Submitted by Mirjam Prudhomme-Friday dawned not with the glorious sunshine we were hoping for but with great flurries of snow. Not the best way to start the Junior Rangers annual Easter campout, but we’re a hearty bunch and a little bit of weather was not about to put us off. By 4 pm the sun was shining and all of us met up at the community hall. Then it was off to Alliford Bay to meet up with the Masset patrol and our JCRs from Queen Charlotte and Skidegate. A fine convoy of trucks loaded with twenty two 11-18 year olds, four canoes and 10 brave adults.
Our plan at Gray Bay to camp at campsites 1, 2, and 3 was foiled when we arrived to find a tent right smack dab in the middle of our proposed games area. The panicked look on the peoples’ faces at the sight of all those kids was the clincher and off we went to campsite 9. After a safety briefing and a short talk about our participation guidelines (respect, appropriate language, etc) the JCRs formed a chain to unload the trucks and were then split into three groups to set up camp (firewood, tents and kitchen organization). By 9 pm the tents were set up, the fire was crackling and the chili was hot on the campfire. Unfortunately, one huge pot of delicious chili does not feed that hungry hoard so we broke out the army rations and had a second meal. Who knows where these kids put it.
By 10 pm it was dark enough for capture the flag which the Junior Rangers are sure can ONLY be played in the dark without flashlights and cannot be ended before midnight thirty. They did finally tire out (with a little prodding from some weary patrol leaders) and snuggled into their sleeping bags.
Saturday morning it was difficult to get out of our sleeping bags as it had snowed and hailed overnight and now frost covered the ground. We just wanted to stay warm!
After a warm breakfast of pancakes and rations again (for some reason these kids love army food? Go figure!), it was time for our first group challenge. The JCRs were again split into their groups and off we went to the beach. Here they were given only rope and what they could find on the beach, each team was to build a raft above the water line and when the tide came in, we would have a race and see which raft would have been used for Castaway had the movie been filmed here.
The JCRs were very enthusiastic, with some of the more experienced ones helping some of our newer members with the knots needed to lash the driftwood together. After much planning, wood hauling and knot tying, The USS Minnow 11, the Queen of the North 11, and the Queen of Gray Bay were ready for the tide. It was now a waiting game to see which raft would come out on top, though two of their names did not bode well.
While we waited for the tide, we packed our backpacks and went for a short hike to Secret Cove where we had a picnic lunch (yup! rat packs) and a couple of interesting games of tug o war. We put 11 off the smaller kids on one end and nine of the really big kids on the other end. It looked pretty obvious to the bigger kids that they were a shoo-in to win until we placed the little ones by the water and the bigger ones up the beach by the trees. It was quite a lot of work to pull those little guys uphill! Of course no contest is complete without a challenge to the adults so six adults on one end (by the water) and 20 kids on the other end. We didn’t have a prayerÂ… and I swear they had their rope tied around a log.
When we got back to camp, we found we could not race our rafts as two of them had totally broken apart (guess what their names were!). Granted the two broken ones had beached together and the waves had probably done the damage, however the Queen of Gray Bay was still in pristine condition and those other two crews would have been swimming! (Can you tell which team I was on?) The adults in the groups will be debating this for sometime to come.
After a dinner of rations and hot dogs, Lisa got the groups down to the beach for a relay race. And what a relay it was! The adults enjoyed watching their faces as Lisa laid out the rules to the kids. First three JCRs had to tie their ankles together. The middle JCR then had to hold a raw egg underneath their chin. On to the next station. Three rocks and a rope, choose one rock and tie the rope to it. Dragging the rock and holding the egg they then had to pick up two pieces of driftwood, then using a bowl dig in the sand to find water and fill up a super soaker then pick up two pinecones. Now the JCRs had to carry the egg, drag the rock hold onto the driftwood, the super soaker and the pinecones. The next station was a hoola hoop popped up on the sand. All three of them had to crawl through the hoola hoop without dropping any of their items or causing the hoola hoop to fall. A lot of laughs and many failed attempts (but no broken eggs!) and everyone was through with a reward of Easter chocolates.
After another game of Capture the Flag (which I had thought was a stealth game, obviously the JCRs hadn’t read that part), everyone crawled into bed (finally).
Sunday was gorgeous. The plan for the day was canoeing, so back into their groups. Group 1 was on the beach doing canoe theory, rocking the canoe, portaging, making a shelter out of it. Group 2 was in canoes down at the creek and group 3 was doing a map and compass and search and rescue grid search. What were they searching for? Well Easter Eggs of course! The first group and third group went without a hitch except that they were done early so to fill in the time they collected clam shells from the beach and relined the trail to the outhouses so you could see them better at night. Group 2 ran into some trouble on that there was not enough water in the creek and the ocean was too rough for first time canoers. Unfortunately, that put an end to the canoe plans for the day.
By lunch time the wind had died down and unfortunately, we were suddenly visited by numerous large wasps and yellow jackets, so it was decided that after all the JCRs had done their grid search, we would break camp and head back into Sandspit and camp our last night in the Sandspit community hall.
All in all we had a great time. We met some great JCRs from Masset and we look forward to our next joint function. Many thanks to Steve, Dan, Lisa, Agnes, Monty, Laurel, Sgt Lionel Pakulak, Peter, Mirjam and Sheila for coming out with the kids and sharing in the fun. And to the community hall for letting us use the hall for our final night.
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