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Thanks for a Great Wizard Safari Weekend

A fleet of tractors pulling trailers filled with gear and campers helped get everyone into Wizard Ranch smoothly on Friday evening.
A fleet of tractors pulling trailers filled with gear and campers helped get everyone into Wizard Ranch smoothly on Friday evening.

It is not possible to thank everyone enough for the myriad of things, both large and small, they did to help make Wizard Safari 2015 a successful weekend for so many of our council’s youth members.  I know it’s a cliche to say this, but if I tried to list everyone whose efforts were important to this version of the Safari, I’m certain I’d forget to include someone’s name and I most certainly don’t want to do that.  I’ve been blessed to be around the council area since 1997 and have been part of several Safaris now and I always come away feeling such a great sense of awe and pride for our council, the terrific volunteers who do so much so put on this great event, and all of the packs, troops and crews who enthusiastically take part in the Safari.  For me, each Safari weekend is a joyous celebration of Scouting and its potential.

Putting together a Safari is unlike any of the other events we conduct routinely at either Hidden Valley or Tuckahoe.  Both of those facilities have lots of their own infrastructure (water, sanitary facilities, program areas, medical support, etc.).  Wizard Ranch has lots of open fields and woods and not much else.  Everything we needed for the 2,000+ campers in attendance would need to be brought in or created on site.  While these behind-the-scenes logistics are remarkable to me, most campers and leaders aren’t that interested in that sort of “inside baseball” stuff … they’re focused on the programs and the fun that a Safari provides … which is as it should be. And as I walked around Wizard Ranch on Saturday, I came away feeling that the 2015 Safari came through once again in providing lots of fun and exciting things for Scouts to do.

The blacksmith program area was incredibly popular and never seemed to close down from Friday evening until after most campers were long gone on Sunday.
The blacksmith program area was incredibly popular and never seemed to close down from Friday evening until after most campers were long gone on Sunday.

The glow of the fire burning brightly at the blacksmith program area was visible day and night all weekend long.  Many older Scouts queued up for a chance to slide on the double zip line and climb spar poles.  Troops moved constantly throughout the day from one activity to the next, as did the Cub Scouts while enjoying their own programs in the Cub Scout activity area.

The spar climbing program was once again popular with older Scouts.
The spar climbing program was once again popular with older Scouts.

The town of Deadwood was buzzing all day long as participants and visitors checked out the general store, filled up on root and birch beer served in “boot mugs” and enjoyed a meal or snack at Deadwood’s hotel.  Those mugs are a traditional element at each Safari and they always sell out, so campers were milling around outside the Saloon before it opened Saturday morning hoping to add this Safari’s mug to their collection before their day got started.

Stopping by the Deadwood Saloon to enjoy a cold birch or root beer served in the traditional "boot mug."
Stopping by the Deadwood Saloon to enjoy a cold birch or root beer served in the traditional “boot mug.”

The Saturday evening fireworks extravaganza is another impressive Safari tradition and this year’s show certainly didn’t disappoint.  I was stopped by a few people who commented on how great the show was and wondering how much we paid for it! I’m certain most of the people in the campfire arena have seen fireworks shows before, but to experience the fireworks going off in an intimate setting like Wizard is incredibly memorable.

How could anyone not love the closing fireworks show?
How could anyone not love the closing fireworks show?

Then by 11 AM on Sunday morning, the camping areas were already nearly emptied out.  The town of Deadwood was being taken down and packed away, even as a handful of Scouts waited for their turn at the still-operating blacksmith area.  Months of planning, 48 hours of operation, and a few short hours to clean up and Safari 2015 was done.

Safari 2015 wasn’t perfect (none of the Safaris ever are).  Whenever you bring that many people together in one place, in that short a period of time, with all the moving parts in an event of this size, not everything works out exactly as planned. But to me, the list of things that went wrong is about 1% of the size of the list of things that went right.  If you were part of Safari 2015, thanks for being there and I hope you enjoyed being a part of this great Scouting tradition in our council.  We’ll be back at Wizard Ranch doing it all over again in just four short years and we’ll soon begin planning for the council-wide Rendezvous at Hidden Valley to be held in 2017.

Thanks again to EVERYONE for making Safari 2015 a very memorable experience for the Scouts and leaders of the New Birth of Freedom Council.