We actually didn’t know what we were in store for when we agreed to attend the West Point Camporee this year.  All we knew was that it was difficult top get into and therefore it must be fun!  We expected to see a lot of cadets, a lot of other scouts and some military-related events.  What we actually experienced was so much more:  A veritable non-stop series of challenges from the moment we arrived.

The weekend started out with a caravan of 5 dads driving 26 scouts to West Point, New York.  When we first arrived, things were going fairly smoothly until we learned we could either hike or drive to the actual camping area.  The scouts preparing for Philmont (Chris Landy, Steve Ircha and Will Stoeffhaas) hiked something called Bull Hill with Mr. Brusco which was basically 4 miles over very steep and rugged terrain.  The rest of us drove and were dropped off with all of the gear and were left waiting…..waiting…..and waiting…..for some adults to show up so we could figure out where our camp was.

After a long while and just as the last glimmer of light left us, we all found one another, trudged through the mud with our gear and settled near a parachute hanger.  Wouldn’t you know, our allotted campsite was occupied by another troop!  We straightened things out with the site after awhile but it took us some time to straighten our tents up into a nice tight formation.  We succeeded, hit the sack and were roused early to breakfast and calisthenics with one of the cadets.  Following an opening ceremony, we participated in a contest of 16 events and a number of orienteering challenges.  We practiced first aid, wilderness shelter construction, tossing hand grenades (No bangs so they must have been duds!), teamwork challenges, pistol shooting, marching drills, firebuilding and all kinds of calisthenics.  Patrick Bisconti led a group in pushups and situps in what was to be one of the highest posted scores of the day (Patrick did 65 pushups in one minute!).  We were perfect with our knot tying and crushed a couple of competitors in a rowing race around a lake.  Perhaps the most fun was a tactical game we played where we ran through the mud with some mock rifles and had to radio some information in before sprinting to the finish line.  Overall, we thought we did pretty well but some other wimpy troops must have debased themselves and begged for extra points a little more than we did.

There were a lot of other activities, as well.  A three star general arrived in a very cool helicopter and the cadets put on a show of attacking under enemy fire using yellow and purple flares.  Finally, the night ended with a concert hosted by the cadets and the largest bonfire any of us have ever seen.  The closing ceremony was something to remember with all of the troops lined up in their Class A’s (There were 5,000 scouts there) and marching before a review unit while the cadet drummers and buglers played.

The logistics leaving were no better than the ones arriving.  One of the scouts was lost for a little while but eventually found us and we hit the road.  While we now understand what they mean by the saying in the Army, “Hurry up and wait”, many of us thought this was the best weekend trip we’ve ever taken with the troop.