Thursday: The 27th we started out on our way to Sacramento at 9:00am. We had two STEP girls that we were to drop off at DFW. However, once we got there they checked in and it turned out that they were supposed to fly out of Love Field rather than DFW. So we turned around and made the trek back to Love and then we right back past DFW to a cadet families home for lunch. The Watson’s have a very nice house on a few acres outside of Dallas. At their house we had lunch with Billy Graham, a missionary from India. Then we continued on arriving at John Freidli’s house in Lubbock about 9pm where we had a wonderful dinner. We were on the road again by 10:30. We drove through the night only stopping twice for fuel, and then continued all day Thursday arriving in Riverside CA, outside LA, at 6:30pm. We spent the night at the Hick’s house. Joel and Angie stayed there with her family while we continued on to Sacramento at 6am. This morning I rode with the Maj. Mrs., and Katie Farr. We had a great time. We pulled into Sacramento about 2pm. Mrs. Farr and Katie wanted to stop by the Salvation Army thrift store so we looked around there for a while and then walked down the street to the Blue Diamond Almond processing plant. They had roasted almonds of every flavor plus just about anything else you could think of to make with almonds or put them in. we arrived at the Boy Scout camp about 3:30 and began setting up our tents and working around the property. Dan and I were tasked with performing the 500 hour maintenance on their John Deere 790 tractor that had not had anything done to it since they got it.
The Marshall family from the Mexico are the ones who are coordinating the conference and running the kitchen preparing all the meals. So they took us all out to eat at the Hometown Buffet. We had a great time there talking with them. Then we walked across the street to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. This Wal-Mart was unique in that it was two stories; I guess that is how they offset the high real-estate prices. Build up rather than out.
Sunday: We had a short church service and then worked around the camp all day cutting down brush, stripping and waxing the lodge floor, and working on the tractor. Dan and I ended up staying up till 12:30 waxing the floor. While we were clearing out the lodge so we could wax the floor Col. Moulten pulled one of the table carts out from the wall and behind it there was a skunk. We were able to get it to move part way to the door but once he was about half way there he wouldn’t go any farther. So Nathan go a box and trapped him under the box then we slid it across the floor and out the door and across the porch. Once we had him by the steps Dan took the broom and WHAM!!! Mr. Skunk went flying down the steps where he laid there for a second the rolled over, sprayed at the steps, and then took off running across the yard to the woods. The steps smelled for the rest of the day but the inside of the lodge and all of us were okay.
Monday: Then we were up at 6:00am and working doing much of the same plus a lot of weed whacking with a big two wheeled push weed eater and burning a lot of brush. Some of the crew also went and unloaded the semi at the convention center.
Tuesday: Bright and Early we had wisdom search and then headed over to the convention center to setup for registration and do Squad Leader training. We had 25 SL’s and they were a pretty good group. Maj. Farr had me do part of the teaching. I did the procedures part, sign-in, formations, emergencies, inclement weather, safety, general schedule, and such. After SL Training we took them over to the camp and walked them through the events and formation area. Ten we drove back to the convention center for the opening ceremony practice. I once again carried the Cadet flag in the color guard. Col. Moulten did a great job getting us all together and choreographing the whole thing. Then we raced back to the camp ate a quick dinner and got in our dress uniforms. The opening ceremony went very well and all the people really seemed to like it. I then worked at the Cadet Sales table for a little while then we headed back to the camp after the first break and got all the rosters ready for the first day of the challenge.
Tuesday: To transport all the guys over for the cadet challenge from the convention center to the camp we walked them two blocks to the light rail station put then on a train with some of the ALERT guys and SLs then they would ride 15 min to another station where Dan and I would meet them and then walk them 20min to the camp. Since Dan and I would be meeting the guys at the camp end of the route we didn’t have to go in to the convention center. So we got up 5 min before wisdom search walked over to the lodge for wisdom search and then after wisdom search and everyone else had left we would go take our showers and get our event ready for the day. What a rough life! J Because of this being the 4th of July there was only one train running between the times we needed so we had to get all the guys on one train and over here. It wasn’t too bad and they all made it over. Dan and I had Cooking and Fire building today. The guys each make a cinnamon sugar apple then we cook it in our fire while we teach them to how to make a fire and then they have to make their own fire, burn a string about three feet over the pit, and then boil a pot of water. All in all things went very well and the kids had a great time and learned a lot. After the challenge we came back and John Erickson and I went back to the convention center and worked at the booth and cadet sales table and listened to one of the sessions. Then we came back and hunted skunks and coons.
Thursday: We started work at 7am. Col. Moulten and I worked in a 60’ boom lift. Col. ran the chainsaw and I drove the boom. It was blast. After lunch Col. and I finished up then we loaded all the fire wood and burn stuff and hauled it out to the fire. After cleaning up John Freidli, Matt Bousfield, and I headed over to the Convention center for the evening. We had a great time and actually got in on a few sessions.
Friday: Major Farr spoke at the morning father’s session so I had to do the SL training. This was the same thing that happened in Nashville. After SL training I did Major Farr's job of supervising the sign in and the loading of the train. Jay Hearn did a great job of counting off the guys and getting them in teams of 10 with a SL to go to the station. He was awesome and did a great job. Thank you Jay. Today Dan and I had the D&C event. We had a great time and I think all the kids did also. One of the events they we had them marching in a field with lots of sprinklers going. They really like that. They also seemed to grasp the analogies really well too. Right after the last event we moved the guys over to the train station and took them over to the convention center and practiced their songs and verses with them. Right before we started our third event rotation Major Farr came and informed me that I would be leading the cadets in AND leading the battalion in their songs and verses for the parent presentation. AUUGH. I can’t sing and here he wants me to lead the guys in singing in front of 1200+ people????? After we had practiced a few more times we headed inside and got them all lined up in the back. Then Major Farr got up and introduced the cadet program and talked for a few minutes. Then he said, “Officer Shoemaker will you bring in the 2007 Sacramento Cadet Challenge Battalion, Cadet Battalion Fall In”. Boom, we were off, 200 cadets, running, screaming down the aisles and forming up in the front. After tearing down for a while at the convention center we headed back to the camp and I helped get in the kitchen getting the Staff/volunteer dinner ready. It was a lot of fun. After the dinner I talked with the Hearn’s and Blake’s out around burn pile, while Jay worked on banking up the fire. Mr. Hearn had some amazing stories of things he had found as a building inspector. Later one of the Hess guys and I hunted coons and skunks till 12:30. I finally had to go to bed.
Saturday: We all got up at 5am and packed our gear, loaded the trailer, and hit the road, next stop, Riverside CA. After one stop for fuel and lunch we arrived at the Hicks 8.5 hours later. After talking for a while we played “Catch Phrase”. It was a lot of fun. My team won. On our team we had John, Mr. and Mrs. Hicks, and me. For dinner Mrs. Hicks had lasagna, salad, and garlic bread. Ohh was it ever good. After dinner I laid out in the hammock and enjoyed the cool, slightly breezy California evening talking to my family. John, Dan, and I stayed up till 12:30 talking and finally decided that we should get to bed.
Sunday: My alarm went off at 5:30am and we all dressed and carried our bags outside. Mrs. Hicks made a wonderful breakfast of eggs, sausage, and cinnamon rolls. Last night Capt Rowe drove down to San Diego to load his trailer and bring it back with us. While we were eating breakfast he called and talked to Joel and said that he was having trouble with the lights on the trailer and it would be about 8 rather than 6 when he got there. 30 min later he called and said the trailer ended up being heavier than the limits on the van so he had to leave it. We finally left about 9:30am. In our van now we have Capt. Rowe, Dan Sterrett, John Freidli, Joel and Angie Tally, and me.
Monday: I am still awake even at 4:00am. Dan Sterrett had slept all day because he was supposed to drive the night shift. So about 6pm when he was supposed to take the night shift he says, “Richard, can you stay up here with me and help me stay awake and give me someone to talk to. Therefore, I stayed up all night till 4:00am and then slept off and on for about 4 or 5 hours. At 12:35pm we rolled back onto ALERT. Thank you Lord for bringing us safely back here. Once back, we unload the van and trailer, washed the van, and then unloaded our own stuff. After that we went and put together two display boards in the office. Right after dinner John Freidli and I took the boards to the UPS office in Longview. Here at ALERT the UPS guy comes at about 9am. Since we weren’t back then they had to go to Longview in order to get out in time. Then we went to Wal-Mart for ourselves and some of the QUEST Leadership guys wanted a few things.
So all in all it was a fun trip and we were able to accomplish a lot for the people at the campground we were staying at, the people at the conference, and all the others we came in contact with. Thank you Lord.
Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is Our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite”. Without God’s strength we would not have been able to accomplish all that we did. And He truly understood everything that we were going to face and gave us the understanding to take care or the problems when they came up. Thank you Lord.
Another one of me.
All the guys running in for the Parent Presentation