Archive for the ‘Normal’ Category

R burr C, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Rain and Mud.

Last weekend, 4 adults and 4 scouts decided to brave the great outdoors during the cold. We knew that rain was in the forecast with snow predicted for Sunday morning but the start from the church had no indication of that weather. In fact, not until we got near R-C was there a hint of rain.

We made it in darkness to our site after I overshot it and the scouts picked their spots with the knowledge that they didn’t want to be anywhere that the rain might gather. Tents were put up with minor sprinkles at worst and we were able to get to our tents relatively dry. Once in the tents, though, the weather had enough of waiting and decided to dump on us all night. A good bit of the weather was small hail/grauple in addition to rain which made for a nice drumming on the tents.

Saturday morning had a bit of a respite so that the pop-up tents could be put up. One picnic table was able to be covered so that it could be used in the rain. Our scouts learned how to play a fun variant of liar’s dice as well as playing Uno and some Chess. This reporter noticed that the scouts didn’t seem to like calling each other liar and instead said “cap” when they thought someone was bluffing. Chants of cap, cap, cap could be heard now and again from the picnic table.

Hiding their dice from one another. Check out the mud puddles near the fire ring.

That was the good news. The bad news was that the constant rain/grauple overnight seemed to saturate the ground and it didn’t take much walking to have mud puddles everywhere. The ground was pretty sticky and we were lucky someone didn’t lose a boot!

In the afternoon the weather let up enough for us to hike to the box canyon area of Christopher Creek.

The pools of the box canyon area from above.

We also traveled to the springs of the creek and passed the big Sycamore that in warmer months marks crawdad fishing country.

When the moon hits your knees and you mispronounce trees, Sycamore!

Saturday evening, discussions of potential snow were had before bed. Sunday morning, we woke to some scouts wishes being granted.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t cold enough overnight to freeze the mud puddles, so packing up was a bit tough and many trash bags were used to avoid tracking mud into vehicles.

The snow came down heavy as we gathered to wrap up the outing. A nice ending to a tough but fun outing.

The Springs are Still Great, We’re not Bluffing

Ten winter backpackers extraordinaire met in the still dark of the church parking lot Saturday morning for their latest most excellent adventure. One scout was returning to the scene of his very first scout outing a number of years ago, and for another, it WAS is very first outing, choosing to celebrate it with his T648 comrades on his birthday weekend. For one adult, it was probably his sixth time camping at the spring – and the next bad trip to Bluff Springs will be his first. As usual, some of the comments were keepers – heard as we gathered in the trailhead parking lot – ‘Who’s going to carry the map and be our guesstimator?’ Heard along the trail – ‘Why does my back hurt so much?’ ‘I guess that’s why they don’t call it frontpacking!’ As we slowly wound our way up the switchbacks, through balancing rocks and hoo doos galore, there were the obligatory magnificent views of Weavers Needle in the brilliant morning light. Many of the drainage canyons, hillsides and ridgelines were devastated by the convergence of three major fires in the Superstitions in less than four years, so there was some dread that we would find our beautiful Bluff Springs burnt to a crisp. After the first 6-1/2 hour hike to the springs from the Peralta trailhead in troop history, we rounded the corner and there to our unspeakable joy was the largest sugar sumac tree in North America still standing proudly, singed a bit, surrounded by charred remains of desert plants, but very likely to continue to thrive. Troop 648 is ecstatic, and once again set up under her sheltering branches. Except for one adult leader who decided the flat ground amidst the charred remains looked most appealing. He called it the ‘post-apocalyptic section.’
After a marvelous night’s rest, the hikers awoke to a beautiful, moonlit 39 degrees Sunday morning, serenaded by Showtimes regalia coming from Mr. Benyi’s general direction all during tent tear down. Things went well enough that the SPL was not entitled to implement the troop tradition of patrol leaders taking down tents with scouts still in them to get things moving. After a rousing ‘Thorns and Roses,’ we exited Bluff Springs pretty much on schedule, and more than doubled the pace coming out in a classic ‘horse to the barn’ syndrome. All in all, another trip that can’t be beat has been added to the T648 record books.

Masked up and ready to go!
Social distancing in the great outdoors
Reconnoitering under the hoo doos!
The tallest sugar sumac in North America still stands!
The ‘post-apocalyptic section’ shaded by the sumac
A rousing round of cut-throat Uno
Mr. Brotherton receives the ‘first tent down’ award Sunday AM


ATTENTION ALL SCOUTS – Young and Old. Stephan has created a great learning tool to teach and practice some of the common knots used in Scouting. This will be available anytime on the website and will be a great source to learn, relearn, and help teach knots. Good luck and Have fun!

Mr Blair

Troop 648 Scoutmaster

T648 Pandemic Busters

It had been six long months of wonderful Zoom meetings, but with nary a scout outing until this past weekend.   The moratorium is ended!  The troop improvised a brilliant Covid-buster program comprised of a family scout outing to Willow Springs Lake.  Twenty two hardy individuals, including eleven scouts drove up and cooked as family units, while executing an excellent socially-distanced event high in the pines on the edge of the magnificent Mogollon Rim.  At least one scout was on his first outing, and when asked how his night had been, informed that he ‘slept like heck.’ Further investigation determined that his brother had left his tent ‘accidentally unzipped, and a bunch of bugs including a wolf spider came to visit, leading to a middle of the night tent abandonment to sleep with his brother.  A mom spent her first night ever in a tent, and while hearing every single noise, and sleeping a total of two or three hours, had an absolutely wonderful weekend.  A dad invested in a tent built especially for the bed of his pickup truck, and had a ball building a cozy cave high off the ground.  Which served him well, as a night visitor surprised another of our daring adult leaders, who had decided to sleep out on the ground under the stars.  Hearing sniffing at his feet at four in the morning, he cautiously turned on his headlamp, and in the surrounding blackness saw a bright white stripe floating next to his sleeping bag.  Moving veeerrry slowly he extricated himself safely out of his bag, and into his car, as the curious skunk wandered off to find more interesting smells.  The next night marked the return of Pepe Le Pew, as a trash bag containing food scraps was left carelessly behind a scout’s tent, and was taken to task by the industrious skunk.  The highlight of the day at the lake had to revolve around crawdads. Informed that they were an invasive species, the great hunt to irradicate them from Willow Springs Lake began.  Scores of crayfish were cornered, captured, and engaged in crawdad races, crawdad wrestling matches, crawdad wars, and finally ended up in a massive crawdad mash down beyond the dam.  Back at camp, after some late afternoon advancement, there was a rousing game of hammock football, followed by hide and go seek in the pitch dark, capped off by a loud Uno game and a traditional time of laughter and s’mores around the campfire.  This reporter’s favorite moment was the following exchange between two young men with sticks thrust over the fire:  ‘Where’s the chocolate bar?’ ‘It’s hidden in this ginormous marshmallow’ ‘Wow!. We are just non-stop genius!’  But, as usual, there were a zillion others – from the last boy licking the parchment paper of the dutch oven coffee cake, to the view from my ‘kitchen counter’ set right on the edge of the rim, to the sight of Mr. Benyi’s Prius gliding safely over rocks a third the size of his entire car, to smelling the smells of multiple creative dinners in flight, to again seeing a bunch of boys in the wilderness, sans screens, and having the time of their lives just being creative and enjoying each other.  How soon ‘til we go again next month?

I slept like heck!
I slept like heck!
Crawdad WWE
Off to the Crawdad Mash
Choosing up sides for hammock football
King of all we survey!

Parent & Committee Meeting


We are going to be holding our quarterly Parent and Committee Meeting for Troop 648 this Wednesday, September 2, at 7pm. (Please note that the meeting will be on Wednesday so that we don’t conflict with the Troop Meeting on Tuesday.) Dr. Blair will send out the Zoom login information.

We have a big agenda for the meeting including presentation of the 2020-2021 calendar, review of our new Charter Organization, and looking ahead to Summer Camp 2021, among other things.

We will hope to see you there!

Thanks, Jacob R Benyi

Colby’s Upcoming Eagle Project

Dear troop 648,
 Hello again everyone.  I hope all is well and that you have all been able to stay safe and healthy! I wanted to inform you all of my Eagle Project in which I have been working hard. While I know I’m ‘the new guy’ and that I haven’t had the chance to spend much individual time with each of you, I would like to solicit your help and would love to see you all there; with hope that I can repay it and pay it forward in the future to another Scout.

 We will, due to the heat factor, be working earlier in the day. We will be working along side the maintenance staff as we lay rocks along side a trail.  The project will involve amouring the sides of the ET bed with 4-6″ rip-rap rocks. This project must be done by hand because the rocks need to be placed on the sloped side. We will be working at the Four Peaks Trailhead, located just past the entry station on the right (there is signage). This project involves no trail work.  
We will have water onsite, but please feel free to bring plenty of cold water and Gatorade to keep yourselves hydrated. I highly recommend good leather or heavy-duty gloves for this work.  Please also plan to wear hats, not plan to wear open-toed shoes, and use lots of sunscreen.   I’ll have some with me, too, to share if you forget.
Specific Information:
  Place- Four peaks trailhead  Time- 6 AM  Date- Wednesday 08/5/20  Possibly Thursday 08/6/20; as needed and if we don’t finish on Wednesday.What to wear-  Closed toed shoes  Shorts and shirts  GlassesWhat to bring-  Sunscreen  Gloves (leather)  Hats  Masks (for COVID)
We will have a cooler with ice, waters, and Gatorade. We will also be supplying snacks.
Thank you for your time, and I can’t wait to see you all there!
-Colby Heuser

Follow up on Sean Hart’s Eagle Project

Another thanks and congrats to Sean And all the brave Scouters who came out and assisted in the project. The Blessed Sacrament Church also wanted to extend its gratitude to all those involved:

Summer Camp

Good evening,

I am greatly disappointed that for now the second time this month, I must pass on news of the cancellation of one of our marquee summer programs this year. I have learned on this day that the West LA County Council, which operates Camp Emerald Bay, has announced that they will not be able to open for the remainder of the 2020 summer camp season.

Ultimately governed by the State of California, the WLACC has been unable to come to terms with the State on operating practices that would allow the camp to open, given the ongoing pandemic.

This news is fairly new and so I do not yet have all of the details. As was the case with the cancellation of Philmont, I will work through the process with the camp of obtaining refunds for camp. I do not know the time frame on this just yet, but will keep everyone apprised as I work through this over the next several days.

Without question, this has been a difficult and virtually unprecedented year in so many different ways. In spite of this set back, we will continue on and work our way back to normalcy in some manner. Though it will ultimately be the choice of our Scouts, I imagine we will likely plan to head back to Emerald Bay in 2021.

I will follow up soon with some more specific information when I have it, but did want to get this initial update out to everyone.


Jacob R Benyi, Committee Chair

Sean Hart’s Upcoming Eagle Project – 6/13/20

GREAT NEWS EVERYONE!!!!!! Baring a meteor crashing to the earth and causing the next worldwide crisis, Sean’s Eagle Project will not be postponed again (insert applause here). Sean is very excited and will continue to take the amount of precautions and social distancing guidelines to complete his outdoor project. The information is on Scoutbook. Please sign up as soon as possible, so Sean can manage how many volunteers he’ll have. If you don’t have access to Scoutbook, please e-mail directly so I can let Sean know that you are planning to attend. Here is some additional information that Sean wanted to pass to the volunteers:

The project is from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. MST. Scouts are required to bring: – Yard gloves- Work goggles- Protective mask- Work shoes- Jeans- Sun protection (Including hats)- Individual water bottles. Scouts are encouraged to bring:(please RSVP to bring any of these materials by emailing [email protected] your name, rank, and tool interested in bringing.)- Scissor hedge trimmers- Open scoop shovels- Garden rakes- Leaf rakes. Scouts are not required to bring any of the 4 tools above, they are just requested items.

Mr Blair

Troop 648 Scoutmaster

[email protected]

June Parent & Committee Meetings


I hope everyone is weathering our strange times as best as can be. Many of our scouts have participated in some of our “virtual” troop meetings over the past two months. Our meetings will continue in that format at least through June, resulting from guidance from Grand Canyon Council.

The virtual Troop Meetings will continue on their usual cadence, but we are going to make some adjustments to the adult meetings for this month:

We will not hold the usual Troop Committee Meeting on June 2, as several of the leaders will need to be in the regular Troop Meeting.

Instead, I am going to hold a small group Budget Committee meeting on Wednesday, June 3, at 6pm. For the group that volunteered to participate in that discussion, Dr. Blair will provide a Zoom link. If anyone would specifically like to join this discussion, please let me know.

Then, I am going to hold the Full Troop Parent and Committee Meeting on Monday, June 8, at 6pm. Dr. Blair will provide a Zoom link to all families. All parents and leaders are welcome. This meeting will include discussions about Summer Camp, Recharter, Budget/Dues Recommendations, and transitioning back to more normal operations for the Troop.

The Troop Activity Committee Meeting (TAC) scheduled for June 9 will be cancelled; that material will shift to the Committee Meeting the previous day.

Lastly, we are still planning to have the Summer Court of Honor on Tuesday, June 23. We are still working on specific details for this one. For anyone at home working on Merit Badges or other advancements, please get those wrapped up by June 16 so that we can present those items at the Court of Honor.

June Summary:

6/2 – PLC Meeting and Troop Meeting will occur at usual times; Parent/Committee Meeting Cancelled

6/3 – Budget Committee Meeting at 6pm

6/8 – Parent/Committee Meeting at 6pm

6/9 – TAC Meeting Cancelled; Troop Meeting will occur at usual time

6/16 – Troop Meeting will occur at usual time; Deadline to complete advancements and Merit Badges

6/23 – Summer Court of Honor

6/30 – Troop Meeting will occur at usual time.


Jacob R Benyi, Committee Chair