Boy Scout Camp Out
Hall Farm, Midway, Alabama
November 13-15 2009
I had the pleasure of going on the Troop 23 November Camp Out with Jacob to Mr. Matt Hall’s Farm in Midway, Alabama, about 40 miles northwest of Eufaula, Alabama, this past weekend. I was looking forward to spending some relaxing, quality time with Jacob, and I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.
Jacob is working very hard on his rank advancements, and one of the requirements for Second Class (and one for First Class) is to plan the meals for an overnight camp out, volunteer to buy the food for a patrol, supervise the setup of the cooking area and cook breakfast, lunch and/or dinner for the patrol. Jacob graciously volunteered during the Monday meeting, and we stuck around afterward to get the grocery list for the trip. On the Thursday night before we left, we went to Sam’s Club and Walmart to purchase the breakfast (eggs, cheese and sausage on English muffins and cereal), lunch (ham and turkey sandwiches, chips, condiments and snacks) and dinner (green beans for 30 people) foods. Jacob learned a lot about budgeting and looking for deals! We packed the cold stuff in a cooler and brought the rest in a large box for the patrol. It was a nice way to get involved and Jacob did a great job staying within the budget.
FRIDAY THE 13th
Our trip started on Friday the 13th. We were asked to be at Killearn United Methodist Church at 4:30pm so that we could pack and leave by 5:00pm. As most things do when dealing with 18 scouts of varying ages, it took a little longer than expected to get gear, fishing poles, food and scouts loaded and ready to go. The Pack 23 Webelos were invited on this overnighter as their first experience with the Troop 23 Boy Scouts. Needless to say, there were a lot of scouts on the bus, and with the Cub adults riding, there wasn’t enough room for all of the adults. I rode with Mr. Hatchett on Friday, and it turned out to be a nice ride. We left KUMC at 6:15pm looking forward to the impending 4 hour trip to the farm. We arrived at the Hall Farm around 9:20pm central time, staring into a pitch black field where we would set up camp for the weekend. It was exciting, not knowing what the landscape looked like, or where the lake was… All I could hope for was that no one fell in! CD and Matt Hall warned us about cow patties and fire ants, not exactly a great combination while trying to set up tents in the dark! We set up camp in the light of the propane lanterns, unpacked our bags and called it a night. Jacob camped with Marcus Hatchett, and I had a tent to myself. I was told that it was going to be cold. Cold was understatement!
After a night of shivering, I was up at 5:00am on Saturday. Surprisingly, I wasn’t the first one up. The sun was coming up already and you could see the lake and the landscape, and it was beautiful! Tim Hall had already caught two bass by the time I got dressed and rigged our poles. I woke Jacob up and we walked the 30 yards to the lakeside, a lot closer than I had realized the night before! Jacob had his new black and red Boo-Yah spinnerbait, and I opted for the black and orange mini rapala. It was later discovered that neither of these worked worth a damn! Tim caught a total of 8 bass Saturday morning, all on a small rooster tail. Of course, when the other rooster tails went on poles, nothing was biting. Tim obviously had the scoop on the timing and tactics.
CD decided to blow the whistle for the wake-up call around 7:00am. Most everyone was up already, but those that weren’t were quickly dressed and standing under the cooking tents. The boys broke into 3 patrols and began setting up the propane stoves on the “patrol boxes,” the work stations for each patrol. Coolers were unloaded and the boys started cooking. Jacob and Danny, the senior patrol leader for the camp out, went to work cooking sausage and eggs, cutting the muffins apart, getting the cheese ready and making the breakfast sandwiches for the 6 scouts in their patrol. Jacob was involved in all the steps, and it was really nice to see him working hard to earn his rank. I was really proud that Jacob didn’t complain or get frustrated, and he set a great example for the younger Cub Scouts in the patrol. Aside from my new, broken cooler (which no one could recall how it got broken), everything went as smooth as it could’ve. CD cooked for the adults, and in the cold weather, bacon, eggs and toast did the trick! We all ate around the fire and resumed fishing. Because Jacob did the cooking, he did not have to clean up afterwards, as is the rule of Scout camping. I think he finally realized why I love coming home and cooking! While the others cleaned up, we took a walk around the lake and tried our luck at different spots. Some of the scouts caught bass and blue gill, but up until about 11:00am, Jacob and I still had our skirts. I decided to switch to my skinny green worm with a weighted jighead. The bite had stopped for about 30 minutes, but I still fished, and around 11:10am I caught my first bass of the trip. He was a little guy, but he looks huge in my story! Jacob was a little disappointed that he hadn’t caught anything yet, and he moved across the lake to try another spot. I walked over to him and he was reeling in his purple worm, looking distraught. Right as the worm came up to the top of the bank, Jacob got his first bite and caught his first bass! He was stoked, so I left him to keep fishing. Most importantly, no skirts!
CD, Lyle and Mike had been setting up the “Amazing Race” challenges for the boys to compete in after lunch. I was double checking that the necessary equipment was at each station, so I missed Jacob’s “Biggest Bass of the Weekend.” The Cub Scouts were impressed and it was nice to see Jacob so happy. It was a 2.5 pounder, a nice size for the little lake we were at. CD called the boys in to make sandwiches and eat lunch, and explained the competition while we were all gathered. The boys were separated into 2 teams for the competition. There were 13 tasks that had to be completed, each with their own set of rules. Some of the tasks included buddy-walking, building a ladder from wood and rope, and making a stretcher to carry a “wounded” scout back to camp. The boys practiced knot-tying, orienteering, fire starting, flag pole building and most of all, teamwork. Tim and Danny did great jobs keeping their teams together and making sure everyone was involved. It was a great challenge, made even better by the fact that all the scouts had a great time. Good leadership made the activities possible, and CD did a great job planning and executing. It was a blast!
The competition ended as the sun went down. It was time for our dinner! CD fried turkeys and each patrol brought a side dish. We had Turkey, stuffing, corn and green beans for dinner. CD made a dutch oven dump cake for dessert. It was delicious, especially since the temperature was rapidly falling into the 40’s. We sat around a campfire for a long time. There was a meteor shower on Saturday, and a few of us did get to see some shooting stars. All of the stars were out, and it was a nice ending to a great day… even though it was only 7:30 pm! With all of the activity and early rising, bedtime came early for everyone, as soon as the Georgia-Auburn game ended!
“I will not be cold,” I told myself. Jacob decided he was sleeping in pants, socks and jacket. I chose to go with the wool socks, basketball shorts, 2 long sleeved shirts, a skully, and ear covers, with my jacket pulled over my head. We beat the cold Saturday night.
Much like Saturday, we woke early and went fishing. It was colder than the morning before and since we had to pack up, I watched Jacob fish more than I fished. I began packing us up and taking off rain-flies to dry. It was very wet for being so cold. The scouts had cereal and the adults had another delicious hot breakfast cooked by CD. The coffee might have been the best part. Matt Hall is preacher at Canopy Roads Baptist Church, so we were able to have an amazing church service around the campfire. Mr. Hall’s message was simple: Be remembered. He tried to instill in the scouts the desire to complete tasks, to never quit, and to try to do the best you can, always. Great men are remembered, and scouting lays the foundation for great men.
After our service, fishing resumed. Some scouts caught blue gill, but not much activity otherwise. There was a lot to do to get ready to go, and all the scouts pitched in to get everything dried, taken down and repacked. A few hours and we were ready to hit the road. A few more pictures and it was time to go. We left around 11:15am Alabama time. I rode the bus this time, which was cool. I got to spend a little more time with Jacob and his buddies on the bus. We ate lunch in Eufaula and then poked home. We finally made it to Tallahassee around 5:30pm. It was a long day in the bus.
I was grateful to return to my wonderful wife and son, who were waiting for us out in the yard (with dinner cooked!). Jacob and I missed our family very much. We do a lot together, and it’s not very often that we’re away from each other (at least Tammy and me). It was well worth it though. I am thankful that I got to spend time with Jacob away from all the crap he puts up with everyday. We got to hang out, and it seems like these times are happening less and less as we all grow up. I was reminded how lucky I am to have such a great family. I am proud of Jacob for sticking with scouts and for wanting to advance. He showed leadership and determination this weekend. He was my best friend again, hanging out and joking around. I wish life could be a camp out every day. But as a wise and wonderful woman often tells me, if life was easy every day, we wouldn’t appreciate the good times as much as we do.
(Written by Thomas aka TD)