Valley Forge was a very rewarding and windy experience. After leaving the Reformed Church parking lot right after school, we set out for Valley Forge. The drive was extended due to heavy, bumper-to-bumper traffic on the NJ Turnpike. After finally arriving at the campsite despite confusing directions and frustrating logistics, we set up camp in the pitch black and had dinner at 10:30 pm. Both First Class Cooking chefs (Cameron Smith and Charlie Vorbach) cooked delicious meals that were devoured by everyone. However, cleanup didn’t go so smoothly and it took us a while to figure it out. Thanks to “Super-Chip” Cushman, cleanup finally was completed and the campsite was organized. Since this was Troop 5’s first Camporee, many lessons were learned. Lesson 1: Go to McDonalds on the Friday night of Valley Forge. We were all exhausted and slept very well that night.

We woke at 6:00 am and started cooking breakfast. Once again, the meals were delicious; however, our cleanup time wasn’t beaten by much. Super-Chip came to the rescue again and recommended that we take the cover off of our cooking canopy, which would have been blown away in the 50 mph winds. We tied down everything and our work paid off. Unlike some other troops who had to check out early because of excess wind damage to much of their gear, our tents and canopy withstood the gael force winds. We then walked to the bus that transported us to Valley Forge National Park. Before the opening ceremony, Philadelphia Fife and Drum played numerous patriotic tunes. They taught us many interesting things. Did you know that the British sang Yankee Doodle Dandy (aka deceitful fool) as an insult to the American patriots, yet the Americans eventually sang it for motivation? After the Philadelphia Fife and Drum’s performance, the Squires of Song, an acapella group that was made up of a bunch of singers who could have been as old as George Washington, sang “You’re a Grand Old Flag”, “Glory Halleluiah”, and “Proud to be an American”. After several speeches by the Chairman of the Event and Tom Harrington, the Scout Executive of the Cradle of Liberty Council, Joe Landy of Connecticut was recognized for being on the National Board of the Boy Scouts of America and for being present at the BSA’s 99th Valley Forge Pilgrimmage.

We then set off to participate in a number of demonstrations. In the seven stations that we went to we learned many things about being a soldier at Valley Forge. For example, at the medical station (voted most popular by Troop 5), we learned that George Washington died because he had too much blood taken out of him (almost 128 ounces!) when he had a fever. This apparently was state of the art medical treatment at the time that only Dracula could appreciate. Next, we saw an authentic cannon being shot, which was very cool to see, and finally, we learned that soldiers would have to listen to the beat of a drummer for commands so that they would know what to do on a noisy battlefield.

After the seven stations, we visited a few extra places to earn the 2011 Encampment Award. The most memorable attraction was Washington’s headquarters. Approximately thirty people lived in this small house (including Washington’s Aide de Camp Alexander Hamilton) during the Continental Army’s encampment at Valley Forge. We also saw replicas of huts in which ordinary soldiers would have stayed. When we arrived back at the campsite, we relaxed for a few hours then ate dinner (courtesy of scouts Brian Chrystal and Jack O’Neill). We finally went to a somewhat cheesy campfire show (they couldn’t light a fire because it was too windy). However, Troop 5 represented themselves well in their Water Conservation Skit. We went to bed after the campfire and woke up early the next morning, broke down camp, and went home.

While none of us would probably admit that we would have enjoyed living through the hardships that Revolutionary soldiers experienced, we had a great time and learned a lot about winter camping.

Christopher Landy