Samuel’s Scouting Journey

This post is about Samuel’s 3-4 years spent in scouts. Hopefully you will like the photos and stories, and get an appreciation of what scouts is about and what it takes to advance.

It all started in January 2016 with our first campout at Alligator Creek with Troop 13 which was affiliated with Samuel’s school. It was a weekend of fun to show prospective boys how much fun scouting was, and it worked! I mostly remember how cold it was, realizing our cheap (and heavy) sleeping bags wouldn’t cut it!

Alligator Creek was a great Troop 13 location.
“I quite like this camping idea.”
Good morning!

The first real participation Samuel had in the troop was summer camp. In July 2016, 14 scouts and 7 adults headed to Camp Daniel Boone in North Carolina. It was a great escape from the Texas heat, which we later learned would be Samuel’s priority! It was a fantastic start for Samuel as not only did he have fun, he learned many of the required basic scouting skills needed for advancement as well as earning his first four merit badges (Fingerprinting, Horsemanship, First Aid and Pioneering).

Our official camp photograph
Learning to fish. I could only ever teach him how to feed fish. Catching is different!
Oh yes, the water is cold!
Our campsite – they provided the tents.
Chilling out in said tents.
The unofficial camp photograph!
As you would expect from Texans, early one morning the boys swapped out the camp’s North Carolina flags with ones they thought were more appropriate. The camp took a dim view…
Photo courtesy of Vance! Samuel did not react well to the teacher of the Horsemanship merit badge, who was a bit controlling. Note his sole defiance of the seating instruction!

Samuel participated in the color guard in August, and even got in the paper!

Having achieved his Scout rank in September 2016, he earned his Canoeing Merit Badge during a campout at Huntsville State Park

Enjoying a paddle!
Vance maintaining control of the scouts.

Having trained all year, Samuel completed the 2-day, 170 mile “Bike Around the Bay” on 16th October 2016, the youngest person on the ride (by far!). He was one of the top thirty fundraisers for Galveston Bay Foundation and was featured in their magazine. At the finish line on day 1, there was a “beer tent” for such fundraisers, and they went out of their way to ensure Samuel got his favorite large Starbucks! Having completed a bike maintenance class at a local Bike Barn shop, he earned his Cycling Merit Badge.

The first day was 100 miles. With 15 miles to go, Samuel just took off (through downtown Galveston) and I could not keep up. We both showed our pleasure at finishing day one in different ways!
Day one and 100 miles in the books!
Special treat with our cycling inspiration, Max the turtle! Note Samuel’s sunburnt legs, which was his biggest issue.
The highlight of day 2 was crossing the Fred Hartman bridge.
Finished!
Finishing off the merit badge with a maintenance class, which was taught by an Eagle Scout!

In October, camping-friendly temperatures return to Texas and the troop headed to Brazos Bend State Park where they could earn the Astronomy Merit Badge, and Samuel was able to achieve his Tenderfoot rank.

Simulating a Mars landing.
Simulating a crash in the Mars lander. You can’t take it too seriously 🙂
Learning civics with Texas State Representative Bohac.
Catching some stars!

There are of course those campouts with no photos… Ours was the December campout to Big Thicket in East Texas where the scouts unknowingly hunkered down through tornado warnings with no cellphone reception, and the phone/camera was one of the casualties! Everyone dried out sufficiently for the Fall Court of Honor which was immediately afterwards.

Samuel’s first Court of Honor

Having achieved his Second Class rank in December, Samuel was keen to continue progressing and attended Winter Camp at Camp Karankawa south of Houston in Sweeney. The weather was kind and Samuel earned his Wilderness Survival and Orienteering merit badges, along with many of the requirements for Camping and Cooking. I attended Wilderness First Aid training for two days – it helps to be prepared in the back country!

Cooking!
Wilderness survival – the start of a long night. Fortunately it did not rain much!
I guess they got some sleep… It just have been after the coyotes had finished howling.

2017 started with Samuel finishing off a planter for the Family Life Merit Badge, and it is still at our front porch today!

Before
During
After!

This was shortly followed by the Chess Merit Badge.

February was the month when the troop would collect for “Scouting for Food” and would set records each year. In 2017 the boys collected 2900 lbs for the food bank. This was followed by a return to Alligator Creek where Samuel earned his Shotgun Merit Badge, participated in a flag retirement ceremony, and earned his First Class rank, as well as the necessary chilling!

Learning to shoot, like every Texan needs to.
Retiring flags.
Being grilled in his First Class Rank board of review.
Having happily passed his First Class Board of Review
Group photo
Gotta chill in that hammock.

Next up was Samuel’s first backpacking campout with the troop to the Lone Star Hiking Trail in the Sam Houston National Forest (which I later caused him to loathe), he completed the Communication and Swimming merit badges, and he started serving as Troop Bugler at the Garner State Park campout which was a troop favorite.

On the Lone Star Hiking Trail, before his Dad pushed him too hard in the heat and caused him to loathe it…
Presenting about pollution running into Galveston Bay as part of Communications MB
The gang at Garner State park in May 2017

Marsh Mania in Galveston Bay was a popular service opportunity. It involves planting sea grass in the bay to help protect the shoreline from erosion. As a combination of getting muddy and wet, it is perfect for boy scouts!

The gang, once again.
Deep in the mud!

Next up was summer camp to Camp Hale in Oklahoma. I’d been organizing this but at the last minute, I got a new job which had a key meeting in Europe. Vance kindly stepped up and also took loads of photos! While many merit badges were completed (Snow Sports, Environmental Science, Weather, Oceanography and Small-Boat Sailing), the main memory is how hot it was! Samuel was busy throughout that summer with merit badges, also completing Cooking, Citizenship in the Community, Nation and World, Emergency Preparedness and Personal Fitness, and Camping. All of this before Hurricane Harvey hit Houston on Friday 25th August 2017.

Samuel was not very impressed with skiing on a large toothbrush. Fortunately, he has since been able to ski on real snow a couple of times.
Sailing, but not much wind!
Gotta stay cool.

In October, the troop was able to complete the Geology Merit Badge, which included going to see a live well in West Houston and get an oil sample.

Oil!

Next up was the Climbing Merit Badge during a campout in November at Enchanted Rock which had always been a troop favorite.

Going up – not a problem!
Coming down – even easier!
The gang.

In December, Samuel helped with Angels of Light, a Christmas outreach of our charter organization Second Baptist Church, and participated in an Introduction to Leadership Skills Training (ILST) with the troop.

Sorting food for Angels of Light
Perhaps not being quite so helpful…
Learning teamwork in ILST

That winter was particularly busy for Samuel. Before Christmas, he completed the Outer Mountain Loop, a 50-mile hike through the desert in Big Bend National Park, which completed some of the Backpacking Merit Badge requirements. After Christmas, he attended Okpik Winter Camp at the Northern Tier camp in Minnesota, where the temperature dropped to -34 degF. Both of these adventures are worthy of their own post which I will do later. Minnesota was more of a memorable experience than fun, but much was learned about how to stay warm, though why anyone would want to ice fish remains a mystery!

2018 arrived with a campout at Bovay Scout Ranch focusing on the Cooking Merit Badge, planting trees in Memorial Park, collecting 1000’s of pounds of food again for Scouting for Food. This was followed in February with the Longhorn Caverns Wild Cave Tour (unfortunately no Merit Badge 😦 ) while camping at Inks Lake State Park and serving as the Outdoor Ethics Guide .

Eating at Bovay Scout Ranch. Wait a sec – isn’t it supposed to be the Cooking Merit Badge?
Tree planting in Memorial Park
The 2018 Scouting for Food, which unfortunately was our last one.
The gang ready to go caving. The group size is indicative of the shrinking troop, which had stopped taking on any new members.
Caveman Samuel!
The gang above ground in the beautiful Texas Hill Country

In March 2018, Samuel participated in an OA ordeal to become a member of the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s National Honor Society. In the same month, Samuel helped lead the hiking during a backpacking weekend revisiting the Lone Star Hiking Trail in the Sam Houston National Forest, and shortly afterwards attained his Life rank.

Samuel and his fellow OA ordeal participants
He survived the “ordeal” and became a member.
The gang at Lone Star Hiking Trail’s Trailhead #1
It’s important to learn how to chill in the forest!
The expressions say it all – I’m sure they were up to no good!

With the summer heat coming to Houston, activities switched to the water. in April 2018, Samuel completed his PADI Open Water Certificate and the SCUBA Merit Badge with Sugar Land Dive Center (that we strongly recommend). This was in preparation for a diving trip to Seabase and he has continued to love diving. He also participated in Marsh Mania again in Galveston Bay, earned the Canoeing Merit Badge during a campout on Matagorda Beach (but never again because of the sand), and the Lifesaving Merit Badge with Gigglin’ Marlin.

Happy to be a certified diver after qualifying at Lake 288.
Probably not the best way to move a canoe through the water.
A beautiful campsite, except for the SAND!
Marsh Mania revisited.
Pelicans fly out of Samuel’s head!

After a fine Spring Court of Honor, Samuel started his summer vacation with a photography course in Galveston organized by Texas A&M. As well as giving him exposure to life in a college dorm for a week, he was instructed by a professional photographer and could complete the requirements for the Photography merit badge.

Presentation of awards by Troop 13’s adVANCEment chair.
A fine turn out of scouts across the whole spectrum of ranks.
Keen photography students, with a selection of Samuel’s favorite photos from the class below below.

Next was Samuel’s third and final summer camp. After the previous summer’s experience in the heat, the troop decided Colorado was a preferred destination. 11 scouts with four adults headed to Camp Alexander in early July 2018 and had a fantastic time. As well as completing six merit badges (Archery, Wood Carving, Mining, Search and Rescue, Leatherwork, and Rifle Shooting), Samuel enjoyed the Whitewater Rafting.

Official camp photo, with a bonus rainbow!
Hammock city.
A (mini) bear checking out our campsite. Don’t keep food in your tent!
About to get a bullseye.
The rafting crew
Great scenery.
When unsure of what to do, find a large rock to sit on top of!

Samuel and I returned to Colorado later that summer for a 50-mile backpacking trip that completed his Backpacking Merit badge, but that will be described in a separate post. Troop activities continued with a canoeing campout on “Scout Island” in the Colorado River near Bastrop in October, followed by the Aviation Merit Badge at Lonestar Flight Museum in December.

Tent city on Scout Island. There was another troop on the island, but there was still plenty of room.
I guess he was having fun!
Conducting a pre-flight check at the Lonestar Flight Museum
On his way to earn his wings? Still a LONG way to go…

December 2018 also brought the culmination of Samuel’s Eagle Scout project. Earlier in the year in June, he’d selected the revitalization of the deck outside C-gym at school and got it approved, but a lot of preparation work had to be performed before the project day. He worked with the school to get the wood replaced by contractors and to get approval for the color and benches. He prepared and stained a small section of the deck to ensure it would work as intended, and realized the wooden railing would need refinishing as well to match. Project day came on December 15th with kind weather, and ended with an exhausted Samuel!

“Before.” The usage of the deck was declining as it fell into disrepair.
After much of the wood was replaced, Samuel prepared a test section…
… which he then masked and painted,
and assembled one of the benches.
He was pleased with the result, but more importantly, it was approved!
A crew of scouts, former scouts, and friends gathered
and worked hard all day under Samuel’s supervision, who was guided by our masterful Eagle Advisor.
A few survived until the end
Mission accomplished. He had certainly had enough.
“After.” One revitalized deck, ready for lots more use!

The final troop campout was a weekend in January 2019 at “Swampbase” in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin. After exploring the swamp by canoe for several hours, the troop slept on houseboats in the middle. It was a favorite campout for many of the boys.

The swamp crew!
Just hanging out under Interstate 10.
Houseboats in the middle of the swamp. The perfect place to stay!
The ubiquitous hammock.

On 6th February 2019, Samuel successfully passed his board of review. It would not have been possible without the tremendous support and efforts of so many other adults associated with Troop 13 for which I am tremendously thankful.

Samuel and his reviewers.
Proud parents!
He was glad he had made it.

The highlight of Samuel’s scouting journey was still to come. In March 2019, a crew of eight spent Spring Break at scouting’s Florida Sea Base for a week of diving. This also deserves a dedicated post. Samuel served as Senior Patrol Leader for this trip, and learned a lot from the very experienced Divemaster who was assigned to our crew.

Just a taster photo. More to come soon!

There were a few other activities, generally around other scout’s Eagle projects, but unfortunately this was the end of Troop 13’s outdoor program, and hence Samuel’s involvement in Scouts. We looked at possibilities in either Venturing or Sea Scouts or another troop, but nothing really fit. As hopefully this blog shows, the scouting journey sowed many seeds and Samuel has continued many adventurous pursuits, and we hope he will continue to do so.

In October 2019, Troop 13 held it’s final hurrah in the form of an Eagle Court of Honor, and of course Samuel participated. It was a fitting end to a great journey.

“On my honor…”
Our Eagle Scout.
The final 13 Eagle Scouts from Troop 13.

That was Samuel’s scouting journey. 6 ranks , 43 merit badges, 59 nights of camping, 59 service hours, 4 positions of responsibility, and countless memories. It takes a lot of effort, both from Samuel and the many adults who selflessly support the activities, but all so very worth it. I look forward to sharing about Samuel’s other adventures!

Published by Peter Ireland

I am originally from England, and my wife is from Louisiana. When we started Geocaching in 2002, we needed a name, and the Cajunlimeys were created, and that is the name I use for my blog. Even though Janet has no Cajun blood, her cooking is excellent! We live in Houston, Texas, with Bailey and Samuel. We love adventures and wanted to be able to share the experiences with others. When planning trips, I have found other people’s sites very useful, so I want to give back and add a different perspective.

2 thoughts on “Samuel’s Scouting Journey

  1. This is a great batch of pictures. Your troop sure did a lot of neat things. Ours does, too – but we find ourselves wishing for more (hence our going on some of our own trips!).

    Like

  2. Thanks! Our troop tried to do a campout once a month during the school year, with a summer camp somewhere cooler. Most campouts included something more than just camping, often a MB or a taste of high adventure. Around Houston, there were quite a few opportunities for an organization to teach a MB (like kayaking Aviation).

    I should add that for the last couple of years, I was the scoutmaster and another Dad (Vance) was the advancement chair, and we were both very keen to do things. We were lucky to have the time to organize it (looking back, I don’t know how we found the time!), and our kids at that time didn’t have much else going on which helps. When I could not get enough interest from others, we could go on our own – like the local winter camp, and the trip to Northern Tier where we could work out how to join others. Sea Base had a similar system, but I managed to drum up enough interest to get a full crew of 8 for that one. While the troop was small, there was a strong legacy which helped including a landowner where we could camp and shoot, and a strong (and tough!) Eagle project counselor. I think we all enjoyed it more when we found someone else to organize, as it was generally their passion and it would be a fresh face, and give the troop adults a break! We are lucky with what is available around here, though the cave and the swamp are each a 3-4 hour drive.

    Keep up the fun!

    Like

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