"First whistle ready! Second whistle go!"
The Troop Birthday is the culmination of Paoli 1's scouting year. It is an opportunity for the scouts to demonstrate the skills they have learned over the year and it is the ultimate test of the patrol leaders' leadership skills. As the name implies, this event also commemorates the founding of the Troop back in 1911.
Taking place on the second or third Saturday in June, the patrols participate in a series of competitions organized and judged by the Staff Patrol. The Troop Award Ceremony, Change of Command Ceremony, and the Eagle Scout Court of Honor follow, culminating in a luncheon.
Preparation[edit | edit source]
The Birthday is preceded by months of practice for the events as well as preparation of the Cabin and grounds for the celebration. Despite the constant rehearsals and seemingly miscellaneous refinements made, the morning before the Birthday is still full of preparations. In addition to practicing the non-competitive portions of the Birthday and the handing out of sailor hats, the annual troop picture is also taken. The final preparation before the official start of the Birthday is a uniform inspection of each patrol.
Opening Ceremony[edit | edit source]
The Birthday officially begins when the bugler sounds 'Assembly' and the troop forms up in front of the Cabin. The Drum and Bugle Corps, led by the American and Troop Flags, then march across the field in between the Troop and spectators. The Cannon is fired and 'To the Colors' is played while the American Flag is raised.
Full Field[edit | edit source]
This event begins with the patrol trek carts lined up in patrol order on the "trek cart trail" leading behind the garage to the field. After the second whistle, Wolf Patrol takes the field followed by the other patrols in order after each subsequent whistle. The patrols pull their trek carts to the end of the field, pivot around a Staff judge and then proceed to their designated position on the field. Once all patrols are in place, they are signaled to push their carts to the back right corner of their designated area.
On the second whistle, the event begins. Working as quickly as possible, the patrols attempt to establish a perfect full field camp layout. Once their set-up is complete, the Patrol Leader must sign in to the Senior Patrol Leader to begin their judging. Once all the patrols have finished their set-up and have been judged, take-down begins. Patrols attempt to quickly repack their trek cart, rolling it from the rear of their area back to the front once complete.
Points are awarded based upon speed and accuracy. Everything from having taught tents to proper silverware layout is judged. For the take-down, in addition to being graded on speed, patrols must also attempt to load their trek carts properly so the weight of their trek cart is balanced.
Knot Tying Relay[edit | edit source]
The Knot Relay is a test of speed and skill. The event begins with each patrol standing in their positions near the flagpole, with the youngest scout in front and the Patrol Leader in back. After the second whistle, scouts are required to race across the field to a Staff judge holding their patrol flag. Once there, they tie a required knot. Once tied and confirmed correct by the Staff judge, the scout will run back and hand the rope to the next scout in line. If the scout fails to tie the knot correctly or simply does not know it, he must run back to his patrol and send another scout to attempt the knot. Once every scout in the patrol has tied their required knot, the patrol sits as the Patrol Leader signs in to the Senior Patrol Leader. As with the Full Field Set-Up, the order of completion is graded.
Signaling by Morse Code[edit | edit source]
Originally held following the Knot Relay, in 2017 for the 106th Birthday, Signaling by Morse Code was discontinued from the competition. This was primarily due to its length and the general boredom or confusion of the audience while watching.
The event begins after the second whistle, when runners are sent out on a short foot race from the flag pole, down around the cabin, past the garage up the trek cart path, and back onto the field. The runners are carry a short, secret message or phrase. Once on the parade field, they hand the message to a waiting patrol member who is operating the Morse Code signal box. From their position by the Bell Tower, the scouts use the light boxes to signal the message to their teammates across the field by the flag pole.
Although a patrol only needs two scouts knowing code, they may have up to four participating in this event. These including the runner, sender, receiver, and an assistant to help the receiver transcribe the message. The secret message is typically something intended to mislead the receiving team or challenge them with uncommon letters. Messages have included: "Knock on Wookie", "Mexican Pizza" and "Full victory, nothing else."
Fire by Flint and Steel[edit | edit source]
This event is held in two separate rounds. In the first round, the youngest scout from each patrol will compete in igniting the quickest fire. In the second, the most skilled scout is tasked with igniting the most amount of fires. Both rounds begin after the second whistle, where the scouts are tasked with creating sparks to ignite a piece of charred cloth in a dried nest. Both rounds will last exactly one minute long, with the scouts in each patrol shouting “FIRE!” to signal they have created a fire. Once the Staff judge sees an actual flame in the nest, the patrol has finished the event.
Signal Tower Raising[edit | edit source]
After the second whistle, each patrol must lash two prefabricated halves of a signal tower together. They then must raise the tower and have the patrol leader scale it. Once atop the tower, the Patrol Leader will sign in to the Senior Patrol Leader, signaling they are finished. Once finished, the Staff judges will grade the tower based upon the number of lashings, level of tautness, if they are in the proper locations, and tied correctly. As with the Full Field Set-Up and Knot Tying Relay, the order of completion is graded.
Naturally, safety is of concern in this competition. Thus, the Staff judges require a certain number of lashings on the tower and platform. They also test for stability before allowing anyone to climb it.
The tower assembly is one of the more exciting competitions due to the feverish nature of the assembly, the dramatic raising of the towers, and then the rush by the patrol leader to successfully climb it. Although a spectator may not know exactly how far along a patrol is in their lashings, they will nevertheless witness a climactic finale to the event.
Staff Drilling[edit | edit source]
A relatively recent addition to the Birthday, the Staff Drilling Competition was added to replace the drilling demonstration held during the award ceremony. The event begins with the Patrol Leader, Assistant Patrol Leader, and other best scout from each patrol lined in patrol order. The Senior Patrol Leader gives various drilling commands to the assembled scouts. They must quickly and correctly perform the commands with their patrol staffs. Points are deducted for errors or delayed responses. Patrols are graded based upon any deductions encountered by the Staff judges.
Between the end of competition and the Award Ceremony, the Troop now holds a brief Change of Command Ceremony. A scout carrying the SPL pennant, the outgoing SPL, the incoming SPL, and the Scoutmaster march onto the field. Through a series of facing movements, the pennant, which symbolizes command of the troop, is exchanged between the four as the Troop Scribe narrates the events. The outgoing SPL addresses the assembled Troop before exiting the field and leaving the new SPL in command of the formation.
Award Ceremony[edit | edit source]
After the competition phase of the birthday is completed, the Award Ceremony begins. The patrol benches are brought out onto the field and the scouts are recognized for their efforts all year. In addition, the patrol that won the Birthday is also announced and recognized.
For a full List of awards click here.
Eagle Court of Honor[edit | edit source]
After the awards are finished, this year's Eagle Scouts are brought forward, recognized for their hard work, and presented with Scouting's highest rank. Typically, state politicians and other VIPs are also present to recognize the accomplishment of the new Eagle Scouts. Craig Hadden usually gives his Eagle Speech and the ceremony concludes with a guest speaker.
Other[edit | edit source]
There are numerous smaller events occurring during the Birthday to fill the necessary preparation time gaps in between events. There is a rappelling demonstration from the Bell Tower, various Troop Committee members speak about projects in the Troop, upcoming trips, and sometimes narrate the events taking place on the field. The results of the Birthday events are also announced by the speakers.