On 05/28/2023 the Miami Shawnee ember held a Summer Camp preparation meeting – a small Spring Fling-like event. We talked at length with prospective Firecrafter candidates about how best to prepare for summer camp. Our youth Firecrafters then let prospective candidates work with their bow drill kits for a while. One of our scouts, Austin Prats, managed to get an ember on his first try (Ironweed on White Pine), and then managed to get a tinder bundle to flame, also on his first try! We also talked with prospective Woodsman and Camper candidates about what they will experience and how to best to prepare for camp. We are well on our way to a successful summer camp experience at Camp Davy Crockett, TN. (13 participants, including 4 youth Firecrafters)
As a group we spread a pallet of mulch around the trees in front of the Carillon Brewery. We also built two rustic benches from some old lumber for use in the Adirondack shelter. Devarsh Sadhu made his first bow drill set, successfully made three embers and took his first tinder bundle to flame. He also lit our evening campfire! We also made some Paleo/Caveman glue from pine pitch, charcoal and rabbit poo (yes, you read that correctly). Mr. Duncan and Mr. Fanelli have a pump drill project planned for summer camp that will require some adhesive, and they are shooting for 100% primitive materials. (8 participants)
We had a late Pi Day feast around Mr. Duncan’s backyard fire pit on 3/26/2023. We ordered pizza and several scouts brought pie’s to share. Mr. Coderre taught us how to make an “upside down” fire. We also learned how to make bow drill spindles from Ironweed. Several scouts practiced their skills with Mr. Fanelli’s new pump drill (made by Mr. Duncan), and Zack Piontek got his first friction ember with the pump drill, and managed to take it to flame. Zack’s dad, Mr. Piontek (an aspiring adult Firecrafter) also made his first bow drill ember today, and succeeded in taking it to flame! We had a great afternoon together! (13 participants)
On 2/27/2023 the Miami Shawnee ember went bowling at Poelking Lanes South, in Centerville, OH. This is our third year for this outing and it's growing more popular. This year we had three lanes and 18 bowlers! We bowled for 2 hours, ate 4 pizzas and guzzled many pitchers of full sugar soda! We had a blast! It looks like this will now be an official annual (perhaps more often) event.
On January 7, 2023, members of the Miami Shawnee ember assisted with a quarterly styrofoam and battery recycling event organized by the Montgomery County (Ohio) Environmental Services department. We helped collect and sort (rechargeable vs. non-rechargeable) an estimated 750 pounds of old batteries, plus several old car/lawn tractor batteries. In all, we collected enough batteries to fill nearly 14 five gallon buckets.! Separately, two semi trailers full of an estimated 8500 pounds of styrofoam were also collected for recycling! This is our third year helping with this important winter recycling event.
On November 12, 2022, the Miami Shawnee Ember, in conjunction with Troop 516, Centerville, OH, hosted a magnificant Turkey Feast and Firecrafter alumni reunion. Unfortunately, despite many favorable RSVP's, several of our anticipated out-of-town guests cancelled for fear of bad roads due to the unexpected snow storm. The snow ended up being very light and the roads weren't affected at all, but better safe than sorry. Nevertheless, we did gain one new member (an Indiana Firecrafter who now lives in the Dayton, OH, area) and some of our local T516 Firecrafter alumni who we hadn't seen in a while managed to join us. Some of your younger scouts also learned basic firebuilding skills. Fun was had by all!
On October 22, 2022, several Miami Shawnee ember members (Campers, Woodsmen and Firecrafters) participated in the Miami Valley Council's (Ohio) annual Webelos Journey to Scouting Camporee, held at Cricket Holler. As usual, we hosted the fire building and fire safety station. Justin Gearhardt XXX and Raymond Direito XXX discussed fire safety, after which Hunter Busch taught simple fire building. Justin and Ray also discussed the Firecrafter program and pointed out that Troop 516 is the only troop in the council with an active Firecrafter program.
After teaching and allowing our Cub Scout visitors to safely place a piece of wood on our campfire, Justin and Ray demonstrated fire by friction using their bow drills, with Mr. Duncan helping out as needed. After that, Mr. Duncan demonstrated how to make simple fires using a Ferro rod and a cotton ball gooped up with a bit of petroleum jelly. All Cub Scouts successfully made little fires and were given a small Ferro rod and striker to take home with them - courtesy of the Miami Valley Council. Of course, they were told to use them only with proper adult supervision.
Overall we spent about four hours entertaining about 60 total Cub Scouts, comprising five or six Dens, as well as their Den Leaders and other supporting adults. As usual, our station was the most popular of the day, or so we were told by many.
Later in the day Justin and Ray, and a few of our Woodsmen, were asked to build the fire for the evening's closing campfire. It was a magnificent sight to behold, with flames reaching over 8 feet in the air.
On September 23, 2022, 3 scouts (Austin and Andrew Prats, and Justin Gearhardt XXX) and 2 adults (Tom Coderre XXX, and M Brad Duncan) from the Miami Shawnee ember, headed out from Dayton, OH, to Camp Belzer, IN, for Fall Frenzy. When we arrived around 8:30PM (it’s a long drive from Ohio) we noticed that we were about the last ones to arrive and that most everyone else had already set up camp in the activity field. Light was fading and there was no time to waste. We all pitched our tents and hurried over for cracker barrel.
After breakfast the next morning we went on a nature hike to review local plants and trees. We then moved on to the Mastercrafter competition stations. Some of these were easy, and some of them were very difficult. For fire-by-friction they required you to dunk your kit in a bucket of water before starting! No one was really happy about that, but we persisted and it paid off. Justin got an ember in a couple minutes and Mr. Duncan got his in 17.5 seconds! After about 15 minutes on that station, we moved on to the nature station, where you had to guess 42 different plants and animals as fast as you could. As we played, we all realized how helpful that early morning nature hike was. I don’t think any of us would have done nearly as well without it.
For lunch we ate overstuffed burritos! While we ate, we picked our team for the afternoon Silver Flame competition. Our team consisted of 4 people: Austin, Andrew, Justin, and a Woodsman from another troop named Alex. We initially called our team the Fighting Falcons, though by the end of the day we came to be known as the or Farting Falcons (depending on who you ask).
Our Silver Flame team excelled at the egg carry station and would have made 1st place, but because of a penalty drop, we ended up in second place. For the last station, fire building + Man’s First Meal, we had to make 5 different small fires using the following methods: battery & steel wool, Ferro rods, magnifying glass, fire-by-friction, and matches (this one included Man’s First Meal where you had to cook and later eat an onion). Justin made the fire-by-friction fire, Alex made the match fire, Andrew made a fire with a battery and steel wool, and Austin made fires with both the Ferro rod and a magnifying glass. We were successful with all methods.
While we were at the fire building station Austin and Justin both got a shot at their Mastercrafter fires that they were unable to attempt earlier in the day. Justin completed his and bunt through both strings, but Austin didn’t have enough time to finish his fire because they shut down the station for supper - spaghetti and meatballs with ice cream for dessert.
In the morning we got up, ate breakfast, and went to the awards ceremony. Austin Prats earned the Campercrafter award, our new friend Alex earned the Woodsmancrafter award, and Mr. Duncan earned the Alumni Mastercrafter award for the second year in a row. Overall, we had an amazing experience, and look forward to going again next year. Fall Frenzy is FUN!
By Austin Prats, Camper & Star Scout
October 26, 2022
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