The adventure of a lifetime – Day 2 in Rome Italy
Dawn arrived all too soon for the Canadian Explorers and even for a few of our Italian brothers as we continue to adjust to the new time zone. There was not a single cloud in the sky and the wind had dropped down.
The morning silence was suddenly interrupted for our Explorers as the gathering horn sounded loud and clear off in the distance. A few of the boys stirred slowly as the realization of the sound meant started to sink in… we got to get up now without any delay. You could hear the patrol chief at each camp call out to his brothers, come on guys we can’t afford to arrive at the gathering place late or worst last.
After a few moments of frantic activity as we pulled on our uniforms the boys hustled to reach the gathering location. Ever tried to run when some of your brothers are half asleep… pulling up their knee socks and tucking in your shirt, or pulling on your sweater… and then realizing that you forgot your Stetson! O no, now we are going to be late as we will not leave any of our brother Explorers behind as we always move as a patrol.
The Canadian Explorers arrived to find their Italian brothers still in their pajama’s? Why? Because they do their wake-up morning exercises in their PJ’s before getting into uniform. A lesson learned for tomorrow. So, as a large troop we all participated in morning push ups, jumping jacks and stretching exercises.
After a good work out, the Explorers are really now wide awake they returned back to their patrols to prepare for breakfast. An Italian breakfast is quite different then what one is used to in North-America, one with hot tea and a cake. But the tea had to be heated up over an open fire and that required finding the wood in the woods and getting the fire started with only one match. Breakfast was jointly prepared as twinned patrols, some patrols got the fire going quickly while others needed extra time.
Once breakfast was completed the leaders announced a surprise inspection of their patrol site, some sites required more work and other less. Grey Wolf was asked to join the inspection team, they all did well with a remarked improvement noted on by our Canadian Explorers.
Explorers were now summed to a vast opening ceremony in front of a larger tower in the central part of the Brownsea camp through the blast of a whistle exactly as it is done in Canada, the payroll hustled to get into position for a very impressive opening ceremony.
Once in position we raised four flags, the Italian and Canadian together on the same pole to show a sense of brotherhood between our two countries within our larger FSE movement, another for the flag of our movement the Bausaent, and lastly the EU flag.
This was followed by the Lord’s prayer in Latin and in English and then by singing proudly our respective national anthems. Our Explorers truly sang O Canada from their heart!
Next up one Explorer from each country came up to state in a loud voice the Explorer law, first an Italian Explorer and then Hojun Choi on behalf of our Canadian Explorers. We the chanted our respective Explorer promise followed by singing the Explorer promise song, once in Italian and then in English. Once dismissed the Explorers headed off to the first big challenge of the day!
Now the great challenge was presented to the Explorers, each twinned patrol was challenged to build a rope bridge one that would sustain the weight of the largest Explorer first and then possibly a leader. This work required some base line engineering skills to help figure our distance, weight, anchor foundations and stress factors. The balance of the morning was spent to construct the bridges. We could see that language differences were not a limiting factor as the Explorers worked closely together to jointly help each other to build the bridge. We are pleased to report that they where successful.
Now off to lunch, the explorers needed no incentive as all that physical work building the bridge built up quite an appetite. Lunch spaghetti and sausages. Each twinned patrol invited two leaders to join them for lunch. Parents… did you know that you sons are becoming better cooks after each camp? Grey Wolf knows as he has tasted earlier meals that needed some notable improvement. This meal was much better indeed!
One can’t work all day, one needs to compete patrol vs patrol games, and that they did. In the words of a couple of the patrol chiefs:
“The games are cool as they are all new to us! Some required physical endurance, others patience, others working together as patrols and not as individuals. One game set out a great challenge, to get to a specific tree without being seen by a leader. Michael Cho was the last Explorer caught, we have to play that game differently next time.”
It is a great thing to see the Explorers from both countries mixing together more naturally with each other as they played, cooked, built, prayed and sang together. Dinner pasta with ground beef and bread with a fruit dessert. An evening campfire rounded out an exciting and challenging day. It was getting quite cool as we are camping up the side of a mountain as our boys got ready for bed and quickly got into their sleeping bags. All, were asleep within a few minutes as day two in Rome ended.
Our timber wolves were no less active. Morning dawned all too soon for a few us as we rounded the sleeping timber wolves from their warm and cozy bed. They quickly got up, brushed their teeth and pit on their uniforms before heading outside for breakfast.
With breakfast quickly consumed they timber wolves headed off for the local area cave to pray the morning rosary that was well prayed with purpose, intention and with love for Mother Mary and our Lord Jesus.
After hunting for wild boars and perhaps the dogs that they say on Friday (they did not spot any that morning) they headed out of camp to visit a nearby town called Viterbo with parents of Italian timber wolves and leader providing transportation. The Italian leaders and parents of their boys are so kind, accommodating and loving, we feel welcome, safe and loved as part of a larger brotherhood and movement. This experience and way of living and serving are especially unique to our FSE / FNE movement as perhaps compared to other organizations or sports teams.
Viterbo is truly an ancient town with much history and intrigue. Many buildings and structures are more than one thousand years old, think about it, Canada as a country is only 150 years old! This facet was not lost on a number of our timber wolves as they walked and walked through the town as lead by the local Italian timber wolf leaders who spoke really good English, much better that our attempts at speaking Italian! A number of the leaders and fathers expressed fatigue from the walking at the end of the day, a reminder that many of us (including Akela) need to be more physical in our daily lives.
First stop – a medieval Papal Palace. The tour was exiting as we learned a lot about Papal history over the years. The most famous church in town is called St. Rosa. St. Rosa was a very special local saint. St. Rosa’s uncorrupt body was there in a glass case. We all knelt and prayed in front of St. Rosa to ask for her intercession to help us with some of our deepest requests held in our hearts for our Lord. This was a very special moment for our timber wolves indeed.
Once every five years a huge platform some 3 stories high is built with symbolic scenes that are related to St. Rosa’s life is built. This platform is then carried on the backs of hundred of men through the local town as part of a massive religious procession. We saw photos and drawings of previous processions, very impressive indeed.
A stop at the local town museum was a must to better appreciate the history of Viterbo. To see items hundreds of years old and how the town over the many years came into being.
As noon drew near the timber wolves went to visit the local FSE group head quarters, a beautiful old building consisting of many rooms and play areas. Here for the first time, our timber wolves met their Italian brother and even a few of their sisters for the first time. Pleasantries were exchanged and a few active games played in the local open area before settling down for a wonderful hearty lunch.
Before meeting our Italian brothers as we walked through town we noted the interest as to who we are from the public that we passed by. In fact, a number of adults stopped the fathers or leaders travelling with the group to learn a little more about our movement. Our uniforms and the behaviour of our boys generate a lot of respect, joy and wanting to learn more.
While all this was happening a couple of the fathers needed to get a sim card for their phones from the local service provider known as “tims” but the local store was closed. The nearest one was a good 20 to 30-minute walk away (one way) too far from a time perspective. One of he Italian mothers overheard their plight and immediately offered to help by driving the Dad’s to the store in question. When there the fathers realized that the single clerk could not speak any English, how to communicate? Once again this kind Italian mother stepped in and translated for the fathers. On the drive back to the timber wolves she told them that she and her family have been praying for our visit and for good weather as they had a lot of rain before our arrival. Thanks, be to God that the good Lord said yes to her prayers. This mother and the Italian leaders that we have met are a wonderful example of what our larger family really consists of, love, service, kindness and helping the children be he best that they can be with Christ in the centre of their lives, to help us all one day become an ordinary saint!
After a wonderful afternoon, the timber wolves along with their Italian brothers returned to Brownsea camp for more dynamic and exciting games. As leaders, we wish that we could harness some of their energy levels!
When dinner arrived (pasta and meat) the boys were really hungry, there was little left over food at the end of the meal.
Our boys then went off to have a hot shower which all enjoyed immensely we prepared for a rousing campfire program complete with follow me songs and even the “red flower” jungle dance! There was so much fun, laughter, squeals of joy as the evening campfire program came to an end.
From there all 50 timber wolves fell quickly asleep… we gave our timber wolves 7 minutes to change and brush their teeth before lights out. Time for them to fall asleep… some 5 or 6 minutes as we eagerly look forward to the great adventure that awaits us on Sunday including Palm Sunday in the great outdoors with our Italian brothers and their families. Italian families are very interested in meeting the Canadian timber wolves, explorers and leaders. Evening prayers included thanking our Lord for yet another amazing blessed day. I love you, Jesus, I love you, Jesus, I love you, Jesus!
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