An Awesome Troop Family of Campers

As the brilliant orange full moon rose over the surrounding hills, our troop family gathered Friday night in McDowell Mountain Regional Park for our annual Family Camp.  It was not a ‘bad moon on a’ rise’ as Creedence Clearwater used to sing, but a bright beacon beneath which late arrivers could set up in our youth group campsite weekend home.  After tent setup, as the chill overcame the evening, scouts coaxed and then endlessly prodded a small crackling fire for us to converse around until it was time to douse it dead out and head to bed.

After arising to a call of coyotes at 4:45, it was a balmy 50 degrees and beautiful at sunrise. Before breakfast the scouts hit the trail to the top of Eagle Mountain next to our site. After beautiful breakfast pockets built by some of the scouts (they were supposed to be burritos, but filled to overflowing, could only be slightly folded over into pockets), and other delectable creations, the day’s events began.  Advancement ensued as younger scouts practiced flag raising, folding and marching next to the parabolic shaped flag pole provided by our hosts, and other scouts did first aid.  The highlight of the day (at least for some) was a six-mile nature hike beginning along the North Trail.  One of the scouts identified 10 native plants which grow in the surrounding Sonoran Desert, and others alternated between providing a blistering pace or watching for wildlife – ‘watch out for hyenas!’ ‘You mean javelinas??’  An out-of-town cub scout participated fully in the long, brisk hike, and then later took turns leading a rousing football toss game of 500, providing great hope for the next generation of boy scouts in our fair country.

After another run to the top of Eagle Mountain, an incredible taco bar followed for dinner with fabulous desserts (can you say peach cobbler and O’Henry Bars?).  After mounds of dishes, we launched into a dusk filled with slapstick campfire skits – including Invisible Bench, The Smartest Man in the World, I keep my Worms Warm, and the Biggest Loser Game Show.  Then it was more fire – if there only were a fire-poking merit badge, we certainly had some qualifiers, and then lights out on some tired but happy campers.

Awakening at 5:00 to the mournful sound of a hoot owl, the breakfasts produced were the best us elders had seen in years on getaway day – including Dutch oven pizzas, scrambled eggs and sausage, French toast casserole and more delectable smells surrounding our camp tear-down.  A huge ‘Thorns and Roses’ ceremony closed the event – all roses except for one ‘My thorn is the 5,000-mile hike we went on yesterday.’  A brief service led by a scout gave proper thanks for our wonderful weekend.  Many thanks also to all of you who came for the whole event, came for the day, came for dessert and skits, or came 1,000 miles and spent part of their vacation with us – another awesome family event in the annals of Troop 648 history.

Breakfast of Champions – including the pockets division
Embarking on our ‘5,000 mile hike’
First aid practice, fortunately not utilized
A scout mom rides in from her home below the ridge
Old Glory still rises on a bent flagpole
Quarterbacking the boy scouts, cub scout style
The comfort of an ‘invisible bench’ campfire-side
Working on the ‘poke a fire’ merit badge