On Sunday morning, June 19, Troop #344 assembled at Waynedale United Methodist Church parking lot in anticipation of leaving for summer camp. Camp Chief Little Turtle was their destination. Twenty-two scouts and seven leaders ventured out on their yearly trek to attend Week 2 of 5 weeks offered to scouts at the Angola area campgrounds.
Scoutmaster Andy Dukarski brought the scouts together and instructed them to go back to their fathers to wish them a Happy Father's Day before their departure. Chartered Organization Rep. Chris Seplak offered a prayer for a safe trip and return, to begin their journey. As the scouts dispersed to their appointed vehicles for travel, the caravan left W.U.M. for their 1-hour trip to camp.
Arriving at camp the anticipation started to build. The scouts were ready to set up camp, pitching new tents for the first time. The new tents were just purchased in time for the week-long campout. Soon tents started popping up one-by-one. As soon as all 22 scouts had their tents set up, and gear stored away, 7 new scouts, who had never experienced C.C.L.T. camping, started to investigate their surroundings. Troop #344 has claimed Shawnee as their campsite for the last 6 years. Conveniently Shawnee is the closest site to the shower house, and every campers dream, flush toilets.
Troop #344 campers, representing their patrols, were: "Wolverines"-John Dukarski, Rob Dukarski, Rory Lewis, and Bronson Long. "Flaming Arrows"-Ian Newton, Connor Minns, and Ben Treesh. "Cobras"-Hijiri Baker, Alvaro Caro, and Mason Thomas. "Dragons"-Aeon Fisher, Bobby Joe Freeman, Brenden Oechsle, Patrick Pommer, and William Wise. The newest scouts the "Flaming Piranhas"-Jim Byrum, A.J. Drummond, Wesley Earling, Dylan Haack, Marshall Long, Isaac Magsam, and Nick Phelps. Adults who took time out of their busy schedules were: Matt Johnson, Kevin Shadle, Fabio Caro, Joe Magsam, Steve Treesh, Doni Dukarski and Scoutmaster Andy Dukarski.
On Sunday evening the scouts enjoyed opening campfire, especially the younger scouts. Activities began Monday morning, right after breakfast. The 7 new scouts were able to experience the new first-year camper program "Turtle Quest". Turtle Quest gives the newer scouts insight into scouting and the skills needed as they progress through scouting. Twelve scouts were able to choose which merit badges they wanted to earn while at camp. Another new program offered to troops was to select 3 scouts who would compete as "Top Scouts". Top Scout is a cross between Top Ranger and Amazing Race. This competition went on through the week. They competed in canoe races, 20-mile bike rides, trebuchet building competitions, and many others. Selected to represent Troop #344 were John Dukarski, Bronson Long and Ian Newton. Most scouts filled their day with activities, and a few took advantage of a free period to go fishing or just relax at camp.
The Water Carnival took place on Monday evening. Troops could compete in different events, but for Troop #344 the "Water Ball" competition was huge. Sixteen troops began in bracket competition. Water Ball is where a metal ball on a 30-foot cable 15 feet overhead is maneuvered by water pressure from fireman hoses courtesy of Pleasant Lake Fire Department. The object is to pressure the ball past your opponent's line, similar to tug-of-war. Troop #344 represented by Alvaro Caro, Hijiri Baker, Brenden Oechsle, Patrick Pommer and 1st year scout Dylan Haack started off with a win moving to the round of 8. Winning their 2nd round moved them to the quarterfinals. They won their 3rd match to reach the semis. Winning the semi-finals, they moved to the championship round. After a long fought battle at midfield, Troop #344 "pressured" their opponent to the brink to capture the Water Ball competition. In years past #344 has taken 2nd or 3rd, but finally captured the championship that had eluded them the past few years. Afterwards, scouts were able to go downhill on a giant slip and slide.
On Tuesday evening the scouts attended a non-denominational service. Soon after the service completed, inclement weather blew into the area and sirens went off. The scouts were instructed to move into C.C.L.T.'s storm shelter where the camp stayed secure for the next 1½ hours. As the storm blew over and left the area, scouts were allowed to return to their campsites.
On Wednesday evening, troops were able to design, build, and compete in a trebuchet (catapult) competition. Only 2 troops took advantage. Troop #344 built theirs under the guidance of Rob Dukarski. The Top Scout group was able to enter their trebuchet. It was designed and built through the leadership of John Dukarski. But, alas, the other troop that entered won the competition by sending their water-filled milk jug a distance of 64 feet 8 inches to capture the title. Scout families were invited to visit camp, and enjoy dinner with the troop. The always favorite lasagna was prepared and served. Families taking advantage of the visit were the Longs, Fishers, Newtons and Dukarskis.
On Thursday morning Bobby Joe Freeman represented Troop #344 in a 5K run. Being the youngest competitor at 12 years of age. Bobby Joe fared well coming in 4th. Mason Thomas took advantage of the offer for scouts to join the Order of the Arrow. Mason was able to be called out, and complete his ordeal while at camp. He received his sash, and was welcomed into the order with his fellow Arrow men. Sixteen scouts in Troop #344 are now members. Thursday night C.C.L.T. came alive with a camp party. The Turtle Quest participants ended the evening by hiking to C.C.L.T.'s covered wagons where they built campfires, made fudge, smores, performed skits, and camped overnight.
On Friday, scouts were able to finish their merit badges. Camp-wide games ended the activities with raft building and races. Bobby Joe Freeman and Ben Treesh competed for Troop #344. On Friday evening troops assembled at the flag poles to enter "Whispering Pines," a path that leads to the final campfire. At campfire, troops each took turns presenting skits. Awards were given out for all the competitions that took place throughout the week. Anticipation built as the "Top Scout" winner was announced. First place was achieved by .25 points. John Dukarski, Bronson Long, and Ian Newton captured the week long event, and were awarded engraved eagle head pocket knives.
Each troop that competed and participated in all events was awarded the Blue Heron Award. After 5 years the troop is awarded a Blue Heron plaque. Troop #344 accomplished that this year, and was presented a plaque. Troop #344 was established in 1991. They have attended C.C.L.T. every year for the past 21 years. I don't think any troop can claim this achievement except for Troop #344.
On Saturday morning the troop broke camp, piled into the vehicles and started making plans for next year.
Many of the scouts who would not have been able to attend camp and experience C.C.L.T. have someone to thank. A donation of $1,200 from the Son's of the American Legion and the behind the scene effort of Walt Presser was greatly appreciated. Without their support many scouts would not have gone to camp this year.
Another thank you goes out to the Waynedale Lion's Club. The new tents that were purchased were through a $600 donation from the Lion's.
Finally, a thank you goes out to the Fraternal Order of Eagles for a donation of $1,270 to be used for troop supplies and more tents.
Scoutmaster, Andy Dukarski would like to thank all the sponsors of Troop #344: Waynedale United Methodist Church, Waynedale Lion's Club, The Son's of the American Legion and the Fraternal Order of Eagles for all donations past and present.
Your support helps by giving these young boys a chance to be someone. To have an activity that builds their confidence and self-esteem. It helps build character, and gives them an insight for their futures. These young men will be our leaders of tomorrow. If you would like to support Troop #344 contact Andy Dukarski @ 478-9033.
If you are a male 11 years to 17 years of age or know of someone interested in adventure, contact Scoutmaster Andy Dukarski @ 478-9033. Troop #344 meets every Tuesday from 7:00pm to 8:30pm, downstairs at Waynedale United Methodist Church, Church Street, Waynedale.
If you are male or female, ages 14 years to 21 years and looking for high adventure, W.U.M. also offers Venturing. Contact Advisor Kevin Shadle @ 410-5140. Crew #2344 meets every other Thursday night from 7:30pm to 9:00pm, downstairs at W.U.M.