I am happy to share a report of the Angelina National Forest Father/Son Camp. On the morning of Thursday, March 15, 2018, after a hearty breakfast of waffles, hash brown casserole, and eggs, we hiked to what was going to be Camp Eagle Point…but after the U.S. Forest Service conducted a prescribed burn the week before, we found ourselves hiking to Camp Ash. We hiked about ¾ mile before arriving at the camp site on the shores of Lake Sam Rayburn. The burn was not really a problem; it just made us a little dirtier. What boy doesn’t love to be dirty? After setting up camp, the fathers and sons set up the trot lines. The lines were baited with, of all things, soap. Clean bait makes for clean fish. We were blessed to have Sgt. Dhority and Spec. Edwards from the ALERT program join us on this camp.
After we baited the lines, Spec. Edwards taught a class on archery. They had brought some bows and arrows and set up a range in the woods. After instruction and some practice, it was time for the contest. It was proven that age didn’t matter in this one:
1st Place: Ethan Schlichter, 15
2nd Place: Jonathan Schlichter, 11
3rd Place: Brendan Dhority, adult
At 5:00 pm, the boat left to pick up the long-awaited dinner. The Schlichter ladies had prepared sloppy joes and potato salad for the group. The meal was picked up at the boat ramp and quickly brought out to the site for a hot meal. It didn’t last long.
After dark we used our fire starting skills to build a nice fire. After some good conversation and a few marshmallows, it was lights out.
Friday morning came with the news that the Pikes had 2 fish on their lines. That got the rest of us up and checking ours; our lines were lonely.
Following breakfast, we had a campfire devotional on honoring our mothers and fathers.
Next Spec. Edwards taught a class on tracking. We learned what to look for in tracking animals or even people in the woods. Following that class, we took a hike to the forest to find tracks. Many tracks of different animals were found. We were also able to see signs of where we had been walking, but had overlooked prior to our class.
After a lunch break, we were back to the classroom. (Our classroom was the forest.)
Spec. Edwards, assisted by Sgt. Dhority, taught a class on how to set up a river crossing. This included learned different knots as well as constructing a swiss seat. The practice rope was set up in the woods. We all took turns going across the rope one at a time, some with greater ease than others. Sgt. Dhority demonstrated a commando style of going across the rope. This style used nothing but him and his balance and strength on the rope. None of us asked for a turn.
After graduating the practice class, we were off for the real thing. Cadet Toby Pike had volunteered to be the one man to swim the river. We didn’t have a river, so we used a cove of the lake. I don’t think that’s what Cadet Pike had in mind when he volunteered. But he was up to the task and made it across. After tying off on a tree, the rest of us were able go across without getting wet. After the last man was across, the rope had been set up in such a way that all we had to do was pull the rope across the water. In the end, we had one wet Cadet, one wet rope, and a few sore muscles from most.
We were not done with the ropes yet. Next was a class on mechanical advantage. Too much to explain, but in the end after several ropes and pullies, three or four young Cadets were able to lift a several hundred-pound downed tree a few feet off the ground. We didn’t stop there. We decided to take down a dead tree; several ropes and pullies later, we were pulling down a dead tree. This took the whole group and then even a little chopping, but the big tree did come down.
Once again the 5 pm boat left for dinner, returning with chicken fettuccine, garlic bread, and brownies to wash it all down.
After dinner, Cadet Master Sgt. Justin Schlichter taught a class on how to fillet a fish, where you end up with no bones in your meat.
Then time to re-bait. The Pikes came in with another fish; the rest of us did not. We seemed to only be feeding the Pikes’ fish.
We again ended the day with a campfire, fellowship, and marshmallows. Then lights out.
Saturday—last day. This time the Schlichters had one fish, and I think the Pikes had one more. The trot lines were taken up.
After breakfast we had another fireside chat about how God created and uses order. Then it was tear-down and clean-up camp time. We had one more class. This one was orienteering. Spec. Edwards and Sgt. Dhority taught us how to read a compass, how to count our paces in the woods, (I’m 66 paces to 1000 meters), and how we can tie all that in with a map in the woods.
We had a group formation in the woods where Cpt. Schlichter, Sgt. Dhority, and Spec. Edwards presented the Father/Son Camp Ribbons and Stars.
The last thing we had to do was have a fish fry. After a group discussion, we decided there wasn’t enough fish for everyone, and all were looking forward to a shower, even the little boys.
The group hiked back to the Schlichters’ house, where the Schlichter ladies had chili for lunch.
Overall, we had a great camp. The weather was good. It was a great group of guys. I want to give a special thanks to the ALERT men for assisting us in the camp. Many of the things we did would not have been possible without them. I would encourage Unit Leaders to check with Spec. Edwards at ALERT Cadet Headquarters on the availability of having some of the ALERT men join you at your unit camps as well.
C.Cpt. Dan Schlichter
Houston/East Texas Area Leader