Summer Camp At BSA Camp Alexander, CO

BSA Troop 15 had summer camp the past week at Camp Alexander, part of the Pikes Peak Council of Colorado Springs.

I put the photos from camp on my Google+ page.

We drove out of OKC in two vans, a truck with a troop trailer, and a minivan last Saturday at 0930. Pretty good for moving 30 people and about a ton of equipment! We managed to pick up a nail in the van I was driving, and so we stopped in El Reno for a quick fix.

We got to our overnight stop at the National Guard facility in Springer, NM.

I have to rave about those guys. When we got there, the main building was locked, so I walked up to the vehicle maintenance shed and found a couple guys working on one of the Hummers. After I told them who I was and what we were doing, these two guys called or POC (who was there in less than five minutes), and then they gave every one of our Scouts an outstanding orientation to the Hummer, and then a ride on the test course in back of the Guard facility! Above and beyond! Our Scouts were so excited they talked about it for days. Our nighttime quarters were the gym of the Guard facility. We had access to the kitchen, the workout facility (there was a lot of iron pumped that evening), and the front yard, where one of our leaders cooked some great chicken and beef fajitas. We cooked breakfast out there the next morning, and were able to give breakfast to some of the Guard members. The entire unit was so friendly. We made sure we cleaned up completely, and headed out.

We got to Colorado Springs, and were having lunch in a local park when we notices a tornado warning due west of us, over Lake George, where camp was. The storm tore up a mobile home park there, but no one was hurt. It dissipated before we met up with it.

Camp was a very nice place. It’s at 8200 ft, so it was quite a bit cooler than down on the plains. There was quite a bit of paperwork to get us checked in, but we made it in time for dinner, which was a piece of chicken breast, with some BBQ sauce smeared on top. It was OK, and typical of the meals in camp. I don’t know that the food was adequate for an older boy. I know I just ate everything they gave us, got seconds every once in a while, and ate a LOT of salad.

Our day was morning flag ceremony and breakfast. The boys would go off to merit badge classes until lunch, then repeat for the afternoon classes. Each evening was closing flag ceremony and dinner.

The staff did announcements at each ceremony, which was nice.

The staff: simply put, outstanding. Every one was outgoing, enthusiastic, and informed. One of the best groups of staff I’ve seen.

Midway through camp, four of us were able to take a two day backpacking trip to the nearby Lost Creek Wilderness.

It was chilly there! Our first couple days, when it was mid-June, had highs in the 60s and lows in the 20s. It was one of those funny things where if you were sitting in the sun, it was too warm, but if you were in the shade, and it was breezy, it was too cool. One mistake I made was not bringing a fleece to camp, or my base layer. I bought a waterproof fleece jacket for $14 when we stopped to buy some butane stove fuel at a Big Five in the Springs, and that jacket was wonderful! I had brought my Tyvek Frogg Toggs, but the layer of fleece in the new jacket was great.

One food note: they didn’t have iced tea to drink for the meals. I think they should have.

Our camp was Sioux. Each camp has a number of canvas platform tents, that were plenty roomy for a couple or three adults, or four to six Scouts (they generally don’t mind packing in). Camp also had a couple flys over picnic tables; that’s where we gathered each evening.

There were opening and closing campfires, which were nice. The OA also had a campfire Wednesday evening.

I was impressed with how each unit mixed early and often. The kids played football and Frisbee, mixed at the meals, and walked to activities together.

We had a couple scrapes, and one boy who fell while playing football and needed five stitches in his leg (he’ll be OK).

The lake in camp was under repair, but is supposed to be open by next season.

The camp has wifi hotspots at at least three locations, but it seemed to be a Mbps or less, and got saturated often. I needed to do some email comms with work, and occasionally OWA (which isn’t a paragon of stability) would lose its mind. I also had W7 start a 40MB update at some point. Did you know there is no way to manually stop an update download once it has started and is saturating the low-bandwidth link? Well, a bit of Task Manager and killing the process is a less-than-acceptable way of doing it.

Camp Alexander has a lot going for it. But for me, the best part is the fact that it’s in the mountains. I will take the chilly temps over Oklahoma with 90+F/humidity anytime.

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