From July 11 to 18, Jason experienced his first Boy Scout summer camp at Camp Raven Knob, just outside Mt. Airy, NC (aka “Mayberry”). Given his dietary and allergy issues, I opted to tag along to help out the leaders and prepare Jason’s meals. It was a fun week, with tolerable temperatures, pretty scenery and interesting merit badge classes for Jason.
Here’s Jason at easily the most popular spot in camp, the Trading Post. This is where scouts could supplement the less-than-inspiring cuisine of the dining hall with snacks, ice cream and “slush puppies,” and spend all that money from Mom and Dad on t-shirts, pocket knives, walking sticks and whatever they forgot to pack before leaving home. Jason didn’t get to enjoy the snacks, obviously, but he did score a neat utility knife with about a dozen gadgets included.
Jason’s tentmate exhausted all his funds pretty much on Day One, and spent the next few days anxiously awaiting a care package from home (“I know I’m getting one because I sent it myself!”) so he could sell the contents for more spending money.
With 43 scouts and ten leaders, Troop 800 took up two adjacent campsites and, as always, made its presence known.
With canvas tarps strung over concrete or wooden floors, it wasn’t quite the Waldorf, but our accommodations did keep out most of the rain and bugs. Except for a couple of storms (one big enough to see us evacuated to a permanent structure for an hour or so), the weather was sunny and pleasant, anyway.
There were lots of aquatic activities on the lake all week, including swimming, canoeing, sailing and paddle-boarding. Jason’s a strong swimmer, but none of his classes involved the water, and I couldn’t talk him into taking a dip even during the Free Swim periods, but I’m pretty sure Scott will be all about the water when it’s his turn to go.
We went to three campfire ceremonies over the week, including a very impressive “Order of the Arrow” induction ceremony for the Old Hickory Council. The ampitheatre gave a great view of the lake and mountains, a view I tried to sketch at one point, with disappointing results (which I’ll spare you here).
There were numerous trails, but the only one we took was to the top of Raven’s Knob, which afforded a nice view of the camp. (This is not my photo. I took one, but my camera took a hit and I ended up losing a day’s worth of images. All things considered, I opted not to climb the mountain again for another shot).
It’s not like we didn’t get in plenty of walking, anyway. The building in the clearing in the upper right is where Jason had most of his classes. For his aviation class, he followed that road down past the aquatics area, past the ampitheater and on off to the left for what had to have been at least another 1/8th of a mile to a shelter on the edge of the “Cripple Creek” area where some scouts got to recreate pioneer life. Since it was such a long trek, I usually walked with him to that class and back. By the way, now I know why Boy Scout socks are dark green; I ruined five pairs of white gym socks walking those dusty trails!
At week’s end, Jason had completed his requirements for his Photography and Movie-Making, Digital Technology, Metal Working, Leather Working and (nearly) Aviation merit badges, and acquired a new appreciation for air conditioning and indoor plumbing. Still, he claims he slept better on his cot in the tent than he does at home on a mattress.
All told, a rewarding experience.