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Astronomical Awesomeness

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IMG_1620Every few years, we go up to Monte Sano in Huntsville for a campout. It was exceptionally fun this year, because, besides the Planetarium show and Star Party hosted by the Von Braun Astronomical Society, several Scouts decided to make a “Hunger Games” mini movie. Also, we got to add another sticker to the Troop trailer! This year, the Society did a presentation on Jupiter the day we went. As of now, this campout is definitely one of the best outings of the year!

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Fish, Food, Football, and Fun

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A Scout is cheerfully cleaning his freshly caught bass before cooking it

Most of the Troop camp outs during 2015 were full of rain events.  So far in 2016, the Troop has enjoyed much better weather.  In February, the Vulcan District Camporee has been very cold and wet.  This year we had mild temperatures and no rain.  For the March camp out, the Troop missed all the rain and cold by just a day.  The Troop got to camp next to a private lake filled with Bass.  It did not take long for the Scouts to catch a fish.  For some Scouts working on their Fishing Merit Badge, this was the first time they were able to catch a good size fish, clean it, then cook the fish. When the fish were not biting, the Scouts enjoyed playing around with a football.  As the day of enjoyment ended, patrols cooked some hearty dinners then relaxed by the fire.  It was a great camp out for fish, food, football, and plain old-fashion outdoor fun!

Camporee 2016

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Vulcan District hosts a competition event each year  – Camporee.  Troops from the district compete in multiple events, from knot relays, to cross cut sawing, to first aid.  Each patrol competed in various events and had fun while doing it.  In addition to the competition events, Scouts can learn to make fire starters, cook, and how to make rope.  Troop 95 hosts the rope making station each year and teach Scouts how to make rope by either a machine or rolling it by hand.  Camporee is also a great venue for Webelos to learn about Troop life.  While the Troops are competing in their events, Webelos have a similar set of competitions.  After their events are complete, the Webelos get to camp with the Troops.  Troop 95 was happy to have Webelos visit from Pack 386.  The Webelos got to cook with the Patrols and learn what it is like to camp in a Troop outing.  The weather could not have been any better – warm and dry.  Traditionally, Camporee is wet and cold, so this year the Troop enjoyed great weather.

2016-Camporee

Honey Badger Patrol competing in the Trolley Race

Survival Campout

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survival-2016

A Scout making his survival shelter

When you talk to Scouts or adults who were former Boy Scouts and you mention the words “Survival Campout”, one word consistently is mentioned: Memorable.  On January 16, 2016, Troop 95 held a survival camp out and it was memorable.  The scenario was that the Scouts were on a two hour hike and get lost.  They had to use what was on them and had the opportunity prior to the outing to create a survival kit using an Altoids tin with what they thought they needed.

Once at the camp site, Scouts practice signaling, snares, and water filtration methods.  After eating their lunch from the hike scenario, Scouts were told they were now lost in the woods and should build a shelter to survive the night.  All afternoon, Scouts made their shelters in the hopes of staying dry and warm throughout the night.  With little chance of rain predicted, the Scouts thought they needed to focus on staying warm only.  After dropping to freezing weather, mother nature decided that the 30 percent chance of rain was really 3 hours of rain.  Scouts and leaders who participated learned quickly if their shelters were warm and dry.  For most, it was not the case.  Wind and rain showed most the error of their ways.

For dinner, Scouts were given some skirt steak and a chicken leg to simulate catching their dinner.  Scouts had to make their fires and devise a way to cook their catch.  From spearing their food to making a spit, Scouts were proud on their achievement on making their own dinner.  After the camp out, Scouts were asked how the outing went and what they learned.  All were enthusiastic and wanted to do it again.  Most of all, Scouts said this outing was memorable!

In the Eyes of a Leader

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Posing before hiking down the mountain

Posing before hiking down the mountain

As Scoutmaster of the Troop, I have been the prime contributor to the web site to help show our Troop to the public. I have always written in third person and generically described our outings. Not this time. It is hard to relay the fun of a strenuous backpacking trip to a unique place without talking about it through my eyes. I am not the well-seasoned Scoutmaster as my predecessors, but am quite the opposite. I get to visit new places for the first time with the younger Scouts and experience the same wonder and awe the Scouts have.

On September 26, 2015 I ventured out with the Troop to the Walls of Jericho in Northern Alabama. Prior to the trip, I tried to research the outing to “be prepared” as much as I could. Nothing I read prepared me for the 1,040 feet decent down the mountain on wet and slippery rocks. The decent was slow and was a challenge for some of the younger Scouts. At the bottom, we had to cross two pedestrian bridges made out of fallen trees (another first for me). It was a test of balance with a shaky handrail and being off-center carrying a large backpack. After we set up camp, the Troop headed out to the Walls of Jericho water fall area. Even though there was little water flowing, the rocky area was slick and difficult to climb. At first I only made it half way up the falls and decided to sit it out to prevent me from injury from slipping (I claim to be old, but it is all relative). I sat at the perimeter and watched the Troop slowly climb around and get ever so excited when they made it all the way to the top of the falls area. One mom flew past me as she climbed noting that she had bet her son she could make it all the way (which she one that bet). My son came back down and told me how cool the view was from up top. I decided I came too far to just stop half way. With help from the Troop, I climbed the rest of the way only to be amazed by how striking the area was.  Finishing what I started was a lesson I am happy to have been reminded of. If not, I would have missed so much.

The next morning we had to pack it all up and climb back up the mountain. As in our last backpacking trip, I was surprised that the Scouts start singing happily as they hiked. Call it as you will, but you could hear our Troop before you saw us. No worries about animals being around with all of the singing. Some of us were completely out of breath as we made it to the top but everyone made it to the end with huge smiles. The younger Scouts that struggled carrying their backpacks ended up running around the parking lot with hands in the air yelling that they made it. It was an experience that not many young and old people can say they have accomplished. I, for one, am grateful to have experienced the beauty of the Walls of Jericho and will remember fondly for a long time.

Scoutmaster J.S.

Cycling Maintenance

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Scouts learning basic maintenance skills for cycling

Scouts learning basic maintenance skills for cycling

President John F. Kennedy once said “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.” Back in January, Troop 95 started working on the Cycling Merit badge by visiting the workshop of Mr. DiChiara of Redemptive Cycles. On August 3, 2015, Mr. DiChiara was kind enough to teach the Troop again the basics of cycling maintenance during the weekly Troop meeting. The Troop is preparing for another 25 mile bike ride for their August outing on the Chief Ladiga Trail.  The Troop is looking forward for a pleasurable bicycle ride.

ABC’s of having fun

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It is not very often boys from the City get to canoe past a cow in the river

It is not very often boys from the City get to canoe past a cow in the river

What is the best way to have fun in the summer heat?  One answer is to go canoeing!  On July 18, 2015,  Troop 95 ventured up to Flatwoods, Tennessee to Grimes Canoe Base.  The Scouts named the outing the ABC Trip.  This is for the three most exciting things they saw during the trip: A for armadillo that joined us at our campsite wondering around while we enjoyed the evening campfire.  B for the bald eagle that flew past us while we were canoeing.  C for the cow that was cooling off in the river as we were on the last leg of our trip down the Buffalo River.  The Troop venture 17 miles down the river with stops to swim and have simple water fun.

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