Boy Scouts take to the road
Wednesday, August 19, 2015 2:23 pm
If you traveled along Highway 6 out of Raymond heading to Pe Ell and beyond this past week you may have seen a few hikers along the road.
Members of the Pacific Harbor Council Boy Scouts of America, Timberland District, were out for the second year in a row on their 50 Miler.
Youth ranging from 11 - 17, 42 boys and girls, were offered this event as opposed to the annual jamboree that they usually attend this time of the year.
"We usually do this hike every other year, but we decided to do this event and hold a "camporee" this year as opposed to the jamboree that we usually do," said hiking Director Dave Anderson.
Anderson and his crew drive support vans, walk with the youth, provide a foot clinic after a day of walking, and each is responsible for a different theme night as the Boy Scouts take refuge along the road after their 10 miles a day.
"We started in Raymond, and each night we have a theme for our night camp. The first night was Star Wars, we had "Jaba Juice" and because we were "Storm Troopers" we ate meals-ready-to-eat and freeze dried food."
But everything cannot be as authentic as they would like, but the members do the best they can with what they have and what they can carry with them.
Travelers who were on the trail for the 50 Miler Badge, some just for a hiking badge, stood in line for their evening meal of "fish and chips" mountain man style prepared in Dutch ovens.
"Some ask what's the difference between hiking and backpacking - and there are two different achievement badges for Scouts," explains Anderson.
"In hiking you only need to have your ten essentials like a compass, your knife, water - some basic items...for backpacking the list grows from the ten essentials to also include your camping gear like a sleeping bag and tent."
The crew also perform acts of community service as they walk the 50 miles collecting roadside litter, cutting down some weeds and pruning a few blackberry bushes. Later in the week they also performed a service for Rainbow Falls State Park.
"We have been doing this for a few years now and have a great community support system along the way. People open up their yards or farms to us to hold camps and we pay them back by being good citizens along the way."
Each night the group holds a campfire evening, but not this year with the fire restrictions. Though they have not been able to have any real campfires, the celebration continues.
Tonight we will have a lesson on what it is to be a Mountain Man with an authentic talk from people who have experienced the lifestyle. Later we have scheduled a cowboy camp an indian camp and will end with a family gathering in our final day at Alexander Park," said Anderson.
One event that always happens during the 50 Miler is the retiring of flags when they burn old flags and award the grommets that are usually made into a necklace to a scout that has impressed them during the hike.
"It may be an act of community, or selflessness...it is an honor to be awarded a grommet from one of the retired flags during the ceremony."
The group is part of the Timberland District that covers from Winlock to Rochester to Packwood and Pe Ell. They post almost daily progress of the 50 Miler walk "when we can get a signal", to their Facebook page Timberland BSA 50 Miler.
The group does a combined 250 hours of community service between the scouts and adults that assist with the event.