2018 Summer Camp Highlights
The 2018 Troop 3 summer camp at Camp Smitty once again provided many memorable
experiences. As busy as life gets each year the Scouts and leaders of Troop 3 look forward to spending a simpler week out of their “comfort zone” roughing it in the wilds of a unique and beautiful wilderness camp in Wirt County, West Virginia. Once again this summer outing provided a much-needed respite from cellphones, the Internet, Facebook, Snap Chat, Twitter, and all the rest of today’s modern social distractions.
As background, a Troop 3 summer camp experience is like no other in Scouting because of the rugged, outdoors program that teaches young men how to become self-sufficient. Camp Smitty, owned by Troop Three Alumni Inc., is located in a pristine wilderness area, surrounded on three sides by the scenic and gently meandering Hughes River. The only infrastructure on the camp’s property is a well, with a hand pump, that produces some of the sweetest tasting water that can be found.
Due to the absence of infrastructure it’s up to the boys and leaders to haul in and set up their tents and cooking areas, procure firewood, cook their meals, wash dishes, and cleanup their areas using the Patrol method. If one is looking for a summer camping experience where all he has to do is sit in his tent, have his meals served in a mess hall, and then pick and choose from a menu of events calculated to keep him from being bored, THIS IS NOT IT!!!!
At Camp Smitty the program is designed to promote the timeless values of the Scout Oath and Law while challenging each young Scout to develop a succession of skill sets that inspires exceptionalism. This unique summer camp provides a diverse and enriching outdoor learning experience that is designed to foster leadership, teamwork, responsibility, self-confidence, and all around character development.
The 100th edition of Troop 3 summer camp, the 54th at Camp Smitty, began with the Scouts of Troop 41, from Brookfield, Missouri, and the troop assembling and renewing old friendships on a cloudy and humid July 22nd Sunday morning at the intersection of the camp road and Deems Ford Road. After greeting one and all the Scouts began their traditional a one and a half mile hike to the campsite. Unlike past years when the hike was conducted in virtual silence, this year was different. The boys laughed, joked, and even sang a few verses of some of the old camp songs as they trekked down the trail.
Since rain showers were in the forecast, the group lost no time in setting up their tents and cooking tarps. As camp took shape a work detail quickly gathered wood for the evening’s campfire, which was promptly covered to avoid the elements.
After a refreshing swim in the nearby Hughes River, and completion of the evening flag ceremony, the hungry group chowed down to their first tasty meal in camp.
On Monday, the daily camp routine began with the traditional early morning “first call” as dew dripped gently on the tents from the nearby trees. After lunch, following a busy morning, the Scouts and leaders journeyed to Deems Ford in the Hughes River to unload and launch the troop’s canoes and kayaks. Once the boats were on the water everyone enjoyed a nice trip downriver to the camp’s swimming area.
Despite a torrential rainstorm later in the day, said to be one of the heaviest in recent memory, the evening meals got cooked and a raucous campfire was held. As the campfire died down, Troop 3 alum, Steve Mullen, caught the boy’s attention as he related a poignant event that suddenly occurred in 1975, some forty-four years ago. After much of the 1975 camp had been set up the troop’s founding Scoutmaster, eighty-four year-old Don B. Lowe, was discovered to have fallen over the hill above the swimming area. One of the first Scouts on the scene was Jim McHugh, who told his Scoutmaster that he didn’t know what to do. Although Scoutmaster Lowe’s life was quickly ebbing away he managed to say,” Yes you do Jim, use your Scouting skills.” And Jim did as he was told; he relied on his Scout training to get help for his ailing Scoutmaster.
The point of the story was to use it as a lesson for the boys to always be careful, develop their first aid skills, and then, “Be Prepared for anything that might happen in the future.”
Needless to say, this gave each campfire attendee something to think about for the rest of camp.
In addition to the usual camp activities and refreshing dips in, and boating on, the river, the highlight on Tuesday was a hike to the nearby “wind caves” where the group eagerly posed for pictures.
Wednesday, in addition to the normal camp routine, the boys worked on their Wilderness Survival merit badge requirements by building personal survival shelters in the nearby woods. Although each shelter looked slightly different, the Scouts took great pride in their accomplishments. After campfire, several Scouts elected to create a memorable experience by spending the night in their homemade shelters.
Thursday dawned with bright sunshine the promised to be the first rain-free day.
Since it was the last full day of camp heavy emphasis was placed on taking advantage of the wilderness setting to pass outdoors related Scout work before returning to civilization.
After lunch the Scouts took a trip upriver in their canoes and kayaks to the takeout point where each craft was loaded onto the boat trailer for the return to town the next day. Once the boats had been secured everyone assembled at the swimming area for the annual watermelon scramble. Baden Hoblitzell won the “scramble” for Troop 3 and Enzo Anthony of Troop 41 won the free-for-all “scramble” contest. And, as in the past, everyone gathered on the beach at the swimming area to feast on the sweet tasting watermelon.
Friday morning the rains returned as the tents were being taken down and loaded up for the return trip to town. Despite it having rained everyday except for Thursday, the river remained in great shape and much swimming and boating was enjoyed throughout the week.
Since the troop truck was loaded down with wet tarps and tents, Jim McHugh and Tom Dukas spent part of Saturday after camp unloading and spreading out the canvass to dry in the sun on the church parking lot. After the warmth of the sun had done it’s part, the newly dried tarps and tents were then placed storage in the basement of the Don B. Lowe Scout House.
So, there you have it, another year of Troop 3 summer camp is now in the history books. To those who were fortunate enough to spend the week at Camp Smitty, the experience left each with warm feelings that’ll last a lifetime.
We’d like to thank the dedicated leaders of Troop 3 and Troop 41 who donated their time this year to staff and help make camp a place where young boys have a chance to transition towards grown men Without these dedicated men we would have never had the opportunity to watch this year’s crop of young Scouts leave camp a better person than when they arrived.
We’ve been told this great life can always end, and that the best things like Troop 3 summer camp should never be assumed. So, it’s important that one never take for granted they will always be able to make the annual pilgrimage to this unique outing that has become the adhesive of our lives.
We say it every year. As the week of summer camp draws to a close, everyone wishes they could have one more day, one more night, in the wilderness at Camp Smitty. While we know that all good things eventually have to end, this unique summer camp experience always leaves us a warm and satisfying feeling as we eagerly make plans to return in 2019.