Like most summer camps, Horseshoe runs on a fairly strict schedule. There are frequent "siestas" planned in the day to break up the schedule and allow some time for the scouts to rest and many programs are optional but each day flows according to a preplanned schedule.
Arriving in CampEdit
After weeks of preparation and most likely a frantic Saturday night of packing, the majority of scouts will meet at the Cabin to either take the Van down or join in the Troop caravan of vehicles. Parents are welcome to drive their sons directly to camp if they are so inclined but only the Van and other Troop vehicles will be allowed down to Lisle for unloading. Also, all scouts are expected to arrive on time or else they may miss part of registration.
Paoli 1 generally plans to arrive before other troops on Sunday. By arriving early there is less congestion with other troops and it also gives us more time in Lisle before the registration and orientation process begins. Scouts can use this time to get acquainted with the campsite, begin to unpack their belongings, and eat lunch among friends. (All scouts are responsible for bringing their own lunch on Sunday. The camp does not provide lunch on Sunday to troops that arrive early.)
Registration and OrientationEdit
Sometime after the scouts begin to settle in and eat lunch, a member of the camp staff will arrive at Lisle to begin a short orientation. The troop will be led up to the Goodman Pavilion where the staff of the Health Lodge will give a brief presentation about their services, will quickly go over everyone's medical forms to make sure no one is missing, and then speak with any scouts who require medication and then collect it for storage in the Health Lodge.
From there the Troop is led down past the showers to the dining hall where the kitchen staff also give a brief presentation. They instruct the scouts about the dress code within the dining hall, the duties of those on KP, and ask if any scouts have special dietary needs (Food allergies, kosher, etc.).
Finally, the Troop will head back down the hill to the pool where the aquatics staff will go over the pool rules. Then the BSA swim test will be administered. All scouts must take this short test or their pool access will be restricted. Scouts will qualify based on a "Red, White and Blue" system.
After the swim test, scouts return to Lisle to finish any unpacking, sign up for merit badges and to eventually begin marching practice to be prepared for Retreat at 5:45. Many troops do not practice and several do not even know what to expect Sunday evening at Retreat but Paoli 1 attempts to be at peak performance even for this first day.
After the Retreat ceremony, the scouts go through all the rituals associated with the dining hall and have dinner before finally returning to camp. "When the bell rings twenty one times" at 8:30, the Troop will assemble on the parade field with the rest of the scouts in camp and then proceed either to Eagle Grove or the Kindness Center for the introductory campfire. Once the campfire is over, scouts will return to Lisle either by going back up and then down the hill of the camp or by going around it past the pool. Taps will be played and the senior scouts in Lisle will enforce a lights out policy soon afterward.
Starting Monday, every morning begins with a cannon blast followed by a Tarzan yell. This unorthodox wake-up call signals all scouts in camp (and some in neighboring camps) that it is time for polar bear. In 2012, the Horseshoe rules dictated that the troop could not bring its cannon down, instead, the Troop has been using an air horn to wake up the scouts. The staff and patrol leaders make sure that all scouts are awake and prepared with bathing suit and towel before having them fall in. Once the Troop is assembled, it hikes as a group over to the pool. Scouts retrieve their pool tags, buddy up, and then take the icy plunge into the pool (and the pool shower) during the early hours of the morning.
After returning from the polar bear swim, scouts prepare for the day. This may include preparing for merit badges or simply tidying up one's bunk. KP heads up to the Dining Hall as a group around 7:30 and the rest of the Troop follows suit around 7:45. Typically, before leaving for breakfast, the Troop will form up and raise the American Flag in Lisle though sometimes it may be raised earlier or even later. Upon arriving at the dining hall, the Troop lines up in single file before being admitted by a staff judge. Breakfast begins with grace and ends with a "Big Idea" from one of the scoutmasters. Different camp departments may also have announcements at this time.
The time after breakfast can be spent doing many things but Paoli 1 generally uses it to prepare for camp inspection. A staff judge may arrive any time between 9:15 or 10:00. Due to Lisle's distance from the heart of camp, however, camp staff judges tend to arrive just before 10:00 and sometimes up to thirty minutes afterward. Nevertheless, scouts must hurry to make the camp as clean and orderly as possible as quickly as possible. Patrols are assigned duties on a rotating schedule ranging from latrine duty to fire guard. All patrols are also personally responsible for cleaning their own pavilions.
Scouts are normally sent off to their first merit badge class at 9:45. Some departments like aquatics are close but others like nature are very far from Lisle. Thus not all scouts leave at the exact same time. On Monday, scouts will be grouped together so younger scouts may be led to the appropriate area by experienced campers. As the week progresses, scouts often continue to travel in groups to and from their classes. The first merit badge class begins at 10:00 and the second begins at 11:00. Instruction periods typically end ten or even fifteen minutes before the hour so scouts have time to travel to their next activity.
Lunch KP is sent up shortly after noon and the Troop follows at around 12:20 to be in line for lunch at 12:30. Unlike breakfast, lunch always ends with a song followed by more announcements. After a brief 'Siesta' period, scouts must again return to merit badges by 2:00 and then again at 3:00. The Special Interest Program (SIP) begins at 4:00 for any scouts interested.
Often, SIP time will be used for marching practice as well. Scouts who wish to still do SIP may but they must hurry back to camp immediately following their instruction. Lisle's distance from the program areas combined with the need to get in full Class A Uniform makes time incredibly important. Retreat begins at 5:45 and the Troop aims to be practicing on the actual parade field by 5:30 when the music starts. Scouts who are late or don't have proper uniform will not march. Also, some scouts may be required to do dinner KP at 5:30 as well and can not be late or out of uniform for that.
Dinner, held at 6:00, is very similar to lunch in that it also ends with a song and announcements. These announcements however also tend to play into whatever event is scheduled for that night. The winner of the marching trophy is also announced at dinner. Scouts and leaders are all required to wear a Class A Uniform or they will not be admitted to the building.
The time following dinner may be used as a siesta, a planned troop activity, or a special camp activity like CPR training. Then at 8:30 "when the bell rings twenty one times" that evening's event begins. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is always a camp-wide game in which either the patrols or the troop as a whole competes. Scouts will meet on the parade field behind their troop flag as the game is explained. Tuesday and Thursday are both troop nights in which the camp has no scheduled activity. In Paoli 1, Thursday is always movie night. A projector and screen are brought down to camp to show what is typically a scout or outdoors themed movie to the scouts. Tuesday's activity is a bit more ambiguous and may range from a trip to the Octoraro at Taylor Beach to Milk Challenge (also sometimes held at Taylor Beach... except without the swimming).
Following that evening's event, all scouts return to camp for Taps which is then followed by a lights out policy.
Saturday begins like any other day. The polar bear swim is optional this day and only required for scouts who may have missed it a prior morning. Saturday morning and the hour directly after Lunch are not occupied by any camp activities. If a scout is missing a requirement, he may attempt to complete a merit badge during this time. If a scout simply has free time, he may attempt the Mile Swim, hike one of the trails, or simply spend time in Lisle. Otherwise, scouts will be able to practice for the camp-wide competition.
Afternoon Camp-wide CompetitionEdit
Each Saturday, the camp holds a large scale competition greater than any of the other weekly contests from 2:30 to 4:45. The competition alternates every week in camp but for troops like Paoli 1 that come down the same week each year, it alternates by year. In even number years, Paoli 1 participates in Paul Bunyan. In Odd numbered years it is Water Carnival.
The competitions both involve numerous smaller events that test skills in Camp Craft and Aquatics respectively. For larger troops, like Paoli 1, not all scouts can participate in the actual competition but the staff and SPL do their best to involve as many as possible. Nevertheless, all scouts can get involved by cheering their comrades on and by helping them train beforehand.
Retreat on Saturday is lengthened and includes a special OA tap-out. Paoli 1 is not involved in this ceremony and simply stands in parade rest for the duration. Following Retreat, scouts return to Lisle for a special dinner provided by several Paoli 1 parents. Following dinner scouts will head up to the main parking lot at 8:30 dressed in their Class As. Instead of a camp-wide game or troop night, a camp fire is held in Achgeketum circle. The Order of the Arrow preform a pageant which is then followed by an award ceremony. Parents are invited to attend this campfire as well as the earlier Retreat Ceremony.
Though many parents will be in camp and most camp activities are finished, scouts are not allowed to leave Saturday night. Camp is not finished until Sunday at lunch.
There is no polar bear swim on Sunday but scouts still get up bright and early with the cannon blast. After waking, instead of tidying up their bunks and cleaning their pavilions, scouts begin to pack their personal belongings. Sunday breakfast is unique in that all scouts and adult leaders must attend in Class A uniforms. This is because immediately following the meal is the Sunday chapel service. Just like a camp-wide game, all troops line up behind their flags before marching to the Horseshoe chapel. The chapel service is brief and mostly comprised of psalms and other spiritual songs. It is nondenominational but clearly has a christian foundation. Scouts of other faiths are welcome to attend or hold their own brief religious ceremony back in Lisle.
After chapel, all troops are asked to patrol their own designated area for trash on their way back to camp. Paoli 1 is almost always tasked with picking up along the stockade trail. Once back in camp, clean-up and take-down begin in earnest as troop gear is loaded and eventually all personal gear is put into the trailers. Because of all the work done on Sunday and the already hectic nature of the day, parents are not allowed to take their children home early. They may come down to Horseshoe directly to pick them up but the scouts must stay until the week officially ends.
Sunday Lunch is without a doubt the best meal all week and it has the best songs. Instead of the normal announcements with meals, Sunday lunch includes a brief and informal award ceremony that covers what was not given out at Saturday's campfire. The winners from all of the week's competitions are announced at this time (Inter Troop Shoot, Paul Bunyan or Water Carnival, troop games, etc.). Finally, after lunch, the week is officially over. Some scouts may remain for last minute loading back in camp or to finish picking up paperwork and the Troop flag from headquarters but camp is over.
The job isn't really finished, however, until the Van and other vehicles arrive back at the Cabin. All troop gear and any personal gear loaded into the trailers must be unloaded and packed away. Help is always welcome for this last stage of the process and of course, all personal belongings must be collected by the scout and family they belong to.