Yesterday I returned from a campout with Troop 797. The outing was thoroughly enjoyed by all (though perhaps not all parts of the outing were enjoyed to as great an extent as others). Below I’ll describe the planning that took place beginning a few months ago and what we actually did during the campout, and I’ll share some photos as well.
Planning and Preparation
At the troop’s annual planning conference held in February and March, the youth and adult leaders made a list of several potential locations and activities for our monthly outings. We generally try to plan activities that do not require significant travel, so this outing would be and exception.
From March until early May, we discussed aspects of the May campout, in May we used a troop meeting to do additional planning, then did out final planning in May’s Patrol Leader Council (PLC) meeting.
Since the troop plans on having two backpacking trips this summer, we decided to have the Scouts bring dinners that they would prepare using backpacking stoves. The troop would supply breakfast, and the Scouts would bring a sack lunch to eat on the way home. Spencer Fowers purchases chocolate chip and blueberry muffins at CostCo – - the muffins are a troop favorite when we want a quick breakfast.
To make effective use of the 2 ½ hours the Scouts would spend in the car each way, we decided to work on merit badges during the trip. Our Senior Patrol Leader, Sam Jensen, chose the merit badges, both of which are required for Eagle – - Citizenship in the Community and Personal Management. Since the troop has done geocaching in the past, and would possibly do more geocaching on this campout, I added geocaching to the list. For the first two merit badges I went to the Provo Library and checked out the most recent versions of each merit badge booklet, and on Friday afternoon I went to the Scout store in Orem to purchase the booklet for the Geocaching merit badge.
A few days before the campout I sent an e-mail to parents and leaders with our final plans (See 20110518 e-mail).
I made sure we had health forms for all Scouts, and Jake Tolley took care of our Tour Plan, which he had John Bingham approve before we left. The Monday before we left I had my tires rotated and my car serviced, making sure all was in order for the drive.
I was responsible to reserve a campsite for the troop at the Goblin Valley State Park campground, but waited too long – - I attempted to reserve a site on Monday or Tuesday, and found that the campsite was full. Hearkening back to a visit to Goblin Valley as an Assistant Scoutmaster in 2006, I turned my search to BLM land where we might be allowed to camp, and discovered a blog on a place that would be perfect for us (See http://operationexplorations.blogspot.com/2011/05/free-blm-camping-near-goblin-valley.html or operationexplorations-blogspot-com).
I went ahead and used the Internet to get driving directions. Spencer Fowers and Jake Tolley had suggested that a hike in Little Wild Horse Canyon, a slot canyon near Goblin Valley, would be a good activity. At our PLC meeting we modified our plans accordingly, scheduling time at Goblin Valley for Friday evening, then using Saturday morning for Little Wild Horse Canyon. I found a website that gave directions to the canyon, and that gave helpful information about the trail itself (See http://www.utahredrocks.com/lwh.htm or www-utahredrocks-com).
Friday, May 20, 2011
At about 3:30 pm the Scoutmasters began preparations in advance of the 4 pm departure time. Jake Tolley met me at my parking stall at my place (carrying with him a book for one of his classes, authored by a man convicted of cyber-crimes committed in the 1990s that caught my attention at the time [“The Art of Deception” by Kevin Mitnick et al]). We went to Morgan Hunter’s home to pick up a troop backpacking stove he’s had from last summer, and Spencer Fowers similarly retrieved fuel and a stove from Taylor Cline. At the chapel we gathered some equipment from the troop closet and trailer, and I grabbed a box of matches as a backup in case the Scouts did not bring their own.
At about 4 pm the Scouts started arriving with their parents, and we left by about 4:15 pm, which is pretty good.
We stopped at Macey’s where Spencer bought some mantels for the troop lanterns, and stopped in Spanish Fork to fuel up.
Spencer had Sam Jensen and Hans Cosgrave in his car; they studied the Geocaching merit badge just as we had planned. Jake Tolley was in my car, and Jake taught Cooper Legas and Tanner Rife about the Personal Management merit badge, although Cooper was pretty tired and ended sleeping most of the time.
At about 7:00 pm we arrived at the BLM area near Goblin Valley, set up our tents (including Spencer’s 8-person tent for the Scoutmasters), and since Goblin Valley State Park closes at 10 pm we ate snacks and went straight to the park.
We were at the park, which is seven miles from the BLM area, by about 8:20 pm.
Admission was $7 per vehicle. The Scouts enjoyed exploring the unusual rock formations. During part of this time Jake, Spencer, and I discussed science fiction television series such as Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, and the British series Dr. Who.
We were back at the BLM area by about 10 pm. Jake and Spencer worked on getting the lanterns working, and they and the Scouts were very frustrated by the large number of dud matches in the troop matches I had retrieved – - I had to remind everyone that matches were on the checklist we had sent everyone.
After much persistence, a lamp and the stoves were finally lit. The Scouts brought their own meals, and generally ate soup. Jake had a foil dinner he cooked on the stove. I had an MRE heated in a plastic bag that generates heat by a chemical reaction with water. Spencer had the gourmet meal of the night, a chimichanga.
After a troop prayer, we got to bed by about 11 pm, and some of the Scouts were talking up a storm in their tents.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
I woke up at about 5:45 am, much earlier than when my alarm went off. I read a chapter from The Book of Mormon, then walked around the BLM site a bit, stopping a distance from our camp to read the Finance and Economics section from The Economist magazine.
I arrived back at camp a bit after 7 am, pleasantly surprised to see Scouts at work taking down their tents. Spencer correctly chided me for not letting anyone know where I’d gone.
Some of the Scouts left camp to explore a bit and to find lizards, we had breakfast of CostCo muffins, and one Scout supplemented that breakfast with Hostess cupcakes. Spencer and Cooper washed down chocolate muffins with orange Tang – - to me a cringe-inducing combination, but not to them.
We walked through the campsite to pick up any trash, and by 8:30 am we were at the trailhead for Little Wild Horse Canyon. Throughout the hike the younger Scouts were taking every path other than a straight line – - their direction is dictated by an insatiable desire to find lizards and a determination to climb rocks and ridges on either side of the trail.
By about 9:35 am we had hit a section of the slot canyon in which the canyon was three to five feet wide, and the floor of the canyon was covered by anywhere from six inches to three feet of water. A crowd of hikers had gathered there, some of them individuals, some families with young children.
We took our shoes off, and headed into the cold water.
This was perhaps the most fun we had on the hike. Some members of our troop became experts at “scaling” narrow sections of the canyon, moving forward not by walking on the water-covered canyon floor, but by pressing their hands and feet against the canyon’s walls.
We turned back at about 10:30 am.
We were back at the trailhead right around our scheduled departure time of noon.
On the drive home Spencer Fowers taught geocaching to Cooper Legas and Tanner Rife, and in my car Jake Tolley taught Personal Management to Hans Cosgrave and Sam Jensen. In my car we also played a guessing game and twenty questions, covering topics such as the only poisonous mammal (platypus), the heaviest tree (sequoia), the fastest snake (black mamba), kangaroos, giraffes, and stars.
We stopped for gas in Spanish Fork, and arrived at the chapel right about 3 pm, unloaded, and parents arrived to pick up their children.
This was a fun trip, in which the Scouts go another night of camping under the belts, showed persistence in overcoming the frustrations of trying to get their stoves started to cook dinner, showed determination in making it through the flooded portions of Little Wild Horse Canyon, and showed dedication by using part of the travel time to work on merit badges. As always, I get great help from Assistant Scoutmasters, Jake and Spencer did a wonderful job.