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  • Long Beach Breeze

Scouts BSA Troop hikes in the Grand Canyon

Special to Long Beach Breeze

Boy Scouts of America, Scouts BSA, Troop 321 from Long Beach spent their spring break travelling to the Grand Canyon and hiking below the rim.

Scouts traveled on their bus, Scoutship Integrity, from Long Beach to Arizona. Arriving before dawn, the scouts found an out-of-the-way location to set up to prepare and eat breakfast on the rim, overlooking the canyon. There they got to see snow that had not yet melted from the oncoming summer heat.

The scouts set up a base camp in the Grand Canyon National Park, Mather Campground, near the rim, and used that as their base of operations while there. During the stay, they hiked along the rim through Grand Canyon Village, on the trails in the park there, and spent a day on an eleven-mile hike, where they hiked to the plateau below Indian Garden on the Bright Angel Trail.

Boy Scouts of America, Scouts BSA, Troop 321

During their time on the trip, scouts took turns preparing their meals and cleaning up after themselves. For the big hike into the canyon, the hike into the canyon at the beginning of the day was light, easy and simple. Unlike any other hike that they have ever done before, however, the scouts had to estimate their skills and capabilities to get back out of the canyon.

To prepare for the arduous hike up the canyon rim, scouts prepared locally by doing practice hikes on the sea wall in Bay St. Louis and in their local neighborhoods. They also prepared by taking a weekend-long backpacking trek where the bus just dropped them off at the edge of the woods, and they had to hit the trail to crank out a 16-mile trek home.

In terms of getting out of the Grand Canyon, a hike of 5,000 feet at its greatest point, the scouts carried as little weight as they would need by sharing emergency gear and keeping their food and water weight down, with only minimal margins. The scouts learned some valuable lessons just in budgeting food and water alone, as well as what they learned from the experience of getting out there.

For younger scouts and scouts not able to tackle the 3,000+ feet hiked by the senior scouts, the scouts were divided into groups that turned back earlier on the trail, hiking back out at one mile or three miles.

Upon arrival to Indian Gardens, a smaller group of the most senior scouts hiked down the trail another mile out to the plateau and came back to join the larger group that had turned around at Indian Gardens. All of the scouts agreed back in base camp that there are still plenty of trips in the future that they would like to take.

On the way back from the Grand Canyon National Park, the scouts stopped at a meteor crater and learned the history and fame of the Winslow, Arizona, national monument. Just for fun and to honor the memory of a previous Scout Leader, the scouts stopped in the city of Winslow to “stand on the corner” and sing a verse from the Eagles’ song, “Take It Easy.”

In addition to stopping at the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico, they toured Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico, where they took a three-mile hike into a cave underground and saw the largest underground chamber in North America.

Scouts from Troop 321 hail from Bay St. Louis, Diamondhead, Poplarville, Gulfport, Biloxi, Ocean Springs and Long Beach. For all scouts involved, they say the adventure has taught self-reliance and built confidence in their growth and maturation.

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