So we started a new troop in January. We peeled away from a large troop and, starting last December, I began meeting with the older boys that wanted to serve as leaders. My mission for the leaders was to create an environment that is fun and exciting for the younger scouts, figuring that the older scouts would then find purpose and the younger scouts would find enthusiasm.
We came up with a Zombie Apocalypse theme, but instead of just doing one campout, like we did with the Alien Invasion, we have a long term theme that will culminate in May, before Summer Camp.
In January, I spent a lot of time working with the SPL, ASPL and Troop Guide going over development and did a lot of ground work for them. For February, more of the burden will be on them, and by May, it should be totally theirs to develop and run. My goal is by that time, I’m just there to take pictures.
Our first meeting of they year, started with an OPZA briefing. I think it was the ASPL that came up with OPZA, the Organization for Preventing the Zombie Apocalypse. I put together a Power Point presentation that we showed over the church projector with the help of the ASPL (SPL wasn’t going to be able to make the campout).
Basically, I welcomed everyone to the new troop (27 scouts) and introduced them to the mission. It seems that OPZA is partnering with local outdoors clubs to help them with Search and Recovery in the local country side for a secret Z0M-B formula that whitens teeth and gives you a hankering for brains.
As the monthly program feature was Winter Camping, we spent the month learning primitive camping techniques, bear bags, tarp shelters, wood fire cooking, etc to prepare for the mission. Each week, the scouts were updated on information about the evil Dr Zeroni and his plans and how we would thwart them.
A couple of weeks before the campout I took a couple of scouts that were working on the Orienteering Merit Badge to the local Council’s Primitive Campsite and scouted out good areas to plant geo caches.
The week before the campout, the ASPL & Troop Guide went out with me to plant geocaches, which were tupperware filled with sawdust and tubes of tooth paste containing Z0M-A (read the briefing!)
The ASPL also created Z0M-B packages to disperse in the woods during the campout that were 1 lb packages of sugar, with wires coming out of a digital count down timer on the front connecting it to a battery. If the correct wire was cut, the timer would quit. (I know this isn’t politically correct, I know that someone will take offense, we maintained control of these the whole time, and we talked about not using the B word, especially over the radio and about how it wouldn’t be funny to make these as a joke for unsuspecting folk.)
The troop meeting before the campout, the ASPL, who would be the camp SPL, submitted an agenda for the weekend, that he obviously spent a lot of time on, he walked me through it and I told him great job. He also provided a powerpoint with Google Earth screen shots of the caches that I had provided to him to help him with the game.
Last Friday, the troop arrived at Camp. The youth leaders setup Base Camp, which consisted of an Ozark out of the trailer and some tables. The patrols setup their own areas about 100 yards from each other and they had a PLC meeting to go over last minute details while some other scouts built a campfire.
On Saturday, the scouts worked on bear bag techniques and a few were deployed to set up a field command center out close to where they’d be searching where they hang a tarp, camouflaged it and brought seating, a table and some water. The ASPL and Troop Guide taught the Patrol Leaders how to use the GPS devices and took them to a couple of caches to get them started.
Each Patrol Leader assembled his patrol and returned to the Field Command to get instructions. Basically what the leaders told them was that the radiation from the Z0M formulas were interfering with our tracking satellites and that they needed to find one package to get the next coordinates.
The ASPL and Troop Guide stayed back at the Field Ops, going out into the field to help the patrols as needed, I don’t think they ever broke out the laptop to show them to locations visually, but provided UTM coordinates and instructions as they went along.
Patrols were calling in, asking for help, reporting progress and success as they came across the tupperware containers in the woods. They had all been provided with dust masks and with all seriousness the patrol would strip away the duct tape from the container, open it up and read with disappointment that the toothpaste was made only with Z0M-A. Each patrol had 4 caches to find and return to the Field Command and when those had been cleared away, 3 final package coordinates had been found in the red zone. The Patrols were deployed simultaneously, it became a race. They ran through the brambles, following their GPS devices, looking high and low or the tupperware and finding… a heavy package of Z0M-B, ominously ticking down with wires sticking out of it.
The Patrols called in for instructions… Cut the Red wire on the left first. Now the Blue wire on the right. Now both green wires…. come on hurry up you have 15 seconds. Now cut the white wire, I don’t know which one, you’ll have to guess…. Success! The timers deactivated, the world had been saved. The relief of tension was palpable.
At the campfire, we ceremoniously dumped the sawdust into the flames, watching them shoot up. Then the patrol leaders cut into the Z0M-B package with knives and their teams dumped it into the campfire, watching the flames change colors and the sugar melting on the logs. Unscripted, each patrol leader, at the same time, tasted the Z0M-B formula and were caught in the act by the troop. Shaking my head, I told them we’d have to keep an eye out for side effects.
Start, Stop and Continue was overwhelmingly positive, the scouts had a great time. Parents have been telling me how much fun their son has had, hopefully we can maintain the momentum.
Next month, since we live in Florida, we are changing the Program Feature. Instead of Citizenship, we switched that with July when we are supposed to be Backpacking (uggh, backpacking in Florida in July?) We’ll keep the theme alive and we’ll be tramping through the woods and culminating the campout with shotgun and .22’s at the local scout range. I’ll keep you posted.