Whiting’s Neck, WV and Antietam Creek Campground, MD
June 10-11, 2017
At 730 AM Saturday June 10th 22 Scouts and 4 Scouters headed out from Andrew Chapel for a local caving adventure. The destination was Whiting’s Neck and Indian Head Caves located near Martinsburg, West Virginia. After arriving and meeting up with our guides we had a safety briefing and we got geared up with helmets and headlamps. We then walked back to the cave entrances. We split into two groups given our numbers and agreed to meet up for lunch.
Both groups had an amazing time exploring in the caves and learning something about their formation. For many of the Scouts this was their first time exploring such an underground environment and seeing stalactites and stalagmites up close. We explored areas such as the Pancake Room, the Wedding Cake, the Keyhole, the Milkshake Room, the Figure Eight, the Mud Room, and many others. We determined that not every “key” would fit through the Keyhole and that Scouts and Scouters need to be ready to take different approaches to a given challenge. We all learned something about flexibility in the caves and when crawling was the best option to proceed forward. We learned new skills and practiced teamwork by spotting each other (paws not claws) at particularly challenging spots and by passing back instructions and warnings from our guides. We definitely left the caves with more than we had entered with in terms of knowledge and memories in addition to a wee bit of mud.
After caving we emerged from the 55 degree Fahrenheit caves to the much warmer surface. We got cleaned up a bit and then shuttled to Antietam Creek Campsite near Sharpsburg, Maryland. We quickly had the three patrol campsites established which left the Scouts time to enjoy games of soccer and Frisbee. After a Safe Swim Area had been established about a dozen Scouts and Scouters were able to enjoy some time swimming in the Potomac. We enjoyed great weather and a clear sky to star gaze. The next morning we got up, had a good breakfast, broke camp, and headed back to Andrew Chapel.
In addition to the Scouts and Scouters on the trip many other adults volunteered their time to transport us to and from the caves and campsites and we thank them. During and since the trip many Scouts have expressed a desire to cave again and hone their new spelunking skills. A special thanks to ASM Hindley for organizing the memorable and fantastic trip.
Boonsboro, MD, paddling on Antietam Creek
Memorial Day Weekend, May 27-29, 2017
On May 27th at 0700, 26 scouts and 12 scouters / parents headed north to Antietam Creek in Boonsboro, Maryland. Knowing that it would be a wet weekend in the water as well as the showers that would be present through the weekend, none of us were a bit surprised to see rain on the windshields of the cars as we set out. No worries, we will be in the water soon enough.
We all arrived at Devil’s Backbone Park and met up with Greg and Mike, our two expert canoe outfitters / guides. For those that were not at the Canoe Leader Training in April, an abbreviated block of instructions about water safety and the basics of steering a canoe as well as other important items that would arise as we floated down the creek were conveyed enthusiastically by Mike and Greg. Shortly thereafter, we launched the canoes and had to maneuver in the creek’s current touching bow and stern on the bridge abutments to allow the canoe teams to gain navigational confidence before setting off downstream.
As we floated downstream, many canoes tipped over some due to mishaps with rocks, streamers and unbalanced canoes. Then there was Elijah and his crew, deliberately tipping over for the fun of it. All in good fun. Many of the scouts and adults had super soakers that provided firepower on the creek. For those that did not tip over on the first day, they were certainly getting soaked with long range water guns. The only casualty of the day was Patrick’s water shoe. He lost it somehow when he was out of the canoe and perhaps it is well on its way to the Chesapeake Bay.
After lunch and more canoeing, we pulled the boats out of the water at Rohrbach’s Campground, set up camp and had dinner and smore’s.
On May 28th, after breakfast and struggling to get into a circle, Mike gave us a talk on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, the environment and the Battle of Antietam to convey the importance of Memorial Day and the price paid by both the Union and Confederate soldiers on September 17th, 1862. ASM Parker provided additional historical context and information to augment Mike’s talking points.
Into the water we go! Downstream from Molly’s Hole to Burnside Bridge. On the way downstream, we had bumper canoes, many tip overs; again some on purpose and some due to creek conditions and operator error. Between the instigation and continued onslaught of water arsenal antics by Mr. Wilson, Mr. Parker, Mr. Baker, Josh D, Chaz L, Joey P, and Charlie F, we had plenty of wet fun through lunch.
After lunch, opportunity strikes for a river rescue mission. As Mr. Defilipps and Mr Simms came around a bed of rocks to make the hair pin turn to the left to miss the streamer, navigational challenges caused them to abandon ship to avoid a wilderness first aid situation. Their canoe began taking on water and the strong current pulled their canoe under a felled tree 20 yards from the streamer. The wedged canoe, now fully submerged and full of water provided a great opportunity for Mike and Greg to assemble all of the scouts and adults for the river rescue demonstration. Thanks to Mr. Shivnen, we have a full video of the rescue. Mr. Simms’ hat was lost in the incident and may be headed for the Bay along with Patrick’s shoe.
As we approached Burnside Bridge, we managed to get all of the canoes out of the water with a great deal of team work performed by the scouts and Mother Nature decided we needed showers. As the rain fell, the troop was singing Happy Birthday to Simon which must have been the 25th time that day. Back to the campground to dry off, have dinner and polish off the remaining Oreos and dry off.
May 29th, after a restful night’s sleep, we packed up and headed to the Battlefield Visitor’s Center. Mr. Parker provided another great historical talk about the Battle of Antietam to the troop just before we stepped into the center theater to watch a 30 minute movie on the battle. Mr. Shivnen and Mr. Simms provided a military veteran’s perspective on the importance and significance of Memorial Day with linkages to our freedoms and the Battle of Antietam. Afterwards, we walked down to Bloody Lane, looked over the terrain as we made our way over to the observation tower, which allowed the scouts and the adults to view the battle field and imagine the challenges, hardships, and the many American lives lost in the bloodiest single day battle in American History.
On our way back to Andrew Chapel, we stopped at the CiCi’s all you can eat pizza buffet and enjoyed pizza, salad, and desert.
Overall, this was a very well planned and organized outing with lots of fun and learning had by all. The SPL, Patrick M, ASPL Gabe H and the patrol leaders (Simon K, Alec B, Andrew B, Ryan W, Elijah W) did a great job managing the events and activities for the troop. A great deal of thanks to Mr. Parker for planning and leading this successful outing.
May 20-21, 2017
Troop 1128 held its annual New Scout Camp Out on May 20-21 at Bear’s Den Camp Ground, with a big showing of 34 Scouts and 7 adults. Many thanks to generous parents Cheng, Hu, Mathur, Nigam, Venkatanarayn, Sribar and Sullivan for shuttling campers each way and making the event possible!
We met at Andrew Chapel Saturday morning and left sharply at 9:00, right on schedule, and arrived at about 10:00 at Bear’s Den under cloudy but dry skies (a rarity this spring it seems). The Scouts quickly set up their tents and sites and organized for the rest of the day. Older Scouts directed the newer Scouts through early advancement requirements, earning the ever prized Toten’ Chips.
Having earned their lunches, the Scouts downed their bag lunches and got right into their service project of gathering stones and lining the paths through the camp site. Scouts worked a bit more on advancements, but also dabbled in a bit of Frisbee and learning how to play euchre, courtesy of ASM Macesich. We rounded out the afternoon by going on a short hike down the Appalachian Trail, which conveniently runs tangent to the site.
Having now earned their dinners, each Patrol came together to prepare their meals, which had been carefully planned earlier in the week. There was quite a variety of gustatory delights, each eagerly sampled by roving adults and bartered by adventurous Scouts. The dinners were capped by the mandatory Oreos as well as fresh fruit pies from Nall’s Farm Market. The day then rounded out with several hours of running and shouting, culminating in the equally mandatory campfires.
Sunday broke earlier than planned as new Scout energy obviated the need for reveille, and got breakfast gears in motion. By 9:00, all patrols were fed, cleaned up, packed up, and marching the grounds no ensure our “leave no trace” creed. By 9:30 all of our shuttle drivers had returned and acting SPL Doucette assembled the Scouts, read roll-call, and assigned passengers to vehicles, thereby allowing the Troop to depart for home slightly ahead of schedule. Upon arrival back at Andrew Chapel, the Patrol Leaders quickly inventoried the gear and deposited it back in the storage shed.
Again, many thanks to the drivers and adult campers who made the event possible and provided a great first camping experience for the Troop 1128 new Scout class of 2017.
DATE: June 10-11, 2017
LOCATION: Whiting’s Neck, WV and Antietam Creek Campground, MD
DEPARTURE: Scouts should arrive at Andrew Chapel on Saturday, June 10, no later than 7:00 AM
RETURN TIME: by 12:00 noon on Sunday, June 11
DEADLINE: by Tuesday, May 30
DATE: May 27-29, 2017
LOCATION: Sharpsburg, MD, paddling on Antietam Creek and Potomac River
DEPARTURE: Scouts should arrive at Andrew Chapel on Saturday, May 27, no later than 6:30 AM
RETURN TIME: by 2:00 PM on Monday, May 29
DEADLINE: by Tuesday, May 16