Kelso Dunes camping trip

On April 22-24, 2022, Troop 407 went on a campout to Kelso Dunes. Unfortunately I was not able to go, but I heard wonderful things about it. Kelso Dunes, as the name implies, has massive dunes of sand that you can hike up and run, or rather tumble or slide, down. Some years, Scouts will bring pizza boxes and plastic sleds in hopes of sledding down the sand but sadly these methods are usually ineffective. It’s always fun to go running through the sand and tire yourself out so you can enjoy the night and sleep well. For those who go in the future, I would be careful what shoes you wear, because sand in the shoes is never fun.

Eagle Scout Court of Honor

On March 27 2022, all of the Eagle Scouts who ranked up during first two years of the pandemic finally had a joint Court of Honor. The Scouts who got their Eagle rank were Jude Emmert, Aidan Ramirez, Will McDermott, David Hastings, Ezra Rowe, Ian Birt, Phillip Quintanar, Zach Martin, and Coen Martinez. They all worked very hard since joining Scouts to get their final rank, and it was a very emotional day for all the families. An especially emotional moment was when Michael Ball’s family was given the Spirit of the Eagle award to honor Michael’s Scout spirit and progress toward his Eagle rank before he died. It was an amazing ceremony that even the mayor of Claremont showed up to. The Scouts all had booths full of mementos and pictures that families and friends could go around to look at. I’m looking forward to seeing what these Eagles are going to do now that they’ve completed the rank and how it will affect their future lives.

Shooting rockets at Corn Springs

On March 4, 2022, Troop 407 went on its annual campout to Corn Springs, which is where the troop launches off its handmade rockets each year. It was a two-day trip. Everyone was very worried at first, because for the first two days we were there, it was extremely windy and we were beginning to fear that we weren’t going to be able to launch rockets. It was so windy that people’s tents were blowing down. Frankly, a lot of people felt like the wind was pretty miserable.

On Saturday, we went to explore an abandoned shack. This was also a miner’s shack, like the one at Joshua Tree, but it was more of a real structure, and there was information inside the shack about the history of mining in that area. Corn Springs is a desert oasis, and there used to be a lake there, so miners would stop for water in the area. There was one picture in the shack of flappers from the 1920s sitting at what appeared to be a beach but was actually the lake. There are also a lot of Indian petroglyphs in the area because the area was a good place to live because of the proximity to water. There is a visitor’s journal in the shack, and a lot of Troop 407 Scouts’ names were in the journal from previous years. The older Scouts went back later that night to see the shack in the dark.

On the last day we were there (Sunday), about an hour before we were going to leave, the wind died down just enough for us to be able to finally launch our rockets. It was really fun. Some of the older Scouts put two engines in their rockets so that when they were launched they would quite literally go off with a bang. But this was completely safe and no one got hurt. Overall, it was a great experience despite the wind, and I can’t wait to see my name signed in the journal next year.

Joshua Tree backpacking and camping trip 2022

On February 19-20, 2022, Troop 407 went to Joshua Tree. To get into the camping location, the group of Scouts that will be going to Philmont in the summer of 2022 took a separate hike from the rest of the troop. It was about 9 miles, while the hike the rest of the troop made was just about one mile. The Philmont Patrol’s route led them past an abandoned miner’s cabin that was high in the rocks and difficult to get to at first but worth it, because it was filled with rusty, old objects and had an awesome view. The cabin was built in the 1880s, so objects like utensils and cans were preserved, because they stood up over time. In fact, whoever built the cabin had built the roof out of flattened tin cans.

The campsite was surrounded by a ton of super cool rock formations. The troop ended up having a lot of fun together on these rocks, and even played hide and seek in the dark in the nooks and crannies of the rocks. A few Scouts from the Philmont patrol went on a hike up a very high rock and ended up finding a wonderful view. This campout was definitely a ton of fun and I’m sure a lot of the Scouts will look forward to coming back next year and re-experiencing the sights.

Snow Sports Merit Badge Day

On February 12, 2022, Troop 407 went to Snow Valley so Scouts could earn their Snow Sports merit badge. A few Scouts started skiing or snowboarding before the lesson started, and those who’d never done it before had to teach themselves some things. The more experienced Scouts immediately got in line for the ski lift and went down some of the steepest slopes. It was an unusually warm day on the slopes and the sun was shining.

When the merit badge class did begin, the troop was separated into those who were going to ski and those who were going to snowboard. I can’t speak for the people who were skiing, but the instructor the Troop 407 snowboarders got was very nice and let us have fun while still teaching us what we needed to know.

After the lesson was over, I decided to go up on the ski lift with some other Scouts. We went down what was supposedly a less steep slope, because it was my first time ever snowboarding. But it ended up not being less steep, because the less steep slope was closed. I somehow got going with my snowboard pointed straight down, and went so fast that I ended up crashing and hurting my wrist. Then, I had to walk most of the way down. Other Scouts had a much more successful day, though, and enjoyed going down the mountain over and over again. Despite getting injured, I had a really great time and would definitely do it again, and I bet all of the Scouts would agree.

Video Scavenger Hunt 2021

This year, the annual Troop 407 video scavenger hunt took place the day after broom ball, on December 11. This event is especially fun because Scouts have a lot of freedom and have to be really creative, as they set off in small groups to put together a video compilation of different odd things they have to capture, like a ham radio, cheez wiz, or everyone in a plastic bag. I can always look back on the videos and laugh. The prompts are always hilarious and the ways that groups figure out how to fulfill them is even more hilarious. I can’t wait until next year’s video scavenger hunt!

Broom Ball 2021

One of my favorite events all year long that Troop 407 does is broom ball. This year, on December 10, Troop 407 once again rented out a nearby ice rink so we could play broom ball. It was a blast! We separated into two teams and then partnered with a person on our team to switch out so the rink wouldn’t get too crowded. Once the game kicked off, you could immediately see some Scouts go charging for the ball, and those Scouts would keep doing that for the rest of the night. Two confident Scouts from each team would be selected as goalies, and the game pretty much relied on them saving the ball, because the rest of the game was mostly chance and chaos.

By the second half, it was pretty cold. A lot of kids probably weren’t wearing enough layers, because Southern Californians aren’t really used to cold weather. But we had so much fun that it was hard to focus on things like the cold. A lot of goals were scored in the beginning of the game, but the goal scoring slowed down by the second half. Everyone surprisingly still had a ton of energy, though, and people were running around the rink at full speed, crashing into anyone and everyone who was unfortunate enough to be in their path. I look forward to this event every year, and I’m already counting down the days until next year.

Christmas shopping for adopted families

One of Troop 407’s best annual traditions is its Adopt-a-Family Christmas shopping excursion. In December 2021, the troop went to Target and split off into patrols, as usual, to buy presents for families who couldn’t afford them. Each patrol was assigned a different family member. Some things on the list were clothes, toys, and gift cards. It was a lot of fun searching for the right gifts and thinking about how happy the recipients would be on Christmas Day. I had a great time with the Panther patrol, and as we walked around the store, I saw all the other patrols having just as much fun as us. There was even one group of Scouts that all dressed up in Spiderman costumes, which drew a lot of attention from other shoppers, especially numerous little kids, who were coming up to them and hugging them. I’m looking forward to this tradition next year. It’s always a lot of fun.

Red Rock Canyon campout

Troop 407 went to Red Rock Canyon for a campout the weekend of November 5-7. Now, this may have just been because I wasn’t the one driving, but I thought the drive up there wasn’t that bad. By the time my car arrived at the camp, it was dark, but some people had arrived a little before us and might have been able to catch a bit of sunlight before it was gone. The weather conditions weren’t that bad. However, on the last day, the wind was pretty crazy. A few tents were blown over and various items were scattered throughout the bushes. The hikes weren’t as difficult as some I had been on previously, and what made them so fun was that every now and then we’d stumble across a crawl space and we’d be able to go inside. One had a bat in it! Near that same crawl space, one of the troop’s parents decided to take a risk and free climb across a very sketchy ledge. We were all pretty scared for him, but it ended well. Overall, the trip was a blast and I’d love to back there again.

First Court of Honor of the 2021-22 Scouting year

On October 12, 2021, Troop 407 had another Court of Honor. At this Court of Honor we had 11 Scouts rank up, in total. Eight scouts got the rank of Tenderfoot, 2 received Star, and 1 earned Life. The invocation was done by Camden Barber and colors were done by the Panther Patrol. Tenderfoot was presented by Lyle Mideiros and went to Austin Chotibhongs, Conner Ellefson, Ian Li, Xavier Nicolosi, Dominic Sink, Noah Steckling, Alexander Vance, and Nikita Willard. Star was presented by Ian Birt and went to Kate Emmert and Porter Wonacott. And Life was presented by Jude Emmert and went to Erin Hager. Thanks to everyone who had a part in the ceremony. Speaking from experience, I thought the skits were hilarious. As I looked around, I could see all the Scouts having a great time with their friends, and it made me remember the reason I joined Scouts in the first place. I’m so happy to be a part of this wonderful troop and make all these incredible memories.