The annual Miami District Fall Camporee held the weekend of October 3, 4, and 5, presented a great opportunity for the Scouts. Troop 344 arrived in New Haven, Indiana on Friday evening and set up camp in a dark, rainy, windy, and cold park. These Scouts have encountered adverse weather a time or two in the past and they came through again this time. They established a good campsite and erected tents that were dry on the inside. And they had a cooking area ready to go.

Although one or two of the units had tents collapse in the wind, we managed to weather the storm. Saturday morning greeted us with the sun breaking through and only puddles to remind us of the rain. After a Boy Scout Omelet and toast for breakfast, the day was looking good. The organizers of the Camporee did not let us down and we embarked upon a great day of Scouting activities. The theme was Emergency Preparedness.

In preparation for the upcoming Worldwide Jamboree On The Air, there was a ham radio all set to go. The Scouts got an extensive briefing on the role and operation of amateur radio both locally and globally. And the Scouts had many questions answered.

All of the radio traffic seemed to summon the New Haven Fire Department and EMS. The sirens were on loudly as these units arrived to begin their demonstrations. They were able to show the proper manner of extracting injured individuals from a damaged car. The Jaws of Life popped doors and peeled the top back while the EMTs took spinal precautions and got the individuals ready for transportation to a medical facility. Right on time the whoop whoop of a helicopter’s blades announced the arrival of the Samaritan helicopter from a station at Parkview Hospital. The Scouts were then free to circulate and speak with the firemen, EMTs, and the crew of the Samaritan in order to satisfy any questions they might have.

The Emergency crews had to get back to work so they left us in order to return to station. As the First Responders and the Samaritan lifted off we noticed a background of flames rising from the West End of the pavilion.

The Flames turned out to be a controlled burn initiated by the folks from Nowak & Williams Supply. They also had brought a truckload of fire extinguishers so the Scouts got both instruction and hands on experience. Every Scout was able to use a fire extinguisher to actually put out a fire.

After soup and sandwiches for lunch we all assembled for a tremendous demonstration of police dogs given by three K-9 Units from the Fort Wayne Police Department. These dogs are nice and they usually have wagging tails ready to be petted. But they are also working dogs and they are always on the job. These dogs are most valued for their incredible noses. One dog tracked and found a single Scout who had wandered around the area. The dogs also demonstrated their capabilities in locating hidden drugs, weapons, or other items of evidence that had been thrown away. These dogs have a strong relationship with their handlers and they respond immediately to both spoken commands and hand signals. The dogs are quite a valuable portion of the law enforcement team.

This may sound like a full day (and it was) but even with all of these activities they actually managed to keep an old time sawmill in operation all day. A four-foot saw blade connected to an engine by a twelve-foot leather belt made planks out of 20-inch logs.

By the end of the day we had hungry Scouts and Leaders. It didn’t take long before we had the Dutch oven out. The menu included Pepsi Chicken, green beans, and fresh fruit. It certainly tastes better with a little wood smoke in the air.

After dinner we had a campfire for the entire group of 200 plus Scouts and Leaders. This campfire included a “Beading” ceremony for three committed adult Scouters. To non-Scouters that means that these three had finally completed their Wood Badge training and were being both awarded and honored for going well above and beyond the call of duty.

After the campfire the Scouts settled around a table in camp and played cards by lantern light. They had a snack of jerky and trail mix as they played and then drifted off one by one to their sleeping bags.

It was a very cool evening but that just made breakfast taste even better. We had a Scout breakfast of sausage, egg, and cheese sandwiches with hot chocolate as we thought of breaking camp. Breaking camp kept us both active and warm while we made jokes about the sheets of ice that had formed on the puddles overnight. It had been cool indeed.

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