Friday, August 8, 2014

Camp Seton

This school year is over and I am going to the Seton Reservation in Greenwich, for summer camp. So far I am having a great time. In the mornings we get to do two specific merit badges every week (archery, rifles, ranger, canoeing, fishing), and in the afternoons we can do any of the merit badge activities as well as wilderness survival, rock climbing, swimming, sports, or any additional activities. It's lots of fun to do these activities.

My favorite activity is archery because I get to use these genius weapons (back when they were invented nomads traveled around hunting and it was five thousand years before humans started settling down and cultivating land). When I shoot a bow and arrow it makes me feel older and more experienced. I like how easy it is to aim and fire and if I practiced a little more I could become a very good archer. I also enjoy the archery program because the kids that come have very interesting things to talk about. We all like to talk about politics and discrimination and problems with media. I think that going there enhances my view of the world. An additional reason to go there is that I get to think about science. Despite the talk, I sometimes drift off thinking about energy. I always come back to this topic because I am using a bow, which transfers potential energy from the bow into the arrow because of the sharp release of pressure (letting go of the bow string). Recently I brought my own bow to archery. It is a long bow, whereas the bows at camp are either compound or re-curve. A long bow is basically a fiberglass bar bent by a rope tied to either end. When you pull back, the bar bends even more, and when you let go the energy in the bar pushes the arrow forward. The bow is very light but in order to be strong it has to be large. A compound bow is a metal bar that is already curved that has three strings on a pulley system. When you pull back the pulley puts pressure on the side strings (strings that don’t have the arrow notched and are slightly off to the side) so that when you let go they suddenly take slack from the main string, pushing the arrow forward. Even though these bows are three times as heavy as a long bow, they are much smaller and when shooting parallel to the ground they go farther. A re-curve bow is like a long bow except it’s bar is like a mustache, not straight like a long bow. It works in a similar way as a long bow, but it is heavier, on average shoots farther, is less maneuverable, and doesn't do as well shooting through the air. I prefer my long bow to any of the other bows, and I enjoy going to archery a lot.

Canoeing is my second favorite activity at camp because I get to speed around a lake for hours, playing games with other canoes. I have a little experience canoeing at the Mohican Lake, but Andrew the instructor taught me a lot. After learning the right way to paddle, I learned a few tips and tricks to keep me going. After that I was armored with a water gun and prepared for war. Since then I have been teaming up with a boat-mate and going off to battle. It is a lot of fun and I am very good at it. Me and my teammate move three times faster than anyone else, giving us a huge advantage over others. Our battle plan is always very simple: bring one of our allies to the other end of the lake. Accelerate around one end of a cluster of boats while they take the other. Fire as we circle around the boats. When we reach each other on the other end, move just out of firing range (an all too easy to find location). As the boats start to move in a specified direction come in and repeat. I have done this for hours and not gotten tired of it. It is especially fun when you are in the canoe with real good friends or people you have lots of common ground with. My two worst canoeing nightmares come from times when I got in the canoe with kids that weren't real good friends or kids with no common ground. And they both happened in the same day. First a got in a boat with Liam and his friend. Liam and his friend were perfectly cool with blaming their mistakes on me which was the least of my problems, they would go straight for another boat, distract the cub scouts with me (let me take their first attack) and then fire at them until they were crying with pain and screaming to be helped. They used their paddles (the big metal sticks with long edges) as swords. After a little of this I steered them away. You would think that two on one plus a water gun, would mean that they could obviously turn the boat around with ease, but I was a really good rower by now and I was angry and they weren't that great. So they tried to row and I out did them halfway across the lake and with good momentum. Liam told me that if I didn't stop he would shoot and I told him that if he did we would go faster. So he shot me and I took them to the end of the lake and back around again (on the edges and far from any targets) and apologized to everyone. It was easier to get nailed full in the face with pride and bravery then to watch myself help someone get nailed in the face with despair and hatred. My other canoeing nightmare was another three person trip with Mike and Matthew. Matthew will be a CIT by the end of the summer. After a while of things going absolutely perfect and me having a great time, Mike started chanting row, row, row, your boat in his impression of Japanese and rocking the boat back and forth. This continued for a while until one violent round in which Mike and Matthew (who had joined in somewhere along the way) decided to lean on to the left railing. Mike went so far as to jump before the boat flipped over. A lifeguard used a bullhorn to tell us that we wouldn't be canoeing for the rest of the week and that if the boat sank we would pay for it. Matthew grabbed the oars and the water gun and swam for the dock. I realized that we couldn't get the boat to be right side up without it sinking. So I yelled to Mike, who was swimming for the dock “shit, stop singing that song!” I lifted the boat on its side till it was as high as I was going to get it, then turned it face down. All the air was trapped in the canoe. It’s top was above the surface of the water. At this point Mike stopped swimming away from work and sat on top of the canoe as I lugged it to the dock. Most days are much better, and I will pick boat-mates better next time.

Ranger is one of my favorite activities. Known also as wilderness survival and pioneering, you can infer on what happens. These are the skills associated with boy scouts, learning to build a campfire, use bladed tools (pocket knife, bowman saw, axe), build a shelter, cook over an open grill, build a monkey bridge, etc. I like this activity because of all the things you can do and how peaceful it is.

Fishing is another activity I enjoy. I like fishing because of how easy it is to do and the different intensity levels that people bring to the sport. I am generally more of a casual fisher, but like I was saying everyone is always different. I am not that experienced with fishing, but I am making progress. So far I have caught 3 fish in two days of actual fishing time. Ian my patrol leader, runs fishing and he is pretty nice. I don’t like fishing as much as archery, canoeing, or ranger.