It was raining Saturday, but to these experienced Scouts, it was nothing.
Nothing like last year, that is.
The Twin Rivers Boy Council held its Fall Camporee at the Saratoga Spa State Park this weekend. Last year, they were in Ticonderoga — and had to evacuate in a flood. So they kept an experienced eye on the weather this time.
“Last fall, we were up at 3 o’clock bailing our tents out,” Troop 3054 Senior Patrol Leader Micheal Schaefer said. “That’s why we were a little nervous about this year, because it’s raining.”
Some parents might not want their children to experience a flood, even a minor one, but troop leaders said Scouts remember lessons learned in adversity. Troop 40 Scoutmaster Jeff Cornell pointed to two of his Scouts, who turned out in shorts on the 55-degree morning.
“Next time they’ll remember to be prepared,” he said. “We teach them what they should have, and they work at it and learn.”
Scouts who waded out of last fall’s encampment have learned a great deal.
“Last fall, our food tent flipped over. It took out two or three troops,” Schaefer said. “This year, we definitely added a lot more: more sweatshirts, extra stakes, rain coats, double of everything. Just to be completely prepared.”
He glanced at the dribbling sky.
“This is nothing,” he said with experience.
Another patrol leader was thinking of last year’s events too.
Nate DeKalb, a senior patrol leader for Troop 40, said he was relieved to be able to choose good locations for the troop’s tents this year.
“Last year, they wouldn’t let us camp where we wanted to, up high,” he said. “They put us in a valley. All of the water came down; there was 6 inches of water on the ground.”
But he added that his troop had been ready to stick it out, while others were chasing down tents that had blown or floated away.
“We got up and tied down our canopy,” he said. “They canceled it, and we had to go home.”
Several parents came along with the troops to the state park, taking photos as their sons tasted mineral water and looked at the rushing rivers. Brent Phetteplace said the slight difficulties that the Scouts learn to handle on trips have turned his son into a confident young man.
“The kid is afraid of nothing now,” he said proudly. “It’s probably been one of the best experiences he’s ever been involved with. He has more enthusiasm than he knows what to do with.”
And, he said, the merit badge system gives boys a way to earn respect through learning.
“Every time a kid earns a merit badge, they stand a little taller,” he said.
For some, the trip was one of many they had taken over the years in Scouting. For a few, though, it was their very first trip after moving up from Cub Scouts. Daniel Baran of Troop 277 was overjoyed to be exploring the park in the rain with a troop of boys mostly older than him.
“I didn’t expect to move up in March, I thought it would maybe be this fall,” he said happily. “I get to explore the great outdoors and places I’ve never been before.”