Troop 868 in Action

STAR MILLS & CANOEING

(Friday~Sunday, August 9~11, 2013)
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The troop had originally a weekend of primitive camping on some undeveloped property owned by Scoutmaster Meek, but the Patrol Leaders' Council decided instead to camp on some property owned by Boy Scout Troop 244 near White Mills, Kentucky.  Like White Mills, the camp, known as Star Mills, is located on bank of the Nolin River and is the site of a former grist mill.  Troop 244 acquired the camp through a donation from a generous supporter and the troop is more than happy to have other units come and camp there.  One of the best features of the camp is a small beach area that makes for an ideal place to launch canoes onto the Nolin River.  Though the distance by road from Star Mills to White Mills is only about 5 miles, the water route is nearly 12 miles and makes for a great 5~6 hour canoe trip.  Even in August when water levels are at their lowest, the route was fully navigable.  There were, however, multiple shallow sections and quite a few small rapids which just added to the fun.  The full route was well-shaded under the forest canopy.

We launched our canoes about 9 AM on Saturday morning.  We had several younger scouts who had never before been in a canoe, but they all managed to get the hang of it within the first 30 minutes or so.  The Nolin River is not deep, so drowning was not a major concern.  The rapids gave nearly every team of paddlers a problem at some point and over half the group, including most of the scoutmasters, ended up capsizing at least once.  But the water was warm and only waist deep, so everyone just laughed at their mishaps, dumped the water from their canoes, climbed back in, and resumed paddling. 

The most serious mishap was two of our scoutmasters who managed to strike a jagged rock with enough force to punch a hole in the bottom of their boat.  It was pretty funny coming around a bend in the river to find two scoutmasters standing in the river holding a fully submerged canoe that had a hole in the bottom about the size of one's thumb.  They found a rock and managed to bend the metal back into place enough that they could patch the hold with mud and get it to float without any additional weight.  Thus, we ended up with 3 paddlers in two canoes and one canoe in tow for the last 7 miles of the trip, but we managed to get the boat to the take-out point.  We later got the boat repaired as good as new and the owner wasn't upset.  This will become another of those stories that will get told over and over for many years.

Another major accomplishment of the weekend was helping our younger scouts learn to use a compass.  This was done by a couple of our older scouts who did a really nice job of setting up a practice course then teaching and supervising the younger boys.  More experienced boys teaching less experienced boys is Scouting at its best.

 

Assistant Scoutmaster Jeff Hagerman seems proud of himself for washing the breakfast dishes in the Adult Patrol.  Good Job, Jeff. Scouts Dawson and Henry help port one of the canoes from our campsite to the beach.
Andrew and Gavin were among the first to launch. Other boats were soon in the water, as well.
SPL Preston partnered with Assistant Scoutmaster James Poyner in this canoe. This doesn't seem quite right ... a canoe on its side partially submerged usually indicates somebody leaned over a bit too far.
Assisted by their fellow scouts in other canoes, the boys managed to get the flipped canoe emptied out by drawing it over another boat. Then then turned it right side up and slid it back into the water just like they teach the boys to do in a Canoeing Merit Badge class..
Once they got their canoe back on the water, these guys promptly managed to get it hung up in a fallen tree.  Gee Whiz, guys!!! Preston and Mr. Poyner had some difficulty keeping their canoe afloat, as well.  (Or, maybe they just wanted to go swimming?)
Things weren't working out much better for Thomas and Dawson. Mr. Poyner and Preston managed to get back in their boat but seem to have misplaced their paddles.
Upon making it safely back to camp, Cobra patrol members Matthew and Noah set about cooking dinner.  Falcon Patrol Leader Gavin visits. Andrew shows a worm snake that he found to Ronnie, Preston, and Matthew.
The Falcon Patrol was having an issue with getting their dishes and other cookware properly cleaned, so Assistant Scoutmaster Hagerman conducted a grill cleaning class.  Left to right are Preston, Micah, Dawson, and Gavin. Later on Saturday afternoon, two of the older scouts set up a compass course.  Here we have Noah checking the bearings as Kenneth works his way through the course.