Ever made baked brie in a dutch oven? We did! It was a great way to warm up during a 40-degree campout over the Thanksgiving weekend. In addition to feasting on melted cheese, chicken skewers and pasta, we completed the Citizenship in Society merit badge and explored a primitive area of La Honda Creek. The rains hadn’t started in earnest yet, so the creek was relatively tame with logs to scramble over, pools to study, Pacific giant salamanders to find, redwood caves to enjoy and seven identifiably different species of fern (Lady Fern, Western Sword Fern, California Polypody, Brittle Bladderfern, Giant Chain Fern, Coastal Woodfern and Aleutian Maidenhair (aka Western Maidenhair Fern). Then we retired to tents with double or triple sleeping bags, had a good night’s sleep and finished off a successful campout with breakfast at world famous Alice’s Restaurant. Good times. Thankful and grateful for long weekends, good Scouting friends and clear skies.
“Into every life, some rain must fall.” That’s the old saying, as if rain is a bad thing. Especially on a campout weekend. We’d beg to differ. We had a wet and misty campout under the redwoods at Memorial Park Campground in Pescadero and it was one of our best. In fire-prone California, the dampness was a rare opportunity to practice fire-starting skills. And having a Scoutmaster along for back-to-back Scoutmaster Conferences is also a good thing. Everyone completed a rank or a merit badge. Add in marinated chicken skewers and couscous with apricot and Mediterranean spices for dinner and it just gets better. Top it off with bagels, lox, capers and tomato and for breakfast and everyone goes home happy. We expected this campout to be a small group – maybe six or seven at most – it being late in October and temperatures dropping. But 17 brave souls signed up and nobody regretted it.
There’s an old saying in Scouting: Do it once and it’s a tradition. Do it twice and it’s a long-standing tradition. Now in its second year, the annual combined Cubs and Scouts campout at Pinnacles National Park near the town of Hollister is officially a long-standing tradition. With 30+ representatives of Pack 163 Cub Scouts and 15+ from Trooops 64/4064, it’s by far our largest outing of the camping season. This year, we offered 2-mi, 5-mile, 8-mile and 10+ mile hikes, held a raucous campfire lead by Nate and Camilla, and ate some truly amazing food (at least, the parents did, with steak and quinoa salad for the adult patrol). Many Scouts completed rank requirements and a few finished merit badges. And, as usual, the raccoons invaded in the middle of the night. For one camper who slept without a tent, that made for some late-night amusement.
Nearly a dozen Scouts braved a windy ride on the SF Bay Angel Island Ferry for a campout on Angel Island on a cool and windy night on June. The group walked 1-1/2 miles to the campsite, one of them lugging a heavy cast iron pot to complete a requirement for her Cooking merit badge. When the gang set up camp, it was so windy that one camper’s tent stake out points snapped. After that, they hiked up Mt. Livermore. When they got back, they made a dinner of fresh ramen, mac and cheese in a cast iron skillet, and a smorgasbord of dehydrated meals. Then they made a fire with coals, had some skits and retired for bed. In the morning, they packed up while making instant oatmeal and foil packet breakfasts. They then hiked to Pearl Beach before leaving on the ferry back to SF.
As if a week of Scout Camp weren’t enough, five Scouts from Troops 64 and 4064 added an extra night after camp ended to hike up Kaiser Peak and spend another night under the stars. It was an especially impressive undertaking considering the hike is 10.5 miles up and back with an elevation gain of nearly 3,000 feet. But totally worth it for the view of the Central Sierras. As with any campout, the emphasis was on learning through experience. The Scouts practiced cooking dehydrated meals, swam in a mountain lake, and did all the navigation themselves. If they weren’t already dirty by the time camp ended, they were even more so after this.
A full 20 Scouts – almost half the troops! – Attended summer camp this year at Oljato in the Central Sierras. They swam in the brisk and refreshing lake, slept in handmade shelters for the Wilderness Survival merit badge, baked apple cobbler over the campfire, gazed at the stars over the lake and had a fantastic time. Combined, they earned more than 60 merit badges and another 20 Firem’n Chits and Totin’ Chips. This year, Troops 64 and 4064 achieved Honor Troop as well, a special award for good scores on camp inspections and writing letters home.
Five Scouts and two adults spent an idyllic day on the Truckee River in July, fly fishing and working through merit badge requirements. Guide Jasper Donley of Tahoe Fly Fishing in South Tahoe taught proper technique for casting, floating and picking a pool for success. Unfortunately, the fish weren’t biting that day but you should have seen the one they almost got – 100 inches at least, if not 200. A record setter for sure. Hot dogs, ham sandwiches, Oreo cookies, a beautiful moon and moderate temperatures made for a perfect two-day trip. The water was cold, though. All five came out of the water with numb toes.
Sometimes simplicity is good. All it takes is a few people and a quiet spot to make a successful campout and that’s what we had at Towle Camp in Foothills Nature Preserve in the Palo Alto hills in August. While most of the troop took a well-deserved break from merit badges, meetings and leadership, three Scouts and two adults decided to keep the momentum going and fit in one more night outdoors. With an easy 20-minute drive from home, burrito bowls for dinner, eggs for breakfast and a quick service project before heading home, this was the easiest, most convenient and seamless campout ever. And you can’t beat the sunset. Towle only allows tent camping, ensuring peace, quiet and serenity.
Scout Troops 64 and 4064 joined forces with local bakery Ladera Patisserie to hold a bake sale at the annual adult softball league finals at Portola Valley Town Center on Sunday, Sept. 17th. The final take from the sale of brownies, cinnamon toffee cookies, ube shortbread and the obligatory chocolate chips was $2,200 and possibly as much as $4,400 if a corporate matching grant comes through, making this by far the most successful single-day fundraiser in recent troop memory. The troop will donate the money to the Moroccan Red Crescent, a non-profit that will support emergency response and relief for those in need after the devastating 6.8 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 2,860 and injured 2,560 more on September 8th. Our Patrol Leaders Council selected the Moroccan earthquake relief as a service project because one of our members is of French Algerian descent and has family in the area most heavily impacted.
As is our tradition, a dozen or so members of Cub Scouts Pack 163 and Scouts BSA Troops 64/4064 gathered on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to place flags at gravestones in the Golden Gate National Cemetery. This year’s event included a flag ceremony and speeches, which hadn’t been done since before the pandemic began. Our troop was again assigned to the section closest to I-280, allowing us to pay special attention to the only row in the cemetery that has one, lone gravestone. That row belongs to Paul Majourau, a sergeant in the US Army Air Corps during World War II, who passed away on June 2, 1976. Because he’s the only serviceman who doesn’t have any next-door neighbors, we left two flags with him so Paul knows we’re thinking of him and won’t be lonely. Our Scouts wave to Paul from the car whenever they pass the cemetery.
We were pleased to pull off a “triple header” Court of Honor on May 18th, awarding merit badges and rank advancements, bridging the next round of Cub Scouts to our troop, and celebrating an Eagle ceremony. Congratulations to those who earned any of the 33 merit badges and 10 new ranks, to the 10 Webelos who completed their Arrow of Light and crossed the bridge to Scouting BSA, and to Evan Demas for achieving Scouts’ highest honor. Even better, our ace emcees Anna Perone and Indra Bedner pulled it all off in an hour flat – to the minute. They run a tight meeting. That left plenty of time for … cake!
Building forts is a ton of fun, but building shelters if you’re lost in the wild is serious business. Shelters have to withstand wind, wet and perhaps multiple days. They should have enough foliage to keep the rain out. And a soft bed for sleeping. You can even make a pillow out of boughs or leaves. And so, Troops 64/4064 Scouts paid close attention to a demonstration of shelter techniques then put their learning to good use in constructing mini-shelters for practice. Out of four groups, two created “lean to” style shelters and two made “tripod” ones. All withstood the “kick test.”
For a lucky few, the best and most entertaining requirement for the Emergency Preparedness merit badge is to take part in a practice drill. Troops 64/4064 were fortunate to be included in a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) drill put on by the Woodside Fire Department that included “moulage,” which is makeup that looks real. If you hadn’t known it was practice, nobody would have known that our Scouts’ cuts, burns, bruises, smoke inhalation, and head wounds weren’t the real thing. By pretending to be victims, the seven Scouts who took part learned not only what certain injuries look like when they’re smeared with bloodbut also how professionals treat them.
On a beautiful April day, six Scouts and two parents took off for an epic snow camping adventure at Iron Mountain off Highway 88 near Kirkwood Ski Resort. Using snow shoes, poles, pulks to carry their gear and loads of sunscreen, the gang walked half a mile in from the road, built two snow caves (one for the boys and one for the girls), dug a kitchen and watched a rescue helicopter airlift an injured snowmobiler from a different group. That was an exciting lesson in high-country rescue techniques. All but one of the campers slept in their snow caves – the last one opted for a tent instead. After an early morning wakeup and hearty breakfast, the group walked out again and made a beeline for … hamburgers! Fortunately the snow was soft for digging – but even still, the girls beat the boys in the race to complete their caves.
Here’s the trip report:
We had an awesome time last weekend in the snow! After 4.5-ish hours, we successfully finished our snow caves and slept in them.
Here are some things we learned:
-Bring AT LEAST three pairs of socks because snow is wet (who knew?!)
-An extra sleeping bag is definitely good for not freezing
-Snowmobiles are dangerous (someone at another campsite had to get helicoptered out…)
-If you plan on stockpiling Oreos, don’t leave them in plain sight for other Scouts to “borrow”
Some good ideas we had were:
-Even if you boil the water, run it through a filter (the girls patrol found a dead worm in the Jetboil)
-Don’t put gear in the snow cave during the day or it will get soaked
-Don’t let the boys make Oreo and Nutella sandwiches for lunch (which they did anyway)
Six Scouts and three parents had an awesome campout at Portola Redwoods State Park on April 1st and 2nd. On a mostly cloud-free but damp day amongst the big trees, they did a 14-mile hike with over 2000 feet in elevation gain in six hours that included climbing over at least 20 trees. Among other things they learned are that downed trees slow the pace of a hike a lot and that snacks are super important for keeping energy levels up. Knowing how to whip up a quick bowl of warm soup was one of the important skills the leaders taught. They also started the hiking merit badge.
Troops 64/4064 held their annual Winter Court of Honor on Thursday, Dec 8th at Valley Presbyterian Church. We awarded 77 merit badges, 24 rank advancements, one Eagle Palm award, six 50-milers, and one Eagle recognition (pending a formal Court of Honor soon). Ranks included seven Scout, six Tenderfoot, four Second Class, three First Class, one Star, two Life and one Eagle. The list of merit badges ranged from Canoeing (they capsized the boat but still got the badge) to Wilderness Survival (many important lessons learned in that one, including don’t build your shelter near a bog!). The most popular merit badges were Swimming, with 10 who passed, Snorkeling and Environmental Science at six apiece, then Kayaking, Motorboating and Climbing, each one passed by five Scouts.
Five Scouts braved near freezing temperatures to earn their Climbing merit badge at Castle Rock State Park in November. Each one completed three ascents on rock so cold that their fingers could barely grasp the handholds, did three belays, three rappels, and answered questions about first aid, gear safety, proper storage of ropes, knots, verbal and hand signals, and numbering systems. That followed two days of training, climbing and belay testing at the Planet Granite indoor climbing gym in Belmont. Troops 64/4064 will be back on the rock in the Spring, hopefully in warmer weather.
Lessons learned from a rainy campout: Some tents don’t hold up against rain very well + Starting a fire in the rain is hard + Water resistant isn’t waterproof + Bring two cans of propane, just in case + Don’t forget to rope your fly + It is confusing if everyone brings just one ingredient for a meal + Remember coffee beans, not just the french press + It’s nice going with the Cub Scouts because they bring the kitchen sink. Great campout, despite the rain.
The annual Pinnacles campout on the last weekend of September/first weekend of October has been a Cub Scouts Pack 163 tradition in Portola Valley for generations – one that the older Scouts missed after they “graduated” to the “big kids” troop. But the era of longing for the “good old days” of Cub Scouts are over. Welcome to Troop 64/4064’s newest tradition: The combined Cub Scouts/Scouts BSA annual Pinnacles campout. As if the energy level weren’t high enough with 100+ Cub Scouts and their parents plus siblings… Add in another 20 older kids from the Scouts BSA troop plus a few of their elders, all excited to revisit with old friends, and the fun factor goes up. Hikes ranged from 2.5 miles to 5.5 and 8+. Hamburgers vanished by the dozens, pancakes by the hundreds and syrup by the gallons. Never mind the hot chocolate. Along the way, a few attendees advanced through the Scout and Tenderfoot ranks while others chose to just have fun. Because that’s what it’s about.
We held our first annual back-to-scouting picnic on Sept. 7 and welcomed the troop back in grand style with ribs, barbecued chicken, chili, beans, pasta, cookies and games. While the Scouts held their first meeting and did ice-breaker games for new members, the adults held a parent orientation and volunteer recruitment drive. Everyone appreciated the camaraderie and the orientation – as well as the food – so the welcome-back-barbecue will return next fall, for sure. As the old Scouting maxim goes, “Do it once and it’s a tradition. Do it twice and it’s an annual tradition.”
Eight Scouts camped out at the Boulder Creek Scout reservation on the weekend of August 27/28, where several successfully completed the Rifle Shooting merit badge. In addition to riflery, the gang took a short nature hike, saw crayfish and trout, picked blackberries, worked on the Totin’ Chit and cooked. The menu included “smash burgers” and brownies with cookies and Oreos. Unfortunately, the fire danger was too high for a campfire, but there were plenty of jokes and riddles nonetheless. Breakfast was burritos.
Troop 64 had the honor of welcoming five Scouts to the rarified ranks of Eagle on July 31st at Valley Presbyterian Church in Portola Valley: Conrad Morhenn, Jimmy Inenaga, James Gilbrand, Nicholas Zamboldi and Alex Koop. It was the first full, in-person Eagle Court of Honor since before the pandemic so an even more joyful and solemn occasion. The five Scouts persevered through lockdowns and limited resources to complete their projects, which included rebuilding the benches at the Corte Madera School amphitheater, constructing four free little Libraries for local non-profits, building a playground for the church, creating a native plant research area at Stulsaft Park, and building a stage for the Windmill preschool in town.
We had so much fun on the South Fork of the American River this spring that we decided we HAD to do it again – but this time in the BIG water of the Middle Fork. Seven Scouts from Troops 64 and 4064 braved the Class IV rapids and nobody (unintentionally) fell out. While the hardcore seven rocked and rolled in the rapids, five of us paddled serenely down the South Fork, admiring the scenery and the birds. A campout the night before got nine Scouts another camping night and two the opportunity to work toward their cooking merit badges. We’ll definitely go back for more next spring/summer.
Congratulations to all who were recognized at this year’s Spring Court of Honor. All told, we had 12 rank advancements and 30 merit badges this time around. That included one person who completed the Scoutrank, two for Tenderfoot, two Second Class, two First Class and four Life scouts. We also recognized the first Eagle Scout of the spring, with three more to come soon. Our merit badges ranged from Woodworking to Climbing, Sustainability, Personal Management and more. In addition, we hosted a Webelos II bridging ceremony to welcome 10 new Scouts to the troop. The recipient of the evening’s MVP (Most Valuable Parent) award this year was Andrew Inenaga, who for years has done yoeman’s work as our Quartermaster’s father, driving both his son and our flags to almost every meeting. We can’t thank him enough for his selfless dedication.
Our spring whitewater rafting trip was awesome! We had hoped to do the Class IV rapids on the Middle Fork of the American River, but that section wasn’t open yet. So we did the South Fork instead, which was wild enough considering the water was recent snow melt so really, really cold. We stayed at Lotus Camp Saturday night, then braved the Class I, II and III rapids on Sunday. Everyone ejected from the boat at least once – both voluntarily and otherwise. Those who wanted to had the opportunity to “ride the bull” on the front of the boat and take the waves full in the face. And four Scouts jumped off some pretty high cliffs into the river below. We saw lots of wildlife and ended the day with a jet ski tow to Folsom Lake so we didn’t have to paddle the last few miles. WET Rafting out of Lotus, CA, did a great job of accommodating our gang. We can’t wait to go back for the Middle Fork.
Our March outing was an overnight backpacking trip to Black Mountain atop Skyline Blvd. It was a great hike in, ASM Bedner gave us a safety briefing, Zane and Cole cooked dinner, then we all saw a gorgeous sunset over a sea of fog to the west. The wind started picking up and the temperature plummeted right before bed. Then in the middle of the night, it started pouring rain. Most of us stayed dry but a few had puddles in their tents. By morning, everyone was freezing cold so we ate breakfast, packed up quickly and headed home. It was fun and an adventure to remember.
Our April outing will be another campout – probably at Sunset Beach with some litter pickup for those who need service hours. May hopefully will be a rafting trip on the American River.
Another March activity was Shooting Sports Day at Boulder Creek Scout Reservation. Five of us loaded and shot clay targets with muzzle loading rifles, broke lollipops and fake pumpkins with air rifles, did target practice with .22 rifles, learned how to shoot flying clay “pigeons” with shotguns, tried to hit pie pans and baking sheets with slingshots, and hurled tomahawks at redwood rounds. We also learned archery. The safety talks were thorough, the instructor-to-Scout ratio was 1 to 1 at all times, and we felt we learned a ton. It was a rare and really good opportunity to experience a lot of different kinds of shooting sports in one day at one easy-to-reach destination. We highly recommend it to anyone who wants to give it a try.
The troop’s February outing was a 10-mile hike organized by Indra. Fourteen of us, plus Moxie the dog,started at Corte Madera School at 9 am then walked up Spring Ridge Trail to the top of Windy Hill. When we got to the top, we had lunch and enjoyed the view from the picnic area. After that, we walked back down the Hamms Gulch Trail to return to CMS, where those who didn’t need the full 10 miles left off. Those who needed a few more miles for merit badges then did a loop around the Portola Valley Ranch deer path to complete the full 10. The weather was sunny but cold. Everyone brought layers for the cold morning temperatures that they could take off when it warmed up. We used the AllTrails app and a paper map for navigation.