"Begin on the second whistle!"
The Troop Birthday is the culmination of Paoli 1's scouting year. It is an opportunity for the scouts to demonstrate the skills they have learned over the year and it is the ultimate test of the patrol leaders' leadership skills. As the name implies, this event also commemorates the founding of the Troop back in 1911.
Taking place on the second or third Saturday in June, the patrols participate in a series of competitions organized and judged by the SPL and his Staff Patrol. The Troop Award Ceremony, Change of Command Ceremony, and the Eagle Court of Honor Ceremony follow the competition and the Birthday ends with a picnic barbecue.
The Birthday is preceded by months of practice for the events as well as preparation of the Cabin and grounds for the celebration. Despite the constant rehearsals and seemingly endless little touches made to the grounds, the morning before the Birthday is still used to prepare. In addition to practicing the non-competitive portions of the Birthday and handing out the traditional sailor hats, the annual troop picture is also taken at this time. The patrols also undergo an inspection of their uniforms and any advancement since the last Troop Meeting is awarded.
The Birthday officially begins when the bugler sounds 'Assembly' and the troop forms up in front of the Cabin. The Drum and Bugle Corps, led by the American and Troop Flags, then march across the field in between the Troop and spectators. The Cannon is fired and 'To the Colors' is played while the American Flag is raised.
Patrol trek carts begin the Birthday lined up in Patrol Order on the "trek cart trail" leading behind the Hadden Garage to the field. On the second whistle the Birthday officially begins as Wolf Patrol takes the field followed by the other patrols in order after each subsequent whistle. The patrols pull their trek carts to the end of the field, pivot around a Staff judge and then proceed to their designated position on the field. Once all patrols are in place they are signaled to push their carts to the back right corner of their designated area.
On the 'second whistle' the competition begins. Working as quickly as possible, the patrols attempt to establish a perfect full field camp layout and 'salute in' first. As in all the other competitions (except the Drill competition), points are awarded based upon speed. However, points are also deducted for errors in construction. Everything from having taught tents to proper silverware layout is judged.
Once all the patrols have finished their set-up and have been judged, Full Field Take-down begins. Patrols attempt to completely repack their trek carts faster than the competition and then roll it from the rear of their area back to the front starting position. In addition to being graded on speed, patrols must also attempt to load their trek carts so the weight is balanced.
A complete description of the Full Field Event can be found here.
The Knot Relay is a test of speed and skill. Scouts are required to race across the field to the staff judge holding their patrol flag and then tie the required knot. If the scout fails to tie the correct knot or simply does not know it, he must run back to his patrol and send another scout. Depending on the judge and any other instructions by the SPL, the second runner may receive an entirely different knot and all the knots may be asked completely out of order.
The required knots are:
Signaling by Morse CodeEditOn the 'second whistle' runners are sent out on a short foot race from the flag pole, down around the cabin, past the Hadden Garage, up the trek cart path, and back onto the field. Although mostly out of sight, the foot race can often be a very eventful part of the Birthday some years. The runners are carrying a short, secret message or phrase from the Staff judges which they hand over to a waiting patrol member who is operating the Morse Code signal box. From their position by the Bell Tower, the scouts use the light boxes to tap out the message to their teammates across the field by the flag pole.
Although a patrol only needs two scouts knowing code, they may have up to four participating in this competition including the runner, sender, receiver, and an assistant to help the receiver transcribe the message. All four scouts may be knowledgeable in the code and coordinate to help send/receive it. The secret message is typically something intended to mislead the receiving team or challenge them with uncommon letters. Past messages have included: "Knock on Wookie", "Mexican Pizza" and "Full victory, nothing else."
Fire by Flint and SteelEdit
This competition was changed from the original Fire by Friction (for obvious reasons) but is still one of the more difficult events. It is held in two parts with a 'Best man' and 'Youngest man' event. The scouts are tasked with creating sparks and then igniting a piece of charred cloth in a dried nest. Non-participating patrol members may assist by positioning themselves to block the wind or to prepare new nests but everything else must be done by one member. In order for the patrol to place, the staff judge must see an actual flame from the nest. Depending on the SPL's decision for that Birthday, patrols may compete either by speed or by the total number of fires.
Signal TowersEditThe Signal tower competition requires each patrol to lash two prefabricated halves of a tower together, raise the tower, and then have the patrol leader scale it and salute in to the SPL. Naturally, safety is a major issue in this competition. Thus, the staff judges require a certain number of lashings on the tower and platform (between 10 and 14 depending on the SPL's requirements) and also test for stability before allowing anyone to climb it. Unlike Full Field, there is no take-down competition.
The tower assembly is one of the more exciting competitions due to the feverish nature of the assembly, the dramatic raising of the towers, and then the rush by the patrol leader to successfully climb it. Although a spectator may not know exactly how far along a patrol is in the knots, more so than other competitions they will see a climactic finale to the event.
Drill CompetitionEditA new addition to the Birthday, the Drill Competition was added to replace the drilling demonstration during the award ceremony. The patrol leader and his two best men compete as a team against the other patrols. The SPL or a designated staff member gives various commands to the assembled scouts. They must quickly and correctly perform the commands with their patrol staffs or patrol flag. Points are deducted for errors and delayed responses. The patrol with the fewest deductions wins. Color Patrol scout carrying the SPL pennant, the outgoing SPL, the incoming SPL, and the Scoutmaster march onto the field. Through a series of facing movements, the pennant, which symbolizes command of the troop, is exchanged between the four as the Troop Scribe narrates the events. The outgoing SPL addresses the assembled Troop before exiting the field and leaving the new SPL in command of the formation.
After the competition phase of the birthday is completed, the Award Ceremony begins. The patrol benches are brought out onto the field and the scouts are recognized for their efforts all year. In addition, the patrol that won the Birthday is also announced and recognized.
For a full List of awards click here.
A Birthday Grading List can be found here.
Eagle Court of HonorEdit
After the awards are finished, this year's Eagle Scouts are brought forward, recognized for their hard work, and presented with Scouting's highest rank. Typically, state politicians and other VIPs are also present to recognize the accomplishment of the new Eagle Scouts. Craig Hadden usually gives his Eagle Speech and the ceremony concludes with a guest speaker.