December 03, 2020

Halloween Camp 2020

I am a member of a local search & rescue team (shout out to Lapeer County Search & Rescue - Woot!) and we do a bit of networking with other teams in Michigan, training and working together, etc.  I just learned this year that a team called K9 One puts on an annual Halloween Camp!  I knew nothing about what to expect when I agreed to attend.  It was the weekend of November 7-8.
The backstory is - we were recruits in the FBI's new serial crimes unit and due to an increase in violent & repetitive crimes, our training was being accelerated.   At the end of the weekend we would be promoted to special agents.
To keep us in 'the spirit' we were supposed to decorate the front of our cabins and the best cabin got a prize. 
How could I *not* play with them first??
I didn't think I had done a whole lot, but my skeletal K9 search team won!

It was a combination of fun. educational & hilarious all weekend!
We were divided into 2 teams and had a variety of activities to do, like all weekend long.  We competed for "creature cash" and there was cash hidden all over the camp.  Whichever team had the most cash at the end of the weekend, won.
Team-building.  That's me in the middle. 
Fear factor-type food relay race
Thankfully I only had a small caramel apple.  Other people had a mountain of gummy worms, smoked oysters or a giant garlicky pickle.
Chuck out behind my cabin.  
There were only 3 of us (and 2 dogs) in the cabin that had 30 bunks. 
This is how Chuck "hid" from the search team. 
                 Busch makes Dog Beer?           
Our team flag. 
Chucky Dawson - totally the most hilarious thing, seeing him come running into the room with this on!
The view was absolutely stunning outside of the chow hall!

We seriously could not has asked for a more perfect weekend - a sweatshirt was nice at night, but just a t-shirt during the day.  Unheard of of November in Michigan! 

We had some time after lunch so the people who brought their K9s could do some training.  I went & hid first on top of a rack thing where canoes were stored and then inside a cabin on the top bunk.  They wanted the dogs to have to look up to find me. 

We had an obstacle course for both humans and K9s.  Half our the human course had to be done blindfolded with a teammate giving verbal directions on where to go & what to do.  The K9s were hysterical!  One girl has a HUGE bloodhound and she had to dress him in socks & a t-shirt for part of the race.  Only the socks wouldn't fit on his ginormous paws, so she tucked his ears into them!  I learned that rules of many of the games had very fluid interpretations... he just had to wear the socks, nobody said they had to be on his feet!  

Then we played capture the flag, with water balloons filled with paint for ammo.  Funny how the quiet, sweet looking girls suddenly become bloodthirsty in a situation like that! 

After dinner we played Jeopardy with topics relating to knots, incident command and first aid. 

After dark we went out to do land navigation.  At each point we had to find, there was an activity we had to do, take pics and text them into command.  
Light a fire.  2nd stop was to splint a teammate's arm.  3rd stop was to rig an improvised climbing harness and tie onto a rope and "repel" between 2 trees.  4th stop we had to figure out how to put a dog into a sling in case it was injured and we needed to carry it to safety. 

The last thing we did that night was finally get the story about a missing girl and she was last seen with the camp maintenance man and we had to go look for clues in the workshop.   
It was a relay race - we had a list of 8 items and one would go in, grab an item off the list, come out and the next person would go in.  We couldn't take the list with us and.... the only light in the building was a strobe so we had to use our flashlights with red lenses in order to see anything.  
This is either Scarlett or Crash! They're not litter mates, but they are brother & sister and look a LOT alike. One had a collar and the other didn't. But they both kept coming over on my side of the cabin to see what I was doing.   Sweet puppies. 

We had the option of doing a night search with the dogs when we finished searching the workshop, but it was after midnight and all the handlers said no. 

Sunday we got up and had to leave the camp by 8 and not return until 10, so we all went out the breakfast.
There was a random stick horse in my cabin! 
While the dogs wore a t-shirt & socks for the obstacle course, the humans had to wear a huge bra and flippers. 

After we got back from breakfast, we got down to business.  We got briefed about 3 missing persons and got our assignments to go searching.   One was a totally unrelated missing boy who had nothing to do with anything else the whole weekend.  The next was the missing girl from the night before and the 3rd was the maintenance man. 

I went out as support / radio with Scarlett & her handler.  Scarlett & Crash are both area search dogs.  In this case, they had a scent article (I left my ballcap when I hid earlier in the day) and they'd basically run loose.  They wore a GPS unit on their collar and a cowbell so they could be heard.  When they caught the scent, they'd go back to their handlers and bark.  The handler would tell them to "show me" and they'd run back & forth to where they found who they were looking for. 
btw - some of the K9s there are HRD dogs - human remains detection.  If you look close about halfway up this enormous climbing structure, left of center - you'll see the 'maintenance man' hanging.  The dummy had an HR sample inside it.
After de-briefing and the winners (Team Orange - hoorah!) getting their prizes (a pumpkin bucket willed with goodies like dog treats & candy & a can of dog beer, etc) and helping to clean up - I went around got got pics of Chuck doing some fun stuff. 
I really wanted to play with the trebuchet! 
I was kind of nervous at first, since there was only one other person from my team there, and she was an instructor.  I'd worked with some of the other girls on call-outs before, but the rest (there was one guy) were all new to me.  But everyone was really nice and we had a good time.  

And sadly.... this is what I saw turning into my neighborhood when I got home that night!

I'm a CREEP for The 13 Days of CREEPMAS


  1. Oh wow looks like so much fun! We did not have camp this year those pictures of the bunks gave me happy flashbacks.

  2. Sounds like fun, I love your skeleton search team.


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