Where can an intrepid and adventurous boy go to build fires, trek mountains, and experience the outdoors? The answer is Boy Scout Summer Camp, where I was for a week this summer. Summer camps are run by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) organization, now more than 100 years old. The BSA encourages boys to preserve and protect the wilderness, to understand and appreciate nature, to be a leader in the community, and to learn various skills such as Lifesaving, Camping, and Swimming.
I went with Troop 2000, my Boy Scout unit, to go to the summer camp at Rainey Mountain in northern Georgia. Rainey Mountain is a Boy Scout reservation located by breathtaking mountains and a gleaming lake.
Each day for a full week, I took various courses to earn merit badges, awards for learning different abilities and skills. A Boy Scout needs at least 21 merit badges and needs to lead a community service project to rise to the sixth and highest rank: Eagle Scout. Only 5% of all Boy Scouts make it to the rank of Eagle.
My merit badge courses were First Aid, Environmental Science, Citizenship in the Nation, Communication, and Citizenship in the World. During these days, I acquired much knowledge in class, from treating snakebites to the benefits of greenhouse gases.
At night, my fellow scouts and I slept on bunk beds in wooden Adirondack cabins with no electricity.
Throughout the week, I participated in many activities, one of which was the Scout Skills Competition. I was a member of the team representing my troop and after an evening filled with tying knots, orienteering with compasses, lashing with ropes to make camp gadgets, and building fires with flint and steel, our team emerged in first place as the fastest to be done with the challenge.
Apart from classes and activities, we had meals in the dining hall, where the camp staff made breakfast, lunch, and dinner for us. Before breakfast and dinner, the highly patriotic scouts and staff lined up for the rising and lowering of the American and state flags, which would be accompanied by a loud cannon shot and a tune played on a bugle. Afterwards, staff members would make announcements about fun stuff happening around the camp and during our couple hours of free time, my friends and I went to many demonstrations and lectures held by Eagle Scouts that were part of the camp staff.
Also, I liked to go with my buddies during free time to the trading post to buy a slushy, some candy, or an ice cream. This little camp store was the embassy of the outside world.
Some boys went fishing for trout in the camp’s lake and I heard that someone in our troop caught six fish in four minutes!
Every boy had something to do at summer camp and we all had a blast! Boys were boys, and sometimes we were messy, but when it came to cleaning up, I think we did a swell job. From the minute we joined scouting, we knew to leave no trace. There was no physical trace or evidence that we were ever there at summer camp for a week, but in our minds, we boys will cherish the awesome memories of Boy Scout Summer Camp.
—Kid Reporter Andrew Liang