Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ohiopyle 2009 Memories...

Scouts, Scouters & parents,

The week long trip to Ohiopyle State Park was fantastic and a great time was had by all. 10 scouts (Nathaniel, Aidan, Ian, Alastair, Tyler, Stefan, Nathan, Christopher, Cade, & Joseph) and 5 adults (Mr. Cowhig, Mr. Incognito, Mr. Weston, Mr. Barone & Mr. McCormick) attended the campout.

All of the scouts received at least 2 of 3 merit badges there (forestry, geology & climbing) and the trip included many other activities:

We went to the natural waterslides at Ohiopyle and at first thought that it would be too rough going down. But just after a few minutes, the scouts were going down head first! Ask them about the chest bruises some of them got! Plus, the water was a "warm" 52 degrees-- suitable for numbing up any pain.

All the scouts took merit badge classes and went rock climbing and rappelling ("rap-pelling", for Joseph) inside the caverns. That first step off the ledge from about 40 feet up was probably the most difficult part. But after 3 go-arounds, all of the scouts and Mr. Cowhig were "pros" at it.

The lower caving that same day was perhaps even more fun. Nothing like being a mile below ground with a headlamp on and trying to maneuver through crawl spaces only a skinny 10 year old could fit through! Definitely not for the claustrophobic! The scouts took it as a challenge though and did just great. No one got injured too badly (again only some minor bruises).

Thankfully we had scheduled our trip early enough because they have now completely closed off lower caving to groups because of the white-nosed disease that is killing off tens of thousands of bats.

On Tuesday, we went whitewater rafting on the Lower Youghiogheny River. In my boat, both Aidan and Joseph flipped off into the water on a relatively mild rapid and had to be pulled in. I think Beans also flipped off of his boat during a rapid-- but I think everyone managed to say inside of Mr. Cowhig's boat. We had a very interesting cold cut sandwich lunch and soon afterwards, jumped off a 20 foot rock into the river just for fun. This was so much fun that we have to come back and do it again!

We visited (George Washington's really tiny) Fort Necessity on Wednesday and learned a lot about the French and Indian war. It rained pretty much all morning and all day, so it was good being indoors. For lunch, some of us went to Nate Dog's for some really tasty hotdog's. Nate Incognito has a nice green tee shirt from there as a souvenir.

On Friday, we topped off our stay with a long 10 mile, 5 hr hike through the state park (the first 2 hours of it in the pouring rain). And were reminded of a few things: (1) don't ever forget to bring a water bottle; (2) waterproof hiking boots do much better in the rain than running shoes; (3) always wear wool (not cotton) socks; (4) pizza at Fox's in Ohiopyle at 4pm is really, really delicious, especially when you missed lunch! (5) finishing 8 large pizzas for 12 starving people.... no problem.

Everyone had a blast. We cooked up some really great meals (headed again by our master chef, "Beans" Rogers) and despite a wet and soggy 3 days midweek (it just isn't a Troop 466 campout without lots of rain, right?) we managed to really enjoy our time there and had some very memorable moments.

Ask us sometime about: the black bear visiting us the last night we were there; cumin french toast and moments before young Christopher's first step off the ledge during rappelling.

I've managed to snap a few photos of the trip and you can view them on my Smugmug page by visiting:
I have a few more pics to add (from disposable cameras during our whitewater trip and lower caving) later this week.

Well.... I just thought I'd tell you about some of the details as I know when you ask your son, "how was the trip?" the answer you get is, "good". "What did you guys do?" Answer: "Stuff". Hopefully now, you can ask them to fill-in some of the details that went on.

I would like to thank the Scouts for working together extremely well as a team in taking care of both cooking (we love our Dutch ovens!) and KP, setting up and taking down tarps, and especially to our older, experienced scouts in looking out for and teaching our younger scouts the things they need to learn and advance.

Many thanks to Mr. Castell for making the camping arrangements and reservations for us; to Mr. Barone for transporting a lot of our gear to-and-from Ohiopyle; to Mr. Weston and Mr. McCormick for their valuable assistance throughout the entire week and most especially, to Mr. Cowhig for helping with just about every aspect of the trip. He has been instrumental in making our Troop's campouts very enjoyable and memorable and he's done many, many hours of "behind-the-scenes" work to make this (and our Goshen/Bowman campout) very, very successful. My sincere thanks ti him.

To attest to that, the scouts have received an average of 10 merit badges just this summer alone!! That's pretty darn amazing!

Well.....sorry for the long email.

Be on the lookout for many more Troop 466 trips, especially our NYC hiking trip in the fall!

Yours in Scouting,

Len Incognito
Scoutmaster, Troop 466
St. John the Evangelist Church
Silver Spring, MD

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