A few weeks back I blogged that I would be out of town due to attending Boy Scout Camp, and I posted some of Norman Rockwell’s wonderful portraits he painted of Boy Scouts through the years, doing scouting activities. What follows is my account of surviving 3 and 1/2 days of roughing it, well, sort of roughing it, and experiencing what just is boy scout camp.
June 7th arrived and the 12 year old and I drove away in our giant van to meet the other boy scouts with Troop 81 in order to head to Camp Arrowhead, which is in Marshfield, MO; 4o minutes east of Springfield. We had our gear in Rubbermaid tote boxes, a tip from some of the more experienced scouts in the troop-your stuff stays dry in case you are in a leaky tent, the bugs and critters are kept out of your stuff, too. We had our sleeping bags, pillows, an extra sheet in case the weather was hot and humid-then the sleeping bag could be lain on top of and the sheet could be the blanket. We had our cots, flashlights, water bottles, and being a mom, I brought along bug spray, sunscreen, aloe vera gel, bandaids, a broom(which proved to be very useful at the campsite!), extra batteries, a book to read, my son’s handbook, my cell phone, rain ponchos, trash bags, and camp chairs.
After the scouts loaded stuff into my van and the scoutmaster’s pick up truck and the boys were settled in the two vehicles, we were off. Heading west on I-44, hills and curves ahead(though pretty smooth compared to a trip I took to Emminence, MO 2 years ago!!!! Upset stomachs hit some of my kids on that trip!!! The Ozark Mountains aren’t to be ignored!)
We arrived at Camp Arrowhead around noon, and the boys ate their sack lunches while their scoutmaster had to wait in line at the Camp’s office to check in. After watching the boys try to flip one another’s ball hats off of their heads numerous times, and me having the foresight to have our two scouts check in their medications with the Camp Nurse, it was off to the camp site.
We drove over to campsite Choctaw(I noticed that most of the campsites are named after Native American Tribes). We also met two more troops who would be sharing Choctaw with us, one troop from West Plains, MO(they liked to tell Arkansas jokes) and the other troop was from Baxter Springs, KS. (They explained that they were located in the far SE corner of Kansas and could see Oklahoma from their front door!)
We all claimed a camping platform. At each campsite there are platforms rising from the ground, made of wood or concrete. The platforms were probably 6″-8″ high and fastened to each platform was a canvas tent, that could sleep two people. My son and another scout agreed to bunk in one tent and I had a tent to myself. One of our scouts, I soon learned, was very afraid of bugs so he brought his own nylon tent which he could zip up tightly and keep all potential bug visitors outside. I tried to help him a set up his tent, and ended up watching. I had never set up a tent before so I thought I’d better learn. Then as a troop, we all worked to set up a nice canopy that covered our picnic tables area. Scouts asked politely if they could borrow my broom to sweep the leaves off of their platforms. We also picked up spare pieces of limbs and sticks lying around to place on our wood pile near the campsite’s designated campfire ring, and filled water into the required fire bucket.
Meals at Camp Arrowhead were all served in the lodge or Mess Hall. Boys had to take turns being the server for their troop. This meant an early rise for the scout assigned to breakfast duty. The camp was awakened promptly each morning with Reveille sounding off at 6:00 am and lights out at 10:00 pm with the playing of Taps. Since each campsite had a flagpole, our troop had a daily flag raising ceremony, which was good practice for my son and another of the younger scouts.
Mon.-Fri., except for Wednesday, which was Free Day, scouts had classes to attend to help them with earning merit badges. I went along with my son’s on Monday, which was an overview of First Aid. It was a large group of Tenderfoot Scouts, moving up to the next level, Second Class, and I had to help remind them to stop talking and to listen to their scout instructors, who were high schoolers or college aged scouts. I was so glad that I had on my poncho, a new product that the Rolla Scout Shop sells, Frog Toggs ponchos. Several scoutmasters and assistants asked me where did I get that great poncho from? I was pleased to tell them to give the Scout Shop a plug and I reminded them that if they didn’t live near Rolla, that the Scout Shop in Springfield carried Frog Toggs too!
Critters at camp are to be expected. At night, I could hear an owl hooting after Taps had been played. One night I swear that owl was right in our campsite hooting!! Another night, I had to get up and use the restroom (there were latrines nearer but I made the trek to the pool and the proper bathrooms) and I saw a deer running through the camp. Butterflies liked to alight on our camp gear that we left scattered around on the picnic tables. A box turtle was discovered another day. The worst critter by far, though, that we encountered was the Fishing Spider. Not that it ever caused us any harm but it was very large, and made us uncomfortable with it’s presence in some of our tents!
Tuesday morning, two of our scouts awoke and quickly came out of their tent, to tell us that a huge spider was in their tent, up in the top corner, near one of the tent’s posts. We all had to take a look and sure enough, there was a huge, black spider in that tent corner. Now I’ve seen pictures of big spiders in books but I had never seen such a large one with my own eyes, up close and in person! With the aid of my broom(a camping essential I tell you!), the boys and scoutmaster successfully brushed the spider onto the ground, and with the emptied fire bucket(my suggestion) over the spider, the boys ran to get the Nature Lodge folks, who were located near our camp site. One of the Nature Lodge workers came back with a smaller, plastic container and the spider was successfully coaxed into that box. The Lodge thanked us for the spider and said they’d try to figure out it’s type. We all breathed a sigh of relief and shuddered a bit, glad that the critter was gone. However, it’s buddy showed up Wednesday, in the early evening,in another boy’s tent! Again out came my broom, and that spider was driven onto the forest floor and it scampered away, only to return when it was time for lights out!!!! The fire bucket was emptied of it’s water, my broom was utilized, and I trained my flashlight on the critter as it was once again driven from the tent, and the bucket placed on top of it. In the morning, it was taken far away from our campsite.
Wednesday at 10:00 am, my replacement came, another scouting mom with a son in troop 81. She took over my tent and my stuff was packed and ready to be placed in my van and with a good-bye to my son, off I drove back to Marshfield, and eventually to Rolla, for a nice hot shower, and a good night’s sleep in my own bed. I admit, I was cautious as I unpacked my Rubbermaid tote box, as I didn’t want to find any stowaway Fishing Spiders in there!!
Summing up , Camp Arrowhead, established in 1924, is a very nice Boy Scout Camp. Improvements are happening, and the staff worked well together to make sure that the boys had a fun week, and an educational week working on merit badges in order to advance to the next rank. I don’t know if I’ll go back to help next year but if I do, I am bringing a nylon tent, one that I can keep completely zipped up so that it’s interior is off limits at all times to any outdoorsy critters!!