Little Troop 5 had a wonderful campout in Aggieland this past weekend. On a personal level, I try to say as little good things about Texas A&M as possible, but this past weekend it was difficult to avoid.
Little Troop 5 camped out at Lake Somerville at Rocky Creek Park. It is a Corp of Engineer Park that the local corp district allows Scout Troops to camp for free. The details of this sweetheart deal in a moment.
This location for camping put us at 45 minutes from the Texas A&M campus. Every year the Texas A&M College of Veterinarian Medicine has an open house. Within that open house is a Boy Scout program is held that allows the boys the opportunity to earn the Veterinarian Merit Badge.
It is a four hour drive from DWG to Lake Somerville and it would take perfect timing for the troop to make it to the front gate of the park before the gates locked at 10pm on Friday night. Lucky for us, the ranger had provided us with the combination to the front gate so we did not have to be on time. Besides the moment of panic when it was discovered that there were two locks on the front gate only to learn that only one lock had to be unlocked for the gate to open, we got into the park with no problem.
The sweetheart deal is where they ranger put us. We were assigned to 8 campsites (we had 17 camping) in a closed area of the park. Again we had a lock combination that put the troop, equipment, and trailers behind a locked gate in a section of the park all by ourselves. This allowed us to be scouts without interfering with anyone else’s enjoyment of the park. Moreover, it allowed others people enjoyment of the park, in ways that non scouts enjoy the weekend, not invade the scout world of Troop 5. These sites were on the shore of Lake Somerville. Clean and beautiful.
The Troop had to get up early on Saturday morning to make it in time for the 7 am check in at the Vet School. I cannot do the tour justice in the blog, but I will make an attempt. The College of Veterinarian Medicine rolled out the red carpet to the Scouts and the rest of the public. All that you hear about aggieland and their hospitality was true that day. The professor that did the Merit Badge talk at the beginning was informative and engaged the boys. We were in a monster lecture classroom, filled to the brim, but the boys remained interested.
The Vet school assigned us two freshman pre-vet majors to be our guides. They took us to all the different parts of the vet school. The horse barns, entomology lab, the goat barn, and the small animal hospital. Everywhere we went there was an aggie student ready to connect with the boys and share.
One of the coolest was the young Corp member working with the baby goat. Not only did he share about what he was doing at the vet school, but promptly pulled out his Eagle Card to show the boys. He let them know that being an Eagle Scout was one of the most important things in his life and that each of them should not miss the opportunity to become an Eagle. As a scoutmaster, I could not have asked for anything more.
The Small Animal Hospital was all that you would expect it to be. When you are the flagship Veterinarian school of the state and probably the best in the country, I expected no less. Each part of the tour of the small animal hospital was very cool. Who knew that cats can get acupuncture?
Even when the boys found a live baby bat in the trash can, the Aggie students acted appropriately. Besides the occasional “Whoop” that got under my skin, I cannot find a complaint. I even wanted to put ASM patches on our guides, because the quickly understood the concept of Troop 5. The directed guidance to the boys and not to the adults; “This way Troop 5” they said with a smile.
The boys started to wear out as we about to head back to the campsite. I did a scoutmaster cheat and we swung by a Sonic during happy hour. So we were all charged back up full of Dr. Pepper by the time we hit the campsite.
The Scoutmastering moment for me came at about 9pm right before I walked down to the campfire with the Troop 5 brands. The boys were sitting around the campfire on the shore of the lake, the moon was close to full and they were singing a camp song. I stood about 50 feet away and enjoyed their interaction. They finished and laughed. It was very clear that they were having a grand time and the four hour drive was more than worth it. These little moments remind me of why I continue to be involved in scouts.
All and all, a wonderful trip.