Scouting traditions

Camp Olmsted hosts smells, sights, sounds

Times Observer photo by Lorri Drumm A tent village houses scouts during the week at Scout Camp. Each campsite includes a fire pit, benches and a covered area with tables and lanterns for evening activities. Some campers also choose covered hammocks for their nighttime accommodations.

Traditions can create memories and a sense of belonging. Sometimes, just a sound or a certain aroma can transport us to

Last week, approximately 206 scouts and volunteers gathered around the smell of a campfire, sang traditional camp songs, and made lots of memories.

The annual Chief Cornplanter Council B.S.A. Scout Camp took place at Camp Olmsted in Elk Township.

Three times a day, scouts would gather around a flag pole prior to each daily meal. In the morning, they raised the flag and at the last gathering, they lowered it. It’s a tradition as old as the camp that was originally purchased in 1927, according to Jim Shaw, Chief Cornplanter Council, B.S.A. district executive.

As scouts took their turn ringing the large bell, and the sound of “Mess Call” came from several bugles, everyone at camp knew it was time for a meal. Music also signaled the end of the meal.

On one day, just as everyone had gobbled up first and seconds of sloppy joes and macaroni and cheese, some campers belted out a rousing rendition of the camp classic, “It’s a lie.”

Campers joined in to repeat “A mermaid” as the group sang several verses with the chorus: “It’s a lie; It’s a lie; Ship ahoy, ship ahey, ship a hi-hi-hi! Oh, I’ve sailed the seven seas and I’ve sniffed the salty breeze, but I never, ever, ever saw a mermaid — A mermaid.”

As scouts headed to different destinations to master new skills or brush up on old ones, two seasoned scouts hiked back to their campsite for campfire duty. A large fire pit surrounded by rocks left billows of smoke into the mid-day air. Storm Sivak and Mike Moore took turns stoking the fire to keep it going for that night’s meal. It’s camp tradition to cook meals at the campsite on Wednesdays, according to Shaw.

“It gives them a chance to cook in camp as a troop,” he said. “On Friday night, families join in our last meal. It’s a tradition to do that before camp comes to an end.”

Sivak has been coming to Scout camp for six years. This year, he was learning environmental science, soil and water conservation, and fish and wildlife management. The subjects may not end up leading to a career, but Sivak said: “they’re things I’m interested in.”

Moore spent his week learning about Indian lore, art, weather, and kayaking. Some of his time was spent drawing in different formats, improving his kayaking skills, and learning how to forecast the weather.

Those forecasting skills may have motivated the scouts to take on campfire duty under the protection of the forest, while others were chased from the reservoir by the Friday afternoon downpour.