|The Den pointing the way.|
I asked my Den parents if they would be interested in an overnight backpacking trip. They knew I enjoyed this sort of thing and they were supportive of the idea. To help prepare the boys for future outings we had built alcohol stoves as a Den project early in the year so that they all at least had a good backpacking stove. We begged and borrowed enough gear to get the small group of Webelos Cub Scouts outfitted with the appropriate gear for the trip.
In preparation for the trip, we held a couple of Den meetings to discuss backpacking. We covered appropriate clothing for hiking, backpack fitting and packing, sleeping bags and pads as well as cooking and water purification. I did my best to emphasize that the lighter your pack, the more fun you will have.
As you may recall from prior posts like Taking Your Child on Their First Backpacking Trip, I want to make the trip fun to encourage future participation in hiking and backpacking. I have found that shorter, flatter hikes with some feature or cool destination seems to be the key to making a trip fun for kids. I also like to have water available when I get there to minimize the weight that must be carried and it makes for good playtime as well. Cooler temperatures found at higher elevations are also a must for a summer hike to avoid wearing out these youngsters.
|Making our way to camp.|
We gathered the group at the trailhead. We had three of our Webelos, our Boy Scout Den Chief and his older brother, a Boy Scout, plus three adults including myself, all leaders. We would have an additional Scout and his much older brother joining us later in the day. We headed out on the trail after emphasizing proper hydration and trail etiquette.
|Looks heavy but he is carrying less than 20 lbs.|
We made surprisingly great time getting to camp. We took a couple or rest stops and snack breaks and made it to John’s Meadow just a little after noon. The boy’s were very excited as they discovered a wood fort in camp which we decided to use as our kitchen area. We all ate lunch and set up our tents. Now it was time to goof off!
Adjacent to camp is Foresee Creek. The boys were heading there to get water and I tagged along as I wanted to get wet. What started as a quick trip to the creek turned into a 3 hour visit with splashing, soaking and for some of the boys, full on submersion in the frigid creek. We filtered water and drank plenty while we were there. It was great to see these boys having such a great time doing something as simple as playing in a creek. It was nice to see kids entertained without a Nintendo or any other electronic device. Our last Scout and his older brother hiked in and met us at the creek as we were about to pack up. We all headed back to camp together and our Den Chief broke out a couple Velcro paddles and a ball and the boys proceeded to play catch for at least another hour. It was so nice to see Scouting in action!
|Cooling off our feet in Forsee Creek.|
|Den Cheif shows the boys how it is done!|
|Great view up Foresee Creek|
|Wood fort we used as our kitchen.|
|Pumping water with our filter.|
|Brothers on the trail.|
|Our late arrivers join us at the creek.|
|Dinner time. Alcohol stove in center of picture.|
|Packed up and ready to head out.|
It would appear that I have created a few new backpackers along with the help of my fellow Scout Leaders. We would like to get more of our Den involved and are already thinking of where and when to go out again. If you know a youngster in need of a first backpacking experience, please get them out on the trail. It not only gives them a great experience but also will reward you in ways you can only discover for yourself.