Webeloree 2015

11050092_10207584023509343_3212537886595806680_nLast weekend was a whirlwind, overnight camping trip to hills of El Cerrito and Camp Herms with Den 7 of Pack 1155 out of Brentwood. Our den was fortunate enough have all the boys except one join in the outdoor fun. It was a very long Saturday, after a late Friday night due to The6th Floor Haunt at Vintage Parkway Elementary and there was even some doubt cast upon our trip because our new Coleman tent had not arrived. Thankfully the tent arrived in the late afternoon, but I was putting together our equipment late into Friday night.

The den leader and I were provided some “questionable” information regarding just how early we should arrive at Camp Herms. Being someone who does not like to run late I had my son up and getting dresser about 4:30AM on Saturday morning. We were rolling out of Oakley before 5AM and the GPS reading just about an hour of travel time down Highway 4 to I-80 before arriving at El Cerrito.

We rolled up and there was no one to be seen. In fact the organizers weren’t even ready to receive scouts, as it wasn’t even 6AM yet. We helped move some tables up to the BB gun range that would be used for learning geology. Once that was complete, Zachary slept and I wasted time on my mobile device. As the daylight advance on Camp Herms, headlights started rolling up to the registration area. A few minutes later registration opened, we got our camp itinerary and were ushered to the parking area.

12065923_10207584024589370_4884238561046731419_nWe were fortunate to see some of the other scouts from our den and we all walked down to the lower field, which we would call home for the night, as scouts were escorted to different areas depending on which pack they were grouped into, we were considered ‘Badgers’ for the weekend. The boys were required to set up their own tent, easy for some, not so for others.Having never unrolled our tent, it wasn’t overly complicated but Zachary did require some help flexing the poles in order to pop the tent up. He did a fine job and as I looked around the camping ground many parents were involved in the setting up of tents.

About 45 minutes later, all the scouts and parents met topside, near the registration area for the raising of the flag and a bit of history from the leader in charge for the weekend. Each adventure was explained, as the boys (dens) were broke into groups and we were off to Earth Rocks (geology). Each adventure lasted about 1:20, with a 10 minute transition time. After we completed out second adventure, Into the Woods, we broke for lunch. This meal was brought by the scouts and not provided by Camp Herms. Zachary and I both had sandwiches, chips and granola bars that tied us over until dinner. We also made sure we stayed well hydrated, as I brought my daypack with 100 oz of water flavored with Nuun tablets.

After lunch, I’ll be honest, my butt was dragging and the late night prior was catching up to me. As we broke from lunch we said good bye to the Astro Wizard, who provided some entertaining scientific learning after lunch and we made our way to the Camper adventure. The boys were a bit pressed for time and were rushed through tying a bowline, but they did learn how to set up a campfire and we made our foil packs (Hobo Stew) to be cooked for dinner. The boys then learned about geocaching and located their first treasure.

As time expired we headed to the final adventure of the day, Aware and Care. It was all I could do to stay awake. The scouts learned sign language and people with disabilities and wrote Halloween cards for a seniors home. It seemed to be the longest part of the day, as the sun began to set on the rock quarry in which Camp Herms is located. At the conclusion of the adventure we all got back together near the fire ring and discussed what would happen for the rest of the evening. Half the groups would go on a hike around the rim of the camp, the other half would eat.

12109244_10207584024149359_1993759384600540099_nThankfully, our boys were in the right group and we go to eat. I have to admit, Hobo Stew was not sounding too appetizing. I made the vegetarian version, which was two scoops of chopped, red potatoes, two scoops of peas and carrots and two scoops of assorted veggies, a small topping of sliced, white onion and some Italian dressing. To be honest, this wasn’t sounding very tasty. All afternoon long, the days had discussed having a pizza delivered for dinner, as a residential area backed up the lower field, where we were camping. This idea, as well as finding a local bar fell by the wayside and we ate Hobo Stew.

While it didn’t sound good, it tasted wonderful! Guess that means I was hungry, as I covered my stew in hot sauce and red pepper flakes. Thankfully I had saved my second sandwich from lunch and was offered some roti from a fellow scouter’s dad. Dinner turned out to a time to relax and reflect on the day. But the way was far from over.

After dinner, we switched with the other group and it was time to go hike. Now with the sun completely over the horizon, we put in about a 2 mile hike, which was very informative and relaxing. Looking out at the lights over the bay area and exploring the landscape above the quarry and overlooking Wildcat Canyon. All the boys had a great time with the headlamps and flashlights carefully navigating their way on the trails during darkness.

All the scout reconvened at the camp fire for skits and songs to close out the evening. Led by the Boy Scouts, many of the dens provided entertainment around the campfire as a very active day was winding down and coming to a close. At the conclusion of the event, we headed back to the lower field. It took me about 20 minutes and I was tucked away in my tent falling asleep. I know Zachary stayed up and played with the other boys, as they were in and around the tents for the next 90 minutes or so. It was lights out at 10PM.

12191549_10207584023789350_8844476084064051627_nThe following morning came early, as the morning dew settled on the outside of the tent. It would be a short day, as a continental breakfast, duty to God and retiring the flag were the only activities on the agenda. We got dressed and made our way up the hill to the kitchen to get breakfast. After about 25 minutes, many of the parents started to move their cars down the hills, parking on the curbs next to the lower field to make it easier to leave the camp. Our entire den did not make the retiring of the flag, as Zachary and I were  in the truck on the way home by about 8AM.

All in all it was a very productive weekend! All our boys are well on their way to earning their Webelos badge, as well as their Arrow of Light. We planned out our den meeting and achievements through April, which will put the boys well ahead of schedule to earn their badges possibly even a Super Achiever award for completing all the electives. It was a long weekend, but worth the time. Zachary enjoyed hanging out with the boys from his den, hiking, camping, eating Hobo Stew, learning about rocks and knots, plants and trees and having a great time. All this without any electronic devices. Pretty damn amazing, the parents on the other hand…highly recommended to go to the Webeloree!

Camping: Cutter Scout Reservation

cutter_scoutToday will mark a first in my life at age 45, I am going camping. For me, in the past camping has been a nice beach cabana or hotel room, with running water and bed. But for this adventure, my son and I will be headed to the mountains of Santa Cruz (Cutter Scout Reservation) with Cub Scout Pack 1155 out of Brentwood, CA. This is my first time, going camping, a camping virgin, but as Roebrt Baden-Powell said, “Be prepared!” Prepared is something Zachary and I are.

We have spent the better part of the last week putting together our camping gear list and buying a few items we did not have, such as a pair of Kelty sleeping bags, which was our biggest expense. Thankfully my MIL had bins of gear, including two gas stoves and more kitchen supplies that I planned to take. My wife already had a tent and an new air mattress that has yet to be inflated. Earlier this week I set up the tent, so I knew what I was doing and connected the stove and lanterns to the propane tank to make sure all was in working order. Remember, “Be prepared!”

I put together our camping checklist of what we needed to bring. I discussed food options with my son, told him what I planned on cooking ahead of time, just to make our food options a bit easier. On my days off I cooked up some black bean chili, baked jalapeno cornbread muffins, banana bread, tortilla chips and salsa. While not “PD” (see Protecive Diet), I figured I owed it to my son to let him cook hot dogs over an open flame, as well as experience s’mores…so I picked up the ingredients for him to enjoy. We will also be making some sort of dinner in foil packets over our camp stove.

The weekend is planned according to an itinerary, which will only allot about 2 hours (during the day) when we have “free time” to do whatever we want. The boys will be going on hikes, shooting BB guns, learning archery and making a few crafts. I am looking forward to the hikes, there are two loops recommended, one that focuses on the logging industry and  redwood trees, while the other talks about the flora and fauna. It’s my hope I will have free time before everyone wakes up and I get a trail run in on the 3.5 miles of trails that surround the camp.

It’s my hope that Zachary (and the other scouts) have an awesome adventure and he wants to go camping again. I would love to road trip to some of the wilderness I saw when I was a kid; Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyon, a landmark I have need visited only seen from 35,000 feet up.

With any luck he will be putting together a short video (for You Tube, so he says), which will also plan on showing to his den or the entire pack. It’s his hope to get enough video and moderate the experience of his first camping trip. Regardless of what happens, we will learn quite a bit over this weekend and look forward to spending some father/son time together.

No Batteries Required

IMG_20140903_182832September is here and it’s been very busy. School is in full swing and we are already staring at the fall break at the end of the month as well as progress reports. Zachary has suddenly gotten busy with soccer, which is about 3 games in. Scouting just had their first pack meeting last night and now add I write this I am watching him perform karate.

We are still trying to find him a niche that doesn’t require a controller. He is a matter at the Xbox, but we don’t want him sitting in front of the TV for hours on end. So far our weeks are busy. Soccer had 3 practices a week with games on Saturday. Friday practices are optional but we try to stress him to attend to get the most out of the sport.

Scouting is a family event and I am sure my wife will join us at pack meetings and some of the outings. I took on the role of quartermaster for the pack and have a lot of training I am looking forward to. No word on our first den meeting, but the will be on Tuesdays, twice a month.

Finally there is karate! A flyer came home last week and my wife wasted no time in calling American Karate. Zach and I stopped in paid the intro fee of $79 for unlimited sessions through October. After that point it’s $99 a month for two sessions a week. It seemed to be a bit Joe and miss today while we were discussing it.

He didn’t like the fact he didn’t know anything when he stripped onto the mat. It’s trial by fire, as he is learning as he goes. Just moments ago he tested for hiss first yellow stripe for reciting the karate creed. I’m proud of him!

Hopefully karate will teach him some life skills; discipline, confidence, respect, integrity, honor, just to name a few. Unlike the other sports he had played, karate solely depends on the effort he makes. Looking forward to see him grow.

Scouting

Bsalogo1For some strange reason I feel I don’t have enough on my plate, so I am taking on another challenge. Actually in support of my son, we are getting involved in scouting. At age 8 I joined the Cub Scouts (Pack 618) and was involved for a few years before sports truly became my love. Scouting fell by the wayside. My wife and I have have discussed scouting with Zachary the last year or so. I showed him the Pinewood Derby cars, which seemingly a hit with all the kids. While stapling papers in his classroom a few weeks back I saw a flyer or handout to join.

My wife and I had discussed scouting last year, but decided not to join the local pack. Upon meeting Todd and Mike at Baskin Robbins last week, there was a very good feeling about this pack. Todd was very informative about the opportunities for Zachary and for myself. I mentioned I would like to volunteer to help as well. I took the application and filled it out, search the pack website and read up a little bit on scouting, as I didn’t go very far with it as a youth.

We joined the last pack meeting on the year earlier in the week. I met Todd and Mike again and Zachary was partnered with a group of boys moving into the 3rd grade. We listened for about 45 minutes, as scouts were awarded achievements  and a scouting leader received an award. All the boys had a chance to make and fly their own paper airplane, as a few dens performed some skits. As the meeting drew to a close, the parent meeting started. Much of what Todd discussed was mentioned to me the previous week.

I was excited to find out I will have the pick of my position in scouting. As I said, I don’t have enough to do, so I offered to volunteer my time. I have choices of being the quartermaster of the pack secretary. Right now I am leaning towards managing all the equipment for the pack. Regardless of what capacity I work in, I am looking forward to making new friends and being more involved with my son. Hopefully scouting takes him further than it took me.