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2010 Dismal Swamp

10/25/2010 from Mr. Tyson

Troop, Just to add onto the big thank you we must not forget Mr. Wheeler who made this happen with a we are going to camp in a swamp and doing all of the planning and phone calls. Thank You.

I was also amazed at how the first year patrols took to cooking there meals with very little direction. Gone were the wide eyes and look of terror that they had at Dutch Gap when they were given the stoves and were told to cook your meals. They looked like seasoned pros. Great job Scouts.

RECON any time a ride is needed I am in. RECON RULES !!!!!!!

ASM Brandon Tyson

10/25/2010 Wrap Up from Mr. Wheeler

WOW! Where to begin? Who’d of thought Wiki would be on the business end of a fire extinguisher putting out a fire!! Every camp has its surprises and the Swamp sure had some in store for us. 

The Troop gathered at our normal place with the added spectacle of brightly colored canoes and kayaks adorning vehicles. ASM Mr. McNeil had the most with two kayaks on top of his rig while pulling a trailer of 6 canoes. SPL Christian got business done and off we went. 

RECON did their work well with great advanced intel for our route and camping site. Once we breached the (early) locked gate, we were in theater and ready to camp. Weather Dude nailed the forecast perfectly. Campers were treated to an amazingly bright full moon, wonderful camp site, and plenty of room to settle in. Excitement was in the air along with a cool fall crisp evening. It was perfect camping weather. Nice cool nights for snuggling into your sleeping bag and warm sunshine during the day. We munched our way through cracker-barrel and SPL Christian called lights out about 10:00pm. 

Saturday morning always comes early after a night of whispers in the dark. Patrols found gear and goods and set to work. Leadership Core, Line Bosses, and Senior Scouts oversaw the whole operation. ASMs kept a watchful eye out and offered assistance wherever needed. What a beautiful site. Yes the Swamp campsite was fantastic. But for a Scoutmaster, seeing our scouts working together as a unit is the most beautiful sight of all. 

Breakfast done, it was time for our first appointment at Dismal Swamp State Park. Educational Ranger Mrs. Signa Williams was there to greet us with two assistants. Just walking to the visitors center area was pretty cool. We crossed the canal on a floating bridge that pivots out from the side. Mrs. Williams even had the operator open the bridge for us to see it work. The canal is part of the 3,000 mile Atlantic Intercostals Waterway. To emphasize that fact, a large sailboat equipped for long voyages and heavy weather motored through the canal, destination unknown. 

Our visit continued with three groups learning about Dismal Swamp animals, history, and the current state of the swamp compared to the past. We traveled a wonderful boardwalk through the forest that would otherwise had been a muddy walk indeed. This was a first class visit with experienced and knowledgeable instructors who tailored the information delivery perfectly to our Scouts. Each group rotated through the informational settings and instructors. After about two hours of knowledge transfer, we thanked our fantastic hosts and set our course for lunch and our next camp event. 

Lunch was great. The Scouts munched like an alligator scarfing down a Nutria. Who knew ASM Mr. Strickler could eat a case of oranges himself? We were hungry and there was plenty of food thanks to ASM Mr. Martin’s careful planning. Following munching, ASM Mr. McNeil covered boating and water safety and we headed to Merchants Millpond State Park. 

Logistics planning to get 61 Scouts, drivers, boats, and assorted gear in the correct place and time rivaled any large scale military campaign. I will never forget watching Mr. McNeil heading off into the swamp looking like a Mississippi tugboat with four canoes in tow. We pulled it together and with about the same organization as a locus swarm, ASMs managed to get scouts in PFDs and launched into a boat. This was after the Scouts had an excellent visit with Merchants Millpond Educational staff and presentations including a top flight visitors center with many cool displays to check out. 

Into the Merchants Millpond we went. The Millpond is an amazing paddle that will test your navigational skills. There are trees and things everywhere with little open water. The Scouts did their best but just about everything in the pond, including our boats, other visitor’s boats, trees, bushes, everything, got clobbered by our paddlers at least once. Parents know this scenario well. For many adult partners, there are some things we just don’t do well together. Wallpapering, for instance, is a no-go activity for myself and my wife to do together. I was thinking of that while witnessing the efforts and hearing some of the conversations in many boats. The forward position canoe paddler has a distinctly different experience when smashing into a sticker bush covered tree than the aft paddler. The nuances of this difference was frequently expounded on in detail and loudly by the forward position paddler to his aft partner. 

None-the-less, everyone agreed that the swamp paddle was a very unique experience with many vowing to return for more exploration. Several paddlers were certain they saw gators breach the surface for a quick breath of air and then slip quietly into the black depths of the swamp. The October colors were beginning to show, making the dark surface of the swamp sheen with colorful reflections. In other places a floating carpet of green was easily knifed by the canoe bows offering little resistance as we glided about. Merchants Millpond is an amazing and unique place. 

The evening air was beginning to move in as we wrapped up our paddle. Reverse logistics were enacted and back to the camp site we went. 

Patrols did their business of getting a meal together. Senior Scouts assisted at every table. And Wiki became a fireman. 

Yes, unbelievable as it sounds, Chief Wiki leaped into action to put a fire out!!! A stove had migrated to the edge of a table allowing the fuel bottle to pivot down, thus loosening the fuel pipe connection allowing the escaping fumes to ignite. Later recollection by the Wikster revealed that he did see amazing beauty in the pretty show of fire, but his protective Scout instincts kicked in a millisecond later and without hardly a thought he dashed to the trailer, grabbed the fire extinguisher, and proceeded to thoroughly, and I do mean thoroughly, blast the little rouge flame to death. From my view from the wash station, it was an amazing sight of flicker firelight, a seriously loud noise of scouts, and then a cloud of white fog, all with Wiki in the center. 

I think that set the decibel level for the rest of the camp. Good thing we were off in the woods by ourselves. 

There is something magic about a great campfire with fellowship of your Troop. ASM Mr. Strickler was coaxed into giving an extremely rare offering of the tale of Grayson’s Hollow. I was personally a little freaked out but the scouts seemed to take it in stride mostly. Must be all that “friendly” video game desensitization kicking in. Lights out was called and to tents we went. 

Sunday breakfast went well. Patrols all got something to eat. Life Scout Noah organized a wonderful vespers service. We packed up, cleaned up the site, and made way for home through very scenic rural countryside. 

The Dismal Swamp area of the Eastern seaboard is a mysterious and foreboding sounding destination for many. Not for T2860. We found, as George Washington did, a glorious paradise full of amazing life. The Swamp does harbor it’s secrets. I’m eager to return and continue the adventure of discovery in this amazing place. 

Thanks and Recognitions: 
Webelos Scout Phil and his fellow camper and father, Mr. Costin. Thank you for camping with us! Phil, I hope you find a great troop and I really hope it’s T2860!!! And bring your dad along to. 
Camp SPL Christian. Nice job Christian!! Big camp, three patrol meals, two states, you got’er done! 
RECON = Awesome. Alpha Team, you nailed this one! 
Senior Scouts, Leadership College Grads, Leadership Core, WOW! I could not be more proud of you. Thank you! 
Patrol leaders and Patrols, good job Scouts! Tasty food, good organization. Well done. 
Wiki – Way to go Chief. Seriously, you did right, saved that stove and kept everyone safe if not entertained. That was some awesome scouting! 
Pete, you’re a tough scout. Way to stick it out. 
Matthew, how you looked after your friend is an inspiration to all of us. Thank you! 
Noah, great service, Thank you! 

Line Bosses, Scott and assistant Zach, nice job! We all thank you for keeping us safe and healthy!! 
Quartermasters, Elijah and Walter, ok, we basically killed the troop trailer so on behalf of the camp, sorry dudes. I know you can handle whipping her back into shape. Great job on prep!! 

Again, to all the older scouts. All of you did small things to keep the camp safe and organized. Patrick, I saw you more than once remind a scout to be respectful and safe. Many of your peers were doing the same. Nick, great job with your patrol instruction. Andrew H, I only needed to suggest something be done and you were all over it. I can’t tell you how much that means to me. Christian did a absolutely fantastic job and it’s his senior scout crew that helped him look good. What a great team and example of what Scout leadership in a troop should be. I am so proud of you. 

Invisible Monkeys. Thank you for looking after Webelos Scout Phil. If Phil finds his scouting home with us, it will be in large part due to the friendship you offered him. Now that is Scouting! 


Kris my friend, I couldn’t do this without you. Thank you! 
Eric, now I can’t go upstairs without the lights on…great. J 
Daryl, Steve, Ken, Jack, Greg…worked like crazy and had my back, Thank you! 
Monty, safest guy on the water and kept the Troop paddle safe, Thank you! And thanks for doing the trailer, totally appreciate that!!! 
Brandon, RECON Alpha member AND has an 8 passenger van…WOW! Nice job on this Brandon, even tamed grumpy pants, awesome. 
Nancy, camp with us anytime! Thank you so much for helping and putting up with all us guys!! 
Ted – We’re keeping Phil. You can come alone. J Seriously, thanks for all your help. I hope we didn’t freak Phil out or anything. This was a big camp and a lot for a Webelos. Camp with us anytime!!!! 

Parents at home, thank you for supporting your scout, his Troop, and providing the strong foundation that we can build on. Your partnership with the Troop program makes a powerful tool that will help your son reach his highest goals. Your support is NEVER taken for granted. We have a great group of young men due to your hard work, financial support, and sharing of your time and resources. Thank you very much!!! 

Mark Wheeler


9/17/10 from Mr. Tyson

RECON as of today I have just two seats left to be filled.


ASM Tyson

9/17/10 from Mr. Wheeler

Greetings Scouts!  Thank you very much SCRUBII participants!!  We removed an amazing amount of stuff out of the reservoir and surrounding feeder areas.  Mr. Beuglass will offer a full report soon.  Nice job T2860!

Swamp Camp:

One of the challenges with having the Scoutmaster helping run a camp is I have very limited time.  I have several logistics confirmations to pin down at Merchants Millpond and Dismal Swamp Sate Parks next week, a Wednesday meeting to get ready, Leadership College on TH, boats to wrangle, patrol organization to figure out from Donna’s sign up listing, patrol food plans to get to grubmasters with SPL John’s help, Webeols camping information needs, and many more troop ongoing business to tend to.

Here’s my prior task assignment plan.  Please let me know if you can’t do these tasks.  This was an attempt to get things rolling.  Mr. Gould is not going but the Quartermasters have firewood prepared and the Troop Trailer ready.  I’ll pick up the Troop trailer today.  We’ll probably use Mr. Coakley’s trailer for fire wood, coolers, any extra gear, and boats.  We’ll need someone to pull that trailer.  I’ll pick it up Monday or Tuesday evening and have it at the house.

I’ll get a list of participants out as soon as possible so meal plans can begin.

ASM Mr. Tyson has requested any attending RECON available to leave early to confirm with him.  He’s traveling to camp early to secure our check in and access to the group camping areas.

Swim test and water rank work are tonight, Woodlake indoor pool, 7:00pm.



*       Food Plan, Mr. Martin

*       Food Shopper, Mr. Teefey

*       Fire Wood, Mr. Gould / Quartermasters

*       Troop Gear, Mr. Gould / Quartermasters

*       Boat Trailer puller, ??

*       Canoe Wrangler, Mr.  Wheeler

*       Troop Trailer puller, Mr. Wheeler

*       Troop signup and fee collection, Mrs. Worley

*       Troop travel permit, Mrs. Worley

*       Vespers, Mr. Strickler / Chaplain’s Aids

*       Webelos Assistants, Troop Guides and Instructors

*       General Camp Manager, Mr. Tyson / SPL and Senior Scouts

Patrol Cooking:

*       Sat Breakfast

*       Sat Evening Meal

*       Sunday Breakfast

Troop provided meals:

*     Fri Crackerbarrel

*    Sat Lunch

*    Sat Crackerbarrel


Prior Update

Greetings Scouts!  Are you ready to camp in a swamp?


We are camping at Merchants Millpond State Park NC walk in group camping sites 1, 2 and 3 arriving by 8:00pm Oct 22.  North Carolina State Parks lock their gates at 8:00pm.  This is the policy at NC state parks.  We must be on the road by 5:00pm on Oct 22 to assure arrival by 8:00pm at the camp site.  We’ll take roll at 4:45pm at the Woodlake Aquatic Center parking lot, hand out permission slips and be southbound by 5:00pm.  Please be prompt, get gear loaded, and stand ready to assist with helping the troop get organized and on the road on the launch date.



Oct 22:

  • muster at Woodlake Aquatic Center parking area, roll call at 4:45pm
  • leave Woodlake promptly at 5:00pm
  • arrive Merchants Millpond State Park NC camping area, 7:45pm
  • Troop crackerbarrel 9:00pm
  • Lights out 10:00pm

Oct 23:

  • Revelry Bugle Call (right Alec?) 7:00am
  • Complete patrol breakfast and clean up by 8:30am
  • Arrive at Dismal State Park visitors center for educational program 9:00am
  • Complete Dismal State Park program 12:00noon
  • Return to camp site, complete Troop lunch, arrive at Merchants Millpond State Park visitors center 1:30pm
  • Complete Merchants Millpond education program 3:00pm
  • Canoe Paddle begins Merchant Millpond boating area 3:30pm
  • Canoe Paddle concludes and boats in racks by 6:00pm
  • Return to camp site, patrol evening meals, campfire, lights out 10:00pm

Oct 24:

  • Revelry Bugle Call (right Alec?) 7:00am
  • Complete patrol breakfast by 8:30am
  • Vespers at 9:00am
  • Leave for home by 10:00am
  • Arrive Woodlake Aquatic Center parking area 1:00pm


  • Food Plan, Mr. Martin
  • Food Shopper, Mr. Teefey
  • Fire Wood, Mr. Gould / Quartermasters
  • Troop Gear, Mr. Gould / Quartermasters
  • Boat Trailer puller, ??
  • Canoe Wrangler, Mr.  Wheeler
  • Troop Trailer puller, Mr. Wheeler
  • Troop signup and fee collection, Mrs. Worley
  • Troop travel permit, Mrs. Worley
  • Vespers, Mr. Strickler / Chaplain’s Aids
  • Webelos Assistants, Mr. Gomes / Troop Guides and Instructors
  • General Camp Manager, Mr. Tyson / SPL and Senior Scouts

Patrol Cooking:

  • Sat Breakfast
  • Sat Evening Meal
  • Sunday Breakfast

Troop provided meals:

  • Fri Crackerbarrel
  • Sat Lunch


  • $20 per camper, Webelos Guests no fee

Canoe participation pre-requisite:

  • Pass Swim Test within the last 12 months


Merchants Millpond State Park is about 20 minutes from Dismal Swamp State Park and has the only large group camping site in the area.  The camp sites are good sized and will hold our troop easily.  There are pit toilets, water, and plenty of parking.  Hopefully, we’ll be given permission to monitor the group camp site entrance gate with access to the combination lock.  This is not assured, however, and we must comply with the rules of the park. 


Dismal State Park Education Ranger, Mrs. Williams, is setting up an education program specifically for our troop at the Dismal State Park visitors center on Oct 23.  We’ll get lunch after that at our camp site, then visit the Merchants Millpond State Park visitors center.  At this center, we’ll meet Mr. Jay Greenwood, Park Superintendent.  Mr. Greenwood oversees the lead North Carolina State Park facility at Merchants Millpond.  The visitor center building has many innovative green compliant features and is an attraction in its own right. 


Both Dismal Swamp State Park and Merchants Millpond State Park are steeped in history and have an extremely diverse natural habitat.  Yes, there are alligators in the Millpond, however, Mr. Greenwood assures me that they have never had any trouble with gator/human contact.  The best way to experience the swamp at Merchants Millpond is on the water.  This gentle paddle through the swamp is billed as one of the best paddle experiences in North Carolina.  For any non swimmers, there are many great hiking trails through the swamp that offer a unique hiking experience that may be enjoyed instead of the canoe paddle.


The Dismal Swamp has experienced a great deal of alteration from human impact.  The entire swamp has been logged at least twice and the re-growth tree species is much different from the original forest.  Humans have occupied this area for 13,000 years with much of the more dramatic ecological impact concentrated in the 18th and 19th centuries. Merchants Millpond, however, has retained much of the older swamp forest habitat that offers a glimpse into the dark and mysterious land of a time long ago. 


We’ll discover a great deal about this habitat at camp and Mr. Tyson and I will offer more details at the Wednesday meetings as time draws near the camping date.



The fee for the canoes is very reasonable at Merchants Millpond so I’m inclined to not bother hauling any of ours down there.  But, if you have a canoe or kayak, have passed the swim test, and would like to bring your boat with us, please have it at my house, 15005 Highberry Woods Court, Midlothian, by Monday Oct 18 to permit loading and prep for transport.  Please have your PFD and paddles clearly identified with your name and phone number.  I’ll need a volunteer to pull the canoe trailer. 


Swim Test:

Oct 17, 7:00pm, Woodlake Aquatic Center swim test.  A swim test will be offered by the troop at the noted place and time.  Scout fee for Aquatic Center non-members is covered by the troop.  Non member adult participation fee is $6.00.  Scouts who have passed the scouting swim test within the last 12 months do not need to repeat the test. Completing the test at summer camp, for example, would be fine.  This activity is limited to scouts working on the swim test.  There will be no free swim time.  Exemplary behavior is mandatory.  Any disturbances of other center guests or disrespectful actions will not be tolerated. Participating Webelos must have an attending parent present. 

Mark Wheeler

Aj Mezynski,
Oct 12, 2010, 10:43 AM
Aj Mezynski,
Oct 17, 2010, 7:52 AM
Aj Mezynski,
Oct 17, 2010, 7:52 AM
Aj Mezynski,
Oct 18, 2010, 10:21 AM
Aj Mezynski,
Oct 25, 2010, 9:09 AM
Aj Mezynski,
Oct 18, 2010, 10:24 AM