Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bear Lake—Werewolves and Savage Twelve Year Old Scouts

WARNING: This turned into a Super Long Ramble—Most likely you will get bored and close the window before you reach the end; I won't hold that against you, since that's what I do when reading Long Blog Posts.

I spent all of last week at Bear Lake Aquatics Base, because I am the Assistant Scout Master of a local Troop. It was fun and I should highlight some of the experience, and some of my thoughts.

Attending Scout Camp as a Leader, rather than a Scout is a whole different experience.Being Assistant Scout Master even more so than Scout Master I believe.

When I was in Scouts, I don't really recall working on Rank Advancement all that much. I thought that I had made it to Second Class, had done all the requirements for first class and then never bothered with the Court of Review for advancement; but I recently came across a sash with the few Badges I did earn in a box in the garage. I apparently did make First Class—so it must have been the Star Rank that I didn't attend a Court of Review in order to obtain.

At camp I learned that all Scouts are Expected to reach First Class. Anything more is Above and Beyond. Well at least I made the minimum requirement.

My Duties pretty much involved making sure that the Scouts didn't waste time. If they came back to camp early from class, they were to be working on something. I also had the responsibility of making sure the Scouts didn't "kill" each other when they were in camp—which can be difficult when you're about ready to do the job yourself.

Everything else pretty much fell to the Scout Master. He did ask me to attend Scout Master Meeting on Tuesday. Which turned out to be 5 minutes of announcements and 5 minutes of comments/suggestions from the Leaders in Attendance.

In other words—for the most part it was pretty kick back. The routine ended up being something like this:

Get up—eat breakfast, make sure that the boys on KP assisted our volunteer Cook, offer to help in the kitchen (this was always refused) get the boys out of camp and off to Flag Ceremony. After Flag Ceremony they went to merit badge classes. Around Noon they would return to camp for lunch and at 2:00 they were off to class again. At 5:00 we would have dinner, 7–9:00 they generally had "free time" which was open time at the classes—anyone could show up to pass off requirements that they didn't complete in class time. After 9:00 they were back in camp, and "lights out/quiet time" started at 10:30.

I attended Flag Ceremonies, three of the five and a third days we were there. I attended the opening and closing campfire ceremonies. The opening consisted mostly of the staff acting foolishly to make everyone laugh (i.e. skits) and the closing consisted mostly of Scouts acting foolishly to make everyone laugh (more skits).

Monday afternoon it donned on me that I had a magnifying glass in my pocket. Which I've been carrying around with me since a family Christmas party. I decided to burn an image into something out of the wood pile.

My original idea was to make a comic, not unlike the one I drew last camp out. I found that it takes longer than I have patience to burn an image, so I abandoned that Idea. I then tried carving the wood into a bit of a speech bubble shape—which didn't really work.

Tuesday I was looking at a block of wood one of the scouts had carved a bas-relief candle into (for the woodcarving merit badge) and musing that I might go get one from the camp store to carve. He stated that he was done with it and that I could use it if I wanted. So I shaved the candle off and had a blank canvas. I made a Die. Wednesday when I finished carving it, I was not happy with the readability of the numbers—so I busted out the magnifying glass again.

When preparing for the camp I asked if I needed to drive, and luckily they said no; which meant that they weren't expecting me to borrow the van from my wife. I wisely decided to drive my car—this means I can pack whatever I want in the quantities I deem necessary. I didn't unpack the trunk in order to prepare for camp—this means that there were a lot of board and card games in the trunk, most of which wouldn't really be playable at camp, except Lupus in TabulaLupus in Tabula is a published version of the popular party game commonly known by the name Werewolf or Mafia, with a few additions.

When one of the leaders suggested that we play Werewolf—I stated that I have a copy in the car. He was confused (I knew he would be when I made the statement) I explained that there were several published versions of Werewolf now on the market and that I had one in the car. So I was nominated to run the game.

I had only played Mafia a few times—years and years ago. When I purchased Lupus in Tabula, I had also purchased Are you a Werewolf? at the same time. I got them home opened them up and started reading the rules—this is when I realized that they were published versions of a game that people play for free (which angers me) and they were the same stinking game!
(I suppose you can infer how that made me feel); at which time I put them both back in their package and never looked at them again.

Well, now that I was tasked at running a game I thought it just may be important that I read the rules through. Are you a Werewolf? is the basic game including Villagers, Werewolves, and a Seer. Lupus in Tabula is the same thing in its basic format—but also includes optional roles such as the Medium, Possessed, Bodyguard, Werehamster, Free Masons, Owl, and Mythomaniac.

I chose to run the basic game since it was the first time for most of the scouts (and myself), but I made an error. I left only the Villagers and the Werewolves in the deck and forgot the seer. I chose to play the Ghost variant of the game that allows villagers that have been killed to vote (but not participate in the conversation) this keeps everyone involved in the game so they don't feel left out—I'm supposed to think of that sort of thing as their leader.

I should have stacked the deck, because one of my werewolves ended up being the only kid in the group that couldn't grasp the concept of what was going on. I had another kid in the group that just couldn't keep his eyes closed so I had to pull him aside and have a chat while the villagers were discussing who they thought the werewolf was—he behaved better after that. The other funny thing about the game was that following a suggestion in the rule book. I had the werewolves off me as the first victim since I was acting as narrator. This to the other players caused them all manner of suspicion trying to decide who would be so horrible as to off the narrator on the first night.

All in all, I felt the game was a complete disaster. The boys liked it though because the next day they begged and begged to play again. I succumbed and ran another game the following night. I read the rules through again, realized my mistakes—stacked the deck, threw in all the roles except the Mythomaniac and tried again. There were still problems, but I think it went a little better. I still think the individual that suggested we play in the first place was disappointed, because there was no hunter. Well sorry—I've never played with a hunter and I don't know what he does, and my game doesn't have one.

This is us playing Werewolf. Note the lack of campfire, it was so warm that we didn't have a need for a fire; I think we built one fire the entire week and that was so someone could pass off a rank advancement requirement; and we didn't feed it all night as is customary. I think that this is one of the best things we did, my clothes weren't all smokey when I got home and I didn't have to deal with that smell all week. Don't get me wrong, I like the campfire smell—but it gets old fast.

This essentially brings us to Thursday. Monday was just above comfortable as far as temperature—Tuesday was bearable, yet unpleasant—Thursday was a joke. A very unfunny joke. 109° F in the Shade!

To pass the time I dug through the Wood Pile—now our wood pile is not like your typical wood pile. I believe the wood we get is mostly scrap from someone's place of employment; instead of logs we have a lot of flat boards, square sticks, and even bits of crown molding—I found a nice big flat board and used the ruler on the fish de-scaler on my pocket knife to measure 1" increments. Then I used one of the aforementioned flat sticks as a straight edge to lay out a grid on the board.

Then I took the stick, which was approximately 1" wide and divided it in inches. In these squares I drew birds eye view tokens of the major landmarks of our camp. Then I cut them apart using a Leatherman and placed them on the board—thus creating a game board of our campsite.

I pulled out my copy of Savage Worlds: Explorer's Edition and proceeded to write up characters of all the Boys and Leaders. I was hoping to run a few of the boys through a quick Zombies Invade the Camp Site!!! session, but alas it never took place. I even devised how many rounds it would take them to run up the mountain and grab weapons and ammo from the Rifle Shooting, Archery, and Shotgun Shooting merit badge class areas.

We took them to the other side of the lake that night for Pizza, I think they enjoyed it—but I was surprised when they didn't out eat me.

Friday they finished up as much as they could and we prepared to head home as soon as possible the next morning. We had 7 of 9 fulfill the requirements for rank advancement (No, not the former Borg drone) and as a whole they brought home 43 Merit Badges. Not too shabby.

I'm not sure how someone as geeky as me ended up as the Assistant Scout Master. I guess filling their heads with Zombie & Werewolf Lore is only slightly better than losing them in the woods looking for snipe.


  1. My random thoughts:
    - Boys and burning things, sounds like an interesting week.
    - Yup no snipe-hunting for you, you'd rather hunt zombies.
    - I'm glad nobody killed anybody, even if they wanted too.
    - Disappointment of the week = no Bear Lake raspberry shake!

  2. Well, even through your ramblings, I think I managed to read most of it. Sounds like fun times.

  3. The nicest thing about BLAB is you don't have to cook all week! Cooking is fun, especially on, say, an over night camp...and especially when John Groberg is around, but cooking for a whole week is a drag. It seems like you just get breakfast cleaned up and it's time to start lunch. Repeat 3x a day for 5 days.

    I'm sure that's how mothers feel EVER day, but at least mothers have dishwashers, running water right at their food prep area, and air-conditioned kitchens.

    The first year I was at BLAB, FRS radios were still pretty new. The camp staff was using them to communicate, and so naturally we listened in. First day somebody in the kitchen nic'ed their finger in the meat slider. Needless to say we were all very careful of what we ate...

  4. Well, we didn't pay for the Dining Hall experience. Our former Bishop came along and did pretty much all the cooking—I really did try to offer to help—he'd have food ready for the boys when they got to camp and then he and the two assigned to KP for the day would clean up. He had it down to a science and things were clean before you even noticed they were a mess.

    I remembered my FRS radios about 10 miles down the road after we left Monday morning. I remembered that I forgot to take them out and pack them.