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Two hours later, everyone is wiped.


Sand dunes that were screensaver- perfect on arrival are peppered with hundreds of footprints—traces of all the effort expended getting back to the top. But before you call this a Leave No Trace violation, remember that by morning, winds will erase all evidence of Troop 19’s presence, leaving a fresh canvas behind.


AS THE LIGHT FADES on Saturday night, Dominic Montagu eyes the Jackalope patrol’s dinner. “Stir-fry chicken,” he says. “Looks good. One of the few dishes they make really well.” Is this their signature dish, a visitor


asks? “No. I’ve only seen them make this twice. Their signature dish is hamburgers, burned on both sides,” Montagu replies, laughing. But he remembers a time when


the troop’s meals were laugh- able. That came to an end when the Scouts appointed Life Scout Michael Stromberg as Grubmaster, a youth-created position with its own unofficial patch. “The position was created after some memorably bad meals,” Montagu explains. He remembers one patrol bring-


ing microwave popcorn (tough to enjoy without power outlets or a microwave) and the time Scouts had everything they needed to make omelets except eggs. Now, Stromberg approves the menus, helps with grocery shopping, and organizes supplies. “With the Grubmaster, the Scouts’ meals have gotten remarkably better,” Montagu says. Notably, he makes that comment


before learning what the Minutemen patrol plan to make for breakfast the next morning. The Jackalopes have whipped up traditional pancakes, but the Minutemen are preparing a blueberry-cocoa concoction that com- bines blueberry pancake mix with hot chocolate powder, cow’s milk, rice milk, and chocolate chips. Stir, cook, and, if you’re brave


enough, eat. The result? More “Um?” than “Yum!” But the Minutemen finish every last pancake, as well as the leftover batter, before Isaiah notices someone is missing.


ON THE FINAL MORNING in Death Valley, the campsite comes alive with Scouts packing up and cleaning up. Trunks open, air mattresses exhale, and


tents collapse. Scouts shove blueberry- cocoa-covered dishes into Action Packers. But Isaiah notices Jaime’s tent remains an island. “Are you up yet?” he asks. Silence. “Jaime?” Isaiah calls, a little louder


this time. Nothing. “Oh, no!” Isaiah runs toward Jaime’s tent.


“Jaime!” “Yeah?” Finally! Life. “Let’s go!” Isaiah implores. The clock’s ticking, but Maheu


stands calm, pensive. If his chaos theory holds up, every job will get done without his intervention. As Isaiah bends down to help Jaime pack, Sam Gessow heads toward the cars, shouldering a full backpack. His tent has disappeared. “Sam gets first prize today,” Isaiah announces. Save another trophy for Isaiah,


though. The way Maheu thinks, a strong youth leader is the MVP of a functioning troop. “I like to take the older boys aside and tell them, ‘Here’s what we want to get done today,’” Maheu says. “But with Isaiah, I don’t even have to tell him anymore.” ¿


BRYAN WENDELL is Scouting maga- zine’s Senior Editor.


SEPTEMBER•OCTOBER 2013 ¿ SCOUT ING 39


Senior Patrol Leader Isaiah McCole has done this before. The 17-year-old does his best Shaun White impersonation, trad- ing the Olympian’s prowess on snow for a similarly skilled slide down sand. He’s even got the eye-catching sun- glasses and section of spectators who watch and record his every move.


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