Tag Archives: Troop 131

Campout at Burro Cove at the end of Butcher Jones Trail, Arizona

Scottsdale’s Boy Scout Troop 131 completed an overnight backpacking campout last weekend.  Six scouts and four adults participated.  Our original destination was Aravaipa Wilderness Area, but we cancelled due to the threat of rain and life-threatening flash floods in that canyon.

Burro Cove campsite is small.  Everybody had one-man tents.  You could probably squeeze another 4-5 onto the site.  About half way to Burro Cove, we easily spotted another potential campsite on a small peninsula.  We’re not sure, but we think a trail lead to the area.  I bet some campsites here are accessible only by boat.  You need back-up plans in case your spot is taken by others.  Butcher Jones Trail has few flat spots where you could set up 10 tents.

The scouts did a super job hiking with their packs.  I heard no complaints.  One scout carried a 56-pound pack!  Mine was 37 lb; my son’s was 20 lb.  Most packs were probably in the 20-40 lb range.  The Scout Handbook says to limit pack weight to 25% of body weight, in general.  I’m impressed with modern backpack design that distributes pack weight to your pelvis, not your shoulders.

Backpacking teaches you how to survive, even thrive, with minimal modern conveniences.  You have to carefully consider every ounce you carry.  You just need shelter, food, water, clothing, and a degree of physical fitness.  When you return to civilization, you appreciate it even more.


Algae-covered rocks in Saguaro Lake


We had a great view of Four Peaks, which had a light dusting of fresh snow


Burro Cove campsite on Saguaro Lake, Arizona

One happy camper

Eureka Solitaire 1-man tent I rented from Arizona Hiking Shack

Boy Scout Campout at Cave Creek Regional Park

Scottsdale’s Troop 131 had our annual overnight “family campout” at this large park immediately west of Cave Creek, Arizona.  All scout siblings and parents are invited.  Twenty or thirty were in attendance, a good turnout.  A few headed back to town late in the evening rather than stay the night.

We stayed in the group camping area, which had restrooms, hot and cold running water, and showers.  The park is clean, well-run, and safe.

Trailhead at Cave Creek Regional Park

A tradition with this campout is that the boys cook dinner and breakfast for the adults.  Usually the boys cook for themselves, as do the adults.  Thank you, scouts!

We arrived on Saturday AM, Oct. 20, and set out on four-mile hike, a loop involving Go John and Overton trails.  Nice scenery and a little altitude gain.  I’d call it an easy hike; you could do it in sneakers but I was glad I had hiking boots because of the rocks underfoot.  We shared the trail with runners, a few of whom were doing a 50-km (31-mile) endurance run!  In 90° F weather (32.2° C).

U.S. Flag

After skits around the campfire, the scouts did a U.S. flag retirement ceremony.  Most Americans these days don’t know that you aren’t supposed to simply throw a tattered, faded flag into the trash.  It’s disrespectful to the soldiers and patriots who have sacrificed their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor in the name of American ideals.  The Boy Scouts of America and a few other organizations do a solemn ceremony during which we review the symbolism and history of the flag, then it’s incinerated in a small fire.  The boys retired 21 flags, most of which had been collected by Congressman Dan Quayle.  If you have a worn-out flag, your local Boy Scout troop should be willing and able to retire it for you.  Thanks to Chris Raines for helping the boys with the ceremony.

As usual, the Arizona weather was great.

The Orionid meteor shower was a bonus for this trip, although most folks slept through it since it peaked between midnight and 5 AM.  I got up around 2 AM and watched the sky for four minutes.  Saw one meteor emanating from Orion and another unrelated straggler.

Everybody survived the campout, and no one got hurt.  Thank you, God!

Steve Parker, M.D.

View to the north from Go John trail

Overton trail

Go John trail overlooking Cave Creek or Scottsdale

Camp Raymond Experience

Not Camp Raymond, but you get the idea

My son and I recently returned from a week at the Boy Scouts of America’s Camp Raymond in northern Arizona.  Located in a Ponderosa pine forest at an elevation of 6,700 feet above sea level, it’s about a 45-minute drive west and south of Flagstaff.  160-acre Camp Raymond is on the edge of Sycamore Canyon Wilderness.

What Are Boy Scouts?

In case you’re not familiar with BSA, here’s their mission statement:

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

The Scout Oath:

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

The Scout Law:

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

I highly recommend Scouting for boys, who can join at age 11.  BSA is a great organization.

What Was It Like?

Ten scouts and six adults from Scottsdale, Arizona’s Troop 131 camped in tents for six nights.  The campsite had running water, a latrine, and no electricity.  Fires were forbidden due the the extreme risk of forest fires: there hasn’t been much rain lately.  Meals were prepared by professional staff and eaten in a dining hall.  Scouts and attending adults did nearly all the food serving and meal cleanup for 400 people on-site.  Our troop did KP duty (kitchen patrol) for two lunches, requiring two hours’ work each time.

Coyotes howling woke us up twice one night.  We saw a deer bouncing through the camp one morning.  I bet he’d been eating the lush grass growing on the septic tank field.  Smelled one skunk and saw another.

Temperatures were perfect, between 50 and 86° F.  No rain except a brief light sprinkle one night.  I had a little trouble falling asleep, I think because of the altitude.  Few bugs.

I’d heard stories about the infamous and pervasive Camp Raymond dust.  This was indeed the dustiest place I’d ever camped.  It’s not a problem, just…remarkable.  You can wash and dry your feet, then don sandals and walk 50 feet: you’re dirty again!

We were there over the Independence Day holiday, explaining why camp was only 60% full.  A side benefit is that the boys had much less waiting in line to use the popular facilities, such as the dining room and archery, rifle, and shotgun ranges.

Camp has a heated pool, which our troop didn’t use much.  Nor did we avail ourselves of the canoeing and rowing opportunities on the small lake.  We should have  taken a hike down into Sycamore canyon, but never got around to it.  We did a nighttime orienteering course.  Three other adults and I took a three-mile hike trying to find Lone Elk Point but lost the trail.

My personal trip highlights:

  • Skeet shooting with a 20 gauge shotgun.  I hadn’t fired a shotgun in over 40 years.  Somehow I hit 46 of 50 clay pigeons.
  • The Order of the Arrow call-out ceremony.  OA is an honor society for scouts; I was a member over 40 years ago.  The ceremony starts with a silent nocturnal single-file walk through the forest, involving about 200 individuals. Three of our troop’s scouts were called-out.
  • My son Paul was publicly recognized (with totems) by two of the Archery staffers as being the most polite scout they’d ever worked with.

The Scouts spent most of the day working on merit badges and, to a lesser extent, rank advancement.  Popular badges were environmental science, leatherwork, woodcarving, geology, archery, rifle (.22 caliber), shotgun, mammal study, basketry,  soil and water, and first aid.  The environmental science badge was particularly popular because it’s difficult to achieve in other settings and it’s required for Eagle rank, the pinnacle of the scouting experience.

No one got seriously hurt, and all had a splendid time!



We were in campsite 5a, a good one.  It’s close to all the activities, and has good tent sites.  Campsite 6a looks just as good.  Some of the campsites are as much as a half mile away from the dining hall.

Attending adults were Scott H, Gary F, Mark Z, Dave K, John U (from nearby Troop 15), and me.  Scott F came up for the final 24 hours.

The scouts were Christian R, Jacob M, Jacob F, Kyle K, Reid F, Nathan H, JD H, Matthew Z, John U (from Troop 15), and my son.

I was the “adult lead” for the trip while Scott H was the scoutmaster.  Adult leading was fairly easy, mainly involving paperwork, attending a few meetings, and being familiar with all aspects of the program.  I could have done a better job if I’d:

  • Had a parents/scouts meeting about a month prior to departure for camp.
  • Run across an online document called “merit badges at a glance.”  The merit badge program is somewhat confusing.  For example, 1) several scouts attended duplicate presentations for the same merit badge, a waste of time, and 2) working on one badge can easily conflict with work on another if you’re not careful.  The experienced scouts, especially Nathan H, were quite helpful explaining this to the newbies.

The online published document called Adult Leaders Packet was not entirely accurate.  For instance, I eventually saw three discordant schedules for the first evening’s activities.  The most accurate schedule was the pocket-sized Adult Leaders Handbook I was given soon after arrival.  All the adults and the lead scouts needed this.

Camp Raymond is well-organized and well-run.  Staff and progams exemplify the 12 points of the Scout Law.