Prince William Forest Park
Dec 8-9, 2018
Troop 1128’s annual orienteering campout took place on Dec 8-9th at Prince William National Forest Park. PWNF is a great local NPS park that offers 60 pre-set navigation points many organizations use and it’s about 35 miles from our base of operations in Vienna. In addition, the PLC decided to blend in a cooking contest, engage the troops Outdoor Ethics Guides and a trip to the National Museum of the Marine Corps. As always this, time of year can be questionable weather-wise and 10 days out snow was forecasted and/or rain in 38F. Waking up to snow is fine. Bush wacking through the woods in 38F and rain not so much.
The campout was 24 scouts strong along with 8 ASMs. An 8am departure led to a 9am arrival. After checking in and collecting maps, the troop held off on setting up camp to get out into the woods as quickly as possible. Viking ASM Carlton Wilson spent 40 mins on a refresher of map and compass skills as well as pace counts and other nuances of orienteering. Four crews were set up: Zeus, Arctic Wolves, Viking/Shark and Bison/Bob White. Two maps were chosen with two crews on each, going in clockwise and counter-clockwise directions. The weather was perfect for orienteering with each crew spending 3-4 hours trying to find small posts in the forest and eating lunch. All four crews had success albeit some posts seemed to be lost themselves. One crew found a dead deer and another was being stalked by an 8 point buck. Once all were back by 3pm, tents were up, fires burning and dinner was being prepped.
The cooking contest resulted in two crews using their dutch oven skills while two coming up with some deep fried options. Zeus went with a meat lasagna and Italian bread. Arctic Wolves had a dumpling offering. BobWhite/Bison offered up classic American – burgers and old bay seasoned hand-cut french fries. While Viking/Sharks went with a sausage/green bean casserole. SPL Marschoun and ASPL Hindley were the judges and decided the Viking/Sharks took the prize while BobWhite/Bison was a close second due to their french fries.
After dinner and clean up, 1128’s first ever Night Time Land Navigation session was held. Only five scouts and three ASMs took advantage of this 60 min session as the majority of the scouts convinced our SPL it was optional. Next time it will not be optional. Led by ASM Wilson, the participants learned the nuances of not being able to see that far, how to use only red light and instead of picking a bearing and going for it, use a series of attack points to narrow in on the goal. All came back with a greater appreciation of night time land navigation. And no scout or leader was lost.
After hanging out around the fire, most scouts hit the sack by 10pm as temps were dropping. Wakeup was scheduled for 630am and all earned a snow flake as temps were 28F-30F at 615am. It wasn’t as cold as last time which hit near 21F. Thankfully it was drilled into the scouts to prep for winter sleeping and all survived the night without freezing – much. Breakfast was made with most choosing to eat a hot breakfast while Zeus who opted for a bowl of cold cereal. Just before leaving, each crew and the ASM’s all presented one of the seven points of Outdoor Ethics as a reminder on how to tread lightly in the forest – even if car camping.
A quick drive led the troop to the National Museum of the Marine Corps where they spent two hours learning the Marines history from being founded in a bar in 1775 to it’s latest deployment in the Middle East. The NMMC gives a superb history of the Marines during it’s first century as a small multi-faceted fighting force to it’s second century growth and legendary battles in WWI and island hopping in the Pacific theatre in WWII. All scouts and ASM’s left with a greater appreciation of the cost of freedom.
The scouts arrived back at Andrew Chapel just before 1pm. After a quick gear check the patrols disbanded and everyone headed to a warm home and lunch.