Troop 868 in Action


CAMP SAWMILL  (H. Roe Bartle S.R.)

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On Monday morning we ate a quick continental breakfast at the church, packed our stuff back onto the bus, and head out early to continue our journey on toward Camp Sawmill.  We arrive in camp mid-afternoon to find the camp road jammed with vehicles.  Evidently most campers are transported to camp by their parents rather than by troop car-pooling and all vehicles are permitted into the campsites for both check-in and check-out.  This was different than at most camps where gear must be unloaded at the parking lot or only one vehicle per unit is permitted into the campsite.  In any case, Mr. Canchola did a fine job of maneuvering our full-sized bus through the maze of other vehicles and around the narrow camp access road.

To pack in the maximum number of campers, campsites are generally shared by multiple troops until a single unit can fill the site.  We were assigned to share the largest campsite at Camp Sawmill, Hawthorn, with Troop 315 from Olathe, Kansas.  Troop 315 had brought a contingent of 80+ scouts and around 20 adults.  Together with our total headcount of 20, the two units completely filled the campsite.

From the moment we arrived, Troop 315 was great!  They came to Camp Sawmill every year and knew exactly where everything was, how everything worked, and were more than willing to share their knowledge and lots of useful tips to make our visit enjoyable.  Despite the fact that they outnumbered us by 4 to 1 and could easily have dominated us, they were gracious, courteous, and went out of their way to make us feel welcome and equal partners.  The two Senior Patrol Leaders met and made a schedule to divide responsibilities for flag ceremonies, officer of the day duties, and cleaning the latrine.  We were so relieved to be sharing a site with a group of scouts who so obviously embraced the principals of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law.

Check-in at Camp Sawmill was very informal compared to other camps we've attended.  Every unit had an assigned commissioner to act as an official host.  The commissioners answered questions and helped resolve any problems or issues, should any occur.  Our commissioner was a fellow by the name of Rick Huber.  Mr. Huber met us shortly after we arrived and was a terrific asset to us throughout our stay.  He was always readily available and a real pleasure to have around.  Being first-time visitors, we appreciated him so much!

Unlike most Boy Scout camps that run 7 days (usually Sunday through the following Saturday), all the camps on the H. Roe Bartle Reservation are 10-day camps.  Thus, to keep things straight, they refer to the days as "day 1, day 2, day 3," and so forth.  Check-in day was day 1.  Day 2 was the first full day in camp and the day that merit badge classes began.  During our 8 full days and 2 partial days at camp, we had overnight rain 7 nights.  Fortunately, we only had rain during the morning on one day and late afternoon or evening showers 3 other days.  The afternoon and evening showers were all relatively short-lived and didn't have much of an impact on the planned program.  The morning rain occurred on day 2 and really messed things up in terms of getting the merit badge classes off to smooth starts.  The staff didn't seem very well-prepared to deal with inclement weather.

Troop 868 gathered in a circle around Chaplain Aide Preston as he led in prayer before breakfast.  Prayer before meals is standard operating procedure.  In restaurants, the group would still gather for pray or pray in smaller groups at their tables. Chase, Gabe, Dylan, and Nicholas chow down on chocolate doughnuts.  The look on a couple of the faces tells us that some of the boys stayed up too late the night before talking and/or playing board games.
Upon arrival at our campsite, the boys formed a "bucket brigade" to pass personal gear from the bus to a central staging point.. This is the way our part of the campsite looked after gear had been stowed into individual tents.
Troop 315 had a nice wooden sign to post at the road in front of their side of the Hawthorn campsite. We hung our vinyl banner and posted our troop flag on our side.
Tuesday morning (day 2 and the first full day in camp) started off with steady rain.  The camp staff didn't seem very well prepared to deal with the rain and many merit badge classes were cut short or outright dismissed.  Most of the ecology-related merit badges met inside or on the porches of the Nature Lodge and fared better than some other program areas.
Gave and D.J. in the Nature Lodge.  In some program areas the facilities were very, very nice; in others, they were lacking. Thomas, Nicholas, and scouts from other troops sat on the floor of the Nature Lodge for merit badge class the first day.
SPL Adam met daily with the camp Program Director and SPLs from the other troops in camp. The Osage River Trading Company (aka the camp trading post) was the base of operations for many administrative matters.

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