First Posted: 6/24/2009
LOWGAP Caravans of cars and 15-passenger vans, many of them pulling trailers, began invading Lowgap this past weekend and will continue to do so throughout the summer.
These caravans are on their way to Raven Knob Scout Reservation and are filled with Boy Scouts looking to earn merit badges and new skills for a week at a time during the summer. During the seven-week period from now through Aug. 9, around 4,800 Boy Scouts will travel through the reservation. This does not include the Cub Scouts who had their own week of camp and the number of adults who accompany the scouts and often participate in their own set of skill-building activities.
From rifle shooting and kayaking to leatherwork and astronomy, scouts are able to experience a full range of activities to add to their merit badge collections or work towards an Eagle Scout ranking. Scouts can even do a golf program which lasts a half day and even includes frisbee golf.
This year, the mountain man program is a full encampment at Cripple Creek village for scouts. In the encampment, the scouts live in the 1830s. They sleep in miner-style tents and have an outdoor kitchen. A two-piece log cabin serves as a trading post and a commissary, serving up root beer on tap.
The only time participants in this program venture out of their encampment is for Wednesdays family night when families can come by for a picnic and a program featuring a tribal dancing demonstration and a tap out ceremony for people inducted into the Order of the Arrow.
There is even a program for first-year scouts. Instead of achieving merit badges, they focus more on the requirements they must meet with their own sessions.
Boys who have been in scouts for one year or five years find something to enjoy during their week at camp. They also get the opportunity to meet scouts from other states as troops from North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and a number of other states choose to head to Raven Knob.
Matthew Frye, from Troop 178 in Harmony, has been a scout for five years and has been to Raven Knob Scout Reservation for four years. This summer he is taking fish and wildlife, astronomy and Indian lore. His favorite session is fish and wildlife.
Were doing a lot of stuff and were out moving around, he said. Its pretty good so far. Its a really good camp.
John Carteret from Troop 28 in Poquoson, Va., has been a scout for about a year. He is one of many who enjoys the swimming sessions, taking advantage of the still-cool water on hot days.
Its very nice. All of the merit badge courses are great. I especially enjoy swimming. They have pretty good food, too, he said.
Carteret is also taking Indian lore, orienteering, wood carving and first aid.
Other popular water-related activities include small boat sailing, canoeing and Kayaking BSA, a fairly new program. Swimming sessions are offered for all skill levels, making sure everyone is in a safe environment in the water.
Wyatt Schaefer, from Troop 125 in West Palm Beach, Fla., enjoys his wilderness survival session where he is learning to live out in the forest. He is also taking sessions for cooking, fish and wildlife, wood carving and swimming.
Traveling from Miami, Fla., with Troop 941, Nicholas Vaccaro is taking sessions on communications, cooking, citizen in the nation, archeology and Indian lore. His favorite, however, is cooking.
We get to learn how to cook different meals and we get to eat, he said of the class. Ive had a great adventure. If I had a chance to come back, it would be an easy decision.
Denoris Perry did not have to travel as far as some of the other scouts, coming from Troop 900 in Winston-Salem. As an athlete, he is enjoying the personal fitness session he is taking.
I like learning better ways to keep myself in better shape and to lead a better life, he said of the session.
He is also taking communications, free swim, wood carving and nature sessions during the week.
The camp has been pretty good. The people are nice, the food is good and the activities are off the charts. Its an all-around good time, he said.
Adults who accompany the troops and work with their local scout troops can earn a scout master merit badge by completing different activities around the camp from working at the trading post to keeping an eye on water activities from the crows nest. They can also take classes such as kayaking so that they can become instructors for their troops at home.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.