After the row boat fiasco it was time to hike back to camp for lunch.
We grilled hamburgers and hotdogs and had a feast.
After lunch the kids wanted to hang around the campfire with their friends.
The Webelos(the Oldest Island Boy's den)have all earned their Whittling Chips which allows them to whittle. They rounded up sticks and went to whittling. None of them were really interested in whittling to make something - they were all just excited to be able to use their pocket knives and they whittled the bark off of a ton of sticks LOL
The younger boys have to wait until they reach Webelos age (10-12) in order to whittle in the common areas of the camp. They are allowed to whittle at their tents as long as a parent is there with them so we took the Youngest Island Boy over to our tent and the Island King let him use his pocket knife.
He was so happy, sitting there whittling away.
After whittling for a while we went for a hike. There is a natural ravine running along one edge of the reservation with a swinging bridge over it but the bridge was closed for repairs. Thank goodness - the idea of walking over a ravine on a swinging bridge didn't sound like fun to me LOL
We got to the edge of the ravine and the Youngest Island Boy got real excited. He kept saying "This is the first time I've ever stood on a cliff! Mom, take my picture!"
So I took his picture and then took a picture of the ravine.
We were really surprised at how excited he was to see that ditch LOL As we were walking away he said "You've got to put this on your blog, Mom. This is the coolest thing ever!" It's funny what kids get excited about.
After an afternoon of whittling and hiking it was time for dinner. One of the parents drove to a BBQ place in the next town and we had really good BBQ sandwiches, baked beans and mac-n-cheese for dinner. As everyone lined up for dinner our pack leader stood up to say the blessing. He talked for a minute about how fortunate we all were to be there and having such fun and then he said "Let's pray"
Well we have a mom in our pack who is from Brazil and she hasn't been here long. She has a little trouble understanding English and right after he said "Let's pray" She yelled "Woo-Hoo!" at the top of her lungs. Everyone turned and looked at her and realizing something had just happened she looked at the woman next to her and asked what the pack leader had said. The woman told her that he said "Let's pray" She said "Oh I thought he said "Let's partay!" Everyone cracked up and our pack leader (who is also a minister) said "I wish I could generate that kind of enthusiam every time I say let's pray!" Luckily the woman knew the laughing was all good natured and she wasn't too embarassed LOL
There was more hanging around the fire and then it was time to get ready for the big bonfire.
We'd been hearing about how much fun the council bonfire was and the boys were really excited. Our whole pack lined up and off we went. As we walked the trails to the fire site we were joined by more and more packs until there was a huge group of people walking towards the fire. It was dark and everyone had flashlights and lanterns to guide the way and everyone seemed excited. We had no idea what to expect but with this many people we knew it would be fun.
We reached a large clearing in the woods and then everyone stopped. We could hear this haunting Indian music coming from somewhere in front of us and then a hushed voice spoke to us over an intercom. We were told that from this point on there could be no flashlights and no talking and that we were going to pass a memorial to a scout that had drowned in the lake many years ago while trying to save another scout so everyone needed to remove their hats as we entered the council circle. The man stopped talking and even though there were hundreds of people in the clearing you couldn't hear a sound except for the music. It was very surreal and felt like we were being transported back in time to an ancient Indian ceremony. I looked around and all I could see where little boys with huge eyes.
Slowly we were funneled down a narrow path towards the lake. The path was lit with soft lights along the ground and as we entered the path we could see a GIANT fire in front of us.
We passed the memorial to the scout who died
and in hushed voices it was read to the younger boys as they passed. Seeing that memorial really seemed to have an effect on everyone and I heard one little boy whisper that seeing that made him really proud to be a boy scout.
It was still so quiet so all you could hear were people breathing and that eerie music as we moved into the council circle. We were led into a large clearing and seated on benches facing the fire. And what a fire it was. This was the biggest fire I've ever seen!
There was a boy with a hose who kept spraying the trees along the edge of the clearing and other boys were throwing huge logs onto the fire, making it bigger and bigger.
We sat in silence and more and more people entered the clearing and this was the first time I realized just how many people were there.
Even if I'd had the wide angle lense on the camera I still couldn't have gotten everyone in the shot.
Amazingly it was still VERY quiet except for the music. I would never have dreamed that you could keep that many boys quiet like that.
After everyone was seated this man stood up in front of the crowd
and in a quiet voice asked if we were ready for scout council. Heads were nodding but still no one was making any noise. And then all of a sudden the Indian music changed to Who Let The Dogs Out and the crowd went nuts! Everyone jumped up and started dancing and singing and the Island King and I stared at each other with our mouths hanging open. After the solemn walk into council and the haunting music we were expecting something serious and ceremonial and to see the quiet, subdued crowd change into a loud dancing group was really surprising.
From that point on there was music and dancing and lots of fun. Each pack took several boys up in front and put on skits for the crowd, there was more singing and dancing and for the next hour the circle was filled with music and laughter.
At one point the council leader told the boys that there was a girl scout camp just across the lake and that on his signal he wanted everyone to scream as loud as they could to wake the girl scouts up. He said to scream until he waved his arms and then for everyone to stop and listen. He counted to three and the crowd let out a deafening scream. He waved his arms and everyone went silent. And from across the lake the scream came right back at us.
Every little boy around me said "Whoa!!" Most of them thought the girl scouts were screaming back and we didn't have the heart to tell them it was an echo and there were no girl scouts across the lake LOL
When the bonfire was over we all filed out of the council circle and this time everyone was laughing and talking and singing - quite different from when we entered.
We hiked back to our camp and built our own bonfire and spent the next hour roasting marshmellows, making s'mores and sitting around the fire. It wasn't long before the little guys started getting sleepy and the Youngest Island Boy was no exception. The older boys were all still wide awake so I took the Youngest back to our tent and the Island King stayed at the fire with the Oldest. The Youngest fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow and I snuggled with him under the covers, listening to the older boys tell ghost stories out by the fire.
I thought I would sleep really well even though it was cold but there is one major drawback to the location of this reservation. There is a train track that runs along Hwy 90, about a mile north of the reservation. And all along Hwy 90 are little dirt roads coming in from the woods that cross that railroad track. Whenever a train comes up to one of these roads they blow their whistle as they approach. In the silence of the night you could hear the train coming from a long way off and as it got closer the whistle got louder at each crossing until it reached the crossing closest to us at which point the train whistle was VERY LOUD. Then as it would pass the whistle would get softer and softer the farther away the train went.
So every time I would fall back asleep after being blown out of my sleeping bag by the whistle another train would come by and the whole process would start all over again. I think at least 10 trains came through that night and I swear every one woke me up. I don't know how the people that live in that area stand it LOL