Troop 3, Troop 1003, & Pack 183 AOL scouts go backpacking!

On Saturday, August 6th and Sunday August 7th, 2022, scouts from Troop 3, Troop 1003, and Arrow of Light (AOL) scouts from Pack 183 went on an overnight backpacking trip into St. Mary’s Wilderness.

Scouts Jon Slegar, Georgia Brown, and Trindon Ball from the Troop, AOLs Henry Brown, and Barrett Couch from Pack 183, along with Troop and Pack leaders Steve Brown, Renee Brown, John Ball, Lauren Ball, Dan Slegar, and JD Couch, had an exciting weekend exploring the National Forest.

Scouts started their journey early Saturday morning where they participated in a gear check, weather check, and formed the temporary ‘St. Mary’s Patrol‘ handing out responsibilities for land navigation, first aid, cooking, and other duties.

Once the scouts departed the Scout Hut, they arrived about an hour later in the wilderness area. From there, scouts and leaders headed down the St. Mary River trail for their waterfall and camping destination. The journey took scouts down class 1 and a few class 2 rock scrambles and multiple river crossings.

For the inbound hike, St. Mary’s Patrol was lead by Patrol Leader Georgia Brown and Assistant Patrol Leader Trindon Ball. These two scout leaders demonstrated the buddy system, explained the rules of safe hiking, and gave examples to the scouters of Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly. They also motivated scouters by singing songs while putting miles under their belt.

Most scouters had no issues crossing the river in their hiking sandals, although the Pack 183 Director of Fun put a lot of effort in keeping her shoes dry.

When she found out that her river crossing had been capture on video, she had this to say:

After hiking over the river and along a few rock scrambles, scouts set up camp near the big waterfall, a very popular spot for day hikers. The camping spot selected by our patrol leadership had two great locations for tents and hammocks. The camp was almost split equally between the two.

We also had two rock-encircled fire pits but, because the local fallen wood was very wet, scouters decided to stick to one fire pit. The patrol leadership took scouters to gather wood in the surrounding area. After gathering what they could find, the scouts used safe knife-handling practices to create kindling and dried the thin slices of wood pieces in order to start a fire. Even the adults had to chip in on this one to get the water-logged wood to burn. But, as scouters often do, they prevailed and we had a great fire pit where we cooked our meals and made homemade cherry dump cake in foil packs. Scouters also used propane stoves for main and side dishes too!

The highlight of the trip was the waterfall itself. Here, scouts and leaders had a chance to go for a dive in and around the waterfall. The water was icy cold! Later that evening, scouters took a night hike where they navigated in the dark with minimal lighting. Scouts had a chance to hike with a white light, red light, and no light to experience the forest at night using their different senses and to remove some of the “fear” associated with the sounds of night creatures.

The next day, scouters learned the basics of orienteering which included map reading, using their compass, and navigating by GPS. Once the scouts had their route planned, we packed up and headed out to the abandoned iron ore mines.

We were very fortunate to have Scout leader Renee Brown with us as she guided the scouters through identifying various plants and insects as part of their various rank and merit badge requirements.

This was a great backpacking trip. The hands-on learning experienced on this trip contributed to 62 scouting rank and merit badge requirements. We hope that you can join us for the next one!