Pack 334 Back in the Field
Almost four years had passed since the last time Cub Scout Pack 334 spent a weekend camping under the stars. Back then, our now-oldest Cub Scouts, those about to earn their Arrow of Light award and bridge over into Scouts BSA, were barely Wolf Scouts, and many of our current Cub Scouts weren’t even in the Pack at all.
It had been a while. For Scouts wearing the 334 patches on their sleeve, from Lion Cubs to Eagle Scouts to Leaders: we camp. It was time to get the Cubs back in the field.
So, though our gear was dusty, and our tents were musty, our hearts were on fire to return to our roots, and from May 5th through May 7th, the Pack set up camp at Knoebels Campground in Elysburg, PA.
The weekend was spectacular. After a surprisingly cold Friday night, the weather was absolutely gorgeous all weekend. Spirits were high, and though some faces had changed since our last camping trip, the Pack fell right back into our Scouting good habits and ran a fantastic camp.
Our program began Saturday morning, though families could come and set up Friday night if they wished. Many of our families did just that, and most arrived after dark. Undeterred, tents went up quickly, and eventually, everyone settled in for what turned into a rather cold night.
As the dawn broke on Saturday morning, we were treated to a greeting from a wide variety of birds, including a particularly loud crow who seemed bent on ensuring we were all awake by 5:30 a.m. Leaders got up and, with their breath steaming in the still frigid air, set up the rest of the Pack area. By 11 a.m., all families had arrived and set up, and we kicked off the day with a brief meeting and snack and then a hike into Knoebels amusement park.
One of our Den Leaders, Ken, led the hike through and around the park and included lots of history about the park and the various custom rides. By the time the park opened at noon, excitement was high.
This weekend at Knoebles was part of the park’s “Scout Days,” a special set of days where Scouts could purchase discounted day passes to ride unlimited rides and receive a commemorative patch. Our Scouts spent the day roaming the park and riding the rides with each other, with many families taking advantage of the many options inside the park for lunch and dinner.
The park closed at 7 p.m., and as weary Scouts and their families wandered back to the park, a campfire was already roaring, and everything was set for one of the essential parts of any 334 camping trip: cracker-barrel and s’mores.
We kept the fire going for several hours and roasted dozens of marshmallows; adults provided lots of advice on how to perfectly roast a marshmallow while many Scouts burned their to a blackened crisp because they “like them that way.”
It was a clear night, with a sky full of stars and a full moon; the campfire was crackling, Scouts were laughing in the shadows, and for the first time in several years, Cub Scouts felt normal.
On Sunday morning, with the temperature a bit warmer than the day before, Leaders got up early and got the kitchen fired up for a big breakfast. Coffee and hot water for tea went on first, and then leadership got to work. Sarah made fresh pancakes — plain, blueberry, or chocolate chip — while Adrian fried sausage links. The serving table had fresh fruit, bagels, cream cheese, butter, syrup, orange juice, milk, and PB&J as a backup.
After breakfast, families helped break down camp and could participate in any of the local religious services before heading home or spending a few more hours riding rides in the park.
It was an incredibly successful and fun weekend, and leadership took many lessons learned in both the planning process and the camping process. We want to continue to be better and what we do, and one thing we want to do a lot more next year is camp.
A special thanks to the leaders that joined me this weekend — Den Leaders Ken and Sarah — and to all the parents who came out and helped make is a great trip. Getting back to camping was a big initiative of our leaders, and Assistant Cubmaster Kym and Den Leader Ken have been working on this trip since last fall. Also thanks to the Pack Committee for all the help planning the details, and to our Treasurer and former Cubmaster Jeff for the sage advice and the gear (especially the portable camp grill!).
As we begin wrapping up this Scout year with our Blue & Gold next week, we will roll right into the planning meetings for next year. We have some details to sort out, but one thing you can be sure of is this: Cub Scout Pack 334 will be camping several times next year!