trips. Decisions, decisions…..

1. THE SUMMIT EXPERIENCE – travel by rental van leaving early Sat, July 18, returning late Sat, July 25, 2020 (DATE CHANGE)
This is a seven-day/six-night program that consists of half-day introductory level experiences:- BMX- skateboarding- mountain biking- zip lines- canopy tours- challenge courses- climbing- shooting sports- whitewater rafting
Summit provides three meals/day, tents, cots and all program equipment. Each Scout and adult advisor is responsible for their own personal gear.
A minimum of 2 adults and 5 Scouts are needed to fill one crew

Climbing wall at Summit

SCOUTS (14 – 20 yrs)
Must be registered with BSA
Must meet BSA height & weight limits
Must be 13 yrs old by Sept 1, 2020

ADULT ADVISORS (21 yrs and older)
Must be registered with BSA
Must meet BSA height & weight limits
Must have current training

$250 non-refundable deposit due 9/1/19
First payment $500 due 12/1/19
Final balance $250 due 3/1/20
PAYMENTS ARE NON-REFUNDABLE!

2. PHILMONT 12 DAY TREK – travel by Amtrak leaving Fri, July 17 at 2:50PM, returning Fri, July 31 around 2:50PM
Each of our TWO crews will participate in an exciting and strenuous backpacking trek of their choice.  In addition to ten full days camping and cooking in some of the most beautiful backcountry imaginable, other possible highlights are:
– Climbing 12,441 foot Mt. Baldy
– Horseback riding
– Rock climbing / rapelling
– Learning about indigenous cultures
– Assisting in conservation projects
– Experiencing an old west chuck wagon dinner
and much more!!

Hiking Mt. Baldy at Philmont

Philmont provides much of the crew gear (tents, food and cooking equipment). Each Scout and adult advisor is responsible for their own personal gear and physical fitness.

ALL participants must be in EXCELLENT physical condition, able to carry up to 40lbs in a backpack while hiking at high elevations (up to 12,000 ft) for ten days and 50-75 miles!

A minimum of 4 adults and 10 Scouts are needed to fill two crews 
If more than 6 adults and 20 Scouts sign up, preference will be given as follows: 
– has actively participated in Troop activities such as Owasippe, camping, service 
– has regularly attended Troop meetings 
– has not already attended Philmont 
Attendees will be notified by email and a deposit will be requested immediately. 

SCOUTS (14 – 20 yrs)
Must be registered with BSA
Must meet BSA height & weight limits
Must be 14 yrs old by July 17, 2020

ADULT ADVISORS (21 yrs and older)
Must be registered with BSA
Must meet BSA height & weight limits
Must have current training

$250 non-refundable deposit due 7/1/19
First payment $750 due 9/1/19
Final balance $500 due 2/1/20
PAYMENTS ARE NON-REFUNDABLE!

[PHOTOS] Summit @PChambliss, Philmont @Boylesfour

The Flying Eagles of Troop 79

Scoutmaster Dave Keats is well known for reminding our troop’s newly minted Eagle Scouts that their Court of Honor isn’t a retirement party. That’s right, after all those years of hard work, dedication and fun, they don’t need to check out of Scouts as soon as they get the medal.

Case in point, four members of the class of 2019 “Eagle X” planned and carried out a Memorial Day weekend overnight at Indiana Dunes. While the weather was definitely a step up from the troop’s spring campout just eight weeks earlier, these guys took up residence at the same group site and explored the same dunes and trails.

We’re really proud of all our Eagles, and it’s great to see our alums drop in for the occasional troop meeting. These fine young leaders are role models, and hope they always find room in their busy lives for Scouting.

[PHOTO] Dune leap @Edward Boyle

Troop 79 “zips” to Camp Shaw

After a couple year hiatus, Troop 79 returned triumphantly to Camp Shaw-Waw-Nas-See about an hour outside of Chicago. Maybe a little longer in Friday evening rush hour traffic…. We made camp as the sun was setting and enjoyed the patter of light rain overnight.

Woke up Saturday to a bright spring morning! The creek was ragin’ from the past week’s constant rain. Scenery aside, the main attraction was the gaga pit. Who would’ve thought a game originally from Israel could bring so much entertainment? Afterwards, camp SPL Colin G. led the younger Scouts in flag raising practice on the tallest pole we could find.

The Scouts were led in some challenge games by Camp Shaw staff after lunch. Great lessons in teamwork and communication. Thanks, Sketch!

Zip lining followed! Everyone made two passes – one each way across the river. Seemed like a lot of fun. The afternoon was capped off with a short hike to a marker for Chief Shaw-Waw-Nas-See.

Back in camp for the evening, patrol dinners with a festive Cinco de Mayo theme were prepared. Followed by “smacos”, interesting conversations and stories of the Potawatomie around the campfire. You never know what you’re going to learn on a Scout overnight.

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny, with temps quickly rising out of the 40’s into the 60’s. Time to make breakfast, clean up camp and head out. Another T-79 overnight in the history books!

Member of our Google group? Click here for more photos.

[PHOTOS] Camp Shaw camping @Dave Keats and @boylesfour

Troop 79 Celebrates the “Eagle X” class of 2018-19

Historically the number of Scouts who achieve the Eagle rank is a very small percentage. This past weekend, Troop 79 had the opportunity to recognize 10 of our Scouts for doing so. What took place in a few hours at a formal Eagle Court of Honor in the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago was the culmination of some big numbers. Here are just a few combined stats from these outstanding young men:

  • 120 YEARS of Scouting, from Cub Scouts through Webelos and on to Troop 79.
  • 270 MERIT BADGES, each representing many hours of learning new skills.
  • 32 LEADERSHIP POSITIONS held, contributing to our Scout-led troop.
  • 360 DAYS at Camp Owasippe, earning merit badges and trying not to miss home cooked meals.
  • 40 WEEKS of BSA high adventure, testing their endurance and leadership skills in the mountains, rivers and oceans.
  • COUNTLESS nights of camping with the troop, making stories together that will last a lifetime.

Other than the data, it’s difficult to sum up all that these guys have done for the troop, their communities and each other on their journey to Eagle. But as our distinguished guest, IL Senate President, John J. Cullerton said, expectations are high for them to continue to contribute!

In addition to local community leaders and our Chartered Organization Rep Barbara Guttmann from the Old Town Triangle Association, the Court of Honor was attended by over 200 friends, family members, troop members and others who had contributed to the success of our “Eagle X”, Class of 2018-19. The ceremonies were led by T-79’s Asst. Senior Patrol Leader, Colin G. and included a number of important elements that helped recognize and reflect on the importance of this occasion:

  • Receiving a thoughtful invocation from Rev. Dr. Lucy Forster-Smith, Fourth Presbyterian Church
  • Learning about the meaning of the Scout Oath and Law in a candle lighting ceremony led by Patrol Leader Geoffrey B. with several members of Troop 79.
  • Examining the Eagle Scout requirements by adult advisors Jim Larson, Jeff Boyle, Dan Nitzsche and Joe Barich.
  • Explaining the responsibilities of an Eagle Scout from a recent T-79 member’s perspective, thanks to Hunter Morgan (’16) and Ben Keats (’17).
  • Charging the Eagle candidates with their new rank, and finally making the award presentation itself to the Eagles, their parents and mentors by our Scoutmaster, Dave Keats.
  • Recognizing Jim Zoiopolous with a special Lifetime Eagle Mentor award and campership in his name organized by Committee Chair Jim Larson, including keepsake “I SURVIVED MR. Z” bumper stickers for the 10 Eagles.
  • Hearing stories from the Eagles individually on their Scouting experience in a panel discussion moderated by Gretchen Winter, mother of one of our Eagles.
  • Closing the ceremony with a blessing from Fr. Ken Simpson of the Chicago Archdiocese, a fellow outdoorsman and mentor to several of the Eagles.

Of course, no Eagle Court of Honor can wrap up without a party! A reception followed, complete with refreshments, thanks to Eagle parents Sam and MaryAnn Martorina with Liz and Steve Gardner, table displays of Scouting memories created by the Eagles themselves, and a video/slideshow produced by Amy Boyle that included interviews with each of the Eagles and photos from their Scouting journey.

Several other Eagle family members contributed in very important ways and need to be recognized here. Allison Youngblood was our primary connection to the venue and managed all the site coordination, assisted by Betsy Morgan. The invitations and guest coordination were managed by Cynthia Patti, who also played an important role in event setup and teardown with Jim Patti and Jodi Larson. The full color printed program, including facts, photos and stories, was created by Cathy Hug. Northwestern University Medill journalism student and free lance professional photographer Colin Boyle provided photo coverage of the ceremony. Jim Brown wrote the checks that paid for all of this, though now the Eagle families have to pay him back! Lastly, Jeff Boyle did his best to make the event environmentally conscious while coordinating the planning and rehearsals.

On behalf of Edward Boyle, Otto Brown, Will Gardner, Kenny Larson, Nick Martorina, Hayden Morgan, Matthew Nelsen, Jake Nitzsche, John Patti and Michael Youngblood, we are incredibly grateful to the Eagle parents and mentors, plus Troop 79 Scouts and adult advisors who made this day possible.

[PHOTO] Eagle Court of Honor @boylessix

Troop 79 does a “Freeze-out” at the Dunes

While March is supposed to go out like a lamb, frosty temps and bitter winds made us question what we were thinking camping out at the Indiana Dunes in this weather.

Gathering on Michigan Ave, the guys headed downstairs and boarded the South Shore train for the park. Arriving at Dune Park station, the Scouts hoisted their packs and headed out for the mile hike to camp. Thankfully the overnight rain had quit.

Camp was damp. “No running amok in the muck!” and several other rules were decreed at a briefing from Mr. Keats. After setting up tents on the little dry ground they could find, the guys headed out for a hike to the nearby nature center. And then on to the dunes! Cold and windy was the forecast for the day.

A blazing fire welcomed the guys back at camp. Time to start dinner before the sun went down and the cold really settled in.

The guys also had some fun with nighttime photography. Thanks to the Scout with the light-up frisbee for the multi-color long exposures.

Morning came, and with temps in the mid-20’s, another fire was definitely in order. The guys worked swiftly to break down camp after an easy breakfast before heading back to the train.

See you again, Indiana Dunes, maybe when it’s a little warmer!

Member of our Google group? Click here for more photos.

[PHOTOS] Dunes camping @Edward Boyle and @boylesfour





Troop 79 at the District First Aid Meet, St. Patrick’s Day Edition

Congrats to the two competing T-79 patrols Cobra and Cracked Bell. Everyone had fun with the other troops, learned more First Aid, and had lunch. A big thanks to Troop 973 of St. Andrews for hosting the Founders District First Aid Meet. Both T-79 patrols won the stretcher races outright – no doubt.

As for the results, T-79 took 3rd and 4th places. The 1st and 2nd places were resolved with a tie-breaker. T-79 was only 6 points out of 500 behind the two teams who tied for 1st. T-79 was prepared and our teams did their best! Thank you troop parents Sheila and Lisa for staying to help judge and Mr. Larson for moral support.

Member of our Google group? Click here for more photos.

[PHOTO] District First Aid Meet @Dave Keats

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