Coffee Can Camp-out

Venturing Crew 270 Goes on a Coffee Can Camp out

What Did You Do Last Weekend?

Thurmont, MD – It was hot and humid as the Venturers packed into the Adirondack site at the Walkersville Watershed for the coffee can camp out.  Packed is probably the wrong word in this instance as this time the members of Thurmont’s Venturing Crew 270 were allowed to bring only their sleeping bag and what they could fit into a 2 lb. coffee can!  Everything from bits of wire to plastic sheeting was packed into the cans and as one looked around, you could tell there was very little duplication of items between one can and another.  They had been planning this trip for a number of months, but unlike most Venturing trips where the Venturers plan and execute the entire trip, the details of what was planned to transpire on this campout were unknown.

Venturing is a co-ed youth development program of the Boy Scouts of America for young men and women who are 13 (and have completed the eighth grade) through 20 years of age. Venturing’s purpose is to provide positive experiences to help young people mature and to prepare them to become responsible and caring adults. The program is based on a unique and dynamic relationship between youth, adult leaders, and organizations in their communities.

As the Venturers decided where to build their shelters one spotted an old piece of paper on the ground, picking it up to throw it away, they noticed some writing. Reading the faded and smeared ink they deciphered someone had been there during the last winter and stashed some food they didn’t want to pack out and the Crew was off to search and see if they could find it!  Thirty minutes later they were back from their treasure hunt with a few cans of hash and some veggies.  Later on that evening they discovered the woods were filled with fresh raspberries and once again they were off to fill up on some berries and even collected some for the next morning’s meal.  As the sun sank low behind the Catoctin Mountains, the young men and women were challenged to find a specific spot ½ mile away using a GPS receiver.  Finding this spot with the GPSr at night not only would complete a requirement for the Venturing Ranger award, but the location also held their eggs for breakfast!  The Ranger award is presented to those individuals who become the best of the best in outdoor skills. After an hour the crew returned with the eggs and settled in around the fire to talk about the events of the day and evening.

The Thurmont Community Ambulance Company, as part of its outreach to local youth, established Venturing Crew 270 in March of 2007 by providing training and program resources to the Crew.  While the Crew’s by-laws stipulate that all the Venturer’s must be first-aid, CPR and AED trained at all times, the Crew’s interests and pursuits are varied!  The result is a program of exciting and meaningful activities that helps youth pursue their special interests, grow, develop leadership skills, and become good citizens. Venturing Crew 270 is youth led, which means the youth plan, research, organize and execute all their trips and events. It also means the program changes because it is what the youth want to do and not up to the adults who are there just to advise.

Day two started out with breakfast.  Eggs, onions, oranges and a couple cans of salvaged corned beef hash from the stash uncovered the previous day.  As a frying pan won’t quite fit in a coffee can, the experiments started with the cooking of eggs in orange peels, hollowed out onions, eggs on a stick and simply placing the eggs in the coals with a small hole for steam to vent.  Some things worked well, others not so well, but fun was had by all.  After everyone was fed, it was off on a 2.5 mile, 10 point compass course. This, by no means is an easy task and alas, after all was said and done, the Crew returned with the wrong orienteering marks but they will attempt to finish this Ranger requirement again soon.

After lunch there was a survivor style fire building contest. Each Venturer had to build a fire and burn a string which was stretched across the fire area two-feet above with the winner receiving ice cream!  Well, it was a bit hot out and we didn’t want it to melt on them so it was “freeze-dried ice cream”, but it WAS ice cream!

A bit later there was a sling-shot competition and then hunting!  Ok, while Venturer’s are allowed to go on hunting trips, we were out of hunting season so instead the Crew used official air pistol targets at 10 meters and had 10 shots to get a score of 30 or better to qualify for having shot a rabbit for dinner… and they all did! What they didn’t know was they really were playing for rabbit.  It was a first for all of the young men and women but there were no complaints and as they built and spit-roasted the rabbits over the hot coals of the fire and the smell started wafting though the camp, no one could wait until they could eat!  Rabbit, corn on the cob boiled in their coffee can and potatoes baked in the coals filled hungry stomachs. The Advisor of the crew baked them all miniature raspberry pies with melted marshmallow topping in a Dutch oven.

Sunday morning started out with eggs, bacon (which was cooked both in the bottom of coffee cans and wrapped around sticks), left-over potatoes and oranges then clean-up of the camp and all packed out again. The Crew members found out how difficult it was to spend a weekend cooking without utensils and/or pots and pans but they also were thrilled that there was little to no cleanup or trash to pack out when all was said and done.  All agreed the trip was a blast and want to do it again, but next time in the winter!

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