Sunday, November 20, 2016

Scouting Out Camp Drake

Scouting Out Camp Drake

On the Nov. 11-13 weekend I joined Troop 9, based at our parish, for a camping trip to Prairielands Council's Camp Drake in Vermillion County (east of Champaign County), about 10 miles south of I-74, not far from the village of Oakwood.  Just that little distance southward, it was surprising to me to find actual hills (altho we're certainly not talking about Harriman State Park hills).

It was a cold weekend--the temperature dropped below zero both nites, and we woke up with substantial frost on our tents, our chairs left by the fire pit, and elsewhere.  Here are pix of supper after our arrival on Friday nite and of Scouts and dads around the campfire.

Fortunately, Saturday was perfectly clear, relatively windless, and cool but not cold--ideal camping weather.  We had 20 Scouts with us and 10 adults, at least on Friday nite; the number fluctuated a bit on Saturday with some early departures, late arrivals, and day-trippers. 

In addition, the 2d-year Webelos joined us at an adjacent campsite (and stayed Saturday nite).

The activity for Saturday was shooting at the camp's riflery and shotgun ranges--following extensive safety instruction at both the preceding regular troop meeting and on arrival at the range, and accompanied by very close supervision by our trained instructors.  The boys shot .22 rifles, and some also did shotguns (aiming at paper targets in the former case, and clay pigeons in the latter).  The adults, including your humble blogger, had those opportunities as well as a "shot" (pun intended) at 3 different pistols and 2 military rifles.

Several Scouts made progress on qualifications for the riflery merit badge.

After lunch I went for a 2-hour hike rather than return to the gun ranges.  The camp's main trail follows the Salt Fork of the Vermillion River for a couple of miles before looping back toward the center of the camp.  I walked about 2/3 of the trail.
(My Sony photography is still marred by a scratch on the lens.)

A somewhat rickety wooden suspension bridge gives hikers access to the west bank of the river.  I went halfway over and took some shots up and down the river, and also one of this fellow resting on the bridge rail:
Fall foliage is long past its peak at Camp Drake.  The trail was completely covered in brown, crackly leaves, which made silent walking impossible.  Toward the end of my hike, the noise alerted a couple of deer to my presence, and they bounded off before I could sight them with my camera.
There were 2 deer somewhere out there, about 100 feet from the trail.
So the tree line looked a lot like this:

And this is what all those tens of thousands of acres of Midwest cornfields look like now:

Back in camp, one of the Scouts and his dad did some Dutch oven cooking for the suppers of the adults and one of the 2 Scout patrols.

We also had a lot of hamburgers.

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