Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Camp Oest 2017 Part I

My son and I went to our local area's Cub Resident Camp at Camp Oest, up near the Maryland/Pennsylvania border. We opted for the three night/four day stay since we were already booked for the Webelos Week (the event we really wanted to go to). We checked in and set up our tent. The camp offers tents but my son wanted to use ours since the other tents did not sound particularly bug-proof. Nor did they look bug-proof when we got there.

Our good ol' tent

Camp tents

I was a bit jealous of the cots, which looked like they'd be more comfortable than our inflatable matresses, and the pallet floor, which looked like it'd be more rain-proof than our tent floor. The first day at camp we had an afternoon thundershower of the type common to hot, humid summer days. The downpour lasted a good twenty minutes and I was worried about our tent. When we got back later, we discovered maybe a teaspoon's worth of water inside our tent, so it is plenty weather-proof. My son made the right choice.

After settling in and before the rain shower, we did a tour of the camp, including a visit to the trading post (where campers can buy snacks and sundries) and the pool. At the pool all the campers had a swimming test to determine their ability, ranked from Non-Swimmer to Beginner to Swimmer. The test was to swim three lengths of the pool with any stroke and a fourth length with a modified back stroke (for swimming in shallow water). The end of the test was to tread water for ten seconds, which wasn't so easy after swimming four lengths. Happily, my son and I made full qualifications.

The tour also took us to the other parts of the camp where activities would happen, including the opening campfire which was quite large.

Campfire theater!

Reverse view

After dinner, the camp staff performed an extended skit involving character like Man-Spider (the bug who bit Peter P.) and Fly-Horse (Man-Spider's sidekick). The skit had plenty of comedy and fit in with the "bug hunters" theme.

Skit in action

The fire was impressive though we were not allowed close enough to roast marshmallows. Instead, we went back to the dining pavilion and had a snack there. We slept well that night, though it was still pretty hot in spite of the torrential downpour.

The next day was Sunday, so we snuck off to a 7:30 Mass nearby. We missed breakfast (I packed a bunch of granola bars in the car to sustain us) but were back in time for the first activities of the day. First we did aquatics, learning how to rescue people at the pool and how to row a boat on the river.

Dressed for rowing

From there we went to Scout Craft where we learned to tie various knots. The second activity was building fires, including a practical challenge--build a fire tall enough to burn through a string. My son's team learned basic ways to arrange the wood. They chose a tepee-style arrangement, gathered kindling and wood, and set fire to their construction.

Looking for stuff to burn--perfect activity for boys?

Big fire ring and little fire ring

A successful burn-through

Another important skill--putting the fire out!

At lunch the camp had its fire drill and the boys practiced putting together first aid kits from various supplies. The pile included bandages, ointment, gloves, and rocks. No rocks made it into the kit.

Choosing what to put in a first aid kit

Judging the first aid kits

After lunch, we went down to Shooting Sports where the boys were taught safety practices in Archery, BB Guns, and Sling Shots. Since so few boys were attending the camp (we had about twenty divided into two groups) the parents were able to participate. So instead of taking pictures I was shooting as well!

The next activity was called SPLAT and built team-work and leadership skills. The boys did various challenges together that they found satisfying.

SPLAT leaders staying hydrated

Crossing from cinderblock to cinderblock with only two beams

At STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), they learned how birds used their different-shaped beaks to get food. The boys had various implements (spoons, tweezers, straws, etc.) with which they had to pick up seeds from a tarp. The tarp kept seeds from falling on the floor. The challenge was fun.

Picking up seeds

Getting a cupful

The next science experiment was making goo from glue. I will not share the secret formula here but trust me, making it was far too easy.

Transforming a sticky substance into a slimy substance

Mixing the goo/glue

More from the trip in the next post!

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