Welcome to Boy Scout Troop 439!

Troop 439 was formed in April 1951 by the United Methodist Men of St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Kensington MD. Since that time, more than 1,500 "T439" Scouts have participated in Troop activities designed to build Scouting skills, leadership experiences, and friendships. Over the years, T439 Scouts have participated in international and national Scouting Jamborees; Philmont backpacking treks; long-distance cycling trips; and weekend hiking, canoeing and camping trips. For more information, contact Scoutmaster Adam Sandman at pack478sandman@verizon.net

Camp Bowman Blog Day 6

Posted on Jul 23 2016 - 8:24am

It is with a wistful brush of my virtual pen that I must recant the last day of Camp Bowman, o how parting is such sweet sorrow. With our spirits dampened by the unchanging inspection score, we had a dinner of roast beast, of such succulent flavor that we could be living in the age of kings, made corpulent by the evil root vegetables and fine broth. This did raise our spirits for a time, but we were still downcast when we made our mournful meander down to flags.

Led by the valiant Tom Fulton, Troop 439 provided the campsite flag ceremony, lowering the Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia and US flags to the solemn tones of Mr. Fulton. Tim Carter, Eamon Lalley, Charlie Eisenburg, Brian Hufford, Lance Moreau, Alex DeTitta. Upon conclusion of the ceremony, “there was a shocking development” (please read that in the accent of Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear for full effect). Despite our middling score at inspection, due to our sparking personality, indomitable spirit, and perhaps in no small measure due to the outright bribery of the staff by our extravagant cracker barrels, we were awarded the “Troop of the Day Award”. With much cheering and the elevation of Master Geertsema to even higher heights we celebrated our unlikely victory and returned to Camp Scheirer jubilant and uplifted in mind, body and spirit.

However there was something fishy to this tail (not related to Connor Priester’s earlier efforts), Patrol X had embraced healthy living and had prepared a cornucopia of sushi and snow cones for the camp’s delectation. The staff of Camp Bowman arrived to regale themselves of this bountiful feast.

However the crackerbarrel made way for the consternation of Decision 2016. With camera crews descending and opinions pollsters spinning, we had the election of the new Senior Patrol, ably MCed by our very own Connor Burke.

Following some rather tedious speeches that we will not darken your spirits by repeating, the troop decided in its vicarious wisdom that the following persons were to be elected to be their overlords for the next 6 months:

  • Senior Patrol Leader – Peter “Finally I am in charge, bwaa haa haa” Geertsema
  • Assistant Senior Patrol Leaders:
    • Tommy “keeping it savage” Norris
    • Connor “gone fishing” Priester
    • Brian “nothing ruffles me” Hufford
    • Aidan "Science Rules" Sandman-Long

After the election, the troop was so exhilarated that they promptly fell asleep (the 5 mile hike for the first years may have helped).

We roused the following morning at 6 am sharp, under the tutelage of our experienced outgoing senior patrol team, we hiked along a verdant yet rocky trail to ascend the 1800 feet to the garden of the gods overlooking Goshen Scout Reservation, we climbed to Viewing Rock, ate a continental breakfast, and yomped down the path to the final morning of merit badge mayhem.

Upon the conclusion of our merit badge classes, the troop had a carnivorous lunch of ham and cheese sandwiches sans lettuce and the troop had a well deserved siesta until the planned 3pm service project. With a heaviness of heart and emptiness of computer battery, I am signing off for the last time this summer as we conclude the Camp Bowman Blog 2016…

See y’all at Fairfax Government Center at 9:30am Saturday Morning…


Camp Bowman Blog Day 5

Posted on Jun 30 2016 - 3:30pm

With the end of siesta yesterday, we awoke from our slumber to a glorious afternoon with clear skies and bright exhilaration sunlight coursing through the campsite. The first year campers threw caution into the wind and embarked on an epic orienteering quest to navigate the outer reaches of Goshen Scout Reservation (or at least the trading post) with nothing but a trusty map and compass (and surreptitious copies of Google maps!) to aid them. The older Scouts took part in their afternoon merit badges, open boating and open shoot as well as myriad other activities.

Upon return to our campsite, the redoubtable runners relayed the relatively relaxed repast from the remote repository to our residential redoubt. The meal was to be casual Southern fayre, consisting of Virginia sliced ham, creamy macaroni and cheese, augmented with a mixed leaf (well 100% iceberg lettuce) salad and dressing hand picked from the aisles of CVS. The patrols cooked the meals with finesse and enthusiasm. Once the meals were cleared away, we attempted to replicate the training song from Mulan for our cheer, but were frustrated by lack of time and lyrics, but we vow to do better tomorrow.

Using our staple repertoire of cheers we headed down to flags, digeridoo in hand, making much noise and merriment along the way. Upon the conclusion of the flag ceremony we returned to the site where a carnival atmosphere prevailed – we had candy apples for cracker barrel, with some rolled in powdered sugar to give them the affectionate title of snowballs. To verify their benevolent nature we launched a few plus some remaining lettuce heads from our trusty catapult pioneering project.

Matt Mueller was the MC for the evening, we had our awards ceremony where the Huns patrol won the Patrol of the Day award for their exemplary meal preparation and schedule management throughout the day. The winner of the Scout of the Day was Max Krause (aided by Nicholas Medvitz) for his tenacious toilet cleaning services… Mr. and Mrs. Krause you may want to take note of this when he’s back from camp. Once the awards were giving, the CNN Situation Room descended on Camp Bowman as we began the nomination process for the Senior Patrol (aka Decision 2016).

The following Scouts were nominated for the illustrious role of Senior Patrol Leader:

-          Tommy “Second Term” Norris

-          Colin “The Change Candidate” Miller

-          Peter “I’m doing the job half the time anyway” Geertsema

-          Aidan “I’ll find the longest short-cut possible” Sandman-Long

Looking to assist our glorious leader in his time of need, the following Scouts were nominated to the role of Assistant Senior Patrol Leader:

-          Brian “No Drama” Hufford

-          Connor “I’ll get the reptiles vote” Priester

-          Tim “No one messes with me” Carter

-          Owen “Repeal Closed Toe Shoes” Schulz

-          Matt “Make Every Meeting Swimming” Mueller

-          Alex “This time I’m not missing the election” DeTitta

-          Patrick “The sleeper candidate” Kabat

With the nominations closed, MC Mueller wished the troop good night and we returned to our hammocks and patrol sites for a calm evening of slumber… During this slumber, Mr Isola and Geertsema (accompanied by Derrick Priester) sacrificed their tranquility to meander at midnight across the moonless sky to meditate on man’s place in the monstrous universe watching the Sagittarius arm of the majestic Milky Way galaxy yielding spectacular views of Scorpius, Sagittarius and Cassiopeia and the summer triangle (no relation to the Wheaton Triangle).

The evening proved to be a mite nippier than expected, with the cruel, cold weather freezing our nobblies, but we were not to be thwarted and we rose rapidly and smote the cold with our blazing fires of much wood and combustion. Upon these roaring fires we cooked a feast of champions yet fit for kings. T’was a banquet of farm fresh eggs gently scrambled whilst nestling on a bed of pink ham like substance and accompanied with bountiful quantities of hash browns.

The hearty breakfast was washed down with orange juice and coffee (for the adults). The morning proved to be a quiet and harmonious affair (in fact unusually harmonious, perhaps this is foreshadowing). The troop headed off yet again to their merit badge classes and first year program. During this time, Connor Priester, the angler the fish whisperer of Troop 439 managed to hook a “crappy fish” (yet that is its name) with chef Aidan and sous-chef Peter grilling the fish to perfection and consuming it forthwith.

For lunch we went cold turkey (boom boom) and had cold subs with chips and sadly no bug juice (shame we say). With the conclusion of lunch, the first years were assembled for the arduous trek of 5 miles distance, following the winding path to the PMI cub scout lair and other vistas unknown to us mere mortals (or me at least). Whilst the troop was taking part of their activities, we had the last inspection and like the American economy it remained flat with a score of 46/50, with a growth in some sectors and retrenchment in others. For future reference, Dutch ovens whilst black and round are not in fact trash cans.

With that melancholic results we sign off for today…

Camp Bowman Blog Day 4

Posted on Jun 29 2016 - 2:41pm

Welcome back trusty reader, I hope you enjoyed our Pirate yarn from yesterday. I will continue our tale of adventure and excitement at Camp Bowman. Having gained our sea legs during the Pirate’s breakfast, the troop scattered into the wind for their morning merit badge classes. The first year campers took part in a verdant nature hike through the luxuriant Goshen landscape, with their eyes peeled for glimpses of such delights of nature as the legendary ‘Goshen Zapper’ caterpillar. The weather was a pleasant contrast from yesterday, with the skies piercingly cobalt blue and not a cloud in the sky.

Upon returning to camp for lunch, the commissary had outdone themselves with a superlative set of subway sandwiches consisting of salami, ham, sliced orange cheese-like substance, lettuce and condiments of our choosing. In keeping with tradition, this was washed down with copious quantities of the red unknown powder based drink known as bug juice (this may be a foreshadowing of the afternoon’s activities).

Upon the conclusion of lunch, the troop reposed for siesta and made sure the campsite was in tip top condition for the second day of inspections. With a slight attempt at bribery with cold drinks, our inspector (and troop alum) gave us a score of 42/50 which was a distinct improvement on the previous day. Meanwhile the troop arose from their slumber and headed out to their afternoon merit badge classes. The first year campers were schooled in the dark arts of lashings and pioneering, where they learnt how to construct amazing structures from mere staves of wood and rope. If you need a quick extension on your house, now you know whom to ask!

As the afternoon grew long and the shadows extended, the troop marched wearily but fulfilled back to camp, where the afternoon’s dinner took on an Italian theme; spaghetti and meatballs with a robust salad followed by an assortment of chocolate chip cookies.

Once dinner was eaten and cleaned away, the call went out for the campsite wide game – Camp Bowman Olympics. A series of feats and challenges lay in front of our troop and by all accounts we swept the board winning all of the events but one – the mighty bug juice drinking challenge. Our champion Mason Goldberg was up to the challenge and although be interpreted the rules liberally to include dumping the drink over himself vs. actually drinking, the judges were not swayed by this creative interpretation and we will have to come  back next year for a rematch!

After the game, we marched down to flags with our trusty digiridoo, with Tom now able to play more than simple tune, and regaled the campsite with another rendition of You Can’t Ride by little Red Wagon and Thermopoly. The evening’s cracker barrel consisted of gourmet sliders and ice cold snow cones (thanks to the Timberwolves Patrol), which was much appreciated by all.

The evening took a solemn turn when we performed an official flag retirement ceremony. The Boy Scouts of America are one of a select few organizations allowed to retire US flags, and over the year many organizations and individuals have donated flags to us for such a purpose, MC John Gori conducted the ceremony with reverence and dedication and we committed 12 flags to the flames of purification.

Upon conclusion of the retirement ceremony, we had our announcements and awards ceremony, with the X-Patrol winning patrol of the day, and Mason Goldberg winning Scout of the day for going above and beyond in the service of the troop.

With the lights of the campfire dying down, as the embers smoldered, the troop headed off to bed for a good night’s sleep after an action filled day.

The next morning we awoke to another glorious sunny morning with just the hint of a chill (soon dissipated) and whilst the adults continued their flirtation with all manner of coffee preparation methods (drip, filter, perk, we have it all), the troop cooked us a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausages, toast, cereal and juices.

Upon conclusion of the breakfast and cleaning, the troop headed out for the morning activities, with the various leatherworking and basket-making projects slowly taking shape. The troop pioneering projects also had the finishing touches applied, the cabbage launching catapult and the hyperbolic paraboloid. The latter being a device that bend space and time in multi dimensions. Rumored to be the close cousin of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, it may end the universe as we know it (and can be used as a limbo pole in the meantime).

For lunch we had a change of pace with the “Troop Shoot”, where the entire troop gets to have lunch at the firing range with the staff and fire various rifles during the lunch-hour. We also sent a delegation of adults to the weekly ‘lunch with Les’ – the head of the National Capital Area Council of BSA to learn about planned developments at Goshen and meet fellow Scouters.

As we now head into the Siesta period of Wednesday, we cannot believe there are only 2.5 days left of camp, so we resolve to make them worthwhile… with those words, we will catch you tomorrow at the same bat time and channel…


Camp Bowman Blog Day 3

Posted on Jun 28 2016 - 1:48pm

We pick up yesterday’s tale as our Scouts embarked on their first taste of the morning merit badge classes, with the first year campers doing swimming, mammal study and core Scoutcraft knowledge that has been passed down from Father to Son since Sir Robert Baden Powell’s day.

After a fruitful morning of much learning and imparting of wisdom our troop returned back to our site hungry for the bountiful lunch of roast beef, mustard, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream and onion chips, naturally washed down with lashings of bug juice.

After such a morning of promise, darkness descended on the land, the dark clouds were swirling overhead, but we were not daunted, not one bit. We battened down the hatches and made sure the camp was ship shape and Bristol fashion. Compounding the mood was the onset of our first inspection of the site. The boys scrubbed and washed and cleaned (you may want to remind them of this at home) until the site was ready, then under the dark clouds headed out to their afternoon classes.

Luckily the prophets had been scaremongering and the rain when it came, was but a mild shower and the inspectors found our site to be of a clean and benevolent nature. We received the score of 36/50, which was a middling score, but we have plans and schemes for much improvement.

After the Scouts returned from afternoon classes, we had a dinner of al-dente potatoes accompanied by a riff on popeyes with fried chicken and a robust salad lovingly dressed in a creamy Italian mélange. For dessert the menu stated that we’d be having peach cobbler, but the results varied between tarred and feathered charcoal briquettes and something resembling an dessert. Let’s just say Gordon Ramsey would have a few choice words (all unprintable), just kidding!

After dinner, we trooped down to flags accompanied by our trusty digiridoo played by our very own digiridooer Tom Fulton. We regaled the camp staff and fellow campers with our feisty cheer “Hail 439” and listened to a rousing performance of the star spangled banner played on a clarinet by Venture Crew 27 as the flags were retired for the day. For cracker barrel we had our second installment of funnel cakes (back by popular demand of the staff and troop) augmented with an anti-Trump riposte of Nachos, Cheese, Chilli and Salsa. The winner of the Scout of the day award was Eamon Lalley and confounding their name, the Lost Patrol were anything but, winning the Patrol of the Day award.

We then retired under gloomy skies to bed, with our spirits byoyed by the knowledge that the next morning would be Pirate’s Breakfast….AARGGGHHHH me hearties!

The next morning, we shivered our timbers and various other Pirately related metaphors, waking up at 6am to pick up our boxed breakfasts and climb about our merry vessels (kayaks, canoes and row boats) and putter about Lake Merriweather under the wispy morning fog that hugged the shoreline, it was my fellow sailors a fine morning for boating. A couple of the Scouts decided to try the unusual technique of propelling a row-boat in the style of a canoe, causing much comedy, but not much motion. Luckily the adults were able to hook them a line and toe them back to shore, claiming salvage rights.

After the fun breakfast, we marched back to camp and off to morning classes, with the adults craving and carafe of coffee before their caffeine condition created complete catastrophic chaos.

And dear readers with this egregious and extreme abuse of the English language I sign off until tomorrow…

Camp Bowman Blog Day 2

Posted on Jun 27 2016 - 12:13pm

The continuing adventures of Troop 439 at Camp Bowman began with the troop coming back from the waterfront where they performed the  BSA swim test (with almost everyone passing) as well as learning about safe swimming practices. Whilst the Scouts were treading water, Mr. Johnson and Medvitz were frantically scurrying around the campsite, verifying the merit badge signups and making sure that all Scouts were signed up for their chosen activities.

With that done, the troop languidly reposed in the warm morning sun, waiting for the call to nourishment and sustenance, with the commissary opening sharp at 12 for the runners to pickup their new york style deli lunches and bring them back to the site.  For lunch we had a pink sliced meat that could have either ham or turkey, or possibly an unholy alliance of the two, combined with orange plastic slices that were alleged to have been at some point “cheese”. The boys assembled their lunchtime masterpieces with mayo, mustard, possibly a stray leaf of lettuce and regrettably (for them) tomatoes. Accompanying the sandwiches were squares of pound cake all washed down by the traditional bug juice fruit medley of varying concentrations.

After lunch the first year campers headed out to the afternoon FYC program with Mr. McCarthy, where they would be learning about the patrol method and how to tie their knots (which they will promptly forget if history is any guide!). The other members of the troop headed out for their afternoon merit badge classes, including such veritable delights as lifesaving, welding, shotgun, archery, motor boating, sailing, chemistry, environmental science.

Upon return from the afternoon activities, weary but fulfilled, our brave and resourceful Scouts trekked down to get the evening victuals. For dinner we partook in a anti-Trump-esque medley of Mexican morsels including taco shells, frijoles negros, rice, salsa and shredded lettuce and cheese. All of the patrols did a commendable job cooking the meal over an open fire.

After dinner we trooped down to Flags for the evening flag ceremony, regaled as always with the earthy tones of the Digiridoo. After the flag ceremony which was performed with aplomb as always by the camp staff we returned to our site for the evening cracker barrel (courtesy of the Huns patrol). Evoking memories of Ocean City and the salty sea air, we had powdered sugar funnel cakes and boardwalk style snow cones with the industrial strength Mr. Blizzard 2000 Snow Cone Maker (upgraded from last year).

After the cracker barrel we had an abridged campfire awards ceremony where the Pandas patrol won the exalted Patrol of the Day away and our very own Charlie Eisenberg received the equally exalted Scout of the Day Award.

Upon waking up on Monday morning, the air was little chilly, but once the fog lifted it was another warm and sunny day. However the forecast does include some passing thunderstorms and rain so we shall of course be prepared.

For breakfast we had scrambled eggs, sausage, orange juice and cereal which the patrols executed with conviction, After breakfast and cleaning up the troop headed off to their morning merit badges, but that is a story for another day…


Camp Bowman Blog Day 1

Posted on Jun 26 2016 - 9:53am

Welcome to the first installment of the Camp Bowman Blog. Over the course of the week we shall be chronicling the adventures of our valiant as they deal with the privations of nature whilst having much fun and merriment and partaking in legendary adventures.

We begin our story in the hot and arid wasteland of the Fairfax Government Center Parking Lot. Our Scouts were eager, the asphalt was hot an unforgiving, yet the bureaucratic forces ranged against us were formidable. However after some interminable waiting we were given the signal we had been waiting for and we were able to storm the buses and head down to Goshen. The drive down was pleasant and uneventful, with the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains as our backdrop and a rather chatty driver as our constant companion. After what seemed but a blink of the eye, we pulled into the Camp Bowman parking, where a sea of red-shirted camp staff raised a welcoming cheer…. We had arrived my people.

After unloading from the bus, we trekked the arduous quarter of mile along rock-strewn paths and cross many (well one at least) bridges to our camp site. At least one first year Scout was heard to remark “…when that guy said it was an uneven trail, he wasn’t kidding!”. This year we have 50 Scouts attending summer camp (one of the largest in recent memory) and we have two sites this year, so having conquered site 12 our 5 patrols can spread out across the tree shaded paradise that is Camp Sheirer.

Once we had arrived at our site, we met our three camp guides (Michael, Cory and Ian) who were in good cheer and explain how everything works, before taking the troop down for the customary medical check. With no tropical diseases to speak of, we were all cleared to stay and camp and we proceeded to take a tour of camp. We met a fellow British person who’s working on staff who detected my accent and we were able to chat in British for at least 5 minutes. So after much roistering and doistering, and discussing of Brexits, we were back to our site to begin settling in.

For the rest of the camp, our Scouts will be cooking all of our meals over an open fire, but for the first night, we are fortunate enough to have the camp staff lay on a veritable feast of hot dogs, beans, chips and cake. Sadly it seemed that robbers had made off with the ketchup and mustard, but we endured this hardship and had a great time eating dinner as the camp staff sang songs of yore.

Following hot on the heels of dinner was the first night’s flag ceremony. We marched into the parade ground with our sprits high to our customary cheers of “PEP” and “Little Red Wagon”, but when the other troops thought that we had shown our best, we unveiled our new secret instrument of doom and destruction, our digiridoo. We unfurled this antipodean merchant of audible insanity and belted out the deep throaty rumble that awoke the ancient spirits…

After the lowering of the Maryland, DC, Virginia and US flags we learned about the camp rules, announcements and other matters before marching back to our site for the first cracker barrel of the camp. Cracker Barrel’s are a post dinner “meal” usually of sweet or savory nature that we invite the camp staff to partake in. For the first night it was but a simple affair – rice krispy treats drizzled with copious quantities of chocolate, M&Ms and other goodies. Once the cracker barrel was over, we retired for the evening and due the exertions of the night, everyone was sound asleep by 11pm.

We awoke Sunday Morning to the misty fog blanketing the campsite, but within a short time, the mists lifted and we had a glorious first day at camp. The patrols were up early to forage for dry wood and the runners were sent down to the commissary for breakfast. Within short order we had 5 patrols with roaring fires and the troop settled down to hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, break, cereal and a fruit medley. The adults were equally prepared, with hot coffee bubbling on the roaring propane stove, the scent of caffeine infused vapours, hearting and stiffening our sinews.

As your trusty correspond signs off, the troop have just departed the site for the waterfront, to perform their swim test and finalize merit badge signups.

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