Last weekend Lincoln and I attended Dad and Lad cub scout camp at Camp Thunderbird in Olympia. It was a one night trip where we got to stay in cabins with other scouts and learn some fun skills from other scout councilors. Lincoln and I both had a great time.
After we first arrived and check-in Lincoln was assigned to the Leopard cabin. There ended up being about 6 cubs per 3 cabins. Each group of cubs had 2 or 3 Scout leaders who were older Boy Scouts and Adventure Scouts. The cubs started work on a cabin flag. Once everyone was checked in the the scout leaders lead us to our cabin. Each cabin had a room of bunks for dads and a room of bunks for cubs. We dropped off our gear and picked bunks. Once we were settled in a little bit, the scout leaders asked the cubs to come outside so we could plan our skit.
The scout leaders explained that we all the cabins would be doing skits later that evening during the camp fire. After some discussion the cubs decided to do the skit “Invisible Bench”. We ran through the skit a couple times time so the kids could practice. Soon it was time to head to the dining hall and campfire. The dining hall has a large fireplace at one end and the hall was arranged with benches facing the fireplace. All the staff of the camp lined up in front of the fire, introduced themselves and ran through the rules of camp. The staff of the camp was both young men and women. They were all Boy Scouts and Adventure Scouts. I couldn’t guess their ages better than late teens to mid 20’s. Some had been staff for 12 years and others were brand new.
Once the rules were done the staff started doing some songs and skits to get the cubs warmed up, then the cubs did their skits. Since the cub’s ages range anywhere from 5 to 10 the acting wasn’t great, but it looked like all the kids had a good time. With skits done, we had “cracker barrel” (snacks) and smores.
At this point is was about 10:00PM. Lincoln usually goes to bed 7:30 with lights out by around 8. We got the dining hall cleaned up and head back to the bunk. By the time we changed into pajama and brushed out teeth it was 10:30. Then one of the dads gives the kids glow sticks. It’s 10:30PM and he’s handing out glowsticks to sugar high cub scouts.
Lincoln, being the best behaved kid ever didn’t take one. So all the dads say goodnight and we shut the door that separates the cubs rooms from the dads rooms. Then the giggling, fart noises, kids jumping off bunks, bathroom door slamming, “ghost” sightings, etc. commenced for another hour. After about 20 minutes Lincoln came in to the dad’s room and said he couldn’t sleep with all the other cubs being so loud, so we moved his sleeping bag in to my bunk and he fell asleep. I laid awake for about an hour listening to other peoples kids run around and dads snore.
Saturday morning we got up and headed to the dining hall for coffee. Sweet, sweet coffee. After coffee we headed out to the parade yard and flag poles for the morning flag ceremony complete with one of the staff members playing a “To The Colors” on the trumpet. Nice touch.
After flag raising the staff started us off with some more songs and high energy banter. Then the cabin leaders played rock/paper/scissors to see who got to go to breakfast first. Then, after breakfast, we were off to out activities. First activity of the day?
This was Lincoln’s first experience with anything close to a gun and he did great. All the cubs were given good, very clear instructions. They were allowed to proceed one step at a time and watched very carefully the entire time they were on the range. The staff helped the cubs determine which eye was their dominate eye. I was very impressed with the staff and cubs. Lincoln’s got his first 4 out of 5 shots on the paper with one on the target. We hung new targets and the cubs shot again. This time Lincoln hit 4 on target with one dead center of the 0 in the 1o. Freakin’ rock star.
The dad’s got to shoot to. I’m a crack shot with a BB gun at 20 feet. 5 shots inside the 10 in a quarter size grouping.
The instruction at the archery station wasn’t good. There was a new staff member as the lead there and we were his first group. Teaching a group of dads and lads to shoot bows and arrows isn’t easy. Doing it in 50 minutes, close to impossible. Doing it the first time is the worst I’m sure. We were given good instruction on how to stay safe, but he never really told anyone how to shoot the bow. I think Lincoln got a couple good shots off and I think 1 of the 3 arrows I shot made it to the hay bails 15 feet away.
Our last activity before lunch was Ropes. We didn’t know if this was going to be a ropes course or knots or rope making. It turned out to be the later. We learned from a gentleman who teaches survival skills to older boy scouts. He showed us how to make rope or cordage from grasses or other fiberous materials. The process is pretty simple and it’s easiest if you have a person who will sit there and hold the cord your twisting or a hook on a wall you can hang your cord from.
You take some type of fiber, we used Raffia from the craft store in class, and you either loop or tie a knot in one end. Now you have 2 strands. You twist both those strands in the same direction (to the left or counterclockwise). Then once you get the strand twisted, you wrap them around each other in the opposite directions (to the right or clockwise). This makes a very strong cord that doesn’t unravel when you let go. Youtube “Flemish Twist” and you’ll see the process.
A meal usually eaten between breakfast and dinner.
After lunch we had….
After lunch we headed to the leather station which ended up being leather stamping. They had pre-made bracelet with clasps already soaking in water. All the cubs had to do was pick out stamps, grab a mallet and set the design. There were a lot of stamps relating to scouting. Lincoln decided to put “LOVE” and hearts on his and give it to Tiff when he got home. I asked if I could make a bracelet and they told me to come back after the closing ceremonies to make sure they had enough for all the cubs. So we did and I got to make a bracelet too. I themed mine more around the weekend with the year, a wolf, paw print, cabin, and cub scout emblem.
Lincoln doesn’t like height. That’s not true. Lincoln HATES heights. I had prepared him for the climbing wall by telling him he only had to go as high as he wanted and could come down any time. All day, we had alternating sun and showers so we didn’t know if we were going to get to do the climbing wall. It was one of those walls that’s on a trailer and gets erected with hydraulics. The group before us got to climb but as our time approached the rain started to come down. By the time we got to the station they were packing it up. Lincoln was saved and we were off to alternative….beachball dodgeball.
We headed into the one of the building with class rooms and the cubs were taught how to play dodgeball with beachballs. We did a couple games 3 v. 3 cubs. Then the staff played a couple games against the cubs. Then the Dads hopped in and played against the cubs.
Our final station of the day was crafts. We were instructed to walked around outside by a shelter and find 8 small stones. The cubs then painted the stones in 2 groups in 2 colors. Then they painted a tic-tac-toe cross on a small fabric bag to have a small travel ready tic-tac-toe game.
We had a little bit of time after our last station before the closing ceremonies and one of the Dad’s who’s a member of the Order of the Arrow (I have no idea) offered to take us to the fire bowl. After about a 5 minute walk in the woods we came to the fire bowl. The camp uses when it’s a little later in the season. A huge stage with 2 big fire pits they use for skits and ceremonies when the weather’s nicer.
We walked back over to the parade grounds for the closing ceremony. The camp Director handed all the cubs certificates, we filled out surveys, and the cubs got patches for their uniforms. Lastly the staff lowered the flag and dismissed camp.
Lincoln and I both had a great time on this trip. It reminded me of my time at Camp Waskowitz and in the scouts. It made us consider doing a longer camp later in the year and definitely later in Lincoln’s scout experience. Camp Thunderbird is a great facility and I hope we get to use it a lot.