Sunday, April 26, 2009

Scouting Out Rockefeller State Park

Scouting Out Rockefeller State Park

Scouts playing in field overlooking Hudson,
with the imposing palisades on opposite shore
Foundations of former Rockefeller home overlooking Hudson
This weekend the Four Rivers District held our annual camp-o-ree at Rockefeller State Park along the Hudson River in Mt. Pleasant, between Sleepy Hollow and Ossining.

The Four Rivers District includes Scout troops from Yonkers, Crestwood, Bronxville, Eastchester, and Mt. Vernon. A camp-o-ree is something like a jamboree but much smaller. The Scouts test some of their skills, play games, and share fellowship. Sunday worship is included at least for the Catholic boys when their chaplain is along (c'est moi).

In this instance, only 6 troops participated. Some troops in the district, including my own Mt. Vernon Troop 40, had other commitments. Those present were Bronxville 1, Bronxville 2, Crestwood 1, Yonkers 4, Yonkers 5, and Yonkers 47.

I didn't camp myself but arrived on site at 9 a.m. Saturday and left at 10:30 p.m. It was a long day, starting for me at 5:30 a.m. and getting to be at 11:45 p.m., filled with activity under a very unusual (for late April) blazing sun and temperatures in the mid-80s.

The 6 activity stations, manned by adult Scouters, included map reading and orienteering, sled making (lashing and teamwork skills--that's lashing as in tying poles together with rope, not whipping each other!), first aid, Kim's game (recognition and memory, and some teamwork), caber toss (get out your dictionary), and sling shot and catapult use (the catapult was very, very small). Permission from the Park to have archery came thru too late to be implemented.

Caber toss
First aid: splinting

Scouts pulling 3-pole "sled" they've just lashed together

Kim's game: quick view of objects on table, then
remembering them and listing them in as much detail as possible.
Scout aiming sling shot at target some 50 feet away.
Note tiny catapult at lower right.

There was plenty of regular use of the Park by joggers, dog walkers, horsemen, and picnickers. It was a perfect day for all that, provided one took precautions against the afternoon sun. I ought to have applied my sunscreen sooner than I did, and a broad-brimmed hat rather than a (Scouting) baseball cap would have been more useful. So my forearms and part of my neck today are lobsterish pink (but at least not painful).

We celebrated Mass at 4:30 in a reasonably shady spot out of the wind--which manages to come up strongly in the afternoons at this spot. There were about 40 Scouts and Scouters present--enuf that the Scouter charged with counting the number of would-be communicants miscounted, and I had to break hosts in half for the last 15 communions. We also had one Scout faint after the Our Father. Had it been a little earlier, perhaps we could have blamed the homily; instead, we blamed dehydration. He was fine by the time Mass was over and was running about playing again.

Of course the Scouts also got to use cooking skills for supper, if not also for lunch, depending on the arrangements of the individual troops.

Supper prep at Crestwood 1
Supper prep at Yonkers 47


Making a dessert was also a competition, with various pies and cobblers produced. Some of them were highly rated by the judges in the evening, and all disappeared quite quickly when the judges had finished their tasting. I was invited to be a judge but declined, leaving that to more skillful souls, and less sugar-conscious, than I.

Judge (John Hradsky) digging into dessert.

After dessert we waiting a short while for darkness to fall, and then came the campfire. Each troop presented one or two skits and one or two songs, and the results of the day's competitions (desserts and overall performance) were announced. Fortunately, the mosquitoes aren't out in force yet. The campfire concluded, as traditional, with Scout Vespers and Taps.

Then the scoutmasters and assistant scoutmasters assembled at one site for what's called a "cracker barrel," which includes snacks (cheese and crackers, tea, some leftovers from supper), and they critiqued the day and discussed some other Scout business, including in this case last fall's trek-o-ree and next fall's.

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