June 21, 2013

On June 21, 2013, 17 scouts and 7 intrepid adults from Troop 5 Bronxville decided to engage in their version of Army Ranger training. It was the troop’s whitewater rafting and paintball trip in the Pocono’s which was resurrected after 6 years of abandonment. Members of the Border Patrol, which won this year’s Patrol Points competition, were awarded with an all expenses paid trip. Members of that patrol included James King, Michael Landy, Clay Layton, Tim Cushman and Sasha Capasso.

The weekend started with a lot of traffic on Route 80 turning a two hour drive into a 3 ½ hour drive. Eventually we travelled through the town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, which was named after the Native American Sports Legend after a relative sold his body to the municipality with the highest bid – Anything goes in America. The campsite at Lake Mauch was a short jaunt up the road from the town, which met us with six very nice, albeit rocky, campsites. We set our tents up and hit the hay well past quiet time. Mr. Landy reminded us of the need to remain quiet when camping amidst the public by asking us all to whisper the Scout Law the following evening.

After an early breakfast, we jumped in the cars and headed out to go rafting on the Lehigh River. We had 4 rafts of 5 to 6 Troop 5 participants that accompanied about 15 other boats in the convoy (aka more targets for our bucket brigades). While the sun beat down early, the games began almost immediately with the water guns and the buckets. It didn’t take long for us all to drench one another (and most of the other rafters who we didn’t know). For miles we traded off ambushing one another with futile attempts to create alliances with other vessels. No one dared go near Macho Men Mikey and Miles Bartley’s boat which was stocked with rowing weapons, Mssrs. “Jimmy Hendrix” Taylor and General “I Love the Smell of Napalm in the Morning” Bartley, and a whining Scoutmaster (He reminded me more of Major Frank Burns than anything) who actually threatened to withhold rank advancement from us if we got him wet. Mr. Schnier, who took a face first header into the water on the first rapid to all of our great delight, bested Tommy Meade, who was in the water every time we turned around. The scenery was beautiful, the valley walls soared to majestic heights, and the rapids were plentiful. It seemed like forever but we finally pulled over to eat a well-deserved lunch before finishing on the water at around 4:00 in the afternoon. What a great day we all had.

We arrived back at the campsite and immediately started preparing our first official Dutch Oven meal as a troop. James King and Sasha Capasso cut vegetables while Karsten Schnier manned the bed of charcoal that was needed to cook in the Dutch Oven. The food was a resounding success. We had “Sloppy Scoutmaster Joe’s”, with broccoli and salad (Yes mom, we had broccoli and salad) which we washed down with a delicious peach cobbler. We can’t wait for the next Dutch Oven cookout!!!!!!

Bedtime came early as we all were very tired from our day on the water. We woke at daybreak, packed, ate breakfast and hit the road again for the paintball fields. Mr. Landy led the way and slammed his breaks on to let a bear cross the road (wish we had our paintball guns!). We all suited up, picked teams and argued as to whether Mr. Layton (aka Rambo) or Mr. Schnier (aka “Rambo with a Crew Cut”) were going to be on our sides. Our guide called himself Cuban B and drilled us in gun safety. In the competitions, we crawled through long tick-infested weeds, stalked one another through shipping containers, shimmied through pipes and finished the day laying siege to a castle. While no one was hurt (too badly anyway), our camo’s were drenched in the 100 degree heat, our lips were parched, our skin was bruised where the paintballs pelted us, and some of us got a face full of paint to swallow. Hey, what’s not to like?

Warrior of the weekend goes to Mrs. “Joan of Arc” Kaneko who not only was one of the first mom’s to join our weekend fun, but she played in every paintball game and took not a little mercy on any of us. We’re hoping to exact revenge by convincing her Girl Scout troop to suit up next time on the opposing team.

The Pocono’s Extravaganza is one we all hope to repeat.

Ghost Writer