Chapter 07

September was over, and the troop moved into October. The big event that month was the District Fall Camp-O-Ree, October 20 -22. The theme this year was first-aid. The first meeting was fun for almost everyone. Nick and Matt did a review of the basics, and then the Patrol Leaders got to be the 'injured victims' and spent the rest of the meeting being tied in knots.

Mr. Little spent some time with each of the new boys to be sure they knew what they needed for their next rank and that the troop was helping them get there. Neal had finished his Second Class and asked for his Scoutmaster Conference. By the end of the meeting, all the Raccoons were ready for a Board of Review for Tenderfoot, except Neal and Billy Woodcock, who were already Tenderfoot and were ready for their Second Class Board of Review. Kaleb Desotto had his Scout and was looking at the requirements he needed for Tenderfoot. The Eagle patrol was almost ready, and when they heard that the Raccoons were ahead of them, they decided they had better get moving.

The next meeting, there were actually two Boards of Review, because there were so many boys ready for one. Everyone passed and earned their ranks. Mr. Little announced them at the circle up at the end of the meeting. The next week there was a check of menus and an intense review of first aid. Game time was a bandage relay race. The Eagles won.

Friday night, October 20, the troop arrived and set up camp. Three sites down, Troop 582 was setting up. One of their boys spotted Kaleb and Billy and made some comment about the fags being here. One of the Camp-O-Ree leaders heard him and took him to the Scoutmaster of Troop 582.

Of course, Br. Michael said all the right things to the leader, but after the man left he called his troop together. "Boys, that Presbyterian troop is here. We are going to beat them tomorrow and show them that they aren't so hot. If you see any way to sabotage them, without getting caught, do so. Come and get help if you need it. It doesn't matter how well we do, as long as we do better than they do. Any questions? Good."

The youth leaders discussed how to get 316 around the camp fire and had some plans ready for the next day. After breakfast, all the boys went to the assembly field. Large troops were split into two or three smaller groups. Troop 316 was to be split into two teams. The Raccoon and Eagle Patrols were kept and the Beavers, Vikings and Senior patrols split between them making two teams of sixteen boys.

Each team was assigned a starting station at random, and the morning competition began. Neal's team went to their station and they were to construct a stretcher and carry a team member across the field and back without dropping him. Neal took charge and had the blanket and staves put together and Ben McNeil loaded onto the stretcher, and off they went. About half way back, a kid ran out and crashed into them causing Bart Miller to drop one side of the stretcher and spilling Ben onto the ground. The Adult in charge of the station blew his whistle and ran out to the boys. The boy who had crashed into them had gotten up and run off, disappearing into the crowd that was gathering to see what had happened.

The adult said, when he reached them, "Is everyone all right?"

Bart was rubbing his wrist. "My wrist hurts, but that's all."

Ben was standing next to the stretcher. "I'm okay."

The adult looked around for the kid that ran into them, and he wasn't anywhere. "This wasn't your fault. So, you need to replace this boy," he indicated Bart, "and I'll restart the stopwatch when you pick up the stretcher again."

Monty stepped forward to take Bart's place. Everyone else returned to the finish line and waited for them to continue.

When they were going to their next station, Billy Woodcock said to Matt Little, "That kid was Jeffrey Nesbitt, from my old troop."

Matt replied, "Well, let's hope that was just a freak accident and coincidence."

Two stations later, at the fireman's carry relay, a similar incident nearly happened. Bart, who was returning from the medic who had looked at his wrist and had him put some ice on it, saw the kid watching and getting ready to run. Bart managed to grab the kid by his belt in back and keep him from causing another 'accident.' When released, the boy ran off, but not before Bart saw the 582 on the boy's canteen cover.

At the end of the day, there had been five different incidents, three on the Raccoons and two on the Eagles. The conversation in the troop at dinner was about how much fun they had and the different things that happened that could have really hurt their scores. Nick Stokley, the Senior Patrol Leader, asked some more questions. He had been with the Eagle patrol, and they had two incidents, one of which they knew the boy was from 582, because he was wearing a Troop 582 T-shirt. The other, they couldn't identify the boy at all. The Raccoons however, could identify all the troublemakers, since Billy and Kaleb had so recently left that troop and church.

Nick, at first, was furious that the other troop seemed to be targeting them. He left the group to cool down. Matt followed his best friend. "Nick, calm down, please. Look, all the guys had a great time and aren't letting this bother them. You know, 'A Scout is Cheerful'."

Nick took a deep breath. "Good point. It just really gets me that they tried to sabotage our guys. And Bart came close to breaking his wrist. They were pretty clever, too. We could identify most of the boys, but then it would be our word against theirs."

"Yeah, so just let it go. Besides, our best revenge is to just enjoy the weekend. Besides, I'll bet we did better than they did. Our guys were up to the task and knew their stuff. They were preoccupied with doing things to make us look bad."

"You're right, Matt. Thanks, I feel better now." Nick and Matt rejoined the others and helped with the cleanup.

After dinner, one of the Camp-O-Ree leaders came to the Troop 316 campsite. He talked to Mr. Little; then Nick, Matt, Preston and Neal were called over.

Mr. Little introduced them to Dr. Neer, the Event Chairman. "Boys, another troop has made accusations that you cheated on several of the stations."

Nick, much more calmly than he felt, said, "Sir, there were several things that happened that the judges of those stations witnessed that could have been what is being referred to. For example, on the first station that our Raccoon team was on, a boy from another troop ran out of the woods and into the stretcher. One of the carriers was injured and the judge ruled that, since it was not our fault, we could replace the carrier and resume the race without penalty."

Dr. Neer nodded. "That certainly sounds reasonable."

Matt then said, "At the fireman's carry station, one of our team, returning from the medic, stopped a similar incident. It might be of interest that in all these cases the accident or near accident were perpetrated by members of the same troop. We have had some bad experiences with this troop in the past."

"And that troop is?" Dr. Neer asked.

Nick thought, then replied, "Sir, I am having a bit of difficulty knowing how to answer that. If I tell you, that seems to violate two points of the Scout Law, Loyal and Friendly."

Mr. Little added, "I commend you for thinking like that, but you have a loyalty to this troop and your fellow Scouts here. I'm not sure not telling the unit number is being friendly, and an official has asked you, and how does not telling fit with Trustworthy?"

"Boy, Mr. Little, that's tough," Nick said. With a sigh, he faced Dr. Neer, "In all but one case the boy causing or trying to cause the trouble was from Troop 582."

"I thought as much." Dr. Neer sadly shook his head. "What about the other incident?"

Nick said, "We couldn't get a good enough look at the boy to identify him or his troop."

Dr. Neer shook his head. "I wish I could say I was surprised. Br. Michael, their Scoutmaster, is the one who made the complaint. I have already spoken to the judges at all the stations, not just the ones involved in the incidents. Every one of them remembers your two teams as being the best examples of Scouts in action. Now, do you want to pursue the issue with the other troop?"

Nick said, "No, Sir, I hate to think they can do this kind of thing and get away with it, but I would hate to see the event ruined for our guys and the other troops involved. I just hope 582 didn't get top score."

Dr. Neer smiled. "Your wish is my command. At least in this case. I thank you for your honesty and concern for ALL the participants here."

At the end of the Campfire that evening, Dr. Neer came forward and raised his right hand in the Scout Sign. Everyone fell silent. "Did you have a good time today?" The answering cheer was deafening. "That is great! We will have a final assembly tomorrow morning at nine o'clock. There will be a short religious service, and then we will give the ribbons to the outstanding troops. There will be a leaders' meeting at eight thirty. Be sure at least one adult from each unit attends. That is where you will get the patches for the event. We'll close tonight by singing Scout Vespers and then return silently to your campsites." Softly Dr. Neer began and everyone quickly joined in: (Sung to the tune Maryland, My Maryland aka Oh, Christmas Tree)

Softly falls the light of day,

While our campfire fades away.

Silently each Scout should ask

Have I done my daily task?

Have I kept my honor bright?

Can I guiltless sleep tonight?

Have I done and have I dared

Everything to be prepared?

The boys and adults quietly left the campfire and made their way back to their camp sites. The Judges of the events and Camp-O-Ree staff had a meeting in the Mess Hall. Scores were tallied and there was just one major problem, two teams were tied for first place. After rechecking the scores and math, all agreed that they would award two first place awards. Then there was the discussion should they have a second place. Then the judges left and the staff made decisions on the other awards for the event. They were done and the awards completed ready for the presentation by midnight.

* * *

Reveille was played at seven o'clock by a staff member on his bugle. Troop 316 was up, the cooks were preparing breakfast, and the others were busy packing up their gear and taking down their tents. Everyone was in a terrific mood. At eight thirty everyone was packed. Mr. Little went to the leaders' meeting. Nick organized the boys packing the gear for the trip back to the church. Then they policed the area twice to be sure they were leaving it better than they found it.

At five minutes before nine they were all packed and on their way to the assembly area. The Scoutmaster from the troop chartered to the Episcopal Church in Havendale led the simple service. Then it was time for the awards. Troop 316 was recognized for cleanest camp. Next was the competition results. Third place went to Troop 582. Second place went to a unit at the far side of the next county.

The suspense was definitely building. Dr. Neer explained, "We had a real problem with the first place team. There were two teams that scored exactly the same. We checked each score and couldn't find any difference. The judges couldn't say one was any better than the other. So, it was decided that we would award two first place awards. Now we would like the Patrol leaders for the Raccoons and Eagles of Troop 316 to please come forward."

Neal and Preston made it through their guys, getting back slaps and high fives. The boys got their blue first place ribbons for the troop flag. Dr. Neer did not send them back to their seats, but kept them there by putting his hands on their shoulders. "I think we all can guess what troop has earned Outstanding Troop for the 2005Fall Camp-O-Ree. Boys, please take the ribbon to your Scoutmaster. Congratulations, 316!" Everyone cheered, with the exception of the boys and adults of troop 582.

At the circle up back at the church, Mr. Little told the boys how very proud he was of them. He handed out the patches. "Dr. Neer gave all of us the gold border patch that had been ordered for the staff. He said we were a very special unit, and this was his way of showing us. The staff voted to do it, giving up their own special patches. I think you guys are pretty special, too. Now, next meeting we need to have some ideas about using that donation given to us last month."

The boys then left to go home and share their experience with their parents.

* * *

The next Tuesday night there were lots of ideas on spending the money. A few of them were over-ruled immediately, such as splitting the cash, others were good ideas but not in the spirit of the gift, such as giving the money to a charity. After some discussion, Jackson Handly, the troop quartermaster said, "We have some equipment that really needs to be repaired or replaced, and we have more patrols than we have patrol kitchens. I would like to see us order three new kitchen sets and combine the three we have to make two complete sets. We need two more propane stoves. Then, use the remaining money to buy new patrol rain tarps."

Most of the guys had that 'DUH' expression. Nick called for a vote to go with Jackson's proposal. It passed unanimously. Jackson then gave the order form he had filled out to Mr. Carson, who was the troop treasurer, so he could write the check for the gear.

The next Friday, Mr. Little had some very important news. Andy Rolyat, a sixteen-year-old member of the troop had been located. On Andy's sixteenth birthday, he and his father had been in a motorcycle accident, and Andy's father had been killed. Andy was in the hospital, and then disappeared. Due to the HIPAA laws, no one could get any information about him.

At Thursday night's Cub Scout Pack meeting, one of the new dads mentioned a boy he was going to be a foster father for. It was Andy. So, Friday Mr. Little contacted the patrol leaders and told them where Andy was and that he could have visitors.

On Saturday there was a steady stream of visitors to see Andy. Mr. Little and his son Matt visited on Sunday. They were still there when Mr. Lee Harris and his foster sons returned to the rehab center. Mr. Harris promised to get Andy back to Troop meetings as soon as he was able.

The November camping trip was to a state park about two hours away. There was a nice hiking trail that was a bit more than ten miles. The plan was to hike the trail on Saturday. This would count as one of the ten-mile hikes needed for hiking merit badge. A couple of the older guys spent patrol time with the new boys to tell them what was available at the camp site they would be using.

The actual trip went well. All the boys finished the ten miles. No one got blistered feet, and there were no big time food disasters.

The third meeting in November, Neal brought a new boy. Adam had hair as white as Mr. Little's. Neal introduced Adam to the other boys and then took him to Mr. Little. "Mr. Little, this is Adam. He's my new brother. He has some problems and needs to talk to you to see if he can join."

With that, Neal went back to his patrol, leaving Adam with Mr. Little. "So, Adam, tell me about it." Mr. Little indicated a couple of chairs they could sit on.

"Well, I'm an albino," Adam said meekly.

Mr. Little smiled at Adam. "I thought so. I had a friend in college who was an albino, so I can guess some of your concerns."

Adam relaxed. "I can't be outside much. I sunburn real easy, even with sunblock, which is kind of icky."

"Well, Adam, we do lots of stuff that isn't out in the sun. Now, this last camping trip might not have been a good one for you. The camp itself is in the woods, but this time of year the leaves are off the trees, and so there was too much sun. About half the trail we hiked is in the open, so that would be a problem for you. Next month we are going to Neal's cave. That would be perfect for you."

"Oh, kewl! I like you, Mr. Little." Before he could react, Adam had given him a big hug and gone off to find Neal.

Dr. Leo Turnman approached Mike Little. "So, it appears Adam liked what you had to say. I know he will have some issues, and Tom and I will try to do whatever it takes for him to succeed in the program."

"Doc, I really don't think there will be too much problem, if we pay attention to things. My friend, Darryl, would go camping with us on breaks. He just had to always wear long sleeved shirts, long pants, a hat with a broad brim, gloves and sunglasses. We need to let him know if the trip we are going on may be too much for him. Does he have reading problems?"

Leo answered, "I don't have it all figured out yet. He seems to do pretty well, if he can hold things close to read. Also, too much light and he does worse. I'm thinking it is glare because of the lack of pigment in his irises."

"I'll be sure the senior patrol is aware of his problems, so they will be on hand if needed. It looks like he already fits in with the Raccoons."

"Yes, all those boys will support him and watch out for him, now. There was a bit of a problem at the school, and Tom is off to the School Board meeting tonight to address the problem. The basics are that Adam was being bullied in the boys' room, and Neal defended him, so Neal and Adam were suspended for eight days, each." Leo did his best not to get too angry.

Mike Little frowned. "More of that zero tolerance cra... stuff. Sometimes, it actually punishes the victim more than the guilty party."

"That was certainly true in this case. We'll keep you posted on things," Leo said.

"Sounds like Neal did the right thing. I'm sure all the guys here will support him, and Adam, too. Let me know if there is anything I or the troop can do to help out."

The next week there were a lot of rumors going around the troop. Finally Nick Stokley called all the boys together. "Look, guys, you all heard the rumors at school. So did I. I don't believe them for a second. They just don't make any sense. One advantage we have is that we have Neal and Adam right here. Neal, would you mind filling us in on what really happened?"

Neal moved forward, and then turned to face the troop. "Well, it was sixth period. I'd had two chocolate milks at lunch, and, well, I was done with them. I got the pass and went to the bathroom to take a wizz. When I walked in, this eighth grader was slapping Adam around and broke his glasses. I told him to stop, and he laughed at me and took a swing at me. I ducked then popped him right in the nose. Adam took cover in one of the stalls, and I stood my ground, protecting him. Then old Sooker came and wouldn't listen to me. Even when the Sheriff told him, he just went on his own and ended up giving Adam and me three more days. Then last week the head guy at the Board of Education called us 'lying faggots,' and Dad got really pissed. So now we are going to be home schooled."

The boys were amazed at the story and gave Neal a cheer for his part. They also asked Adam what they could do to help him. Adam felt like he had a whole bunch more brothers. In just a little more than a week, he had gone from an abused kid to the luckiest kid on Earth.

At the end of the meeting, an announcement was made for the parents. For those interested in the home school at Haven, there would be a meeting on Friday. Most of the boys told their parents on the way home what had happened, and they wanted to support Neal and Adam. Almost all the boys' families were represented at the meeting.

The next week the boys were excited by being able to join the Home School. Adam came to the meeting wearing a long sleeved uniform. He explained to anyone who asked that the sun would burn him really quickly, so the long sleeves were like sunblock.

Tom was amazed at how well the boys accepted that. Mr. Little told him that the Scouts in this troop were special, and he had never seen any boy being seriously picked on. Some teasing, but everyone knew it was just that.

Tom said that his gang had something planned for Thanksgiving, but wouldn't tell the adults what was planned. Mike grinned and said, "You better be ready for almost anything. You get that many kids together, there is just no telling what they will come up with. By the way, are you coming on the next camp out?"

"I better. Neal is all excited about showing everyone where they hid out before the court hearing. I'll be going out and making sure everything is okay and ready for the troop." Tom was really looking forward to the trip himself.

"I understand this is really a car-camping site."

Tom grinned. "It can be. There is a road to a pasture just above the cave. From there it is a short walk down the gully to the entrance to the cave. There is no problem as long as we drive around the edge of the field. I'm not very comfortable driving in the center of the field, since there are several openings to the cave ceiling there. When the boys went there the first time, it was on horseback. They have hiked back several times. We can be as rustic or modern as we want. I have installed a generator, so there is electricity if we want, and there is a satellite hookup for internet or phone, if needed."

"So, Neal wasn't exaggerating," Mr. Little said.

"Not about that, anyway." Both men laughed at Tom's comment.

"I have a new Dutch oven I want to try, and I sure don't want to have to carry it very far," Mr. Little commented. Changing the subject, Mike Little asked, "How is the case with the school going?"

"Fastaff and Sooker are acting like they haven't done anything wrong. I'm beginning to think the only thing that will wake them up is to close down the public schools," Tom answered.

"Well, if you deliver what you were talking about last Friday, I think you might just pull it off. We decided we will enroll our kids. I know most of the Scout parents are thinking the same thing."

"We had a much bigger response than we expected. If this keeps up, I may have to build a school." They both laughed.

The weekend of the December camp-out came, and the boys were all excited about being in a cave for this camp. Friday afternoon everyone arrived, and the vehicles were loaded. They had decided that it would be best to leave as soon after school as possible, since it got dark early this time of year. All the boys were going. It is unusual for all the boys to be able to attend an event, so this was special. They drove to the field where Mr. McNeil had delivered the supplies to the boys last summer, when they were hiding out in the cave. Neal and the Haven boys who had been there before led the way down into the gully to the entrance of the cave.

Samuel and Mr. McNeil had been out to make sure everything was in order and safe for the boys. There was a new door that was locked, leading to the passage that Pat had used. The kerosene lamps were full and there was more fuel in a two and a half gallon container in the cave. When Tom arrived and put his pack down, he opened the generator room, and soon there were lights in the main cave. New fixtures had been installed, and the entire room was well illuminated.

Nick and Matt got everyone organized and assigned areas for each patrol. The adults claimed the area by the generator room. It didn't take the boys long to get the tents set up and the kitchen areas organized. Next, the boys were out to find wood for the fire. The senior boys were going to dig a latrine and lash together a seat for those who needed it.

Mr. Desotto needed some help getting his tent set up. This was the first trip he had gone on and had never set up a tent before. When the adults had their area squared away, they went out to see what the boys were doing. There was a growing pile of firewood, and the Eagle Patrol was working in the large ax yard getting the wood cut to usable lengths. Nick was watching everything and occasionally sending Matt to talk to a patrol leader.

Neal had Adam off to one side and was showing him how to use a hand ax. They had gone over the safety rules, but actually using an ax and saw was different. Adam was very careful, and was doing a good job. Tom watched his boys with pride.

As dusk arrived, Nick was relieved that things had worked so well. He had the Eagles secure the tools and had everyone carry wood into the cave for the fire. Dinner that night was then prepared. Tom was cooking breakfast with Zach Desotto as his assistant. Jeff Alexander was tonight's cook, with Bob Freeman as assistant. It didn't take them very long to have a large pot of chile heating, and a nice salad to go with it. Mr Little's Coffee pot that held a gallon, was on the other burner so the adults could have coffee, tea, hot chocolate or hot spiced cider.

The adults were sitting down to eat as the boys were getting started on cooking. Clean up was easy with a bowl, plate, fork spoon and cup for each adult and the pot the chile had been heated in. The men checked on the different patrols to see how they were doing. Kaleb was the assistant cook, with Stephen Randall as cook. They were doing mac & cheese with hotdogs cut up in bite-size pieces, green beans and apple sauce. They had Kool AidŽ mixed for their drink. Mr. Desotto was impressed at how well his son was working with Stephen. He realized once again that the message from his old church had been hateful and wrong. Stephen was black, but he wasn't lazy or stupid, Bob Freeman wasn't, either. He sure was grateful for the lessons he was learning here in Troop 316.

The campfire was fun, especially with it being inside the cave. At eleven o'clock Tom cut the power and turned off the generator, while Mr. Little lit the kerosene lanterns in the passageway. The adults sat by the fire, as it died down. Since there was no wind, they just banked the coals and went to bed, once all the boys had stopped whispering.

Tom's alarm woke him at six o'clock, and he dressed and made his way out to use the latrine. He returned and found there were still some coals in the fire ring so he added some wood. He then went and woke Zach Desotto. When Zach returned, Tom had him gather the things from the cooler for breakfast. Tom had precooked the sausage links, much to Mrs. Johnson's annoyance. He had Mr. Desotto cut them up into small bite-size pieces. While he was doing that, Tom put some oil in his Dutch oven and pulled some coals out of the fire, then placed the Dutch oven over the coals to heat. When it was hot, he put in two packages of frozen hash-brown potatoes and some onion he had chopped up yesterday. While that was browning, Tom cracked a dozen eggs into a bowl, then mixed them with a little milk, salt and pepper. Once the potatoes and onions were done, Tom stirred in the sausage, poured in the eggs and covered them with grated cheddar cheese. He put the cover on the dutch oven and took some of the coals from under the Dutch oven and put them on the top. Zach had the Little coffee pot on, heating water, and the bag of mini powdered donuts open for the adults to enjoy while breakfast cooked.

It was Billy Woodcock who noticed the adults eating the donuts. He approached Mr. Little, who had just put one in his mouth. "Mr. Little, you guys got donuts." Mike nodded while he chewed. "How come you got donuts?"

Mr. Little swallowed and replied, "Mr. Richards planned the menu and put them on it."

"How come we don't got donuts?"

"My guess is that they weren't on your menu."

"Oh. Can I have a donut?"

"No, sorry, but these are part of our breakfast. I'll let you know if there are any left when we are done."

Billy shrugged and went back to his patrol.

After breakfast the boys went outside. They were surprised at how much colder it was, and most had to go back in to get another layer or two of clothing to be warm. The main activity for the day was the orienteering course. Nick and Matt had worked on a course with help from 'Philip'. They had topographical maps of the area and compass directions and a list of questions for the boys to answer. Nick had each of the new boy patrols divide into three groups. Each group had one member of the Beaver Patrol and one member of the Senior Patrol. Nick gave each group a different course to follow.

Neal's group had Adam, Jimmy, Preston Hobart (Beaver Patrol) and Tom Parada (Senior patrol). Neal started and read the first direction. It gave the starting point, the compass reading to travel on, and how far to go. The boys carefully read their compasses and agreed on the direction. Then Neal counted off paces for the distance. Then Adam read a direction and led off, pacing off the distance. The direction said they should be at a large rock. They were about six feet from it, and figured that was pretty good. At this location, they were asked the height of a pine tree at a certain bearing. Jimmy was almost exactly five feet so he ran over to the tree. Adam and Neal used a stick to mark off how many Jimmys it took to be as tall as the tree. They figured five and a half so the tree was twenty-seven or twenty-eight feet tall. Next, Jimmy took the bearing, and they were off again.

All the groups were back in time for lunch. Only one group had a problem, because the scout taking the bearing had his compass near his pocket knife and it caused their direction to be off. The older boys let them begin in that direction but stopped them before they lost sight of their last location.

After lunch, the boys had free time to work on other things. The older boys worked with the new boys on lashings and then having them make some kind of camp gadget. Mr. Little called to Neal as he was going out. "Neal, can we talk for a minute?"

Neal came over to where the adults were sitting. "What's up, Mr. Little?"

"My copy of Troopmaster indicates that the orienteering course was the last thing you needed for First Class."

"Yes, Sir," Neal replied.

"When you are ready, I'm available for your scoutmaster conference."

"Okay, kewl. I'll go make sure everyone is doing something, then I'll be back."

Mr. Little smiled and nodded to Neal.

Neal was back in about ten minutes, and he was definitely ready. He was able to answer all the questions. When he was done Mr. Little said, "Mr. Alexander has said he will try to get a couple more committee members tomorrow at the church, and do your Board of Review, so you can receive your rank next week at the Court of Honor."

"Thanks, Mr. Little!" Neal was grinning from ear to ear as he left the cave.

Mr. Little began preparing dinner. Eric Henry was his assistant cook. After a half hour they had the Dutch oven filled and coals under it and coals on the lid. They sat down to relax and tend to the meal as it cooked. They had been secretive about what they were fixing. By the time the boys and other adults returned, the whole cave smelled heavenly. As the boys were starting their dinner, Mr. Little made up a devil's food cake mix and put it into a number 10 Dutch oven, then opened a can of cherry pie filling and poured it in a circle on the batter. He put the cover on and when he took the dinner out of the coals he placed the dessert on to cook.

The adults gathered around to watch as he took the top off the Very Large Dutch oven[AKA The LITTLE Dutch Oven!]. There were eight Cornish hens on a bed of vegetables and rice. It looked every bit as good as it smelled. Soon the adults were filling their plates with food. The boys had watched as the adults' dinner was revealed. After seeing what the adults were feasting on, dinner preparations went into high gear.

Mr. Little was very pleased with his new Dutch oven. He had cooked a complete meal for eight people and the Dutch oven wasn't even full. Needless to say, he was told to bring it along anytime they were car camping.

The boys were tired and most had gone to bed before taps at eleven o'clock. The adults talked about the upcoming Court Of Honor and Christmas party. It was going to be held Thursday night next week with the Cub Scout Pack.

After breakfast, the boys packed up, and they were all talking about when they could come back. Mr. Richards told them they were welcome, as long as they followed good Scouting practices. When they arrived back at the church, the services were just ending. Mr. Alexander kept his word, and soon Neal was having a Board of Review. Mr. Little did a Scoutmaster Conference with Adam for the rank of Scout. When Tom and the boys got back, Neal and Adam were both very proud about their new ranks.

Authors Notes:

Here is another chapter. I hope you are enjoying this story. The next chapter should be interesting. If you have read the other stories, you will know what is about to happen. If you haven't read them, then you are in for some BIG surprises.


Mid West Editor's Notes:

I have found myself remembering my experiences as a scout. As many of us know, the actions of some troops and, in turn, the national organization have left a somewhat sour taste, but the true purpose and meaning of scouts certainly shines through in Str8mayb's stories. He has and continues to show us how real scouts should be.

I am ready for the next chapter.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher

East Coast Editor's Notes:

This story really brings back memories of my own days in Scouting. That was one of the happiest times in my young life, and the things I learned in Scouts have helped me over the years to be a better person. The author's long experience with the Scouts is really evident in his clear and moving descriptions of the activities of Troop 316.

Arli J

West Coast Editor's Notes:

Camping with a generator and Kerosene Lamp? You call that camping? I guess I really shouldn't complain our troop had its very own private campsite. That way we were able to have prepared fire-pits, leveled tent sites complete with draining trenches. For our meals there was a fully stocked pond just a few minutes hike away. We did get a lot of fishing in.

I am very glad to see that Scouting is trying to keep up with technology and society with their new Merit Badges. Unfortunately with this 'wonderful' economy lots of Troop Sponsors are either reducing their assistance or dropping it altogether! That is definitely not a good thing.

The Scouting experience will be something the boys will remember all of their lives.

Neal, a helicopter and guns Oh MY!!!

The Story Lover