Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Scoutmaster's Obituary - The Record of a Life Well Lived

I have a confession to make.  I kind of like to read obituaries.  As morbid as it seems, I try to view my life through an obituary that hopefully won't be written for many years.

A friend of mine in the community where I live passed along this obituary.  This former scoutmaster lived a great life, and part of what he had earned credit for achieving was helping save Red River Gorge which is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts including and especially Boy Scouts.  According to what is in his obituary, he lived a life that I cannot live up to.  But I'm not trying to live up to his life; I'm trying to live up to my own.

I just found a memory page for another former scoutmaster who had passed away.  I was not able to find his obituary.  All I could find was the comments from his friends and former scouts.  It was still enough to almost move me to tears.  His former scouts wrote on his page,

"One cannot overstate his commitment to scouting and to the generations of scouts he led.  So much I know about service and character comes from Dave."

Another Scoutmaster's obituary I just found said the following,

"He was a Boy Scout as a youth, and as an adult, he carried on that tradition by serving as Scoutmaster for 35 years, attending five national and five world jamboree events.  OVer those years, he helped countless young men find self-reliance and self-confidence with his constant mantra, "You can do it."  Former Scout C. Johnson remembers Bob fondly: "I appreciated Bob's calm and steady leadership.  He set a great example.... Bob was generous in sharing his vast experience with me."  J. Erickson, who served as an Assistant Scoutmaster, echoed that thought.  "There is hardly a day that goes by that I do not have at least a passing thought of Bob and all the young men he gave a helping hand to."

This Scoutmaster joined the "Troop Eternal" in 2013

Tonight during my Scoutmaster minute at the end of the Troop meeting, I'm going to talk about CHARACTER.  I'm going to talk about living a life with the intent to help other people and how that will make this world a better place.  Leaving a legacy for other people to follow.  I may mention my own Grandfather who left an amazing legacy for me to follow.

This is the obituary for John Kingsley who had spent the best part of 61 years with a troop out of Lexington KY, Camp McKee and Blue Grass Council.  He spent the last summer of his 81st year serving the boys and staff of Camp McKee.  This is from his obituary,

"Mr Kingsley was was also a Vigil member of the Order of the Arrow where he was given the Indian name "Guttgennemew", which means "One Who Gives Back."

That's the kind of life I want to live.  That's the kind of legacy I want to leave.  I already have a good start.  My Vigil name is "Tkawsit Maxkw Alukakan Ilaok", which means "Gentle Bear, Servant of Warriors."  There will be a time when I'll be too old for this, and I'm doing my best to live every day as if it's my last.

I used to be an Antelope
And a good ole' Antelope too
But now I'm finished Anteloping 
and I don't know what to do

I'm growing old and feeble 
and I can 'Lope no more
So I'm going to work my ticket if I can.

Back to Gillwell happy land
I'm going to work my ticket if I can.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Scoutmaster Minute - Year End Address to the scouts - John Wayne and The Cowboys

For those of you who known me know that I love old movies.  My favorite movies are from the 40s and 50s, but I have a couple of favorite movies from the year I was born, 1972.  One is Jeremiah Johnson with Robert Redford.  I must have seen that movie 50 times already.  Another favorite is called The Cowboys with John Wayne.

In the movie The Cowboys, the name of the character played by John Wayne is Will Anderson.  Will is a 60 year old cattle rancher who has hundreds of cattle that he needs to get to the beef market which is hundreds of miles away from his ranch.  The movie seems to be set in the 1880s.  Will Anderson tried to find some cowboys to help him get his cattle to market, but there was some gold mining activity in the area, and all of the seasoned cowboys left to find their fortunes in gold. 

Will Anderson had to go into a school to recruit a group of 11 through 15 year old school boys to help him get his cattle to market.  Many of the boys were scared, and they had a lot to learn.  They had to face the unknown in the open range.  But with the guidance of Will Anderson, they grew in their abilities and became confident in themselves.

That’s a lot of what we do in Troop 215.  We help these young men grow in their abilities and their confidence.  They learn from each other how to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. 

The Cowboys is one of only a few John Wayne movies where his character dies.  The cattle were still 3 or 4 days from the market, and some thieves stole the herd of cattle after they shot Will Anderson.  After the young cowboys buried Mr Anderson, the boys took the cattle back from the thieves, and they were able to get the cattle to market.

We have had a very busy year in our Scout Troop.  The skills that we have spent teaching these exceptional young men in the last many years have enabled them to do things without us.  Let me give you an example.

This summer at Camp McKee, three of our scouts will be staying at camp for a few extra weeks in order to be Counselors In Training.  One of our scouts has been selected as the Drum Team Chairman of Kawida Lodge.  One of our scouts will be a guide at the National Youth Leadership Training at Camp McKee after summer camp.  One of our scouts will be representing the Civil Air Patrol of Kentucky at the National Jamboree this summer.  And our scouts who are now 18 years old, 9 of whom earned the Eagle Scout Rank in the past few years, will be going to college this fall.  All of these new activities will be done by these young men without the guidance of their parents or any of the adult leaders of Troop 215.

In the scene where Will Anderson died in The Cowboys, Will addresses the young men who he guided across the prairie.  His words are particularly fitting for what I would like to say to you guys tonight.

Will Anderson said,

“I’m proud of you.  All of you.  Every man wants his children to be better than he was.  You are.”

Friday, May 5, 2017

Remembering Your Ordeal - A Scouter's Prospective

After Ordeal Ceremony - September 2010

When I first got involved in the Order of the Arrow (OA), I was the Director of Youth and Young Adults at a Methodist Church.  About a week prior to going through Ordeal, I told a young man who was in my youth group that I was going through Ordeal.  He was a member of a scout troop in the town where I lived, and I knew that he was a member of the Order of the Arrow.  When I told him I was going to attend Ordeal, he said that it was great that I was excited, but he didn't see the point.  All they were doing was getting free labor out of me to make improvements around the camp that is the home of our Lodge.  That was my modern day introduction into the OA.

Of course when I was a Scout, I attended summer camp at Camp McKee, and I remember seeing the OA Call Out Ceremony.  The Call-Out has changed a lot since then, and the modern version isn't as scary to a 40+ year old like the old version was scary to a 12 year old.  When I was 12, the Call-Out Ceremony was referred to as a Tap Out Ceremony.  Those who were old enough to get elected into the OA would stand facing a fire.  Kichkinet would walk in front the would-be candidates, look deep into their eyes, and if the person was selected, Kichkinet would slap the candidate on the shoulder rather forcefully to "tap" them or call them out so they can go through their Ordeal.  I seemed scary to me, and most of what I remember is that I didn't want to get selected by the big scary Indian.

I remember showing up at the camp for my Ordeal in the Fall of 2010.  I remember that I didn't have a rain coat, and rain was in the forecast.  I remember the first night of the Ordeal I was staying in a campsite with a bunch of other Scouters.  I slept on the ground as we were told to do, but when the rain started, we were all told to move to the tents that were still set up from summer camp.  We had been told to remain silent, and I did, but I remember that in the campsite close to ours there was a Scout who was making a lot of noise.  I remember that early in the morning a member of the Lodge went to the young Scout to tell him that if he didn't keep quiet he would be asked to go home.

My job during Ordeal starting on Saturday morning was to help clean out the ditch from the OA Building to the bottom of the hill.  That morning the ditch felt like it was about a mile long, and I guess it had been a long time since the last time it had been cleaned out.  It really wasn't that hard of work, but I seem to remember that at the time I thought it was.  I remember thinking about how hungry I was, and wondering if I would make it to the end of the day.

Work on the same ditch during Fall Ordeal 2016

According to an American dictionary, an Ordeal is defined as ANY EXTREMELY SEVERE OR TRYING TEST, EXPERIENCE OR TRIAL.  I guess my Ordeal was kind of trying.  It was hard, but I'm not sure I would have called it extremely severe.  I certainly didn't consider my "trial" simply as a version of free labor by the camp, but I wasn't sure I gained any new knowledge out of the Ordeal Ceremony.  After getting home from your Ordeal, most of your thinking falls on the work that was completed instead of the ritual that you heard after the work was finished.

Maybe that's why the young man from my youth group had a negative attitude about the OA.  I think the young man was not encouraged by this troop to attend OA events after his Ordeal, which therefore made him and the rest of his toop "sash and dash" members of the OA.  A definition of "sash and dash" is when someone goes through the Ordeal, but never goes to another OA event afterward.  Therefore, their thinking about the OA is on the work that they completed during their Ordeal, and not the beauty of the ritual or the bonds of brotherhood that one forms with other OA members.

Fall Ordeal 2016 - Ordeal Ceremony.  The First Step

I finished my Ordeal, and I was initiated into the Order of the Arrow that evening, and I was proud to have my new sash and flap.  That sash wouldn't get dirty for 3 more years.  I almost became a Sash & Dash member of the OA.  At the time I was the father of a two very young Scouts who were not old enough to join the Order of the Arrow.  I didn't want to get involved without being able to share the experience with my boys.  I paid my yearly dues, but didn't attend any OA Events until my oldest son was able to be involved with me. 

In the Spring of 2013, my oldest son was elected into the Order of the Arrow.  From the time he went through his Ordeal, I have been active in the OA.  In the Spring of 2014, he was eligible to become a Brotherhood member, and I couldn't wait to go through the Brotherhood Ceremony with him.  Both of my boys are now members of the OA, and both of them are Brotherhood members.

I had to write a letter to the Lodge Secretary to be able to go through Brotherhood.  Since I emailed my letter, I still have a copy:

Dear Lodge Secretary,

In my efforts to become a Brotherhood member in the Order of the Arrow, I’d like to tell you what our Obligation means to me. I believe that the obligation is a reminder for me to remain cheerful in my service to others even when it is difficult to do so. I am the director of a homeless shelter, and my job is service to people....  Sometimes it is difficult to remember to be cheerful during stressful situations, but the last words of my obligation to the OA are often running through my head…unselfish in service and devotion to the welfare to others. These words often help me.

Since I completed the Ordeal.... I served as an Elangomat in 2013....

I gained an understanding by not speaking during the time of Cheerful Service at my Ordeal, and this has helped me in my daily life by performing service to others without trying to draw attention to myself. In addition, I have been able to serve my troop by being serving as the Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop Chaplain, and helping the New Patrol in our Troop by being the Adult Mentor....

I look forward to sealing my membership in the Order of the Arrow by becoming a Brotherhood member. As a Brotherhood member of Kawida Lodge I plan to serve the OA program by serving as a mentor in our troop for OA members, driving to OA events, and assisting with Chaplain duties when needed for Lodge activities.

Yours in Brotherhood,
Andrew F. Baker
ASM – Troop 215

My oldest son and I went through the Brotherhood Conversion together in April 2014.  A few weeks before the Brotherhood Conversion, we went to our first Conclave. When we showed up to Conclave, both of us wore our Sash on the wrong shoulder.  The person who welcomed us to Conclave said, "Hey look, it's a couple of Newbies."

It was through the Brotherhood Ceremony that I learned about the meaning behind the Order of the Arrow.  I reflected on Cheerful Service.  I learned about the Burden.  It's true that the Order of the Arrow is a youth organization, but in the ceremonies of the Order there are lessons for Adults to learn, and I soaked up the lessons!

Summer Ordeal 2016 

In the Spring of 2016, I was asked to become an Associate Adviser of our OA Lodge.  I was adviser to a committee position.  I was also able to get my Troop more involved in the OA.  In the Fall of 2016, I was asked to become an adviser to an officer, and that is when my understanding of the OA took on a new meaning.  In fact, my ORDEAL took on a new meaning.

As an adviser to an officer, my position in the OA is a year long position.  I need to be at most events for our Lodge.  My job is to advise the Scout, which is not the same as doing the job for the Scout since I already know how to do it, or because I'm older.  I feel like my biggest job is to encourage the Scout who is my advisee.  That includes my Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) as much as my OA advisee.

Two examples come to mind.  This past weekend was a Scouting event.  My advisee was at a separate event at the same location where the event I attended took place.  The Scouts at my event were told to leave the Scouts alone that attended the other event where my advisee was.  In the afternoon I was with a couple of Scouts from my Troop when we walking up the path that was beside the building where the event was for my advisee.  I saw my advisee and yelled over to him HELLO!  He yelled back, "Hey Andrew, come over here for a second."  I went over just to say hello to him and the other Scouts at his event.

The same weekend for my Troop ended on Sunday morning.  We packed up the Troop Trailer with our gear from the campout.  For years we've been fussed at by our committee about the returned condition of the troop trailer after a campout.  I've been trying my best to change the way we return the trailer.  After it was all packed up this weekend, I asked my SPL if he was satisfied with the condition of the trailer.  He is 14 years old.  He looked around in the trailer, and then turned his attention to me to say YES, he was satisfied with the condition of the trailer.  I never even looked inside for my own inspection.

I didn't have to do either of these things.  The SPL doesn't get fussed at then when Trailer is returned in bad shape.  But my point was to say that his opinion is important.  I trust his opinion.  I also didn't have to stop to say hello to my advisee, especially since I was told not to interrupt them.  It took 30 seconds to walk by and say hello.  I hope it made him feel important, because he is.  Hopefully my investment of TIME and TRUST in those to whom I advise will have great meaning to them as they get older.

I do some of these things naturally.  However after attending a training at a camp outside of Nashville in March 2017 entitled Developing Youth Leadership Conference (DYLC), my perspective of being an adviser in the OA was totally changed.  It also changed my focus of being a Scoutmaster.  I feel like I'm a better Adviser and Scoutmaster because of it.  The best point from that training for me was one simple line.


We watched this video during the training, and it is very powerful. 

I have a very good relationship with the Scouts whom I advise, and my advisee in the OA is no exception.  I get along with his whole family!  His Dad and I are good friends.  He is also a Scoutmaster and Associate Lodge Adviser, and the three of us (my advisee, his dad and I) were elected to be members of the 2017 Vigil Honor Class of our Lodge.

I'm once week away from going through the ceremony for Vigil Honor.  I really don't know what to expect from the ceremony.  I feel like I've learned the lessons I need to learn before I progress to Vigil Honor, and I am ready to take the next step.  I'm actually glad I have that foundation that is called an Ordeal. 

After receiving my Vigil "cookie" at the 2016 Winter Banquet.  This was when I found out I would become a member of the 2017 Tom Peek Vigil Honor Class of Kawida Lodge.

I'm looking forward to wearing that new sash that I will receive when I become a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow.  But to be honest, the meaning of the sash is pointless without the hard work that went into being recognized by those who chose me to wear it.  If my character doesn't show you that I'm a Vigil Honor Scouter, then wearing my Vigil sash will have no significance to anyone, especially to me.

I think it's easy for adults to fall into the trap of thinking that this life is all about me!!  Me, me, me, and as much of it as I can get!  It's really not about you, and the sooner you figure that out, the happier you'll be.  The sacrificial giving of yourself and your talents will not only make things better for other people with whom you share your life, it will also change the world.  I'm planning on changing my world one intentional relationship at a time.

Looking back at my Ordeal, I realize that what I have done in the Order of the Arrow in the 7 years since then is so much more difficult than those few hours of scant food and strenuous labor during that Ordeal.

I know that I'm capable of greater things; I've been tested.  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Scoutmaster Minute - Word Meanings in the Scout Law

I watched a video today called "Does Scouting Work".  The video states that young men who have spent time in Scouting have higher positive character attributes.  I liked the video and shared it on my social media sites.

I was curious about what words are used to define Positive Character Attributes.  I did a web search, and found a list of words from a website that gave words that would define it for me.  It listed 292 words.  It had everything from Accessible to Zany.

I wondered if the Scout Law was in that list.
Trustworthy, yep.
Loyal, yep.
Helpful, yep.
Friendly, of course.
Coureous, yep.
Kind, definitely.
Obedient.  Hmm.  Obedient isn't there.  I then went to find a definition of obedient.

Meriam-Webster defines it as submissive to the restraint or command of authority.   So I looked for synonyms.

Amenable.  I looked on the list. Amenable isn't there.  Biddable.  Huh?  Nope.  Not there.  Compliant, nope.  Docile, law-abiding, submissive; nope, nope nope.

Here is one.  Tractable.  Yep.  Tractable is listed among the Positive Character Attributes from the website.

Tractable means easily led or easily taught.  I like that.

BSA was started on February 8, 1910.  Just over 107 years ago.  Certainly some of the words used in 1910 have had a change in connotation or understanding in such a long time.  Perhaps OBEDIENT is one of them.

I found another really cool website that compared the words of the Scout Law over time.

BSA Law 1910 - Obedient - He obeys his parents, Scoutmaster, patrol leader, and all other duly constituted authorities.

Baden-Powell Scouting 2004 - Scouts follow directions from proper authorities and obey the law.

I'm not crazy about those definitions even though I fully agree with them.  The first category on the page with word meanings states the Knight Code.

The Knight Code states:

Chivalry requires that youth should be trained to perform the most laborious and humble offices (jobs) with cheerfulness and grace, and to do good to others.

I really like that.  These words that are used in the Scout law were not invented by Baden-Powell, nor were they a new idea when he compiled them for the Scout Law.  He must have used codes of conduct that were passed down through the ages to come up with the Scout Law.  The Knight Code was apparently carried down through the essays and poems from the Middle Ages in European History.  The period of which I'm speaking would be in the the 1000s to 1200s.   I think this is why the Scout Law is so easy to remember.  It's kind of like a natural law.

Whether or not you are obedient or tractable, you are always a Scout, and this is a very important character trait for you to have.

Monday, January 2, 2017

A review of camping in 2016

Today is the 2nd day of January 2017.  I haven't been camping since mid November!  I missed the December Campout with Troop 215, and I also missed the "homeless campout" with Troop 1.  I guess that's okay since I did 24 nights camping in 2016.

2016 Campouts:
Klondike Derby - Frankfort KY - 2
*Spring Fellowship - Kawida Lodge, OA - McKee - 2
*Orbital Ordeal - Nancy KY - 1
New Scout Campout - KY Horse Park - Lexington KY -2
Summer Camp - Camp Roy C Manchester - Benton KY - 6
*Summer Ordeal - Kawida Lodge - McKee -2
*Fall Ordeal - Kawida Lodge - McKee - 2
*Fall Fellowship - Kawida Lodge - McKee - 2
Natural Bridge Campout - Slade KY - 2
*Kawida Adventure Weekend - Camp McKee (sleeping)/Red River Gorge (hiking) - 2
Lost Sea Caves - Sweetwater TN - 1

6 campouts (11 nights) with Kawida Lodge, and 5 campouts (13 nights) with Troop 215.  With this kind of reflection, it seems like I shortchanged my Scout Troop on campouts.  However, one month we had a lock-in at our charter organization, and being inside, it didn't count for nights camping, and one month we took at one day trip to a ski resort with no camping at all.  I know for sure I missed two campouts with Troop 215.

It was a good year of camping!  Out of 24 nights camping, it only rained on 2 days, and on one of those two days, it only rained for 30 minutes.  The hardest rain storm I have been in took place at Camp Roy Manchester this past summer.  It was scary for a while.  Our campsite was right on the shore of Kentucky Lake.  I wonder if some of the campsite further inland took as much punishment from the weather as we did in Campsite 1.

I'm hoping to do some camping outside of Kentucky in the coming year.  Kentucky has some amazing camping and hiking spots, maybe some of the best in the country.  But I would like to explore some new camping spots outside of the state.

I like to think that I've learned a lot this year.  I've picked up some new gear that I can't wait to continue to use in the coming year.  I know for sure I learned some new things about myself this year, and I took some new strides in leadership.

I was honored at the Kawida Lodge Winter Banquet this past December by being selected to be in the 2017 Vigil Honor Class of Kawida Lodge.  I've already made room on my office wall for the plaque that I will receive when I go through the ritual.  I'll move the cross to a different location in my office, and put my Vigil Plaque in it's place.  Just like athletes keep their trophies on display, I display my scouting "tropies" and memories in my office at work.  It helps me remember that I have an outlet when work gets stressful.

I need camping!  As the director of a Soup Kitchen and Homeless Shelter, I really really need camping!  In the span of 3 minutes just now, I had to fuss at two people about different things.  There is a man at the Shelter right now who was released from State Penitentiary last month after being locked up for 9 years.  He hums all the time, and even while sitting in my closed office I can hear his humming as clearly as I hear the people who stand outside of my office and talk about me like I'm a dog.  I'm not going to fuss at the guy who hums all the time since it's just a habit and not something he is doing intentionally.  He may not even realize that anyone else can hear his humming.  I still play music in my office to drown out the things I can hear outside of my office walls.  I realize I'm the "bad guy" since I'm the director (boss), but I want to shield my employees from having to be the bad guy as much as I can since they are here more than I am.  I'm sure that without camping, I would have lost my sanity a long time ago!

More than 24 nights camping may be a bit extreme, and I hope to not exceed 24 nights in 2017.  This coming year will also change everything for me in Scouting since my oldest son (who is now an Eagle Scout) will be turning 18 in June, after which he is no longer able to be a Boy Scout unless he is willing to take a leadership role.  He will not be able to go to summer camp with us as a Scout.  If I can talk him into going as a leader, that would be awesome, but since he will just barely be 18 when we go to camp this year, I doubt he will want to go to camp as an ASM just to sit around and make sure the Scouts are going to their Merit Badge Classes.

A new journey in Scouting will definitely be a subject for my camping blogs in 2017!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Camping Basics: Making Coffee by Percolator

Camping Basics - great coffee on a campout
Coffee made in a Percolator

The percolator is about 200 years old.  It was invented in Europe in the early 1800s.  It received it's first US patent in 1865, and the modern form of the percolator was patented in 1899 in Illinois USA.

Campout at Camp McKee September 2012

In my opinion, the percolator makes the best cup of coffee.  If you want to know how to make it on a campout, you must first figure out how to do it by stove top.  If you take the following steps, you can't go wrong.

I should mention that the whole process takes about 30 minutes.  There isn't a button you can push that will allow you to walk away to get ready for your day.  You have to be present for most of the following steps.

Coffee Percolator

Step 1

Fill your coffee pot with cold water.  It is important not to fill it to the top with water.  When the water starts to boil, it will boil over onto your stove top (or campfire) if you filled the water too high.

Step 2

Open up your cage that will hold the coffee and prepare to fill it.  I have never used a filter with my percolator.  There will be a few grounds in the bottom of the pot after the coffee is finished, but not very many.

Step 3

Fill your cup with ground coffee.  I prefer 2 1/2 scoops (tablespoon).  If you put too much ground coffee in your percolator, the taste will be too strong.

This is a half scoop

Step 4

Put the percolator in the coffee pot and turn to high heat.  Then sit down.  The percolator will take up to 10 minutes to start perking.  This will mean that you'll need to stay in the kitchen.  You won't be able to set a timer to know when to return when it starts perking.  You have to listen to it.

Step 5

When the perking starts, set your timer for 8 minutes and turn your heat to medium.  Some of the water will escape by steam while it is perking.  That is normal.  Just make sure you don't go more or less than 8 minutes in perking time.  It will scorch the coffee if you go longer, and will taste weak if you go less.

Step 6

Turn off your stove top and remove from heat at the end of 8 minutes.

Step 7

Insulate the coffee pot while the water drips out of the cage inside your percolator.  I usually give this step 10 minutes.  I use my old tea cozy that I still use when I make tea.

Step 8

Remove percolator and cage from coffee pot and put aside.  It is easier to put it on a saucer so the coffee won't stain whatever you put it on.  I use a small paper towel to take out the cake in order to not burn myself.  You may still think this is too hot, so you may need to use something better if it is too hot.

Step 9

Pour most of the coffee in a thermos.  This will keep your coffee hot for many hours.  I have made coffee in the morning, and by 7 PM when I poured a cup from my thermos, it was still hot.  It will start getting colder immediately if you leave it in the pot until you want your next cup.

Step 10

Pour the rest of what is in the coffee pot into your cup and enjoy.  I always wash out the inside of the pot after this step.  As I mentioned already, there will be some coffee grounds in the bottom of the pot, and if you don't clean it out after you use it, it will be more difficult to clean it out before the next time you use it.

How a percolator works:

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Troop 215 - National Science and Energy Museum & Lost Sea Caves - November 18-20,2016

Troop 215 - National Science & Energy Museum and Lost Sea Caves
Oak Ridge Tennessee and Sweetwater Tennessee

Total Driving Mileage
I took two routes.  Frankfort to Lost Sea Caves - US127 S from Frankfort to just north of Crossville TN where I joined I40.  I40 to I75, and I75 to US68.  It was 270.2 miles to the cave.

Home from Sweetwater - I75 to I64. US421 from Midway to Frankfort.  It was 243.2 miles home.

513.4 miles total.  Filled my truck in Frankfort KY on way to Tennessee, and Sweetwater TN on way home.

58 degrees inside the cave.  
Saturday 4 PM arrival at Cave - 48 
Sunday 7 AM departure from the Cave - 21 

I did not wear shorts!  At all!  I had a board meeting on Saturday morning, so I wore the clothes I had on for the meeting as I drove to Tennessee.  When I joined the troop at the Cave, I changed into my "get dirty" clothing.  I had my sweat pants, long sleeve shirt, and an old rain coat.  I also changed to old shoes.

I didn't need any of it.  I wish I had worn shorts.  You don't have to get dirty in Lost Sea Caves.  If you don't crawl through the smaller caves, you won't get dirty.  The bottom of your shoes will get dirty, but that is about it.  The first thing I got rid of was my rain coat.  It was that warm inside the cave.

Old Tennis Shoes the entire time in the cave

No TENT!  I purchased two shower curtains a the dollar store to use as a ground cloth.  It made my area for sleeping big, but I was able to keep all my gear clean. I threw away the curtains when we left.

Sleeping Bag 
Teton 0 Sleeping bag. I totally didn't need it!  I should have used my summer bag.  I would have been more comfortable.  I used my 0 bag as a blanket, but only after a few hours of trying to fall asleep while it was zipped up.

Main Activity  
I had a board meeting for work on Saturday morning, so I couldn't join the troop on the first night of the campout.  My wife and I dropped off our boys at the departure site on Friday evening.  They left Georgetown on Friday at 6, and my wife and I had a date at a restaurant in Georgetown. The troop drove to Camp Pellissippi which is just north of Knoxville and close to Norris Dam State Park.  They slept in the winter lodge.  What they didn't know until they arrived is that they would be sleeping on a concrete slab on the floor of the building.  I don't think anyone over the age of 18 got any sleep at all that night.

Saturday morning they drove to Oak Ridge Tennessee to the National Science and Energy Museum which is in the middle of the city of Oak Ridge.  I was planning on driving to meet them at the museum.  I knew how far it was, but I didn't know how long it would take.

My meeting was over at 10:15 Saturday morning.  I left Frankfort at 11, but stopped before I left Franklin County to fill my truck with gas.  I took US127 South because I looked at a map and saw how close it was to Oak Ridge.  I thought this route woulds save me from having to cross Jellico Mountain.  This was true.  I didn't have to cross the Mountain, but it cost me about an hour and a half.  I told myself the entire way there that it didn't matter how long it took.  I also knew what I would be passing on the way there.

I stopped at a gas station in Jamestown KY for a small lunch of a sandwich and a Coke Zero.  This gas station was about 10 miles north of the dam at Lake Cumberland State Park in Kentucky.  

I stopped in Pall Mall Tennessee at the home of Sergeant Alvin York.  Sergeant York was a hero of WWI, and his life was captured in a Gary Cooper movie from 1941.  SERGEANT YORK HOMEPLACE  I was only there for maybe 10 minutes.  It is a State Park in Tennessee, and there were two park rangers working in the General Store where I stopped.  I told them I studied history in college, and one of the rangers told me that he did too.  I was told that if I had been there a week before, I would have seen a WWI reenactment.  He said there was a trench on the property, and the Sergeant York State Park was one of the premier WWI Historic Sites in the Country.  I would love to go back next year, especially since next year is the 100th anniversary of the US involvement in WWI.

As I got on I40 outside of Crossville, I called Thomas.  He told me that they had just left the museum.  I was hoping that I could see the museum.  Maybe next time I'll see it.  I drove to Lost Sea Caves, and arrived only a minute or two after most of the troop arrived.  It was a little chilly when we got there.  We pulled our vehicles up to the parking lot just below where we enter the cave.  We had supper in the parking lot.  I was surprised when all of the other Scout troops started to arrive.  There must have been 150 scouts in the cave that night.

Inside the cave we dropped off our gear at our "campsite".  It was surrounded by porta toilets.  It smelled bad!  The toilets were right beside the campsites.  The campsites were blocked off by wooden boards.  We slept directly on the floor of the cave.  If you didn't want a dirty sleeping bag and other gear, you had to have some kind of ground tarp.  A committee person from our troop suggested we purchase a shower curtain from the dollar store.

Thomas in the campsite

Right after we arrived, we started the tour of the cave.  We walked around to look at the big rooms.  Some of the spots in the cave were slick.  If you have on shoes with no traction, it could be dangerous.  My friend Bill went to Lost Sea Caves with his troop recently, and he fell at the bottom of the steps in the entrance.  He hurt himself, so he didn't get to see any of the cave.

It was a guided tour.  Our guides were Jack, age 17, and Samantha, age 20.  Samantha has been working at the cave since she was 15. They are paid employees of the cave.  Lost Sea Caves, by the way, is privately owned.  It is not a state park.  They apparently have visitors all year long.  I was told they worked Thanksgiving, and the only holiday the employees don't work is Christmas.

The lake in the cave was nice.  The cave has lights in it.  You only need a flashlight for small parts of the cave.  The lake is 800 feet long, and there is a hidden room that is totally filled with water.  That makes this cave the second biggest known lake in a cave in the world.  There are Rainbow Trout in the water of the cave.  Every boat has a section of the lake where the fish are fed.  They are fed dog food.  If you eat one of the fish, it will taste like dog food.  The fish are huge because they eat so much.

The cave was only discovered in the 1960s.  There had been a small tunnel that a young boy crawled through to discover the lake.  A few years later, the small tunnel was blasted out to make an entrance that tourists could use.

After the lake, we went to the section of the cave where Scouts could do the entry level crawl.  I didn't want to get dirty, so I stayed out of the smaller tunnel.  Tyler went in, but didn't crawl.  He said you didn't have to crawl if you didn't want to.  I spent that time hanging out with one of the younger scouts and the adults.  The younger scout said he didn't want to be there because one of his friends from school told him there were cave spiders.

After the smaller cave tour, we went back to our campsite to wait until we left for the difficult tour. Our guides took a long time to get back to us to pick us up, so only a few scouts went on the difficult tour.  I took the time to lay down after setting up my camp spot.  I turned on my flash and took a few pictures.  Although I couldn't see it with the flash off, my body was releasing the heat that my body had produced during the cave tour.  It can be seen in the picture below.

All guests of the cave were back at the campsites by 10:30.  It was really loud in the cave.  Tyler and his friends were playing cards.  Thomas was beside me in a group.  He was talking to Robert about different kinds of tea.  At 11 or 11:30, the lights in the campsites went off.  The only main lights still on were close to the porta toilets.  When the lights went off, everyone got quiet almost immediately.  From the moment everyone got quiet, I could hear snoring.  Think about the acoustics in a cave.  5 people snoring can be quite loud.

It was only 3 or 4 minutes after everyone got quiet that the entertainment started.  I could hear people farting, and then there would be pockets of giggles that would move through the campsites.  It was quite funny.  I'm sure some of the adults provided part of the entertainment.

When it was quiet, I started to think about what I was sleeping in.  I didn't get the same feeling I had when the troop slept in a submarine.  In the submarine I thought a lot about the lack of moving air, and felt a few times like I was suffocating.  The cave wasn't like that.  Instead I thought about the weight of the mountain that was above my head.  It's funny that I don't think about that when I'm laying in my bed at home.  The weight of the ceiling in my house could kill me just as fast as the ceiling of the cave if it fell on me.  I only thought about the mountain above us for about 10 minutes.  

I didn't sleep very well.  I was able to get some sleep, but not very much.  I was comfortable on the floor, but I couldn't get my temperature right.  I would have slept better if I had my sleeping bag liner and my bivy sack, or my summer bag alone.  At 6 AM, an alarm on the phone went off from a member of the troop that was in the campsite beside us.  They started packing up almost immediately.  This caused our group to do the same.  There were people all around us still trying to sleep.  We left the cave by 6:45.  We walked to the top of the steps to exit the cave, and down slope of the hill to the cars.  

My memory goes away when I don't sleep very much.  After we got back to the cars, I put down my small dry bag that I used to keep my phone, flashlights, and keys in one spot.  I then put down my duffel bag.  After only a few minutes, I wouldn't remember what I did with my small bag.  Since my keys were inside the bag, and I thought I had dropped the bag on the was out of the cave, I went back to the cave to retrace my steps from the camping spot to the car.

It was the oddest thing to go from 21 degrees outside into a cave that was 58 degrees.  I had been outside for about 10 minutes, but it was enough time to cool my body off.  When I put my foot on the top step of the entrance of the cave, my glasses fogged up immediately.  It felt like stepping into a sauna.  I went all the way back to the campsite.  I didn't see the bag.  Tyler was worried that I fell down in the entrance of the cave, so he came inside to make sure I was okay.

Tyler at the entrance of the cave just before leaving Sunday morning.

Since I couldn't find the bag in the cave, we went back to the cars.  Thomas was sitting in my truck, and he had started it.  He said I had left the bag on the bumper of my car.  He had opened the back end of the truck, and put away all the gear.

Since I don't live in Georgetown, I asked if I could take the Baker Boys in my truck.  Everyone else had a seatbelt to use in a different automobile, so it was okay.  We stopped at McDonalds in Sweetwater beside the interstate to get breakfast.  We joined the rest of the troop there.  Since it was Robert's birthday, we sang happy birthday to him three times.  Each time embarrassed him just a little bit more than the last time. The price of regular unleaded gas was $1.87/gallon at the gas station across the street.  I filled up there before we left.

Thomas and Tyler and I stopped in London KY to eat.  We stopped first at Golden Corral.  There isn't one in Central Kentucky anymore since they all closed down.  We found out that it would cost more than $17 dollars a person for us to eat there.  We left and went to Frisch's for breakfast buffet.  That was much less expensive.

We made it home around 2 on Sunday.  We didn't have any gear that needed to be dried out, other than Tyler's sleeping bag that had picked up a little bit of moisture.

This was a good trip. I enjoyed the cave.  It was kind of a long way to go for a campout, but if our troop only does this once every 3 or 4 years, it is totally worth it.

Extra Gear - No extra gear on this trip.

Friday night cracker barrel unknown
Saturday morning They had eggs and bacon at Camp Pellissippi.  Not sure how they cooked the food.

Saturday lunch They had fried chicken from Walmart that is right beside the museum in Oak Ridge.
Saturday supper - Sub sandwiches and chips purchased from Walmart.
Saturday Cracker Barrel - none
Sunday morning - McDonalds in Sweetwater

Nights Camping - 1.  

Next Campout - Troop 215 will be visiting the Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton Ohio.  We will be sleeping in Adirondack Shelters at a nearby Boy Scout Camp.  After that is Troop 1 Homeless Campout in Frankfort.  Only 3 more night of camping this year.

Total Camping nights in 2016 - 24 nights so far this year.

Graffiti from a Confederate Soldier in the cave.

More graffiti from the 1800s

This is the ceiling of the cave that was above my head in the campsite.  The ceiling was about 20 feet above where I slept on the floor.