It wasnt all sightseeing for the Venturer scouts of St Patricks Unit, 1st/2nd/5th Louth, CSI when they visited Dundalk Maryland for their Annual Expedition recently.Part of that expedition included a one-week high adventure camp, with Troop 354 from Dundalk, Maryland. This high adventure camp took place in the Goshen Scout Reservation in Virginia. A total of 22 scouts and leaders, which were split up into two crews, undertook the Lenhok
Over the week the scouts had to hike from one base to another and take part in different activities. In total the scouts hiked just under 50 miles over the week carrying a full rucksack which included items such as tents, sleeping bags, gas cookers, frying pans, billies, dixies and all their food for the week.
The experience of camping in America is something that will remain with the lads forever. Although there were many similarities, there were also a number of things that you would not have to consider if camping in Ireland.
For example, during the trail the scouts came across 3 poisonous snakes – 2 timber rattle snakes and a copperhead. Some of the lads came across a group of Black Widow spiders, which are also highly poisonous.
Each night a couple of bear bags had to be prepared and then suspended between trees. All food items and any kind smelly stuff, such as deodorant, soap and even batteries were put into the bear bags to keep them away from animals such as skunks, chipmunks, racoons and badgers. There were also grizzly bears in the area but thankfully the scouts didn’t come across any.
Each day the scouts arrived at a different base. The bases appointed to the 2 crews were Wagon Trail, Foxfire, Kayaking and Civil War. At Wagon Trail, each lad was taken out to catch a horse in a field and then saddle it up, before going on a trek around the surrounding area. Also at this base scouts were shown how to use lassos and played a game of horseshoes!
That night they got to sleep in some old fashioned wagons. The foxfire base involved skills such as metalwork; woodwork and leatherwork and each scout got to make different items as souvenirs. The forge proved to be the most popular as scouts got to hammer out different pieces of metal into their own design. One of the lads even made a golf club!
At this base the scouts were given a service project, which was to build a dam in a nearby river. Four hours were spent on this project and the base leader was hugely impressed.
The scouts camped down by the waterfront for the kayaking base and spent a couple of hours out on the lake in kayaks.
The Civil War base was probably the most enjoyable of the camp. Firstly scouts were shown the drills with their rifles, before they were shown some original items from the American Civil War. After that they did a bit of black powder rifling with the Irish lads successful in hitting their targets.
Every morning each scout had to ‘camel up’, which meant they had to drink a couple of litres of water so that they would not get dehydrated. Running water was a scarce commodity at times and some days water was taken from rivers which then had to be treated.
Throughout the week the two crews climbed the five highest peaks in the area which came to a total of 15,000ft. At the end of the week when all crews who were taking part in the high adventure camp got back to base camp there was a campfire to mark the end of the camp.
The Irish lads kept the other crews entertained with songs such as ‘Wild Rover’ and ‘The Rathlin Bog’ before doing a campfire sketch that got plenty of laughs and cheers. At the end of the campfire different awards were given out. Each Venturer was awarded with the Trailblazer Award for successfully completing all the tasks that were set out at the start of the week.
The Irish Crew were also awarded with the ‘Big Butt Award’. This award was for climbing the highest peak in the area, which was the Big Butt Mountain. Not too many crews achieved this. The next award bestowed on the Irish Crew was the Moores Peaks Award, which was for reaching the summits of the five highest peaks in the area.
After the campfire many scouts, staff and leaders were asking the Irish lads for different badges or items of uniform. The scout belt and beret proved popular items.
The Irish crew were actually the first international group to take part in the High Adventure Camp in Goshen. If anyone, young or old is interested in getting involved in Scouting, contact Gerry at 087-7839649.