Fred Fishell and Linda Florence
Note: This is a reprint of an article from the February, 1992 magazine
THE LEADER. I picked it up at Philmont where I was teaching a class "Working
with Junior Leaders". This Camporee was also run by the York, PA Council.
They did a great patch.. All black with a moon and flashlight, etc. -
very creative. Raymond Burett
be more exciting to a boy than skulking through the dark doing daring
deeds. At the Woodbine Area Camporee last spring, six 8-man patrols made
up of patrol leaders and assistant patrol leaders skulked and dared through
a challenging night exercise to bring relief to Mafeking.
for the ordeal began with distribution of rules and equipment lists. Each
member of a patrol was assigned a number from 1 to 8 which he had to pin
firmly to his beret so that it could be easily seen. Nine projects awaited
them, and each patrol member was to assume command of the project corresponding
to his number, while the next man in the numbering system became his second.
On project eight, man #1 was second. For project nine, worth triple the
points of the other projects, the patrol was directed to elect a leader
just before they tackled the task.
personal equipment for each boy consisted of a Scout stave, 25 ft. of
rope for lashings, a flashlight, compass, pencil or pen and paper, and
his beret with his number (at least 3" high) pinned to it. Required patrol
equipment was a pocket knife, wind and waterproof matches, fish-line or
twine, bandaids, adhesive tape, electrical tape, a water bottle, a small
covered pot, and an accurate watch or stop-watch capable of timing up
to 30 minutes.
A draw determined
the patrols starting order, one by one at intervals of 20-25 minutes (determined
through walkie talkie contact with project leaders on the course), they
gathered for a stirring briefing.
is Mafeking. The heroic defenders of this important outpost of the Empire
have their backs to the wall. Unless a flying column can reach them with
ammunition, medical supplies and military intelligence obtained en route,
the garrison is doomed!
hazardous mission, each member of every patrol has been selected from
among the volunteers for his enterprise, leadership ability and useful
skills. To be successful, each patrol will have to mould itself into an
efficient fighting machine which can operate as a unit and the best use
the collective skills of its members.
as the rousing challenge faded into silence, the patrols submitted to
the first inspection, a tally of all personal and patrol equipment worth
10 points, one of which was deducted for each missing or unsatisfactory
were told to gather a portable bundle of firewood, kindling and tinder
which they believed would provide enough fuel to bring water to a boil.
they were issued a detailed map of the route, including magnetic North
and event locations. a block of ice (25 or 50 lbs) one raw egg: a score
card to present at the start and finish of each project (except project
8). Projects 1-8 were worth a maximum of 10 Points. Project 9 could add
30 points to the score.
As the patrols
signed in at each project they received another briefing. This one to
prepare them for the immediate task at hand. The routine changed slightly
for project 8 where the necessary detail was passed along by the leader
who signed their project 7 scorecards.
I - OBSTACLE COURSE
had to cross a swamp filled with dangerous quicksand in order to bypass
Boer pickets. The 37th Rover Crew set up a safe route of balance beams,
rubber tires, a rope landing net, etc. Patrols lost a point for each piece
of equipment lost to the quicksand.
2 - SEARCHLIGHT GAUNTLET
low on troops, had a break in their besieging cordon at this point but
had covered the gap with three searchlights (powerful flashlights or carbide
lamps focused through cardboard tubes). Two of the lights made a fixed
pattern sweeps at regular intervals. The third was aimed at one spot (where
the Boers detected noise) and came on for five seconds at regular intervals.
The terrain was relatively open, but offered intermittent cover, and patrols
had five minutes to observe and establish the searchlight pattern before
they attempted the crossing. They had to cross in 15 minutes.
was deducted for every man or piece of equipment caught in the open, and
no points were awarded if the crossing took longer than the time allowed.
3 - PASS THE MESSAGE
members were established at each of four posts set at 10 to 15 yard intervals
around a circle with a diameter of approximately 5 yards. No man could
leave the circle, and no man was allowed to shout a message between posts.
at Post A learned that trackers discovered traces of a Boer commando moving
towards Mafeking, and established its strength on the basis of 220 individual
pairs of feet (440 feet). Their duty was to pass the message (By Morse
Code or semaphore if they knew it, or by handwritten note tossed in a
shoe or taped to a pot lid and thrown as a frisbee) to Post B.
at the second post, after receiving the message, learned that two-thirds
of the enemy force were on horseback. They had to pass to Post C the strength
of the commando in terms of mounted men and men on foot (88 cavalry, 44
at Post C, after receiving the message, learned that a quarter of the
men on foot were unarmed officer's servants, medics and kaffir trackers.
They passed to Post D message giving the armed strength of the commando
(88 cavalry, 33 infantry).
patrol members at Post received this message, they learned that there
was one Corporal, one Sergeant and one Lieutenant for each 30 foot soldiers,
and two Corporals. one Sergeant and one Lieutenant for each 40 cavalrymen
They also learned that every armed man had a carbine, except for the Lieutenants,
who carried only sabres. Within a time limit of 25 Minutes for the total
exercise, they had to determine the commando's total firepower (the number
of carbines) and report to the intelligence officer at their post (118
carbines). The paper and pencil certainly came in handy!
4 - LEAVE NO TRACE
patrols met another gap in the Boer line which, although undefended at
night, was thoroughly patrolled at daybreak by a commando with highly
experienced Zulu trackers. Any trace left by the passage of a the patrol
meant that they would be overtaken by a mounted enemy force before they
reached Mafeking. Using flashlights, the patrol tried to make a 10 minute
crossing that avoided traps like unraked patches of sand, piles of stones
set in distinct patterns, and trip wires attached to knock-down stacks.
They lost a point for each mark they left, and a point for each minute
over 10 they used to cross the gap.
5 - SPIKE THE GUN
it was necessary for patrols to put out of action a field gun trained
on a mountain pass they had to cross. They'd been given the gun location,
and an idea of the perimeter beyond which they'd be safe from defenders
of the gun. To spike the gun, a patrol member had to reach the gun circle
without losing his beret to a defender.
patrol lost points for each beret snatched by defenders. No points were
awarded after 20 minutes or if an attacker removed his own beret to avoid
6 - MAN-EATING TORTOISES
crossed a part of the veldt notorious for dangerous man-eating tortoises.
Fortunately the man-eaters were slow movers so that the men had two minutes
warning of their approach. Fortunately also, the miserable creatures couldn't
climb, could reach no further than two feet above the ground with his
beak. Unfortunately, once the man-eaters treed a victim, the only way
to drive them off was with boiling water.
patrol heard the warning rattle they had to move all members least two
feet off the ground and start to boil water. Project leaders (tortoises
in disguise) verified the safety of the patrol members, deducting a point
for each dead man. Two points were deducted if the patrol didn't manage
to boil water within 20 minutes of hearing the rattle.
7 - FIRST AID
were surprised by Boer howitzer fire and man #6 was hit. The other men
administered first aid for a gaping wound on the calf of his right leg,
and for shrapnel he caught in his stomach. Then, because he was in very
bad shape, they had to improvise a stretcher and VERY GENTLY transport
the casualty to a nearby British - Forces Hospital (pointed out by staff).
To verify the gentleness of handling during transfer, they placed a raw
egg under the head of the casualty.
paid penalties of:
for a broken egg (even if the disaster occurred before they reached this
for a stretcher collapse;
for no stretcher;
for failure to apply pressure to the wound;
for giving water to a casualty with an abdominal wound. (At one point
in the game, a project leader whispered to the casualty to ask a patrol
member for water).
moving on, the patrol received the following instructions for...
8 - OBSERVATION
an enemy project. You will observe a table with a Coleman lantern on it.
One of the patrol members must elude the defenders and reach the circle
without losing his beret. As soon as one member has safely reached the
circle, you'll hear a whistle. At this point all your casualties will
revive and you'll all approach the table. On it you will find a display
of toy soldiers or a picture representing the Boer field force. You'll
also be shown the location of the nearest British telegraph office (50-75
yards away) where you will file your intelligence report.
have three minutes to observe the display and get safely to the telegraph
office. After three minutes a whistle will sound and the defenders may
once again kill you by snatching your beret, even if you are within the
circle. A man who's killed cannot make a report. Reports shouted with
one's dying breath will lose all points! "This is considered a desperate
sortie. Casualties are expected and will not count against your patrol
unless all are killed in the attempt. Points are awarded for information
retrieved. There will be 10 items on the table. You'll receive half a
point for naming each item, and another half point for a correct answer
to a question about each item. The PL must decide how many should take
a quick peek and hightail it safely to the telegraph office, and who,
if anyone, should stay for a longer look and then run the gauntlet to
9 - PIONEERING
that the garrison at Mafeking would know help was on its way, patrols
had to fire a beacon to a height of at least 3 yards above grade. They
had 30 minutes to erect a beacon and devise a remote firing method that
allowed them to light the thing within 10 or 20 seconds of the firing
signal. They used the equipment they'd brought with them, and a tin of
sand and gasoline provided to them on site. They gained a maximum of 15
points for the structure, 5 points for the firing device, and 10 points
for organization, ingenuity and spirit.
And so they
relieved Mafeking, but the total success of the venture had yet to be
determined. Back again at the starting line, ice blocks were either weighed
or melted down in a bucket and the volume of water judged. The biggest
block took 15 points, the second 10 points, and the third five.
examined. A perfect raw earned egg (cracked after inspection to ensure
it hadn't been blown or boiled) earned 15 points; a cracked but unbroken
egg took 10; and a broken egg or piece thereof took 5 points or fewer.
pm Saturday to 3:30 am Sunday makes quite a night's adventure, but he
boys met the challenge and the leaders who made it possible found even
further reward later that morning. They stayed bunked down while someone
else cooked the breakfast.