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2010 West Virginia Extravaganza

Greetings Troop,
Has everyone recovered?  I know I took a day to just veg out.  Now I am rested and ready to go again.  I hope you are.  I also hope that all of you had as much fun as I did.  I told you it would be a phyically challenging trip and boy was I right in more ways than one.  Now that we are all back safe and sound lets take a moment to recap the festivities.

Day one - Arrival at the departure sight was for the most part on time and i felt went very smoothly.  We got an accurate head count, took care of any missing forms and briefed our adult drivers.  Once everyone was accounted for we set out for our leisurely 3 1/2 hour drive.  Now I say leisurely, which for the most part it was, except for the last 30-40 miles which was enough to make even those of us who don't get car sick feel a little queasy.  We arrived at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory with little time to spare, but still managed to eat our lunches before getting ourselves ready for some educational fun.  We broke up into three groups and rotated through the many offerings that the staff had put together for us.  I felt that everyone was thoroughly awestruck by the sheer size of the radio telescope and depth of the research that is taking place with it.  We finished up our tours and after a very brief rainshower set out to find our home away from home.  We had made arrangements to take refuge at a local Boy Scout Reservation.  The camp facility was simply awesome and the staff were very accomodating.  We managed to set up camp in true 860 style and I might also add while not disturbing the summer camp functions that were ongoing.  We held ourselves to a new standard and I was very proud of the boys for being on their best behavior.  We enjoyed some good food that night, some comraderie, and then it was off to bed to get ready for day two - the river trip!

Day two-  We got an early start this day and enjoyed a quick grab and go breakfast so that we could get on the road for the nearly 2 hr car ride to the river outfitter.  I must break here to say again how proud of the boys I am because we got up on time, ate breakfast, cleaned up breakfast, got to the cars and were on our way before most of the other campers even started stirring.  The trip was a quick one.  The road to the outfitter was a beautiful trip through some truly stunning countryside.  Once we arrived at the outfitters we were briefed on the river conditions, got our gear and divided up into groups of two.  We decided to use the canoes and divided the groups into one older scout with one new scout, which seemed to work out pretty good.  We set out on the river to enjoy some class I & II rapids, which due to water levels being low amounted to some fast moving water with some long stretches between rapids.  Some of the sections were more technically challenging than others, but for the most part the scouts rose to the occasion and handled the river like old pros.  We broke about half way through and had a hearty lunch on the river amongst the rocks and truly beautiful scenery.  We saw eagles, deer, woodchucks, and all sorts of wildlife.  Did I mention the scenery!  Once lunch was finished we packed up the canoes and set out for the second half of our trip.  Some more rapids, some more paddling and alot of fun.  As we came to the close of the trip and made our way to the take out point I saw a lot of smiling faces and quite a few comments were made to the fact of they would like to do it again.  We arrived back at the outfitters, said our thanks to the owners, and set out on the trip back to the camp.  We did our first of three patrol cookings and I must say I was impressed with the menu selections of the newer scouts.  They actually cooked their food.  I saw mashed potatoes, spaghetti, and more.  I think they were actually challenging the older scouts.  Between the long car ride and paddling 6 1/2 miles on the river, it was again an early night with not too many complaints when the call came for lights out.

Day three - We awoke to heavy dew and a dense fog which seemed to permeate into our brains and bodies.  We didn't have a set meeting time for today, so we didn't feel rushed.  Patrols cooked their breakfasts, and I must say the whole of camp was probably awoken to the smell of bacon.  These kids can eat some bacon!  Once we cleaned up we assembled and made the last minute adjustments to bikes and participants so that we could set out on the biking part of the trip.  We broke into two groups, with the first making a 25.3 mile gaunt along the Greenbrier River Trail and the second making a 10ish mile trip further up towards the end.  Again the scenery was incredible.  We chose the Marlinton To Cass section of the trail due to the fact that once you left Marlinton, there pretty much was nothing until you got to the end.  We ate our lunches alongside the trail and took in the beauty of the surrounding river and mountains.  Once again I have to say how proud of the boys I am because we never needed our rescue vehicles.  All the boys finished what they started.  A hearty congratulations goes out to all of them because even though they were tired, saddle sore, and wondering if they could do it, they never gave up.  A brief side note here to say attaboy to our Scoutmaster Mark Wheeler.  One of the boys had brought a bike that was probably too small for the longer ride and he was having a lot of trouble keeping up, so our scoutmaster switched bikes after about 5 miles and rode the scouts smaller bike the rest of the way.  that's some dedication to our boys.  We ended up in Cass, WV about the same time and some of the scouts made their way to the Railroad museum and enjoyed some ice cream.  Others seemed too tired to stir out of the spots where they had dropped their bikes, but all seemed to have had a great time.  We made our way back to camp to once again feed ourselves and settle down for a well deserved rest.  Once lights out was called, you couldn't hear a single scout unless you count snoring.  They were just plum tuckered out.

Day four - We awoke to the sound of scouts breaking camp and readying themselves for the trip home.  All in all it seemed that they enjoyed themselves and had grown in their appreciation for their own accomplishments.  The camp was made to look like we had never even been there.  the boys did themselves justice once again.  We enjoyed our vesper service in a beautiful outdoor chapel with the permission of the camp director.  We loaded up the gear and got the scouts into their respective vehicles for the long trip back.  This was the only part of the camp that didn't run too smoothly.  After some confusion about rides and who was supposed to be driving we finally got on the road.  We had a breakdown along the way and managed to shift people, gear, and seats so that we got everyone home safely. 

All in all it was a great trip, a beautiful campsite, some awesome physical challenges and new appreciation as to what the boys could accomplish.

Yours in Scouting,
ASM Mr. Grabham
Troop 2860

No amount of teaching can compare to example...   -Lord Robert Baden Powell-


Troop, we are on the doorstep of EXTRAVAGANZA4! And I can’t wait.  The bikes are loaded (mostly), trailers are ready, food is being readied, Mr. Grabham is finalizing details, and much packing is taking place.  Here are a few reminders:


·         Class A for travel

·         Electronics stay in vehicles

·         Tech Chip rules are in part, if you bring it, the risk of loss or damage is yours alone.  Parents, please assure your son’s electronic gear content is scout appropriate.  Scouts do not need phones.

·         Have shoes for river wear

·         Water carry capacity of some kind for the bike ride

·         No helmet = No ride

·         Closed toe shoes always.  This is standard BSA policy at all scout functions (and saves on Band-Aids)

·         Have travel snacks, lunch, a drink, and some moola for lunch on the way home

·         Have meds clearly marked and organized for easy distribution and give to Med officer

·         Scouts must be fever free for 24 hours prior to camp

·         Patrols, please provide your own coolers packed and ready for transport

·         Non-cooler food, please have in a tub or otherwise robustly packed, squishing happens

·         No sugary or caffeine laden drinks please, these work directly against our hydration efforts

·         Energy drinks (Red Bull for example) are not permitted

·         Utilize reusable water bottles please (32oz wide top Nalgeen preferred)

·         Have your mess kit

·         Bulk water supply will be provided by the Troop

·         Fishermen, there is a lake near our camp site, be prepared, catch and release

·         Identify EVERYTHING


Senior Scouts – Troop Officers, Patrol Officers, Star Scouts and higher ranks, Leadership Core…  Your duty is to assure that your Troop operates effectively at camp.  This is your Troop and we are Scout lead.  Camp SPL is Andrew H.  You are to work closely with him and assist in any manner needed.  You are to be watchful for the younger scouts, make sure they are taken care of, and that the Troop is safe and organized.  How you conduct yourself, your leadership attitude, your willingness to assist others, and your respect for fellow scouts demonstrates your leadership ability.  The adults are quietly observing you and noting your leadership aptitude and Scouting spirit.  Scouts that exemplify good scouting earn the respect of their peers and adult leaders. 


Scout gear will not be going in my truck this time.  Mr. Gould is providing his covered trailer for scout gear transportation.  Grayson and I are traveling on to Iowa after E4 to visit where I grew up.  I was a farm kid.  Closest town was Stuart where I attended school.  I haven’t been back in a very long time.  We’ll visit places of relevance to my history.  Several generation of my family occupied this farming community in Iowa before we scattered across the country.  We’re staying at state parks during our travels.  We’ll be back on July 6th. 


Family Night and Court of Honor tonight!  Our Troop has been busy!  We have a bunch of rank advancement and a TON of merit badges!!  The advancement and activity throughput for the Troop is outstanding.  This demonstrates that you are engaged in your scouting and your Troop is providing a solid program. 


The key to the strength of our Troop is the hearts of our members.  When scouts are eager to do scouting with a great scouting spirit combined with willing adults offering resources and encouragement, then we’ve really got something good.  Actually, The Best There Is…


See you tonight,


Mark Wheeler


Greetings Troop!
E4 is almost here and I have some good news!  It looks like we will be able to bring everyone along.  Actually right now we still need one seat to bring everyone, but I am sure we will find it before the trip commences.  I would like to thank everyone who volunteered to accompany us on this trip.  I expect all of the boys to give everyone a great big thank you as well.
The trip is about to get underway, but we still have a number of details to attend to.  the first one and most important is Medical Forms.  This applies to all scouts and any adult registered with the BSA.  I have to have your Medical forms (parts A, B, & C) in hand before you can leave the parking lot.  This trip exceeds the 72 hour time limit which means we have to have your medical forms.  Secondly we need your bike.  There will be another email coming from Mr. Wheeler detailing the delivery times and place.  It is your job to deliver your tip top shape bicycle to the place at the time Mr. Wheeler dictates.  I don't want to be loading bicycles the day of the trip.  We have an itinerary and we need to stick to it.  Speaking of which I have attached the itineray for your use. 
We will be leaving the parking lot hopefully by 8am on the 24th.  You will need to pack a lunch to bring with you in whatever car you end up in.  Please be respectful of the fact that you are in someone elses car and limit your sticky and colored foods and drinks.  You all have worked on your meal plans at the meetings, so you know what you have to do there.  the rest of the time the troop will be providing your food.  On the trip home we will be stopping somewhere between here and there to get lunch, so bring a couple of dollars to buy lunch on the way back.

What you will need to bring:
Sleeping bag
bicycle helmet (no helmet = no ride)
mess kit
clothes (more on this below)
closed toe water shoes
tennis shoes
extra socks
water proof bag (if you want to bring a camera)
water bottles/hydration pack
bug spray
fishing pole/tackle (catch and release only)
lunch for the trip up
money for the trip home

It is too far out to determine what kind of weather we will encounter, but I will update you as we get closer.  The weather in the area that we are traveling to is about 10 degrees cooler than here.  We will most likely have temps during the day in the low to mid eighties and at night in the mid to high fifties.  I would suggest bringing a light jacket for the night time.  Other than that clothing should be light and appropriate for our tasks at hand.  Quick drying items for the river trip and comfortable items for the bike trip.  You will receive direction from SPL Duncan on how we will travel for the trip.
This is going to be an exciting trip with a lot of physical activity.  Please be prepared to work hard and be rewarded with some of the beautiful wilderness West Virginia has to offer.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me by email or by phone (804) 245-0969.
Yours in Scouting
Scott Grabham
ASM Troop 2860

There is no teaching to compare with example.   -Lord Robert Baden Powell-

Greetings Troop!  Here’re a few details you might find helpful to plan for E4.


Drive – Travel time is about 4.5 hours to Green Bank where we have a tour set up for around 1:00pm on Thursday at the National Radio Astronomy Center  We must scoot out of here close to 8:00am on TH to make our tour appointment.  Uniform is Class A for this travel.  The folks at the center have always been extraordinarily welcoming and helpful to scouts.  On the center grounds is the Green Bank Telescope (GBT), an engineering marvel in its own right.  At 100 by 110 meters of surface area in size (about one full acre), it is the worlds largest fully articulating telescope.  The science and ongoing research at the center is amazing offering rare glimpses of our world overhead. 


Camp – We’ll be on a nearby Boy Scout reservation.  That typically means vehicles may be close by but not actually in camp per BSA rules.  This is the local Boy Scout council’s reservation who has welcomed us with open arms.  They are wrapping up their summer camp program on the Friday after our arrival but are leaving the facilities open for our use so showers and restrooms are planned to be available.  They aren’t in the habit of having our size of a troop rolling in but have offered a large field nearby the facilities that Mr. Grabham has personally reconed for us.  We should have plenty of room and a safe environment to base ourselves at.


Whitewater – Friday is an early start for the 1.5 hour drive to the whitewater outfitter.  This outfitter has experience hosting Boy Scout troops.  They are very eager to serve us.  They will provide all the gear needed for the day on the water.  There might be a class 3 along the way but nothing the outfitter rafts can’t handle.  This is a fully guided trip.  We’re taking our lunch with us in tag along coolers.  This should be an outstanding day on the water in arguably one of our nation’s most beautifully scenic outdoor areas.  We could be on the water for 7 hours.  This is not a short trip.  Expect to get wet and to paddle your guts out!  Have durable water shoes or gym shoes committed to the call of duty required by river rafting.  A small tube of sun screen (that you actually use) tucked in your shorts pocket is highly recommended.  The new zip off quick drying scout uniform pants make great water wear and are good-to-go for Class A to boot.  Ask for them at the scout shop.  For unknown reasons they stock the canvas pants.  Go figure. 


Biking – Saturday is a day on the magnificent Greenbrier River Trail.  Just getting to the trail head will be an adventure in itself.  Rural West Virginia roads are “unique” to say the least.  The troop has not previously traveled this portion of the planned area of the 80 mile long trail.  This includes Sharp’s Tunnel, a 511 foot long tunnel with a bridge anchoring one end.  Overall, the trail borders the Monongahela National Forest, Seneca State Forest, and Watoga State Park.  Trail surface is crushed rock making durable bike tires essential.  The trail traverses some of the most remote areas of West Virginia and that is saying something!  Having a durable bicycle fully prepared for the trek (good tires), outfitted with H2O carrying capacity, is critical.  Trail grade is only 1% but don’t think this is a tame little boring bike ride.  The grander of the wilderness we’ll be rolling through is nothing short of breathtaking.  The remote area renders bike or rider rescue very difficult.  Have your bike ready, be prepared.


We’ll take our bikes with us on our trailers.  All bike carrying capacity on vehicles is absolutely needed.  Bikes must be delivered to the bike wrangler (we still need a bike wrangler by the way!!).  The bikes are staged days ahead for loading on the trailers.  We’ll do our best to safeguard your bike but a scratch is possible so just be aware of that.  This should be quite the procession with approximately 60 bicycles on trailers and strapped to car carriers headed down the road! 


Food and money – Eat first or bring breakfast for TH travel.  Have pocket money for road snacks/drinks or bring them with you.  With careful funds management, I’d think $20 should cover for road food including a meal on the way home on Sunday.  If gift shops are your thing, the Green Bank Observatory does have a small gift shop.  Scouts are expected to have the maturity to handle their own cash.  However, we can set up a camp banker if your scout needs assistance.


Travel electronics are permitted but must remain in vehicles.  All typical camp gear is required, tents, rain gear, bag, pad, light, etc…  You know the drill by now.  Don’t forget your bike helmet!!  Plan to turn in any meds to the camp medical officer and have them clearly identified for distribution.  Rescue inhalers stay with scouts.


This is an extremely active camp with lots to see and do in an amazingly beautiful area of our nation.  These times don’t come along every day.  Join in as we exploration new places and take on challenging new adventures. 


I don’t think scouting gets any better.





Mark Wheeler




From: []
Sent: Tuesday, June 01, 2010 3:02 PM
Subject: [Troop 860] T2860 EXTRAVAGANZA4! and June meeting guide


Greetings Troop!  EXTRAVAGANZA4 (E4) is here!!  This is the one we’ve been waiting for.  ASM Mr. Grabham and Tyler personally took the time to recon the area, find us a very cool camp, figure out all the logistics, and set up our event activity reservations. 


Now it’s up to you, in particular, adult drivers and trailer pullers are most urgently needed for this camp.  It is critical that we have enough adult drivers for this camp with enough seats for all participating scouts and sufficient ability to bring our gear and bicycles. 


Planned event fee is $35 each.  This includes all camp meals (not travel meals/snacks), white water guide fee, and all overnight camping fees.  All bicycle needs must be handled here.  We are not renting bikes on site in WV. 


Here’s the rundown:

6/24 – Leave 8:00am, Aquatic parking area, arrive Green Bank WV approx 4.5 hours travel time.

6/24 – 1:00pm Visit WV radio astronomy observatory center, largest fully movable antenna in the world, one full acre in size, plus much more cool stuff to see.

6/24 – 5:00pm proceed to camp, Local Boy Scout reserve, very nice area.

6/25 – Early leave for White Water River Run!!  1.5 hour drive to river guide, about a 7 hour river run, return to camp

6/26 – Mid morning leave for Greenbrier River Trail Bicycle Ride.  Choice of 8 or 25 mile ride.  Very long tunnel to ride through, level perfect bike riding

6/26 – Finish bike ride, return to camp, relax, play, get cleaned up, enjoy a good meal and fellowship

6/27 – Break camp, vespers, head home, arrive at Aquatic parking about 3:30pm



Thank you,


Mark Wheeler

Aj Mezynski,
Jun 5, 2010, 5:33 AM
Aj Mezynski,
Jun 16, 2010, 10:02 PM