From Jon Belmont (Trip Honcho):
This past weekend's Winter Skills & Shooting Sports campout at Leominster Sportsmen's Association (LSA) was one our scouts won't soon forget! The trip was led by SPL Ben Sprague with PLs Tommy Dohoney, Jonah Carter, and Freddy McWilliams, and honcho'd by myself and Mr. Ramon "Iron Chef" Cancio. Our host, Mr. Art O'Leary (LSA president & Scout chairman) brought a few of his Troop 11 Leominster scouts to the Saturday activities, but only our Troop 132 boys braved the elements to stay overnight for one of our coldest campouts on record... temperatures dipped down to -1 degree F!
Upon arrival at the campsite, scouts quickly offloaded vehicles, established their bed-down locations, and dropped off packs and gear before heading to the skeet range just 1/4 mile away. After receiving a safety briefing from the Rangemaster, about 3/4 of the scouts elected to try their hand at turning clay pigeons into powder one 20-gauge shotgun shell at a time. The remaining scouts looked on and cheered for each shooter while putting the ample snow cover to good use for caves and snowball fights. Tommy "Deadeye" Dohoney and "Lucas the Laser" Anthony were among our best young shooters (though several others nipped at their heels) as scouts each got to shoot upwards of 30 rounds in some cases. Since the Army-Navy game is coming up this weekend, it should also be mentioned that our West Point grad honcho Jon Belmont) outshot our Annapolis grad honcho (Ramon Cancio) without breaking a sweat :)
After finishing at the skeet range, scouts grabbed some lunch and set up the campsite. Most scouts used troop-issued tents, but some of our hardier boys erected snow tents or shelters of various shape and configuration. With daylight waning, the SPL mustered the troop and proceeded to the pond's spillway, across from the LSA lodge. There, we found that branches, logs, and other debris had partially blocked up the overflow, which was holding the pond about a foot higher than normal. Using gravel rakes, gloves, and (most importantly) the buddy system, the gang broke up the jam in a manner that would have made the Corps of Engineers proud, and left the club's president quite pleased. With an hour's worth of service project well-earned under their belts, the boys returned to the campsite to dry off wet gloves and to cook their patrol meals. One patrol prepared some delicious tacos with all the fixins', another prepared some spaghetti with -- well -- LESS than all the fixins', and a third patrol let the campfire do the hard work for them as they enjoyed foil-wrapped sausage and peppers. A one-legged chicken also found its way onto a rotisserie spit over the fire! Meanwhile, the two honchos suffered through a meager meal consisting of a slow-cooked and dry-rubbed rack of ribs, Dutch oven cornbread, foil-cooked sweet potato casserole, and a Dutch oven cobbler..... those poor souls.
With dinner cleaned up, the sun long since set, and the temperature dropping, the scouts made their way to the LSA lodge to take turns firing .22 rifles on the indoor range downstairs. Some scouts fired more than 100 rounds, as there were ample lanes, targets, and different types of rifles to choose from, all under the watchful eye of Mr. O'Leary and a highly capable assistant instructor. With their "rounds complete", the scouts proceeded upstairs to take in a classic movie - Monty Python and the Holy Grail - before returning to camp just before midnight. The surest way to get a good night's sleep in a cold environment is to enjoy a FULL and TIRING day... and these boys did just that!
The following morning, everyone awoke to a bright, cloudless sky and crisp air... as scouts emerged from their tents and shelters, they quickly found their way to the fire to warm up and start preparing breakfast. With full bellies and warmed up boots and gloves, they packed up the campsites and loaded up cars as the return transportation arrived around 10:30, bidding farewell to LSA for another year by 11:15 or so. All the scouts did an outstanding job! The leaders led, the followers followed, everyone stayed SAFE, and everyone had fun and learned something new!
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