Monday 6pm – We all met at the Scout House to pack the vans. They are full and we don’t yet have the people in them. PJ, Ryan and John from NC arrived and added their stuff to the pile. Sent everyone off to get a good night’s sleep.
Tuesday – Today was a heavy driving day – Thurmont to Indianapolis. Everyone was excited to get this show on the road. The vans were really stuffed. Seat negotiations were hot and heavy. Within 20 minutes all of the kids were snoozing! They slept most of the way. We stopped at a rest area in Ohio for lunch. For our first effort, a pretty good stop. The view along the way was mostly corn and soy bean fields as we traveled through Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio and into Indiana. We stayed at St Bernadette’s Catholic Church Retreat Center. A very nice place with all the comforts of home – hot showers, air conditioning and real beds! Girls slept in one dorm, boys in the other. Dinner was at Golden Corral, which filled everyone up. We had an older gentleman join us for about 20 minutes of (you guessed it!) Scouting conversation; he was happy to hear we were heading to Philmont. As we were leaving the restaurant, an impromptu gathering of Eagles occurred. I can now say with authority that it takes 7 Eagles to open a locked car door, as we stopped to help a young family with their dilemma. The kid’s used the basketball court at St. Bernadette’s to run off some extra energy (since they slept all day). We adults just showered and went to bed. The kid’s highlight of the day was rest stop leg stretching!
Wednesday – Indianapolis, IN to Springfield, MO to Hannibal, MO – What an early wakeup call for folks on vacation! We said goodbye to St Bernadette around 6am and headed off to meet Mr. Lincoln. We toured the Lincoln home and historic Springfield downtown area and then had lunch in the parking lot. After lunch, we spent about 3 hours in the Lincoln Museum and Library; a very interesting place with LOTS of things to learn. The kids were all very impressed. We met 3 new Scouts and Scouters as we toured. It is amazing how approachable one becomes when wearing this uniform. From there, it was off to Injun Joe’s Campground just outside of Hannibal. We set up camp and were able to get in about 45 minutes at the pool before dinner. Everyone enjoyed a very active round of Marco Polo. Dinner was again at Golden Corral with the buffet barely managing to fill all the teenage bellies (wow, do boys eat!). Again, the kids were up late and the adults were not. Today’s highlight was the Lincoln Library hands down. Ask them about ‘The Ghosts in the Library’. Many of them saw it more than once.
Thursday – Hannibal, MO to Sioux Falls, SD – Another early start! There is so much to see and so far to drive that we have to get going in the mornings. We toured Hannibal, climbed up to the lighthouse at the top of the bluff, climbed all the way back down to the Mighty Mississippi, played in the fountain (yes, with class A’s on) and smashed our own pennies on the railroad tracks; all this before 9am. That’s when the Mark Twain Museum opened! What a fabulous place; by far the most hands on museum I’ve seen in a long time. We saw Tom Sawyer’s painted fence, Becky Thatcher’s front porch and Huck Finn’s house; and learned a lot about Samuel Clemens too. From there we were on the road for a loooooooong stretch. Lunch was roadside again as we kept moving towards South Dakota. Eventually we left behind the corn and got into the grasslands. What an amazing difference 6 hours makes. Saw our first oil well pumping away in the middle of a field of sunflowers. Dinner was a fun time at Ruby Tuesday’s. Our huge group sat next to a birthday group, so we met Dave (a long ago Life Scout who wished he’d gotten his Eagle). He was so impressed that we were travelling with 7 Eagles that he asked for a picture of himself with all of them. After pictures and a round of Happy Birthday for Dave’s brother, we checked into the Sioux Falls KOA. The place was full to capacity with travellers on the move; mostly folks on their way to the Sturgis Bike Rally. We also found a group of girls that thought we had raised a good crop of Boy Scouts! The hands down favorite for today’s highlight were the two trains that smashed our pennies. We were not more than 6 feet from the slow moving trains as they rolled through the town of Hannibal.
Friday – Sioux Falls, SD to Rapid City, SD –You guessed it – another early start! We went through the Badlands today. What an amazing, awe inspiring desolate place. No wonder the Indians named it ‘land bad’ and the early settlers avoided it. The kids were all impressed. I can say that with no exaggeration. Had we not already had plans to see Crazy Horse monument, they would have stayed the day. It was hot and windy. We got out and walked around a number of the areas and the guys climbed through the bluffs and ravines. The ground is dry and crumbly, although the mineral color layers in the bluffs were beautiful. Did I mention it was windy? At lunch, the meat of someone’s sandwich blew off! We saw Bighorn Sheep (without the big horns) and shared table crumbs with the ground squirrels. Other than a few birds, that was it for wildlife. The drive out of the Badlands towards Rapid City was strenuous. The wind was moving at a steady 35-40 mph and pushed the vans all over the road. Watching the motorcycles battle it was scary! Once we hit Rapid City and got checked in at the YMCA that was hosting us for the night, we headed off to Crazy Horse. That took us up into the gorgeous Black Hills area. I could learn to live in the pine covered hills of South Dakota. The Crazy Horse monument is huge. Awesome, amazing, huge. I sure hope they get to finish it. We spent 2 hours at the site, which is also an Indian cultural center. They have an amazing collection of cultural items from the many tribes that cover the area. The temperatures in the mountains were about 40 degrees lower than the Badlands. What a change! Dinner was again Golden Corral as it fills the hollow legs we are travelling with up and is willing to work with my needs. Today’s favorite thing (I didn’t even need to take a vote) was the Badlands. They are already planning a trip back just to be able to stay and see all of it.
Saturday – Custer State Park, Wind Cave NP, Jewel Cave NP and Mt Rushmore NP (all in the Black Hills above Rapid City, SD) – We got up early, vacated the YMCA and headed up to Custer State Park before sunrise. This morning was so worth that early start. We were met by a very friendly buffalo stationed just inside the park. He and six of his closest deer friends welcomed us to the park and gave us great directions to the perfect breakfast spot. After cereal beside a wide spot in the mountain stream, we moved on through the park. We saw another buffalo and then about 300 more spread over several herds. Amazing! We saw turkeys, deer and antelope (almost too close to the front bumper!) and ooooodles of prairie dogs. There is one less prairie dog (his friends called him Kenny) in the park as we got to see a coyote have a little lunch right before us; and he didn’t even seem to care that we were all watching. We also came up on a buffalo relaxing along the side of the road. He snoozed while we took lots of pictures. We headed to Wind Cave and Jewel Cave next, looking for wildlife all along the way. The caves were cool and we got to see a number of formations we hadn’t seen before. We had lunch between cave tours. The group got a quick hike (3.5 miles) in as well. Then we were off to MT Rushmore. Another awe inspiring carving in the rock. What these guys did in the ‘30s with dynamite and basic jackhammers is just amazing. Dinner was Golden Corral with the biker crowd. The consensus on the best for today is the buffalo. All of them in general and the one right on the side of the road more specifically.
Sunday – Rapid City, SD to La Junta, CO – This was a long van day. We saw South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado. Breakfast was in Lusk, Wyoming at a really interesting rest area. They use solar and geothermal technologies. The kids can tell you that there is nothing but scrub brush from Custer, SD to Denver, CO. The scenery is beautiful but there is just so much of it. We ran into the first real traffic since we left as we came through Denver. Who knew 1pm on a Sunday would be rush hour. Lunch was another scenic affair. We stopped at Garden of the Gods and were awed by the huge red sandstone formations. The temperature was in the high 90’s but the humidity was so low – definitely different for us Easterners. Our overnight accommodations were at the Koshare Kiva in La Junta (. The building is beautiful and the museum was very interesting. The dance team is out on tour so we did not get to see the show. We slept on the dance floor in the kiva, though, and that was very cool. They even kept the trading post open last for us. We had dinner at the Village Inn. Just a diner style place but the food was good and filling. The kids hit the pie case pretty hard! Today’s best was hands down the dessert options.
Monday – La Junta,CO to Philmont Scout Ranch (PSR) just outside Cimarron, NM – Check in day had arrived! Matt and Christine met us at camp. The kids were eager to get started, which was good as they had a ton to do. I think they added 5 miles to their trek today just moving from place to place getting everything ready. First was crew check-in to get ranger and trailbound tent assignments. Ask about finding 10 tents in a sea of green canvas! Next it was off to Logistics where Kelsey and Jared got all the trail information for each crew. From there it was Med Check. We really loved the scale there as it took about 20 lbs OFF each of us (OK – so the adults loved it more than the kids!). Next stop was to pick up food, tents and bear bags. The pile of food for each crew for just three days was crazy! It filled up all those half empty packs the kids left home with, that’s for sure. After the gear was collected, the rangers ran each crew through the packing checklist. It was funny to see each person holding up an item before stuffing it back in their pack but it sure made for an efficient process. We shared lunch, dinner and a religious service with our crews and about 500 other trekkers. Philmont certainly knows how to move folks around with efficiency. The exhausting day ended about 9pm as the crews went to their tents and the now much smaller road crew of 6 headed back to Cimarron for our last shared night. We filled the “Cowboy Cabin” at The Cimarron Inn, but we all had beds! Ice cream at the trading post won as today’s favorite!
Tuesday – PSR - Up again before the crack of dawn to see off the crews. Packs now weighed 40-55 lbs. There was more stuff lashed to the outside than ever! After a “few” more pictures, Jared and company boarded their assigned 8 am bus headed for the outback. Kelsey and crew followed on the 10 am bus. Both buses were full to bursting with trekkers from multiple crews, all singing along with the crazy rangers. They were off and only one of us left behind cried. We gathered up all of the laundry left behind from the car trip and headed for the laundry. Three and half hours later, 20 peoples worth of clothes smelled much better. Cooper and Max’s moms get the award for most stuff marked with names! Ben and John packed and repacked the vans so we could get everything inside (including the cartop carriers!). We stopped in Cimarron to have ice cream, which we earned slaving over the laundry, and then the three vehicles each headed in a different direction. Be sure to ask John and Beth, Carie and Devin, and Julie and Ben about their travels over the next 12 days. Each group traveled between 1,200 and 1,500 miles and saw some awesome country! No kid favorite for today as it was too early when they left but I vote for all the smiles they gave us as they boarded the buses.
Here the narrative belongs to the trekkers – there are so many stories for them to tell!! As a reminder, the camps and highlights for each day are listed below. 806-I1 is Jared and company and 806-I2 is Kelsey and crew. Be sure to ask about red roof inns, mini bears, dirt naps, tabasco donkeys and corn nuts
Friday – PSR - The pickup crew arrived at base camp before dawn to meet the incoming trekkers. 806-I1 arrived at the gate @ 7:30am and immediately gave Mrs. Stafford a group stinky hug. 806-I2 arrived at the gate @ 10:30am after climbing the Tooth! All enjoyed Snickers and Twix at the gate and ice cream at the post immediately following, then EVERYONE went for a shower because they were offending even themselves. The trail laundry was exchanged for all the nice clean clothes and 16 washers were started again. That had to have been the most offensive laundry ever encountered - the clothes were close to climbing in all by themselves! Equipment was returned, paperwork completed and homebound tents found. Dinner was hot, gooey, yummy pizza in Cimarron!! The vans returned to camp for final packing in preparation for departure the next day. The paragraph looks small but it was another packed day! Can you guess what the favorite was for today?
Saturday – PSR to Amarillo, TX - Josh, Cooper, Michael, Matt and Christine waved goodbye and jumped on the bus with Troop 727, heading off into the sunrise (sort of) for the Denver airport. The vans (now affectionately trail named Moby and Dick) found themselves pointed east at last. We had lunch in the great state of Texas at an amazing Visitor’s Center. Like most everything in Texas, it was huge! We knew we had reached the South as “y’all” and “bless your hearts” were heard regularly. Palo Duro Canyon was the next stop. The canyon is really cool geologically and really hot otherwise. The temperature at the bottom was 112 in the sun, dropping to a mere 100 when the clouds rolled over. We spent about an hour hunting for geodes. Mr. Snyder, Jared, Mr. Krontz, Max and Patrick each found one. Dinner was our last time through Golden Corral. We chose it so we could get done in a hurry as we found out last minute that the Kwahadi Dancers were performing and we didn’t want to be late. The dancers are from the kiva where we spent the night. The kiva was nice; the show was amazing. The dance teams are open to Boy or Girl Scout, ages 14-21. We were blown away by their skill. Check out their website sometime. After the show and a quick sweep of the kiva floor, we showered, rolled out the bags and said goodnight! The dance show was definitely the top for today- those kids were amazing.
Sunday – Amarillo, TX to Sallisaw, OK – Cereal by headlamp was a good start for today. We made tracks for Oklahoma City to see the Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. The Cowboy Museum was really interesting. It covered everything from early Plains Indians and western cowboys to the current rodeo craze. Two hours was not enough to see everything they had on display in detail, and they told us that was only tern percent of the total stuff they have. Yikes! From there, we went to the Oklahoma City Memorial. The kids were very moved by this event that occurred before most of them were even born. They spent a lot of time listening to survivor stories and almost didn’t see the memorial itself. It was a quiet and reflective ride to the KOA in Sallisaw. Once there, the kids spent time in the pool and then we went to Mazzio’s for pizza. Boy did they order a lot of pizza. We brought leftovers back! You think cowboys and Indians would have been the favorite but it was the Memorial – they were really interested in learning about what happened.
Monday – Sallisaw, OK to Marion, AR – That should really read Oklahoma through Arkansas to Tennessee and back to Arkansas. We headed for Memphis after a great breakfast of cereal, grapes and leftover pizza. The kids slept a lot of the way as they are getting back to their night owl ways. We went straight to the paddleboat launch to get our tickets and then went to lunch. Yummy authentic Memphis BBQ at BB Kings Blues Café. Since the gang had been so frugal on the way out, we had a bigger budget to spend on this meal. Jared can tell you that the fried pickles are terrific but that Uncle Mo’s catfish is still the best. We headed back to the boat with full bellies and enjoyed an hour and a half tour of the Mississippi River and learned a lot of funny tidbits from the guide on board. A fair number of us enjoyed the ride with our eyes at half-mast! The KOA in Arkansas has a nice pool and game room. A good thing since they had saved ALL of the mosquitos for us. Boy, once the sun went down we were all diving for our tents. Everyone was zipped in, although not always asleep, by 8:30pm! Mention Memphis BBQ, watched their eyes glaze over and you’ll know what the favorite for today was.
Tuesday – Marion, AR to Nashville, TN – We were up and out early ( a good thing since the kids spent twenty minutes destroying mosquitos in the vans – it was a war zone!) as we headed to Shiloh National Military Park on the way to Nashville. Unfortunately, Carie and Devin were involved in a car accident that detoured us to Tupelo Medical Center. Everyone but the car walked away with only bumps and bruises. The car will remain with the very nice folks of Walnut, Mississippi. We can sure attest to the fact that Southern hospitality is alive and well as we were offered a place to stay and any support we needed by the people there. Fortunately, we were able to move on and restarted our trip by following the Natchez Trace from Tupelo to Nashville – the entire 444 miles! It’s much like Skyline Drive, only straighter. We saw trees, fields and cows for most of the length and then added deer and turkey at the end. At least until we got the cameras out –then there were none to be seen! The KOA in Nashville was really nice. We played putt-putt before dinner, ate a great meal at Santa Fe Cattle Co and were even able to get a little swim time in before bed. Today’s favorite was a person and not a place or thing – Mrs. Ruppel managed to squeeze the budget to get the play time in! She is loved!
Wednesday – Nashville, TN to Bristol, TN – Up with the dawn and out with the crows saw us off to the Hermitage – Andrew Jackson’s home. It was a nice morning to wander the open grounds and read all the history. We got a tour of the house as well. Like the Lincoln home, we wondered about the taste in wallpaper! From there we moved on to the Adventure Science Center. We had lunch in their parking lot, under the shade of the solar panels. We agreed they make a really nice picnic area! If you are ever in Nashville and have kids to entertain, ages 1-99, be sure to stop here. This was so much fun…climbing through a 4 story representation of the body and it’s working parts, navigating the flight simulator, watching the stars of Ancient Egypt in the planetarium, working on the space station in anti-gravity … the hands on approach made you want to do it all. It took at bit to get everyone gathered up and gone. Dinner was at Davey Crockett’s Truck Stop Buffet just before we arrived at the Bristol KOA in the dark. It’s a toss up – Science Center or Truck Stop?!?!? Both were interesting!
Thursday – Bristol, TN to home – One last morning to get up early, roll up our sleeping bags and tents, enjoy our cereal as the sun came up and get on the road! The tents were soaking wet from the dew as they have been the last several mornings. Low humidity is a good thing - at least for packing tents at dawn! We met PJ’s dad about where 77 and 81 meet and said our farewells to the North Carolina crew. It was fun having them along and we hope they enjoyed our company as well. The rest of the mornings ride was spent figuring out how long to the Sonic Drive-In in Winchester. After a yummy (I guess that’s relative to the eater!) meal there, we headed on home. We arrived at 3:15 and had cleared the vans, turtle tops and Scout House by 4pm. Favorite? Sonic!!!!
|Stuff We Can Do|
|Work on advancement/skills
Archery - learn/do
First Aid Training/Certification
Peak Bagging (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_bagging)
Pottery - learn
Rockclimbing - top rope/lead climbing/learn to teach scouts
Run a COPE course
Stained Glass Projects
Survival Skills - Learn/test
Teach/Refresh Scout Skills (ropes, first aid, etc.)
Woodworking - learn/project
Write, cast, produce & direct a play/movie with the crew
Play Ball at Park
BBQ & Pool Party
Church Bingo night
Do things with another Venture Crew
Farm - visit
Fly Fishing - learn
Football Game - High School/College/Pro
Formal Dinner - practice at someone's house
Formal Dinner - to to restaurant
Gardening - learn
Go to a planetarium
Go to the Movies
Golf - learn/play
Halloween Costume Party
Milk a cow
Picnic in the park
Ride an Elephant/Camel
Rifle/Shotgun - learn /do
Rugby - learn
Skiing - crosscountry
Skiing - downhill
TV Show Filming
Visit a fish hatchery
Mountainbike - ski lift
Mountainbike ride - overnight
Overnight horseback ride
White water rafting
LONG TERM - MULTIDAY ACTIVITIES
Backpack Yellowstont NP/Grand Canyon NP/ ???
Northern Tier High Adventure Base (week long canoe "backpack")
Primative Cabin Camping
Rafting - Multi Day
Sail up coast/Carribean - US Virgin Islands
Sailing trip - long term
Week long bike trip - Yellowstone/East Coast/North Carolina/West Coast
Week long Mule/Horse Pack - Grand Canyon?
Market a "How-To" Video
Fund Raising Dinner
Sell Stuff - Lollipops/Candy at school
Venture Hiking Teddy Bear
Animal Rescue Group - help
Collect Canned food for the hungary
Feed the homeless
Read to and Visit with old people
Run/Walk/Bike the Marathon - get sponsors
State Parks - help (trail work)
Volunteer at a homeless shelter around Christmas
Wildlife Station - Tour/Help
Venturing Crew 270 Goes on a Coffee Can Camp out
What Did You Do Last Weekend?
Thurmont, MD - It was hot and humid as the Venturers packed into the Adirondack site at the Walkersville Watershed for the coffee can camp out. Packed is probably the wrong word in this instance as this time the members of Thurmont’s Venturing Crew 270 were allowed to bring only their sleeping bag and what they could fit into a 2 lb. coffee can! Everything from bits of wire to plastic sheeting was packed into the cans and as one looked around, you could tell there was very little duplication of items between one can and another. They had been planning this trip for a number of months, but unlike most Venturing trips where the Venturers plan and execute the entire trip, the details of what was planned to transpire on this campout were unknown.
Venturing is a co-ed youth development program of the Boy Scouts of America for young men and women who are 13 (and have completed the eighth grade) through 20 years of age. Venturing's purpose is to provide positive experiences to help young people mature and to prepare them to become responsible and caring adults. The program is based on a unique and dynamic relationship between youth, adult leaders, and organizations in their communities.
As the Venturers decided where to build their shelters one spotted an old piece of paper on the ground, picking it up to throw it away, they noticed some writing. Reading the faded and smeared ink they deciphered someone had been there during the last winter and stashed some food they didn’t want to pack out and the Crew was off to search and see if they could find it! Thirty minutes later they were back from their treasure hunt with a few cans of hash and some veggies. Later on that evening they discovered the woods were filled with fresh raspberries and once again they were off to fill up on some berries and even collected some for the next morning’s meal. As the sun sank low behind the Catoctin Mountains, the young men and women were challenged to find a specific spot ½ mile away using a GPS receiver. Finding this spot with the GPSr at night not only would complete a requirement for the Venturing Ranger award, but the location also held their eggs for breakfast! The Ranger award is presented to those individuals who become the best of the best in outdoor skills. After an hour the crew returned with the eggs and settled in around the fire to talk about the events of the day and evening.
The Thurmont Community Ambulance Company, as part of its outreach to local youth, established Venturing Crew 270 in March of 2007 by providing training and program resources to the Crew. While the Crew’s by-laws stipulate that all the Venturer’s must be first-aid, CPR and AED trained at all times, the Crew’s interests and pursuits are varied! The result is a program of exciting and meaningful activities that helps youth pursue their special interests, grow, develop leadership skills, and become good citizens. Venturing Crew 270 is youth led, which means the youth plan, research, organize and execute all their trips and events. It also means the program changes because it is what the youth want to do and not up to the adults who are there just to advise.
Day two started out with breakfast. Eggs, onions, oranges and a couple cans of salvaged corned beef hash from the stash uncovered the previous day. As a frying pan won’t quite fit in a coffee can, the experiments started with the cooking of eggs in orange peels, hollowed out onions, eggs on a stick and simply placing the eggs in the coals with a small hole for steam to vent. Some things worked well, others not so well, but fun was had by all. After everyone was fed, it was off on a 2.5 mile, 10 point compass course. This, by no means is an easy task and alas, after all was said and done, the Crew returned with the wrong orienteering marks but they will attempt to finish this Ranger requirement again soon.
After lunch there was a survivor style fire building contest. Each Venturer had to build a fire and burn a string which was stretched across the fire area two-feet above with the winner receiving ice cream! Well, it was a bit hot out and we didn’t want it to melt on them so it was “freeze-dried ice cream”, but it WAS ice cream!
A bit later there was a sling-shot competition and then hunting! Ok, while Venturer’s are allowed to go on hunting trips, we were out of hunting season so instead the Crew used official air pistol targets at 10 meters and had 10 shots to get a score of 30 or better to qualify for having shot a rabbit for dinner… and they all did! What they didn’t know was they really were playing for rabbit. It was a first for all of the young men and women but there were no complaints and as they built and spit-roasted the rabbits over the hot coals of the fire and the smell started wafting though the camp, no one could wait until they could eat! Rabbit, corn on the cob boiled in their coffee can and potatoes baked in the coals filled hungry stomachs. The Advisor of the crew baked them all miniature raspberry pies with melted marshmallow topping in a Dutch oven.
Sunday morning started out with eggs, bacon (which was cooked both in the bottom of coffee cans and wrapped around sticks), left-over potatoes and oranges then clean-up of the camp and all packed out again. The Crew members found out how difficult it was to spend a weekend cooking without utensils and/or pots and pans but they also were thrilled that there was little to no cleanup or trash to pack out when all was said and done. All agreed the trip was a blast and want to do it again, but next time in the winter!
For more information see http://crew270.com
Thurmont, MD July 24, 2010 - Venturing Crew 270 took off from the Cunningham Falls State Park "Dam Parking Area" with plenty of water and food at 8AM. We wanted to get an early start as it was already about 95 degrees out.
We hiked up "Old Misery Trail" thus called because of it's extremely steep ascent and completed the 5-stage “Olde misery cache” multi-type geocache. We continued on the trail until it ended at the “Cat’s Eye/Bob’s Hill trail” and then continued up the mountain on that until we broke into the fire break area. The change in temperature at that point was extreme, it went from shade to full sunshine and all swore it had to be 120 degrees in the full sun! Completing the “Misery loves company” geocache in the fire break area as fast as possible we all made a break for the shade of the trees once again! Continuing up the trail we went until we ran into the “Catoctin Trail” where we started our ascent and signed the logbook in the “News Flash ... Parisians Demand Presidential Swap” geocache. Continuing on we came back out to Catoctin Hollow Rd which we followed back to the cars. All in all it was about a 7 mile hike (which seemed like 20) and we only had one twisted ankle and skinned knee (which happened about 100 yards from the cars on the return trip).
As a follow up all the adults had VERY sore calf muscles the next few days, the knee healed up nicely and everyone is ready to get out and do some more caching!