Big Horn 2004, Week 1


This is a diary I kept at Big Horn, June 11–19, 2004. It also includes an attempted climb of Grays Peak. This is the first diary I have kept for any significant period of time.

My primary goal in keeping this diary was to help me become more honest. To that end, I have published it unabriged, with only minor corrections as noted below.

I have confined my corrections to normalization of capitalization and the addition of “AM,” “M” and “PM” where appropriate. I have not corrected the few minor grammatical mistakes I found.

One thing I noticed is that my narrative drifts between the past and present tenses. Sometimes I would write down things that had been happening during the last few hours, first in the past tense and then in the present as I caught up to the current situation. I haven't read enough diaries to know if this tense-shifting is common or desirable.

If you wish to discuss this diary, I am happy to oblige you. Here's my contact information. If you wish to republish this diary, you may modify it in any way you see fit.

Dramatis Personae

Andy Mohrhausan SPL
Scott Rogersan ASPL
Michael Poletea JASM
Tanner McKima JASM
Danny Ausmusa blue Troop Guide
Nickolas Johsa green Troop Guide
Jason Radtkea gold Troop Guide
Andrew Buzakoan orange Troop Guide
James Jacksona red Troop Guide
Joe Gamaranoa silver Troop Guide
Matt Wernera Senior Instructor
Michael Sellnera campfire Instructor
Doug Thomasa flag Instructor
Danny Binkleya food Quartermaster
Mark Godseyan equipment Quartermaster
Bill Van Hornea Scoutmaster
Jeff Rogersa blue ASM
Linda Dottera green ASM
Joe Ausmusa gold ASM
David Fifieldan orange ASM
Jeffry Longa red ASM
Bryan Wermersa silver ASM
Kip Davisa Quartermaster
Everett Dorcasa Quartermaster
Joann Binkleya Medic

Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Friday 11 June

Left home at about 4:25 PM. Stopped at the post office on the way to buy stamps and mail the troop newsletter, but the office was closed because of the death of Ronald Reagan. Experienced some traffic on the way up. Arrived at about 6:20 PM.

Before leaving home forgot to turn off my computer and close my bedroom window, which bothered me for a while as I was driving.

It looked like most of the staff were here when I arrived. My Troop Guide Andrew is not here yet. Drove to the top of the hill to set up my tent in the patrol site. Walked around a bit and went to the next patrol site, Red, whose Troop Guide James was there. He was wearing his activity uniform, which made me remember I that I forgot my khaki shirt at home. I'll have to drive back home tomorrow to get it, which will give me a chance to turn off my computer and close my window.

So far I don't feel like I have a very good handle on things.

I set up my tent and watched the staff play cards for a while. Scott let me try out his bugle. I left for Grays Peak at 7:45 PM. I arrived at the trailhead at 9:25 PM. (You can get from Camp Tahosa to Idaho Springs in one hour if you speed pretty heinously.) Tim and Jack Ryan, Bryce Dunn, Matt Hirschinger and Kevin Morin were there. Bryce heated up some stew for me. We sat and looked at the stars for a while. Matt and I talked for a while. It is now 10:10 PM. And so to bed.

Saturday 12 June

I took me a while to get to sleep and I don't feel like I slept for very long. We all started to get up at about 6:00 AM.

We started hiking at 7:15 AM. Kevin had a little bit of trouble at the beginning but he got the hang of it. Matt spotted a trio of mountain goats on Kelso Mountain.

Kevin continued to have some trouble with a cramp and fatigue as we continued. Matt was consistently out in front of the group. There were some dark clouds around 10:00 AM, but they passed.

Closer to 11:00 AM some snow started to fall. The trail is getting steeper. Kevin is going more slowly and it is plain that Jack wants to stop hiking.

At 11:05 AM we sat down to talk about the situation. We decided to turn back. We were less than a mile from the summit by my reckoning, but at the rate we were going it would have taken more than an hour. We took a group photo on the trail. Bryce's GPS said we had reached an altitude of 13,240'. We turned around at 11:10 AM.

At 1:26 PM and not too far from the trailhead, we got noticeable amounts of snow. Visibility is diminished. Saw some more mountain goats.

Got back at 2:00 PM. Kevin is pooped. The sun is out. Left for home at 2:15 PM. The others will stop for lunch, but I'm going straight home to get to Tahosa in time.

I stopped at the post office again on the way home. The stamp machine only accepted coins and they were otherwise closed.

Got home at 3:52 PM. Got my shirt and turned off my computer. The window was already closed. My parents were in the back yard. I don't think they noticed I was home. I also washed my face. Left for Tahosa at 3:58 PM. Stopped for gas in Nederland. Arrived at 4:38 PM. It's raining softly.

Had time to get set up at my tent and change clothes before dinner. It stopped raining. Dinner was spaghetti and salad with toast. There was some conversation among the adult leaders about the rigidity of some new food schedule. I didn't have enough context to really know what they were talking about.

Everything is set up. Seems not to be much to do for a while.

Campfire starts at 7:15 PM. It was okay. We did the Scout Vespers/On My Honor, I Will Try/Pink Pajamas thing, but there wasn't much enthusiasm for it. Bill Van Horne handed out Big Horn belt buckles for all of the staff. I forgot to but the right kind of belt to wear it. So I might have to buy or borrow one.

Staff meeting at 8:25 PM. It was a typical staff meeting. We reviewed the next day's schedule. Something is screwy with the food. The schedule is different that years previous, and it seems we don't even know the next day's meals for sure. Meeting ended at 8:55 PM. Bed time, I guess.

Mr. Van Horne lent me a leather Philmont belt so I can wear my buckle. It's a few inches too big, but I think I can make it work. Breakfast is at 7:00 AM. I set my alarm clock for 5:00 AM so I can take a shower in the morning. There's no bear bag in the patrol site, and I didn't want to put my smellables all the way back down in my car, so I hung the from a low branch with my rope. I wonder if this will turn out to be a dumb idea.

My Troop Guide isn't here yet. I have heard that he is on staff at Peaceful Valley and will be here tomorrow.

It's 9:39 PM, and I'm going to bed. I'm sleeping in a tent I found in Jimmy's room, which is nice and roomy.

Sunday 13 June

Woke up at 5:00 AM but dozed for a while. I'm pretty sleepy. My smellables are safe and sound.

Went to the showers about 5:30 AM. I cleaned up and swept and finished at about 6:10 AM. Mr. Van Horne was just coming in.

Back at the barn some people are up. Everyone seems to be in a good mood and are being nice to each other.

Ate breakfast. Muffins and cold cereal. My patrol's dining fly fell over during the night. I need new poles to replace the ones that cracked.

The rest of the morning people have been setting things up. Mr. Rogers helped my get a new pole to replace the one that cracked and Danny Binkley helped me set it up.

My Troop Guide Andrew arrived. I met his parents and helped him set up his tent.

The Ranger came by with a backhoe to fill in dirt around the flag pole. That went quickly.

Andrew prepared an orienteering course to the patrol site. While I was walking through it, I somehow cut my knuckle and started bleeding all over.

Some staff members were making buttons with the Badge-A-Minit. They showed me how to use it and I made a button of pressed flowers. I'm not going to wear it, though.

I used Kip Davis's leather punch to poke a hole in the belt Mr. Van Horne lent me, with his permission.

I'm sitting in someone's chair in front of the barn. Danny Ausmus is playing the guitar. The staff are throwing rocks in a bucket while we wait for lunch. Lunch was five chicken nuggets, chips and pudding. The adult Quartermasters are mad about the food situation.

It's 12:48 PM. Scouts are arriving at the check-in area. I didn't realize it was this time already. I'm the only ASM sitting in a chair like we usually do. That's kind of weird. Roger Dickinson is walking around with a sign that reads: “Big Horn questions answered here.” That's a good idea.

The members of my patrol, in the order I met them, are:

Robert Hoyt
Scott Aldritch
Michael Lohman
Evan Weis
Ben Johnke
Mike Diener

Went back to the patrol site and waited for the opening ceremony. Andrew seems confident.

Opening ceremony started about five minutes late because of a late arrival. Staff introductions. Installation of SPL and ASPL. Mini-presentation. It was windy and kind of hard to hear.

There were round-robin learning stations, then campsite setup (with Knowing and Using the Resources) started. I had to help Andrew a bit with his class. We're missing a lot of patrol gear.

I did the first part of the evaluation forms.

The patrol is mostly pretty talkative. Mike D. is cocky and condescending. Ben is quiet; he couldn't even ask another Scout to come do an interview with me.

Andrew asked me to go hiking with him early in the morning. I told him I didn't know, but I think I will for the sake of being friendly.

Andrew is doing a good job of talking and being friendly with the patrol.

Dinner was hamburgers and potato salad. The patrol was a little slow getting dishes done. We forgot to elect a Patrol Leader and assistant before the installation.

Andrew is talking about Knowing and Using the Resources. I'm afraid he and Mike D. are wasting time quibbling over meaningless things. Andrew is thoughful and conscientious in teaching.

The campfire was well executed. During I heard a sound I've heard before—it sounds like a penny being dropped flat on a drum. I think it's an animal, but I don't know what kind of animal makes a sound like that. I recreated the sound in front of some people by dropping a Susan B. Anthony dollar on the face of a banjo. Jeff Long was the only one who seemed to understand what I meant.

At the staff meeting I brought up my concerns with Mike D. and Ben. There was a talk about using stoves under the fly. Bryan Wermers says it's a safety hazard, and he's right. I goes against established practice, and it's a hassle to cook outside. I've always been content to let the issue slide, but now that it's been brought up I guess we'll move outside.

I made up the next day's eating schedule to save Scott the trouble. I did it randomly, by assigning a card from a deck to each staff member. I looks like it worked okay.

After the meeting I talked to Andrew about Mike D. I meant to tactfully suggest that he change the way he deals with Mike, especially by not stubbornly persisting in a mode of conversation that isn't going anywhere. My head was muddled and I couldn't put a thought together. I must have looked dumb, holding my head and thinking of what I wanted to say. I wonder if I used to be able to think more clearly.

I agreed to meet Andrew shortly after 5:00 AM tomorrow morning. It's 11:36 PM now. That's too damn late to be going to bed.

Monday 14 June

I woke up at 5:00 AM and got out of the tent at 5:15 AM. I waited for a little bit for Andrew, but he didn't get up. I went back to sleep.

Got up again at 6:00 AM. Mike D. and Evan went to get food and water. They were kind of late getting back. Andy told me he got up early but fell back asleep.

Breakfast was bagels and oatmeal. The patrol haven't thought of a name and cheer yet. We were late for morning flags.

I watched Michael Sellner's Communicating class. We lack the materials to do the nitro-glycerin removal, which is an important part of the class. I told him I would try to think of something for the afternoon class.

Then Andrew had a class on Understanding Characteristics and Needs. He did a good job getting the patrol to participate. Ben really opened up when he was describing his rock.

Later we did COPE. I didn't participate much per Mr. Dickinson's request.

After COPE, Andrew took the patrol back to clean up. I went around with Mark Godsey, Joann Binkley, Danny Binkley and Mike Sellner to replace toilet paper in the latrines.

Orange Patrol has decided on a name; they are the Invisible Orange Mini-Bears. They even have a flag and a yell.

I gave a Blue Patrol Staff Assist fob to Blue Patrol for helping Staff win in the four-way tug-of-war during COPE.

Then dinner. Spaghetti and toast and salad. The fire drill came while we were heating water for dishes. Up at the training lodge there was some kind of all-female group. There were some good-looking girls, but I didn't look too hard so no one would think I was leering.

We came back and the patrol was very late cleaning dishes. They were late getting to their Representing the Group class. The patrol was exhibiting dysfunctional characteristics familiar to me: no one listening to the patrol leader, people doing their own thing when there's work to be done, non-awareness of the time. I'm afraid, because I have seen these problems in my patrols before, that they might be due to my leadership style. That's something to think about.

There are more things I wanted to write, but it wasn't convenient at the time.

Andrew wants to wake up early in the morning again. I guess we'll give it a try.

I forgot to mention that patrol member Robert lost a contact lens. I took him to the phone and he called his parents, who will be here tomorrow with a replacement. By taking him I couldn't compete in a water chugging contest against Tanner McKim at campfire, but that's okay.

It's 11:38 PM now. I don't feel as tired as I did this time last night.

Tuesday 15 June

Got up at 5:15 AM and went on a little hike with Andrew at 5:30 AM. I showed him where the showers were, and we went up to the burn area, then back to camp.

I didn't have time to take a shower, but I went up to the showers to shave at least. I saw Jeff Rogers there. On the way back I saw Robert's mom, who had come to bring him replacement eyewear. She seems like a nice person.

The patrol did a better job cooking breakfast, but they were still running a few minutes behind.

The patrols are starting to show more enthusiasm at flags.

I went with the patrol up to the showers. We were then delayed a long time in camp while people changed and filled up water bottles, etc. Andrew and I decided to combine the hike and Evaluating class. We hiked up to the rocks above the burn area. Andrew wasn't terribly familiar with the syllabus and didn't have any visual aids, but he did an okay class. Andrew is becoming better at dealing with Mike D.

Lunch was slow. The patrol got all their dishes clean, but it took forever. Because we didn't have time to complete a necessary class before sports, I asked the Patrol Leader to talk to Red Patrol (our opponent) about delaying the start of the game.

We eventually went to play kickball. We had forgotten to tell the Instructor in charge of the game that we would be late, which was rude. Orange won 9-4.

I have just been informed that Orange got a very bad score on their campsite inspection. Most of my patrols have had poor campsite inspections. Again, could this be related to a fault of mine somehow? There's a chance that I have just gotten patrols that are bad at cleaning a campsite, but the possibility of a correlation to me is looking stronger.

After some classes, Andrew took the patrol back to the campsite and talked to them all at once. He said he was disappointed in the and told them to start cleaning the campsite. The patrol seemed a little blue to have let Andy down.

I asked Andy some questions about the situatino. It occurred to me in a flash that I can do this kind of thing without thinking, like I'm not myself, though for some reason it's kind of draining.

Orange was on time for flags. It has started raining softly. Now it's raining harder. They're cutting the flag ceremony short because of lightning.

Andrew and I are going to let the patrol start dinner on their own tonight. We'll see how that goes.

Dinner cleanup was late. It was frustrating to me. The patrol cleaned dishes instead of playing Father Nature. I worked on my Scoutmaster minute instead of playing Father Nature.

Orange's campfire was successful. Staff had the funniest skits, and some were really funny. I did a pretty good Scoutmaster's minute on Setting the Example. I quoted a passage from Caesar's commentaries in which Caesar rallies his men by running to the front line and preparing to do battle. I got a few compliments on it.

When we got back to the cracker barrel, the staff sang Twelvepence instead of Sixpence.

Staff meeting ended at 10:47 PM. I plan on getting up early tomorrow morning to take a shower. Now it's 11:11 PM. That's a little more like it.

Wednesday 16 June

The alarm went off at 5:00 AM, but I didn't really wake up until 5:20 AM. A blanket of fog has descended on Camp Tahosa. There is so much fog over the lake that the opposite bank is barely visible.

I took a shower. When I got back at about 6:20 AM, the cooks were just about to leave to go get breakfast.

The theme of the week is superheroes. My Troop Guide Andrew is the Invisible Man. He has been flitting mysteriously in and out of campfire ceremonies. He has given me a letter to read to the troop, which is meant to be a clue to the existence of the Invisible Man. It says that he was fired and now haunts the woods as a ghost. I don't know where he's going with this. I wonder if it will be a tremendous failure like the jousting skit I did with Jon Patterson. What the hell. I'll read the letter at flags anyway. I don't see anything great coming out of this, so right now I hope the thing dies a quick natural death.

Andrew and I have decided to let the patrol prepare breakfast on their own this morning. I observed yesterday that when he and I are in camp, the patrol looks to us for leadership. I hope that if we are absent the Patrol Leader will be in charge and they will get things done. Even now as I sit in the patrol site, I am resisting the urge to shout out suggestions to the cooks. It is probably better to let them fail a little bit and overcome difficulties together.

Our plan worked. Orange Patrol picked up their guests on time. Breakfast was good and then they started cleaning on time.

I made the Invisible Man announcement at flags. I did it in a way that it can be finished without doing anything more.

The weather is wet and cold. They're doing a class on Sharing Leadership in the barn.

The fog turned to rain, and the drops are so small they're being blown around like snow. There is no end to the clouds in sight.

We went on the medical emergency hike. We were allowed to hike anywhere around camp, but because of the other groups using the camp, we were restricted to doing the emergency on the Big Horn side of the county road. We first walked past the training lodge and chapel and went to the south side of the lake. We turned around at about noon to be able to get to the soup being served at 12:30 PM in the COPE course. The we went to almost the western boundary of the camp to eat lunch. The weather was cold and unpleasant.

Andrew talked to Evan during lunch; he was to be the safety man in on the operation who would stay with me.

As we started walking back toward camp, I started walking on the slippery logs that lined the trail. As teh patrol was passing me, I pretended to slip and fall and hit my shoulder and neck against the tree. I cried out and fell to the ground. Andrew took Scott away to get help. As the others came up to me and started asking me questions I feigned unconsciousness. They shook me a little too roughly and a little later I came to. The idea was to fake a broken shoulder and a spinal cord injury resulting in temporary paralysis. I said that I souldn't feel my legs and that my shoulder hurt. They put some coats on me and kept talking to me to keep me conscious. I wasn't quite sure how to make the transition between being injured and evaluating their performance. “Guys,” I said, “let's evaluate.”

I think Mike D. knew the whole time. Evan knew, of course. I think I had Michael L., Robert and Ben going pretty well. We evaluated their performance, which was pretty good. We talked about hurry cases.

I wasn't happy with my performance. I shouldn't have bothered with the neck injury and the unconsciousness. I could have had just a shoulder hurt, maybe even walking around for a while after the injury until the pain became unbearable.

We returned in time for the pioneering class. Andy Mohrhaus, the SPL, decided to have the classes done in the patrol sites instead of at the learning area as is written in the schedule. That bothered me a little, because it meant a little more work for Andrew, and we had to carry poles back to camp.

The patrol is now bonding real well, talking about video games and working on a taller flagpole. Ben is still apart, inside his tent instead of out with the others.

Joann Binkley the Medic, who is in Mike D.'s troop, talked to Mike during dinner last night. I think it did him a world of good. He is less argumentative today, and he has even been making some pretty funny jokes.

My feet are wet and kind of cold. I played a couple of tricks of Hearts in the barn during the ballista class.

I gave a Super Mondo Rock-the-House Instructor fob the each of the instructors because I have been impressed with their classes.

Dinner tonight will be the first meal I eat away from my patrol. I've just been sitting in the barn wasting time. I sat in the middle of the doorway, about ten feet back, and watched camp for a while. This was pleasant.

My mood has not suffered from the weather as much as I thought it would. The weather is still the same as it has been all day, gray and dreary, though Jeff Long says that the wind has changed.

I had dinner with Silver Patrol, sloppy joes and cobbler. The rain continued through the meal but abated near the end. Waling back, some other staffers and I noticed that there were variations of light and dark in the clouds, instead of the flat, soul-sucking gray we had looked at all day. Jason Radtke, Matt Werner, Danny Binkley and I shouted “The clouds have shapes!” to the camp in jubilation. And now I can see the sun behind the clouds to the west! Righteous.

I spliced a knotted rope and we used it to jump rope while the patrols had their meeting with the Scoutmaster before campfire.

It started raining during the campfire, so it was moved down to the barn. Mr. Van Horne read the story of the Purple Bishop.

After the staff meeting I went outside and discovered that all the mist in the air made flashlights beams visible for a long distance. We had a battle with giant lightsabers.

It's 11:33 PM. I'm going to sleep in tomorrow morining; I've set my alarm for 6:30 AM.

Thursday 17 June

I woke up at 6:30 AM and got out of the tent at 6:45 AM. Hallelujah! The sky is blue and the sun is casting shadows.

The patrol was starting to cook breakfast. It looks like they didn't do dishes last night, but that's okay. They were setting them out to be cleaned when I left the patrol site.

Andrew said that Ben gave him a little bit of an attitude when he said good morning to him, but that might have been a misunderstanding.

I had breakfast with Gold Patrol. It was French toast, sausage and cereal.

The clouds moved back in during the flag ceremony. But it's not wet yet.

I watched a class on Setting the Example.

The followed the service project. We were limbing and moving downed trees. Two things of note occurred. Bryan Wermers had a big log and was looking for “two really strong young men” to move it. I asked, “How about one really really strong young man?” and made a He-Man pose. Bryan said something like, “You'd be a really stupid young man.” I felt bad, for saying something silly and kind of setting myself up, and for being called stupid. Also, after the project Bill McMahon, the Ranger, shook my hand and said with a smile, “You need to stop working.” I'm not sure he knows my name, but he probably recognizes me.

I ate lunch with Green Patrol. For some reason, all the patrol took a long time to prepare what should have been a simple mean: soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

After lunch it hailed for about ten minutes. Then the clouds broke and the sun shone. That lasted a little while, then it started raining a little bit with thunder and lightning. Then it stopped raining and the sun came out while I was watching my patrol from my tent during the afternoon activities.

The patrol still has trouble getting things done on time. They are friendly with each other and don't have trouble working together, but still they don't get things done.

Another patrol walked by on their way back from the showers. Some of their members made disparaging remarks about our ballista, still in construction. My patrol made a kind of “Oh, yeah?” reply. I don't think it's important enough to mention at the staff meeting.

Andrew and I took the patrol up to the showers. The group of girls was swarming around the place. Andrew seemed pleased that one of the girls was interested in him, relating the story of how he was told at least twice.

The sky is now flatly overcast and it's raining pretty good.

Before we left, some of the girls asked for and got a picture of all of us.

The evening flags were done under the canopy in the learning area. I gave a Green Patrol Centerpiece fob to Green Patrol for the centerpiece they had on their table at lunch. There is some variation in the clouds to the east.

I ate dinner with Blue Patrol. It was an amazing experience. My plate had flowers on it. There was a wooden chandelier hanging from the roof of the dining fly. They poured my drink for me and served me food. We even sang during the meal. I have to believe that the difference between Blue Patrol and mine is at least partly due to the quality of the Scouts in them. Suspicion remains, however, that their lack of success is partly my fault.

I returned to the patrol site at 7:30 PM. They were supposed to be having a patrol meeting to plan their first aid class for tomorrow. What I found was a table full of dirty dishes and spilled salad dressing. The patrol members were standing sround, apparently talking. Andrew was helping some of them move their tents. I asked why they weren't doing their dishes and they replied that they were out of propane. I told them to ask the quartermaster for another bottle. Seeing the campsite and the patrol in the state they were in, I was disappointed.

I went back up to the barn which, because of the weather, was to be the location of the devotional campfire. Right after I arrived I had to return to the patrol site to check the patrol members' tents and gear for wetness. Scott's was the only gear that really needed drying out. He was wearing wet clothes with no raingear, even though it was still raining a little bit. I asked if he had any rain gear, and he said he had a poncho but it was wet. I told him to put it on anyway. He argued with me, but he put on his poncho. At this point I was frustrated. I knew that part of my bad feeling was because of the weather, so I tried to put it out of my mind and act with more grace.

The Quartermaster can't get us a new propane tank until tomorrow morning, so we arranged to borrow Red Patrol's propane tank this evening. Orange will be doing dishes late tonight. That will reduce the effectiveness of Night Reflections somewhat.

I took Scott's wet stuff to the barn to dry out. We will arrange to tent him with another patrol member tonight.

Having the devotional campfire in the barn instead of at the chapel is a first for me, and it's disappointing. The devotional campfire is my favorite, partly because it usually takes place with a view of the lake. Now I'm missing most of it because I'm catching up writing this.

We went back to the campsite for Night Reflections. Because of the weather, each patrol member went to his tent. Scott was cold and stayed in the barn. We went and got him shortly before reflections ended. We sent him straight to bed in Ben's tent. Andrew conducted the discussion after reflections. That went pretty well. Andrew and I decied to leave the dishes for tomorrow morning. Because everyone was cold and tired, we sent them to bed after the discussion. Andrew and I picked up their trash and stacked their dishes.

Walking back from the staff meeting there was an eerie glow in the sky over the trees. It's 11:39 PM. Nighty-night.

Friday 18 June

My alarm rang at 5:00 AM. I sat up at 5:20 AM, and I got out of the tent at 5:30 AM. I took a shower. Bill Van Horne, Jeff Long and Jeff Rogers were there too. After our showers, we talked to the leaders of the group of girls. They are leaving early today because of the rain.

Speaking of rain, it is still hazy, cloudy and a little rainy.

All the patrols were slow getting breakfast ready, so Andy Mohrhaus told the staff members to go to the patrols to which they would be invited to help with the preparation. I helped with Orange for a while, then I went to Red.

At Red Patrol I helped clean dishes before and after the meal. We didn't finish until the flag ceremony, which was held 40 minutes late at 9:10 AM. All this was understandable and acceptable given the weather. Orange Patrol performed the flag ceremony, so I guess they did okay with breakfast.

Breakfast was ham, eggs and hash browns. Red's stove was broken and it took us a while to fix it.

I helped Orange clean their gear until 10:30 AM, and then everyone went up to the Training Lodge to talk to a representative of the Council Executive. While the participants were doing that, Staff messed around outside and threw rocks in the lake.

This morning the weather has been having an effect on my Troop Guide. He's not cheerful. He's more keen on working on the ballista than helping the patrol clean up.

When the participants were done with their talk, we went inside. The youth staff have organized a troop-wide tournament of Egyptian Rat Race. What the fuck? Can't we play some Boy Scout games? I guess we're going to stay here until lunch, and probably even through the first and and safety session.

This weather sucks. We can kind of deal with it, but the program suffers. We can't do as much and we don't have as much fun.

I played Danny Ausmus's guitar for a while and we broke for lunch at about 12:15 PM. Lunch was soup sandwiches and chips. The sun came out for about five minutes. I sat with Jeff Long and Jeff Rogers and we had a pleasant semi-technical conversation.

We went back to the campsite to start moving things to the meadow. I did the exit interviews. Andrew was goofing around and throwing pinecones at the patrol members. Naturally, they were doing the same and not getting any work done. This was annoying to me. It seems that the weather and stresses from the patrol have worn him out. I wish he had been able to hold out another day.

It was raining pretty hard during re-setup, and it hailed for a while. Everyone went into the barn at about 2:50 PM because of lightning. I spent some time making fobs. We took down the flags during a break in the clouds. Then the patrols kept on cleaning up. We met at the flag poles at 5:00 PM to go up to the Training Lodge but didn't get moving until almost 5:30 PM. A little bit of blue sky came out and Joe Ausmus made a joke about seeing a blue cloud. I wish I had thought of that.

Up at the Training Lodge the first thing we did was hand out a lot of fobs. I gave a Masta' of Shasta Disasta' fob to Andrew for his walking stick made out of soda cans. I gave the Blue Patrol Declaration of Awesomeness to Blue Patrol to recognize them for the dinner last night. I got a patrol fob from Andrew and an Extreme Triangle of Trianglyness from Danny Ausmus.

Jeff Rogers gave a fob to Ben from my patrol for singing a solo of “Jesus Loves Me” at Wednesday's campfire. He got choked up and said that it took a lot of courage to do what Ben did. I hate to say it, because Jeff was obviously showing real emotion, but I think he misinterpreted Ben's solo. As I learned during the week, Ben is nmot really the quiet type he appears at first. He certainly had the support of his friends and possibly even did it as a dare or something.

Dinner was steak, corn, bread and mashed potatoes, prepared by the staff. I sat with most of my patrol and we talked about video games and Star Wars. I had some trouble paying attention because I was tired and there were so many people talking.

Sitting in the warm lodge, my cheeks feel hot. I feel like Hans Castorp.

The campfire was awesome. The staff sang Big Horn Staffer. I spoofed Andrew and he spoofed me. Scott Rogers wrote and sang a funny blues song about Michael Polete.

I filled out evaluation forms for Andrew and Mark Godsey, a Quartermaster. I recommended both for next year's staff.

We sang songs after campfire. It's pretty great: the participants are walking around singing too. The staff are singing the extended cut of Sixpence. They did “I've got Fifield” and I did pelvic thrusts during “Poor wife!” which got a laugh.

I feel pretty good about today now, even though it was difficult. It's always like that at the end of a cleanup day.

Everyone is cheered up after having a few warm and dry hours. Andrew seems refreshed.

There followed a short staff meeting with snacks. We all had to move our cars from the parking lot down to the barn to make room for an event the next day. A car approached as I was walking to the lot. I made like it hit me and they stopped and rolled down the window. The car contained at least Joe Ausmus and Matt Werner. They asked me if I had seen Andrew, because he wasn't at the barn. I said I hadn't and went to check his tent. He wasn't there. The patrol members who were still awake thought he had gone to the barn. I went there, but it was empty. Bill Van Horne drove up. I informed him of the situation. He drove back up to the lodge to inform the others. I walked up, checking Andrew's tent again on the way.

Andrew had been talking about visiting the upper meadow after hearing the Purple Bishop story. I started to walk around the lodge up to the lake to see if I could see a light when the lodge door burst open, scaring me a little. Andy Mohrhaus and others were there, about to send out search parties. Just as everyone was all excited, I walked around to the other side of the lodge. Andrew was sitting on a picnic table on the front porch. He had been able to see everyone running around inside the through the front window, but didn't know they were looking for him. The search was called off. I observed to the others that most emergencies of this sort end in a way similar to the one in which this one had. Now that I think of it, I'm not sure that's true. Bill drove Andrew and I back to camp.

I gave away three of my cards today, and even got one in return. That's kind of neat.

It's 11:24 PM. Tomorrow's the last day. That's sort of hard to believe. It's still raining.

Saturday 19 June

My alarm clock went off at 6:00 AM but I was awake a little before that. It has stopped raining and the sun is shining through the walls of my tent. It is quiet.

Now that I'm out of the tent, I see that the sun is shining, the trees are steaming, and the sky is thoroughly blue in every direction. It is too early to tell whether God is smiling on us or only smirking.

I put on the hemp bracelet Andrew gave me on Sunday. I feel bad I didn't put it on earlier.

I just barely had enough sunscreen to put it on this morning.

Andrew and I worked on the participant evaluation forms. We were interrupted by morning flags. We had cereal and pastries for breakfast. Then we finished the evaluations. It's still sunny, though there are big gray clouds to the west.

While the patrol cleaned dishes, Andrew and I took down the ballista. I've heard reports that Orange has finished cleaning their gear and are checked out by the Quartermasters. It's only 10:00 AM. That's pretty cool.

Week 2 staff is starting to arrive. Mr. Van Horne is handing out money to the participants. Some donor gave a big donation to Big Horn and specified that the money go to the participants. So each of them is getting an envelope with 35 dollars in it.

The parents were arriving and we met at flags at 10:30 AM. The assembly was good, with “Absolutely!” and the announcements song and “Ooh, ah” and Pink Pajamas.

I used to resent the arrival of the parents and siblings, like they were invaders in our world. Now it doesn't bother me.

Graduation started at 10:55 AM, five minutes ahead of schedule. They sang Pink Pajamas again. The skits and songs ended at 11:20 AM. The sky is becoming overcast.

The graduation ended a little before 12:00 M. We sang On My Honor, I Will Try and Pink Pajamas. Three Pink Pajamas are enough for one day.

I went back to the campsite, where my patrol members were packing up and leaving. I said goodbye to Ben, Mike L., Robert, Scott, Evan and Mike D.

It turns out one of Orange's stoves is still dirty.

Staff meeting started at 12:30 PM. Bill Van Horne handed out certificates of appreciation.

Lunch was ham and cheese sandwiches with bananas.

I started packing up my stuff at 1:00 PM. Left in camp were two pairs of work gloves and a tube of toothpaste. I came back up to the patrol site after loading my car to have a look around. I left for home at 1:40 PM. The weather is absolutely beautiful now. So long, camp.

I got home at 3:19 PM. I hope no one will be offended to learn that I threw away my fobs, bracelet and certificate of appreciation. I don't like keeping things like that around. Maybe I'll change my mind about this in the future.