Early this August, Troop 1128 traveled to Pennsylvania and West Virginia to participate in local high adventure activities. Before setting up camp in Ohiopyle, PA, the crew paid a visit to Fort Necessity, PA. The Scouts enjoyed learning about an early battle of the French and Indian War, which resulted in the surrender of British colonial forces under then Colonel George Washington. Scouts spent the next morning working on their Geology Merit Badge at Laurel Caverns, which included a hike and a fossil dig. That afternoon Scouts traveled deep into Lower Cave at Laurel Caverns, the deepest cave in the Northeastern United States. Scouts crawled, climbed, and squeezed through three miles of muddy sandstone labyrinths, which took them 46 stories deep into the mountain interior where they were rewarded with spectacular views of caverns with 50-foot ceilings and a demonstration at “Gravity Hill”.
The following day, Scouts paddled 7 miles, traversing rocks and Class 3 and 4 rapids on the Lower Youghiogheny River. Scouts enjoyed swimming breaks in the cool river and cliff jumping during their lunch break. The following morning, Scouts broke camp in the rain and headed for Seneca Rocks, West Virginia where the 10thMountain Division of the U.S. Army trained in assault climbing in preparation for action in World War II. That evening, Scouts were rewarded with clear skies and great views of the Perseid meteor shower.
The next morning, Scouts hiked to Seneca Rocks where they climbed, belayed and rappelled on sheer rock faces of Tuscarora quartzite. Each Scout completed at least three technical climbs and most of the requirements for the Climbing Merit Badge. During their climbs, Scouts saw some of the 75 thousand soft iron pitons left behind by the 10thMountain Division. The following morning Scouts fit in a few games of wiffle ball before breaking camp and beginning their return home. The crew stopped at Spelunkers for lunch and sampled their renowned homemade custard before returning to Andrew Chapel that afternoon. The Scouts had a great week of Local High Adventure and are looking forward to more challenges and adventures down the road!
Troop 1128 traveled to northern Minnesota this summer to participate in wilderness canoeing at the Northern Tier High Adventure Base. Northern Tier is Scouting BSA’s gateway to adventure in the Great Northwoods. We started our adventure from the flagship base of Northern Tier, the Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base which has hosted Boy Scout canoe expeditions on the shores of Moose Lake since 1941. It is located twenty miles outside of the town of Ely, MN. Our scouts were among the over 4,000 scouts outfitted each year on wilderness canoe trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in Minnesota.
Base Camp and Preparation: Our trip started with our departure out of Dulles Airport for Minneapolis on Sunday, July 21. Upon arriving in Minnesota, we drove 250 miles north to spend the night near Ely, Minnesota – 30 minutes away from base camp. Along the way we drove to the east to see Duluth, Minnesota and travel along a portion of the western shore of Lake Superior. The next day we arrived at base camp where we were assigned our two cabins, provided with initial instruction, and researched and chose our treks. On Tuesday, July 23 we completed our gear outfitting which included three canoes per crew. Our gear was packed into five large packs called “whales: 2 for personal gear, 1 for the cooking kit, 1 for food, and 1 for our tents. We set out that morning for 6 days of wilderness canoeing.
On the water: This high adventure has a historical theme based on the fur trade that occurred in this area during from the 1600s through the early 1800s. We experienced much of what the “Voyageurs” did during that time except for actual trapping of beaver. Both crews paddled long distances (60 + miles of travel), carried heavy loads of gear, did nearly 40 portages, canoed into 20 knot winds on white cap lakes, road out storms at night, and experienced pristine wilderness that included beautiful scenery: boundless waters, water falls, cliffs, wildlife (bald eagles, river otters, beavers, loons, and yes; mosquitos after dark), and native pictographs. Scouts mastered canoeing, cooking, camp set up and clean up, navigation, the art of feet-first 5-foot cliff jumping, the language of loons, and portaging. Most of all they had fun. The level of good cheer, laughing, and friendly teamwork was impressive.
Portaging. A unique aspect of this adventure is the requirement to carry canoes between lakes as we crossed the wilderness just like the fur trappers of old. Everyone had to carry a load during portaging. Weights varied from the 50-pound canoes to 100 pounds for the food pack. Normally we would have 9 members in each crew carrying 6 packs and 3 canoes. Since we had 8 members in each crew (5 scouts, two adult advisors, and one interpreter– guide), our packs were heavier than normal as we were short one scout per crew. We decided to increase the pack loads rather than having an extra pack which allowed us to make only one trip per portage.. Our portages varied in distance from ½ mile to only 80 feet. A few portages were over mild rapids that required us to walk through the water pulling our canoes. Some of our portages were along the Canadian border and technically we were in Canada as we straddled the border. Some of the scouts had 30 portages carrying the canoe. The advantage of the canoe was that it is the lightest load, but it required good balance and skill to carry. Everybody shared in the carrying the pack loads.
Homeward Bound. Arriving at base camp on Sunday, July 28, we cleaned our gear and returned everything in good shape except for an interpreter’s tent that was destroyed during a gale force storm on the next to last night on the water. Even the storm was fun. The first showers of the week were welcome at base camp – swimming is the way to clean up during the trek. After dinner at the Dairy Queen in Ely where we treated our interpreters and the return to base camp for the closing ceremony, we all had that satisfying feeling that comes with a truly unique experience. The next morning, we visited the Soudan Iron Mine in Vermilion, Minnesota about 30 minutes from Ely. The tour of this former iron mine provided through the Minnesota State Park system was very informative about mining in this part of the U.S. Iron mining has been important to the economy of the northern Great Lakes region since the mid-19th century and continues to a lesser extent today. We descended a half mile deep into the mine through an elevator and traveled on rail cars for a ¼ mile to our visit location. After the tour, we drove to Minneapolis where we visited the Mall of America for amusement park entertainment, dining, and relaxation. Our flight was delayed so we spent 4 hours at the mall. This delayed our arrival at Dulles to 1:00 AM.
This was the first time Troop 1128 had been to Northern Tier since 2012. This is the first iteration of a Troop 1128 high adventure program that will have a Northern Tier/Philmont rotation. The next Northern Tier trip will be the summer of 2021. The troop will travel to Philmont in 2020. This alternation will continue for the foreseeable future.
This 2019, Troop 1128 returned to Goshen’s Camp Bowman in full force. We brought 69 scouts in seven patrols; Bison, Shark, Bobwhite, Viking, Arctic Wolves, Zeus, and, the latest addition to the sister Troop, Amazons. The scouts were also accompanied by 18 ASMs. With the help and leadership of SPL Elijah, ASPL Joey, and SPL for the sister troop Dani, Goshen 2019 was organized and run very well.
As in years past, Troop 1128 took sites 8 and newly renamed site 3 (Camp Leggett). However, we made an addition to our usual sites a new site to accomodate for the Amazons joining the sister troop. Site 8 had the Bison, Bobwhite, Shark, and Viking patrols while Camp Leggett had the Zeus, Arctic Wolves, and Adult campsites.
Our service project for Goshen this year was to improve the path that leads from Camp Bowman to the main road that leads to the big trading post. We had to clear the path that was totally overgrown and create a makeshift bridge over a marshy part of the path. The service project was run by Micheal with help from Eric and Andrew. and went well. In total, we had the scouts contribute 61 total hours of service.
The Troop also continued the new scout program that is done every year. This year we had most of our new scouts advance. The new scouts go down to Camp Leggett every day during Siesta and are taught different skills that are required to advance through the ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class. Some skills that are taught are first aid, knot tying, lashings, and cooking. Since Camp Bowman does patrol cooking, that last skill is easy for the new scouts to learn and perform. A lot of these scout skills are taught by the older scouts while some of them are taught by ASMs.
This year, the troop wanted to have more people participate in the mile swim. In 2018 Goshen, there were six scouts from 1128 that finished the mile swim. Our goal was to get at least 10 scouts to finish the mile swim in 2019. We smashed that goal with a total of 12 scouts and 1 ASM (shoutout to Mr. Fitzmaurice) completing the mile swim this year. Troop 1128 represented a big chunk of all the scouts that did the mile swim in all of Camp Bowman. The scouts that completed it were: Danielle, Elizabeth, Marie, Michael, Eric, Andrew, James, Kevin, Ryan, Charlie, Elijah, and Trevor. Hopefully next year we can get even more scoust to participate in the mile swim!
Overall, Goshen this year was a major success and we can’t wait for next year!
The annual May 2019 Scout Skills campout brought Troop 1128 back to where we have gone every year, Bears Den in Bluemont Virginia. The Scout Skills campout is the first campout that all of the scouts that are new to the troop go on in which they get numerous requirements checked off that are necessary for advancement in rank. Things such as the Totin’ Chip, the Firem’n chit, first aid, and knots are taught by the older scouts over the course of the campout. This gives an opportunity for not only the new scouts to get advancements signed off, but also older scouts to practice their leadership and teaching abilities in an environment that allows for mistakes.
The Scout Skills campout began with a 7:30 arrival at Andrew Chapel to take attendance and make sure everybody had a ride, then an 8 o’clock departure to Bears Den. After about a 45 minute ride, everybody had arrived at Bears Den. The first thing to be done was setting up tents which, with new scouts, can take a little while as they do not always know exactly how to go about putting a tent up. This time, however, nobody took longer than ten or fifteen minutes and we were quickly ready to begin the teaching.
In order to teach all of the new scouts in a reasonable amount of time, the older scouts split all of the new scouts in to 5 groups: Totin’ chip, Fire’m n chit, knots, lashings, and a first aid group. The goal was to have the new scouts rotate through each station in groups spending about 45 minutes at each station. This was going well until we took a break for lunch.
During lunch, some scouts were throwing around a football and, while trying to catch it, a scout hurt his knee on a tree stump. This prompted a real world example of some of the first aid that the new scouts were learning during the stations. However, after the small excursion, it took a while to get everybody back to the stations. Once we did, it took about an hour to finish up.
After the teaching was done, there was about an some time to fill before dinner, which most patrols used to choose a scout for the poker and caps tournaments that were to take place later that night. At around 5, scouts began to prepare dinner and their dessert. The desserts were important because they were going to be judges for Goshen points. The patrols made various kinds of desserts, from grilled banana marshmallows and chocolate to a peach cobbler in the dutch oven. The patrol that ended up winning was the Sharks with deep fried oreos followed by the Amazons and then the Bison.
After dinner, the poker and caps tournaments began. The caps tournament did not take long to finish, only about 30 minutes. The Zeus won caps followed by the Bison in second place. The poker tournament took much longer, about 2 hours. After lots of wagering and bluffing, the Bison emerged victorious with the Zeus coming in second. When the poker ended it was 10:30 and time for everyone to go to bed.
The next morning, the patrols got up bright and early to cook breakfast. Breakfast did not take long, it ended at around 8:30, giving the troop a lot of time to fill before our departure at 11. So, we decided to take the small hike to the viewing rock. The hike was about a mile long and we got some incredible views. We returned back to the campsite and 10:30 and began to load our gear back in to the cars. After all the gear had been loaded and attendance taken, we left back to Andrew Chapel. After the 45 minute drive, all the scouts arrived safely back home ready for the next campout.