Boy Scouts live by the motto ‘always do your best’. With a week of training set aside for each troop, scouts had to put their best foot forward to venture cooking their own meals.

“We have different jobs every day, cooking and cleaning,” Seth Turner of Troop 368 said. “The skillet was kind of hot because it didn’t adjust very well, and instead of getting taco meat, we got ham, so we started making omelettes.”

Each Boy Scout’s week-long outing requires them to keep their tents as tidy or untidy as they wish, but it wouldn’t be scout training without some good old-fashioned wood-chopping and fire-building.

“They have the freedom to choose what they want to learn, so there are a lot of merit badges that are career-related,” Camp Hiawatha camp director Kevin Corkin said. “There are things that they pick up here at camp that might turn into a career interest down the road, or it might be a hobby like hiking or fishing that they may want to pick up as a hobby in the future as well.”

With 130 scout badges available, this camp offers 43 of the badges for them to pick from and choose to complete. Each scout made their own list of badges to strive for.

“Even though Environmental Science is considered a third-year merit badge, I could possibly get it done, and I’m a second-year, so pretty excited that I’m going to get an Eagle-required (badge) done,” Timothy Porrett of Troop 367 said.

“When I leave here, I will have seven,” Caleb Porrett of Troop 367 said. “I’m (trying for) Canoeing, Astronomy and Environmental Science.”

“The most amazing part to me is the different activities that they have here,” Austin Villaire of Troop 368 said. “They have maskmaking, carpet wall, tetherball, fishing, gunshooting, canoeing, kayaking.”

“The scouts tell me that after a full day of cooking and earning merit badges, and not cleaning their tents, they need to relax, and this is their favorite place to do that, in these hammocks here,” reports Danielle Davis.

The scouts can also work to achieve First Aid and Life Saving merit badges as well. All of the troops and their leaders say it’s experience they look forward to coming back for each year.

“The thing I like most about working here and coming to camp is watching the scouts grow over the years,” Corkin said. “You see them their first year here, and just watching them year after year come back, this is the big experience for most units every year.”

“I enjoy canoeing because I enjoy being close to the water and having fun in a boat and just paddling around for fun,” Timothy Porrett said. “It’s pretty enjoyable.”

“I like to be out in the water more than on land studying,” Caleb Porrett said. “This camp is great because they have even an archery range and a gun range.”

And although they love camp, there’s just one or two things they say they can do without.

“I like it all except cleanup, because you have to clean,” continues Turner.

The six-week camp will see 600 Boy Scouts and 300 Cub Scouts come through the ranks. The camp itself was established in 1967. Camp officials say it gets bigger and more popular each year, with scouts now coming in from as far away as Ohio and Illinois.