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Covert Ops - Fant Ranch (April 2011)

Alpha squad (the Knights patrol, scouts from Troop 6, and one new scout) were quick out of the gate as the competition started. Their first event was the Rifle Range. After determining that some of the BB guns weren't as reliable as hoped, the squad had good results, with each scout getting some points, and a few sharpshooters (Mitchell and Alec) setting a high bar for later contestants. After navigating through the cedar trees, the squad provided first aid to the downed pilots while waiting for medics to arrive. The meadow where the pilots were located provided an ideal setting for lunch and relaxation before striking out to the next challenge.
As the crazy well digger waited impatiently for his water, the scouts who knew  how to make rope from scratch taught the others. Our youngest scout, Ethan, was the star, crafting a 3 foot rope in minutes. Benton realized that a low tripod would need less rope than a higher one, which allowed finishing the job more quickly. The longest navigation of the day followed - through several checkpoints, in and out of thickets, up and down several hills, to the hobo needing help to light a fire. Alpha squad jumped to action and Winston and Benton had a fire going in a couple of minutes, earning the first place award for this event. Jose, Alberto and Ethan valiantly tried to get Trey's magic sawdust to light with the magnesium sparker but the sawdust did not cooperate. The final event for Alpha was to receive and send signals via light reflected from a mirror. A quick hike to the top of the hill nearly did in Mr. Ryan but provided a magnificent view of Stillhouse Hollow Lake.
The patrol added Mr. Joyce to our ranks as we headed back down to our camp in the woods. In the camp, the scouts used several types of shelter. Nikhil and Mitchell were the most ambitious with a teepee style made of dead branches covered with green cedar fronds; everyone jumped in to help make it. Mr. Jones joined us in time for a memorable meal of MREs!! Trey traded fiercely to set a personal record for sugar consumption, as Winston found out that just because they put the Tabasco in tiny bottles does not mean it lacks firepower. Finally, Alpha patrol gathered around a charcoal fire to trade jokes before sleeping under a beautiful moonlit sky.
Mike Ryan
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