Sunday, January 11, 2009

Winter Training 2009

by Caitlín This past weekend Sea Scout Ship 7916 had very large turnout for the annual Winter Training event held at Catoctin Mountain Park in Thurmont, MD.
Most of our caravan left the commuter outside of Occoquan at 5:00 p.m., and arrived at Catoctin around 8:30. After we checked in, the Skipper held a muster in the mess hall, then she and I attended a meeting for all the Skippers and Boatswains who were attending the weekend.

Friday night is basically for checking in, so we went back to our cabins (the males from our Ship got a whole cabin to themselves, while we females shared with three other Ships) and settled in. Three girls from Ship 90 (S.S.S. North Star) invited us to play "BS" with them before bed, then it was time for lights out.


Six-thirty a.m. comes early when you fall asleep on a cot in an unfamiliar place and mostly doze. None of us Scouts were ready to get up and dressed, but we had to in order get breakfast in time. Before we left, all our sleeping gear needed to be cleaned up so that the area could be used as a classroom during the day. We managed not to fall asleep over our waffles and sausage and arrive at classes in time--and all in proper uniform, even.

My first class lasted for two sessions and was taught by the Skipper of Ship 198, where I learned how to play a boatswain's call, not a pipe. Pipes are what one plays on a call. The information sheet that the teacher gave out with the durations of the pipes was worth it alone, but the whole class was one of the best I attended for the weekend.

The next two periods were, for Gus, the Skipper, and myself taken up by Commodore Steve Alexander's SPAM (Sea-Scout Prepared Afloat Meals) class. The Skipper took a lot of notes throughout, so that we will have a better time planning for our next weekend or long cruise.
The Commodore really did show us how to cook SPAM® and biscuits (left), and then held a PB&J making contest.
Those participating didn't do too well with that, making only eight sandwiches in the allotted time, which was several sandwiches below the record.

When the class ended it was time to pipe the mess call (not literally), and our Ship met up in the mess hall for meatball subs, which was a premiering meal. I think it was a success, and everyone (except for Gus, who gave me his) really liked dessert, which was banana pudding that Rebecca had helped make earlier in the day.

After lunch we had a group photo shoot of all the Scouts in uniform (first picture). To show our uniforms, we had to take our coats off even in the freezing cold weather. The second we were able to, we raced to where we'd thrown our coats on the ground and hurried back into them.

The afternoon classroom periods had fewer things of interest for our Ship, but Sarah and I attended a class on capsize recovery, which I'm sure will be useful--especially when we sail small boats.

Then we returned to the mess hall and played Nertz, a card game that has been described very well as "full contact team solitaire." A few families in the Ship know how to play, and it's growing evermore popular with the Scouts. At first it was just Sarah, her dad, me, and Gus, but later on more people joined in. Having played a similar game with friends for years, I caught on very quickly and Caleb--who is also very good--and I are now banned from being on the same team because we were "spanking" everyone else so bad.

Our game was interrupted by the call for a dinner of "cowboy stew," a hamburger-macaroni-corn dish that reminded me greatly of the meal we managed to cook while sailing Amanda Grace home. This was also a debuting meal, but it wasn't nearly as much of a hit as lunch had been.

Dinner was cleared and it was time to get ready for the dance--that is, if you weren't a boatswain or adult leader, both of whom had meetings to attend. I actually missed all but five minutes of the boatswain's meeting, because I either read the schedule wrong or it listed the time incorrectly. ...And because I was distracted by playing Nertz with everyone.

At least, because I caught the very end of the boatswain's meeting, I heard about the National Capital Area Council (NCAC) meeting where the new NCAC youth officers would be elected, so I went to round up everyone from my Ship, although not all of them made it (maybe we'll have to ban Nertz altogether).

Those of us who did attend the meeting helped elect the NCAC Boatswain, Boatswain's Mate, and Yeoman, the latter for which retiring NCAC Boatswain Andrew Scheuermann nominated me. I said, "hold on, how can you nominate me if you can't even remember my name? And I decline the nomination, anyway." I might be ready next year (although being Yeoman for our Ship was very tedious, and I can't imagine this being any less so), but right now I'm working on running meetings as Boatswain of our Ship.
Fortunately there were several other candidates and enough to fill the elected seats. (The new Boatswain, Boatswain's Mate, Yeoman, and former Boatswain, right.)

Then it was time for the dance, at least for people outside of our Ship. Very few of us were interested in going, for one reason or another, so we hung out next door in the conference room and talked with members of Ship 1115, paid some attention to the movies that were showing, and played cards until the pizza came. Rebecca had her quotebook out again and took down more hilarious (and sometimes incriminating) quotes from everyone--with Sarah's help, while Gus sopped up the lemonade leaking from the cooler with his feet (left).

A while later it was time to turn in, which I did gladly because I was getting very tired by lights-out.


There is something very nice about having for the second seating at meals: those of us who are still extremely tired don't have to jump out of bed the second the alarm goes off. But we did need to clean up all our things and pack them into the cars so we'd be ready when it was time to leave, so Sarah, Rebecca, and I forced ourselves to get up.

Our first class sessions were taken up by a private landship practice session (right) from Skipper Kaine and Commodore Yeckley, because the Commodore offered our Ship the extreme honor of conducting the landship ceremony at the Northeast Region Bridge of Honor and Sea Scout Ball held in Bridgeport, New Jersey at the end of March.

Since our Ship has only really conducted one landship ceremony before--and a very informal one at that--we need a lot of practice if we're going to be able to pull it off and look sharp. My piping lessons from the day before came in handy for the commands, but I'll still need to practice if we want to include the use of a bo'sun's call.

It would be a lot of work, but I think if we really want to, we can get things together in time to pull it off. All the Scouts who participated in the practice session seemed to like it well enough, but we'd need more Scouts to commit, since there will have to be eight sideboys, plus other positions like Boatswain, Boatswain's Mate, and Crew Leaders.

We helped Skipper Yeckley pack up the landship supplies, then played more Nertz until lunchtime. Our Ship had kitchen and mess hall cleanup duty, so we got started that almost before the meal was over. Except there was one problem; few of the Scouts knew how to sweep or swab ("mop" to lubbers) very well at all. After they went over the entire floor and it was still visibly dirty, they received a personal lesson on swabbing from Commodore Alexander (left).

Eventually the mess hall was in acceptable shape and we could leave. I think everyone had a good time, learned a lot, and met a some new people.

No comments: