About four years ago, armed with a Wiffle ball and bat, I set off on my very first campout as a real Boy Scout. It was on Town Green to guard the flowers overnight for the Wilton Garden Club’s plant sale. Luckily, since I was new, I was guaranteed one of the limited spots. Though I’d been in Scouting for years, and had graduated from Cub Scouts, I’d never really been on my own for a night before. It was the same for many of the 20 scouts attending. This campout is the first one that helps get the new Boy Scouts ready to be away from their parents and to be camping on their own with their peers and scout leaders. Not all of them make it through the night every year, but luckily it is a close drive for those parents who get a late-night call.
Boy, was it a campout for the ages.
At face value, there’s not much different about the Flower Guard from any other campout we go on. We arrive, help out with the flower sale, eat, set up our tents, go to bed, wake up, eat breakfast, pack up, and leave. But it’s the little things that make this trip the campout for everyone in the troop, the one that nobody forgets.
For instance, we don’t have to plan for and pack meals since the Wilton Garden Club supplies us with pizza and drinks. Mainly though, we always make a nightly run in shifts to Stop & Shop where we stock up on candy, more drinks, and sometimes sushi (a trend Kaz Nobumoto started six years ago being that is his favorite food) to fuel an almost-all-nighter. This, naturally, gets the most attention from the scouts, since who doesn’t love spending $20 on Sour Patch?
However, we also do our best to burn those calories off. When asked about his favorite memories from the campout, Ian Kineon, a Star scout, simply said, “Wiffle ball.” Every year, we play a surprisingly competitive game of Wiffle ball until it gets too dark to see the ball, and, for the baseball players among us (myself included), it’s a very welcome change of pace. In the past, and still currently happening, scouts play Frisbee behind the Bank of America or in the library parking lot (we don’t want to damage any of the plants on the gazebo lawn).
Some other fond memories from scouts when asked about the campout is: Red wagon games, camping in town and candy!
Of course, we also sleep (eventually), eat breakfast in the morning that the garden club so generously provides (fresh Dunkin’ Donuts, juice, and sometimes a strudel and a Pop-Tart or two are favorites), pack up, offer garden club members assistance setting up for the day and leave the area cleaner than we found it, though that’s standard practice on campouts.
Before the trip, there are a few hours where many of us help with the flower sale, including helping the public carry plants to their cars. This is always a fun way of getting our required service hours (six each for the ranks of Star and Life, and for Life, three of them must be conservation-related), and is all around an enjoyable way to spend a Friday or Saturday afternoon. Even for those among us who aren’t the biggest fans of community service, the reward of the pizza dinner can be too good to pass up.
Now, as the senior patrol leader of Troop 20 (for the non-scouting types, that is the troop’s youth leader — elected by his peers to serve a six-month term), I’m more excited about this year’s Flower Guard than ever. It’s always a great trip to welcome new scouts into the troop (a little candy never hurts), and the nearby location makes getting rides organized as easy as ever. Plus, since we don’t cook with our camping stoves or make fires in the town center, we always leave the area much cleaner than when we arrived.
With a great group of new scouts and a few returning attendees, I know that this year’s trip, as always, will be a blast.
The Wilton Garden Club’s Mother’s Day Plant Sale will be held Friday, May 10, from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday, May 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine at Wilton’s Town Green. There will also be an early bird sale open to the public at the club’s greenhouse at Comstock Community Center on Wednesday, May 8, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. For more information, visit wiltongardenclub.org or facebook.com/wiltongardenclub.