Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Glorious Weekend for Beginning Backpacking

Troop One Backpackers on the trail at Ohio Pyle State Park
(picture by Bob Biggs)
Can 11 year old scouts go backpacking?  A few intrepid souls from our favorite troop just did.
Our patch for the
first backpacking trip.

On the first weekend in May it was beautiful in the Ohio Pyle area of SW Pennsylvania.  While it was a perfect weekend for backpacking there and possibly everywhere, a few scouts set off on their first backpacking experience. They joined a few experienced scouts and set off to walk their first 9 miles with packs that were too heavy or didn't fit their small frame just right.

The patch we would like to make
design by Gabe Hunt, all rights reserved)
Welcome to the Akron based "Troop One Backpackers."  About a year ago we recognized a problem:  The Boy Scout Troop had essentially left the high adventure to our close sister Venturing Crew 2001.  After all, all of the troop trips to Philmont and elsewhere were Crew trips since the older scouts and the coed Venturers would make up the participants.  This means that no one backpacked until they were 14 and while there are a lot of good reasons to have scout's wait (such as expense and upper body strength), it is a loss not to get the youngest excited about this fabulous sport. And excited they are.

About a year ago, Eagle Scout Sam Hyde and backpacking "pro" and assistant scoutmaster Bob Biggs helped plan out a way to engage the youngest in hitting the trail.  Our idea is that each young scout that wants to sample carrying a pack should get a chance and when they are older they will enter the Venturing Crew raring to go.  This trip represented our second trip in recent years with young scouts. Listening to the scouts we will be doing this again very soon.

Perhaps, in the future, we can engage our pocket crew (see our story on the pocket crew) so the girls will also be ready for the backpacking lovers in our outdoor Venturing Crew.

On the way back from Ohio Pyle, these scouts were very attentive to the presentation on choosing the right backpack when they visited REI in Pittsburgh.

Steve and Kimberly Myers

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