Fifteen Scouts from St. Helena Troop One and three adult advisors attended the final summer session at Camp Marin-Sierra from July 28 to Aug. 3.
Set in the boreal forests of El Dorado County, on Highway 20, near Cisco Grove, Marin-Sierra offered a fine mix of nature, work and play, affording these local scouts the opportunity to earn 70 merit badges in 18 subjects, such as canoeing, archery, climbing, first aid, life-saving, swimming and wilderness survival.
The latter even found Troop leader Jim Sweeney enduring the requirements: an all-nighter spent in the high Sierras without the comforts of a sleeping bag. All survived and most greeted the dawn bleary-eyed but brave beyond a doubt.
Fun activities included the traditional “Polar Bear” pre-dawn plunge into Chub Lake and a greased watermelon swimming race, won by Star Scout Cleo McClain, the challenge being to swim the length of Chub Lake while carrying a Crisco-smeared watermelon.
The prize? A green and black painted rock, and bragging rights.
Scouts attending Marin-Sierra were Andrew Hileman, Britton Dodge, Cleo McClain, Emrys Davies, Nelson Davies, George Conwell, Giovan Flamson, Jackson Neal, Joaquin Villegas, Luke Banners, Nikos Kelperis, Xander Kelperis, Tristan Rose-Stockwell and Weston Staid. Adult leaders were Assistant Scoutmaster Jim Sweeney and Troop parents Dagan Rose-Stockwell and Isabelle Rubalcava Flamson.
The finer sensibilities of Polar Bear may seem hard to grasp by the uninitiated, but 2nd Class Scout Britton Dodge describes it well: “It was 6 a.m. and morale was low as we marched towards Chub Lake. It was cold and we all stepped onto the dock, and jumped. Ironically, the water was warmer than outside. But as we got out it felt like a Russian winter. Even though it was a 15-minute walk, it felt like an eternity.”
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Scouts trek Philmont Scout Ranch
Troop One Boy Scouts also tackled a 12-day high adventure trek in the mountains of New Mexico, at Philmont Scout Ranch, near Cimarron, from July 12-24.
Philmont Scout Ranch is the pre-eminent high adventure base for Boy Scouts of America, and was the highlight for these eight St. Helena Scouts and their three adult advisors.
Trekking to several backcountry camps, each differently themed, presented them with a host different hands-on activities. Among these, they tried their hand at laying rails, where a railroad once used to be, horseback riding, shotgun shooting, tomahawk throwing, and climbing a “spar pole,” a de-limbed tree, by the use of tree-climbing gear. Now these boys will forever appreciate the job being performed by the tree trimmers seen throughout Napa County these days.
The Philmont excursion culminated with a pre-dawn climb to the frozen top of Mt. Baldy (12,444 feet) where they witnessed the sunrise while bundled in balaclavas and down outerwear, as though it were mid-winter and not mid-July.
The Troop One Scout adventurers were Rome Bissember, George Conwell, William Dappen, Emrys Davies, Cleo McClain, Nicholas Novak and Weston Staid. Also along for the trek was guest Scout C.J. Meissenhalter, from Troop 83, Napa. Adult advisors were trip leader Pat Griffith, Assistant Scoutmaster Carl Ericson, and Troop parent Dr. Mike Novak.
Mt. Baldy was well worth the effort, in the words of Second Class Scout Emrys Davies: “It was 4:30 a.m. and we were only a couple hundred feet away from the peak of Mt. Baldy, the most difficult two hundred feet of our climb. When we reached the peak, just before the sun rose, we all felt like we had reached the final goal of our journey. Looking back to the start of our trek, we had accomplished so much, having gone through fun and games, hard work, long days of hiking, thunder and lightning. And now we had reached our final goal.”