Bonavita: End of Scout Camp ‘bittersweet’

There is a whole lot to do at Scout Camp and the 140 Scouts there this week were plenty busy.

But, having things to do at Camp Olmsted is not like having things to do the rest of the year.

Jason Bonavita of Troop 13 has been going to Scout Camp for four years.

“It’s a good break from the stresses of life,” he said. “Even during the summer you have responsibilities.”

A week at camp is a time to “get together with your troop, have fun, socialize, and earn some merit badges,” he said. “You do a good bit of work, but it’s definitely fun.”

Scouts’ days start early.

Getting up at 6:30 a.m. for the polar bear swim in the Allegheny Reservoir is optional, Bonavita said. He has done it. “Usually, it’s pretty cold.”

Those who aren’t interested in a brisk morning swim can get up at 7 and have time to spare. Most meals are taken at the pavilion.

Then, Scouts have a few minutes to get to their first merit badge class of the day. The courses are 90 minutes long and each camper goes to four each day — two before lunch and two after.

Bonavita worked on his weather, communications, climbing, and geocaching badges.

There are a multitude of options. Scouts can learn swimming, boating, and life-saving at the waterfront, practice archery and shooting — rifles and shotguns, learn about their ecosystem, practice blacksmithing at the new forge or welding at the top of the camp, work on woodcarving with a leader who has been in Scouting for 70 years, practice archaeology or bugling, and many others.

After dinner, Scouts have some free time.

That is Bonavita’s favorite part of the camp experience.

He spends chunks of each evening at the Trading Post. “It’s the best place to go after dinner to relax and just hang out with your friends.”

Other Scouts play box hockey or gaga ball — a ground-based version of dodgeball — spend time around the campfire, make paracord bracelets or belts, or partake of other non-electronic activities. Cell coverage is almost non-existent at Camp Olmsted.

On Friday morning, Scouts and leaders tear down.

Bonavita said he feels a mix of emotions at the end of each camp.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “There’s part of you that is having so much fun. And there’s part of you that is thankful to head back to civilization.”