Boy Scout Troop 68, Melrose, MN

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Boy Scout Troop 68's
1992 Philmont Journal
A tale of a crew who mastered the Philmont wilderness... almost.

Page 4

Days #5 and 6 


Sunday, August 2, Day 5

 The temperature is 35 degrees as I arise from my nice and warm sleeping bag. At least that is what my thermometer reads. Jason says that his shows 45 degrees. Whatever it is it is a bit nippy.
 Ross reports that he got up a half hour earlier and saw five deer stop and visit our campsite. They seem to like this site.
 Breakfast was prepared and eaten with out any trouble this morning. We leave camp at 8:10, ten minutes later then Josh was shooting for but still a very good time.
 We had to hike back to the Ponil commissary to pick up our next supply of food. While Josh is taking care of that Nathan and I walk over to the trading post. The crew needs more fuel for the stoves. Nathan needs more junk food for his pack. By 8:45 we are on our way to our next camp.

 Here is one little noteworthy point. We may have a sister crew after all. The one with the kid known as Mikey. We are all thrilled at this possibility. (Not!)
 Today's hike is a seven kilometer journey that will end at Pueblano Camp. The first kilometer will probably be the roughest as it is mostly uphill, and rather steep. The rest of the hike will be pretty level.
 The four Musketeers (Josh, Ross, Jason, and Tim) start singing shortly after leaving camp. Soon we are all singing. I am called forward from my usual spot next to the rear of the line to help lead the troop songs. It does not take too long before we have gone through all of them. We even sang Star Trekking I and II. 
 What do we sing now? Rock songs! Some of these are sung rather pathetically. It seems that not everyone knows all the words or the melody to some of them. Once we run out of songs we begin playing 'Buzz' and some word games. It does not take long for the crew to split apart into two groups, each trying to play their own games.
 The singing and games really helped time to fly by. We pass the Ponil/Elkhorn crossroads at 10:18. Shortly after 11:00 a.m.. we arrive at our destination, Pueblano.

 We are greeted by a man who introduces himself as Preacher. He invites the whole crew to come on up on the porch, sit down, and have a drink. As we walk up the stairs we notice the two wooden signs that read, "Pueblano  Elevation. 8080  Population 6." and "Continental Tie and Lumber Company."
 He starts out by telling us that a bear was sited in this area within the last twelve hours. Be sure to hang bear bags any time we leave camp. 'Hey, maybe I'll finally get to see a bear,' I think to myself.
 There is no program to partake in here, he explains. If we plan to spend the night we will have to work for it or pay $5. Work includes spar climbing and timber cutting. Josh decides that the crew will work for the right to have a campsite tonight. We are to report for duty at 1:00 p.m.
 Preacher asks Josh if he would like to have the Pueblano stamp applied to the crew leader's copy sheet. Josh says sure and looks over the group for approval. Preacher takes the sheet of paper, places it on a stump, picks up an ax, raises it high, and brings it down perfectly right on the Pueblano line. Cool! He hands it back to Josh and we are on our way to our site.

 It is amazing! We are given the same site we had three years ago when we stayed at this camp. It is a very nice campsite. The guys are pleased. They quickly set up camp and have lunch. There is a little time before we need to show up for 'work' so Josh, Jason, and Al go through our meals and plan them for the next few days.
 Al and I have chosen a nifty place for our tent. The crew's site is a small clearing. On the north side of it is a stand of trees. One of the older trees had fallen several years ago and has formed what would typically be the northern edge of the campsite. Al and I noticed an area between the north side of the fallen tree and the stream that bordered the west and north sides of the camp. It was a very nice but small area that would offer a type of natural break between us and the kids. It was shady, unlike most of this site. 
 The only problem was that is was a little more difficult to get to. We had a choice of going over or under the fallen tree or going around a stand of saplings and brush and come in from the back side.

 Spar climbing began at one o'clock. The guys had changed into long pants and long sleeved shirts even though it was rather warm today. The reason for the warmer clothing was it would offer better protection from slivers and such when the boys would climb the spars.
 Scott was our task leader for this activity. He went over all the equipment that we would be using and explained the proper and safe way to use them. He was found of saying that accidents cause blood to spill. Then the maggots would come charging down the mountainside and there would be maggots and blood everywhere.
 He chose Jason to help him with his demonstration. Jason was to be his 'donkey'. A donkey is the belaying person who is actually the counterweight of the climber. Josh was chosen to be his 'friend'. A friend helps the climber get into his gear and make sure that it was on good and tight. Once the friend made sure the gear was on properly he would join the donkey in belaying the climber.
 Scott made sure that the scouts understood two important rules of spar climbing. The first was that once a climber has the gear on horseplay would not be tolerated. A climber could hurt himself pretty easily with those spikes on his feet. The second rule was that the donkey and belayers were to keep their eyes on the climber and no where else. And, they were never to give the climber orders as to what he should do.

 Four scouts, Josh, Ross, Nathan and Peter, were able to climb before the storms moved into the area. Each of them got the chance to practice their pelvic thrust as they climbed. The thrust is used to move the safety harness up the pole along with the climber. Of course, since the staff called this action the pelvic thrust it was the object of a few jokes. People were being judged on their thrusting abilities.
 When a climber reached the top of the pole he had to show his appreciation to a little gal who helped him get there - Carrie Biner. Each scout would give the biner through which the safety rope went through a rub as a gesture of appreciation. Then the scout was to yell something as loud as they could to inform people that he had conquered the pole.
 Scott and 'Wookie' were watching the clouds pretty close as the boys were climbing. Lightning was the main concern. Scott explained if lightning were to hit a pole with a climber on it then three people could be killed; the climber, the donkey, and the friend. Three poles could mean nine dead people. Then there would be maggots and blood everywhere. When the clouds that held the lightning moved close enough to our area they closed the poles down until later.

The tools of a logger.

 The crew's next 'work' was to attend a demonstration of the tools used by loggers during the early part of the century. They went across the road to the Rocky Mountain Timber Company for this. Preacher gave a very good demo and allowed the scouts to try out some of the tools.
 That is one of the great things about Philmont. Scouts are given hands on experiences at the various camps. The demonstrations given are not just a show and tell. 
 The storm clouds threaten to drench us during most of the afternoon. Luckily, their thunder was worse then their bite. All it does is sprinkle a bit.

  The rest of the afternoon we are left to our own devices to have fun. Out came the Frisbee for a game of tip. Soon the whole crew is involved, except for Tim. He is writing a journal of his own, he explains.
 We end up playing eight games. The last couple of throws are becoming hard and wicked. It is not being played as a gentleman's game any more. Al became upset with the boys and quit playing. I will admit that it was not as much fun as playing it with easy throws but I did look at the current way of playing as a new challenge.
 Supper was fantastic. It consisted of lasagna, green beans, bread sticks, and banana cream pudding. The cooks also made a peach and ???? pie. My stomach was full by the time I got to the pudding so Ross had to eat the rest of my portion of it.
 I lay down for a while after supper. My head was throbbing with a bad headache. I think I was able to get a little sleep but at 6:15 I was awake so I decided to see what was happening around the camp.
 Several of the guys were playing a lazy man's form of tip. They were sitting or lying on the ground, trying to throw it to each other so they would not have to move to catch it. Peter had an excellent throw to Jason. Jason was lying on the ground on his stomach. Peter's throw caught Jason off guard as it landed right under his chin. Amazing!
 I watch most of this in a slight daze. I still have a headache and I have not yet fully awakened. Al offered me an advil.

 I was feeling better in time to go to the advisor's coffee. This was a fun one. We chatted with some advisors who were from Texas. They had the group which included Mikey; and yes, they were having some problems with him and their group. 
 We also found out that Josh had made a great decision when he got rid of the pinto beans at the swap box back at Ponil. A Texas crew had eaten them and had become extremely sick. They were constantly running to the bathroom during the evening.
 Other topics of discussion included schools, comparing our treks, and even the game of Dungeons and Dragons. It was an interesting advisor's coffee.

 The Pueblano campfire was held in front of the staff building were we had our coffee. I joined the crew down on the ground in front. Later I wished that I had kept my seat on the swing on the porch. It was a lot more comfortable and warmer then the ground. There was no going back. As soon as I left, one of the other advisors moved into that seat.
 The staff did a pretty good job although it was not as great as the first time I had come here in 1986. Mikey, alias Earl, sat right up front. It did not take him long before he started shouting things at the staff and asking questions about the stories they were trying to tell. The staff solved the problem by having Earl sit with them in front of all the crews. Earl behaved himself for the rest of the campfire. The campfire ended with the story of a man who had a rock that turns to gold after hearing a voice in the woods.
 I thought the campfire was interesting and fun but it seemed to me as I watched my scouts that they found it to be a bit on the dull side. Yet, when I asked them what they thought of it they agreed that it was good.
 Everyone went straight to bed when we got back to camp. It had been a long but fun day. By 9:30 p.m. our camp was quiet.

Monday, August 3, Day 6

 I awoke to the sounds of our camp being taken down. Either Josh has forgotten to wake Al and me up or he thought we could use a little more sleep. The temperature according to my thermometer is 41 degrees.
 Breakfast took quite a while to cook this morning. It was worth the wait, however. They were very good pancakes and bacon.
 We left our campsite right on time; 8:30 a.m. On our way out we passed the climbing area and noticed that it was open for business. A few of the guys who did not get a chance to climb yesterday wanted to give a try before we left. That seemed to be all right with the group so Corey, Jason, and Tim took advantage of the opportunity. 
 A couple of the guys thought I should give it a try. I kind of wanted to but I did not want to change into the clothes needed and take up any more time. There was a crew or two already waiting for their chance to climb the spars so I passed. This was the third time I had come to this camp and the third time that I did not get a chance to do any spar climbing. Do I have to come back a fourth time?
 We left Pueblano Camp at 9:45.

 Today's hike would take us through Head of Dean Camp on our way to Santa Claus Camp. The total hike would be about 6.5 kilometers long. The trails would be somewhat rugged but nothing we would have a problem with.
 The trail to Head of Dean was a new jeep trail that looked very steep. This was one case of looks being deceiving. It ended up being shorter then we thought at not quite as steep as we feared.
 We arrived at Head of Dean Camp at 10:30 a.m. A new staff quarter had been build on the north end of the camp since we were here three years ago. The crew wanted to attempt the Dean's Challenge so Josh checked in with the staff and got an appointment for 11:00. We were lucky they had an opening.
 The old staff quarter was now the program building. That is were we met Dave, our program guide. Dave was a physically challenged individual who had a problem with his right leg. That did not hinder him from providing the crew with some of the most fun they had at Philmont. They got along with Dave fantastically.

 The Dean's Challenge is based of the same principles that a COPE course at summer camp is. Teamwork, problem solving, and brainstorming are the main goals of the challenges.
 Dave explained that the word 'team' had a special meaning here. It was an acronym for Together Each Achieves More. The scouts were about to learn just how true that was.
 The first challenge Dave presented was 'the block'. It was a two foot by two foot block of wood placed the ground. Dave explained that there was a dangerous herd of land piranhas, otherwise known as carnivorous mini bears who had sharp teeth but no claws, headed this way. The object was for the whole crew, all ten scouts, to get up onto the platform with only nine points of contact. They would have to remain that way for ten seconds for the mini bears to pass. Then the group was to yell "Take the Challenge" as loud as they could.
 It only took the scouts two attempts to accomplish this. They ended up with Corey, Tom, Pete and Paul sitting on the shoulders of Josh, Ross, Jason, and Tim. Greg and Nathan hung on and completed the group.

 The second challenge was a bit tougher. It was called 'the scale' and consisted of a sheet of plywood nailed vertically to the trunk of a tree. The plywood had various markings at different distances from the ground. Dave explained that the mini bears were angry that the crew had escaped them at the block. They were now heading for their friends, the grizzly bears, to help them accomplish what they had been denied before. The crew was to reach up the board and sound the alarm to alert the camp of the danger.
 First though, the crew had to decide which mark would be the alarm. In other words, how high could they reach. The lowest mark, a circle was only about ten feet off the ground. Two feet above that was a square. Then came a triangle. The final mark was a diamond which was probably about 16 feet off the ground. The crew chose the triangle as their alarm.
 This challenge would require that anyone not actively involved in the reach would be 'spotting' those who were in case someone would happen to lose their balance and fall. The spotters were not there to stop the person from falling. They were to help slow the fall to prevent any injuries. Dave also mentioned that the solution could not be over three tiers high.
 The group discussed their strategy and then put it into action. Jason, Ross, and Josh would form the bottom tier. Tim and Nathan would stand on their shoulders to form the second tier. Peter would be the top man who would 'push' the alarm. The plan worked out very well. Peter reached all the way to the top and pushed not only the triangle but also the diamond.
 Dave took a little time to explain the six steps used toward completing a challenge at the camp and anywhere else. The first step is to identify the problem. Then set a goal to overcome it. The third step is to brainstorm, to come up with several ideas to accomplish this goal. From these ideas a plan is formed. Execute the plan. The last step is to evaluate how things went. What could have been improved? What did not work? What did work?

 Dave borrowed a couple of bandannas and blindfolded Jason and Josh. No explanation was given until we arrived at the next challenge. The scouts took it upon themselves so see to it that Josh and Jason were guided to the next site.
 The site consisted of a tire hung four feet above the ground between two trees. Dave felt that the group was ready to invent their own challenge based on this suspended tire. The only rules he put on the challenge were that diving through the tire was not be allowed and that a person's feet could not be raised over his head. Any other rules would be decided on by the crew.
 The scouts saw the tire as a hole that firemen had chopped into a wall of a burning building. Josh and Jason were two blind people trapped inside the room the hole opened into. The rest of the crew were firemen. Their job was to rescue these victims within ten minutes or they would be lost. The sides of the tire could not be grabbed and used to pull one self through because the tire itself was actually a part of the flat wall.
 The crew had identified the problem. They had set a goal. It was time to brainstorm and come up with a plan. The plan decided upon was to send a couple 'firemen' through the hole, feet first, help the blind people through, and then come back out themselves. It was time to execute the plan.
 It was done and over in only two minutes, sixteen seconds. The boys did a great job of working with each other. When they evaluated their performance they agreed that they should probably be a bit tougher on their goals. This one was set to easily.

 Dave led us to the next station, nicknamed 'Nitro-Swing'. Two logs marked off an area about fifteen feet wide. Suspended in the middle of a cable was a rope. It was obvious that the scouts would be swinging from one log to the other. Dave's rules included no diving for the rope and no rocks or sticks would be allowed.
 The crew 'identified' the problem. They were being chased by Indians and would have to swing across these gator infested waters to reach safety. Unfortunately, they only had ten minutes before the Indians would reach them. Anyone who touched the 'swamp' area between the logs or the log itself would be considered a casualty.
 A solution was planned. It was time to implement it. Jason touched the ground and knocked a log. Oops! Paul and Greg also touched the ground on their swing. The crew completed their challenge in only two minutes and twenty-six seconds.

The final challenge - the wall!

 It is time for our final challenge, the wall! The basic rules were simple. There must be total body contact. No one shall be used as a rope. People are not to be over two levels high. Al and I will be participating in this station.
 The problem: We are in Sauk Centre, running down an alley. Behind us is a local gang with the intent on doing us harm. Ahead of us is a wall that we need to get over to escape. We only have six minutes to get everyone over the wall. The wall is fifteen feet high.
 Brainstorming a solution went quickly. Time to implement the plan. 
 I was amazed at the group. The teamwork was exceptional. In less then two minutes (one minute fifty-five seconds) everyone was over and safe from the hoods. It was funny to see the smaller guys almost fly over the wall. Tim, who was the last one over, only had to jump a couple of times before the bigger guys caught him.
 I was quite proud of my crew at this moment.
 We had taken the challenge!

 We ate lunch at Head of Dean before hitting the trail again. The hike to Santa Claus camp went well. It was a bit steep but the crew is getting used to this. We stopped for a break at a point where we had an excellent view of Cimarroncita, a private camp which looks like a small town.
 The last time I journeyed through Santa Claus Camp is was an unstaffed, dry camp. That has changed. There is now a full time staff. The program includes weather, forestry, and astronomy. Our crew signs up for the 3:30 program. A volleyball court is available to help pass the time. Water is available do to a metal tank know as the water buffalo. We would still have to be very conservation minded though because the tank is not limitless.
 The staff of Santa Claus has come up with a generic postcard. Each crew member must write a report to receive a postcard, on why they think Santa Claus Camp received its name. I thought it was a nifty idea. It would be fun to mail one of these to myself and see which gets to Melrose first; me or the card.

 Setting up camp went smoothly. Shortly thereafter the troubles began.
 Ross is visiting the latrine when the first incident occurs. Nearby Nathan and Tim are having a pine cone fight. Nathan got the terrific idea to see how close he could get to Ross. He picked up a rock and threw it into the latrine. He did better then he expected to do. The rock bounces off the wall and hits Ross in the shoulder.
 It was one of the few times I have ever seen Ross lose his temper. He comes storming out of the latrine Cussing up a storm. For a few several minutes the situation is tense. I think Nathan is scared for his life. Luckily for Nathan Ross calms down quickly. No blood is shed.
 This time.
 Tim and Josh start a friendly wrestling match. It is soon apparent to me that this my soon get out of hand. Neither one wants to be outdone by the other. Neither one wants to be the one to let up as things become more serious. I tell them to stop before it goes to far. It goes unheeded. For the second time I tell them to cut it out. Again it goes unheard. The friendly wrestling match has turned into a fight. Neither one wants to give in to the other. Both are actually causing pain to the other. This only makes them madder and more determined. Finally I have to take action to break them apart.
 Both scouts are using a lot of foul language at this point. I am not in a good mood anymore. It is time for the crew to go to their program. I ask Ross to take the group to it but keep Tim and Josh behind. I need to talk to them.
 We discuss what happened. I explain that I cannot let this go unpunished. They know my rules about foul language. They have cooled down enough by this time to understand my point of view. What I am going to do about it yet I am not yet sure.

 Nathan and Peter came back to camp early so they could put their covers on their packs. I see this as a chance to call Nathan over to talk to him about the rock throwing caper. Pete thinks it is funny that Nathan is being talked to so I give Pete a little warning of his own.
 I pull Ross aside when the rest of the crew returns from the program. Granted, he may have been somewhat justified in using the language he did but I will not stand for that in my troop. He understands.
 Several scouts play a game of tip before supper. The game ended suddenly when Nathan made a beautiful dive for one of the throws. His face and the ground made contact. He ended up with a bloody nose and a cut lip. His lip grew a bit and that seemed to bother him. 
 Tonight's supper was a dry lunch. We saved on water that way. Unfortunately it was not enough to fill teen-age boy's bellies. Many are complaining that they are still hungry.

 It was time to play volleyball. Ross, Jason, Pete, Paul and I formed one team. Josh, Corey, Greg, Nathan, Tom and Al formed the other. Tim chose not to play for some reason. We thought he was probably writing letters to his girlfriend back home.
 The teams were very evenly matched. Each game was a challenge for both teams. Even after eight games we were ready for more. A few of us have noticed the Al and Tom like to set it up to the other quite a bit. It was rather comical when Tom would hit to Al, Al would set to Greg, and Greg would hit it over the net. Actually it did not become comical until the fourth or fifth time it happened within five minutes.
 The New York crew came by we challenged us to a game of 21 points. We agreed but noted that they would be playing for the court. We were awesome. The final score was 21 - 9, our favor. We gave them the court even though we won. One of their crew members said something about this being a win/win situation. We were glad he felt that way. We quit because our hands and arms were pretty sore after all the games we had played.

 Back at camp we got the crew together for a Roses and Thorns session. The first was for yesterday. There were not very many thorns. The most common one was the way the tip game ended up being played. They seemed to realize that once the game started getting out of hand not everyone thought it was fun anymore. There were many 'roses' mentioned. They included spar climbing, singing on the trails, the timber demonstration, and group cooperation.
 The roses and thorns for today were interesting. Nathan's thorn was throwing the rock at Ross. His rose was that Ross did not hurt him. The crew's roses included spar climbing, the Dean's Challenge, volleyball, and the cooperation of the crew. Thorns included members of the crew getting out of hand and today's hike. My rose was the fantastic teamwork at the Dean's Challenge. My thorn, of course, was the four scouts getting out of hand. 
 Al has a problem. He cannot come up with any thorns. He thanked the crew for giving him such a dilemma. He seems to be having a very good time.

 Al and I went to advisor's coffee fifteen minutes late. Tonight's discussions included the animals of Philmont. Bears, skunks, and raccoons seemed to be the favorites.
 The astronomy program began shortly after 9:00 p.m. The staff gave an excellent talk on the constellations, planets, and stars. We also saw five satellites, three falling stars, and a pair of refueling airplanes. By this time it was starting to get chilly outside so many the crew went to bed. Too bad. They missed their chance to look through the telescope at Saturn. The telescope was able to get a clear enough view of the planet that we could see the colors of the rings. The problem was that the Earth's rotation caused the ringed planet to keep moving out of the telescope's line of sight. It would take the staff longer to find it back then the time we had to look at it. Oh well! I thought it was great. It was the first time I had seen Saturn 'live'.
 Ten o'clock was bed time. Tomorrow we would concur Bear Canyon.

Ready to move on to the next part?
Then let's go to
Part 5.

1992 Philmont Journal:

Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6
Page 7
Page 8

1992 Philmont gallery:
(under developement)

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