Be Prepared


HikeItForward-Final-MediumToday in Ohio was a perfect day to be on the Appalachian Trail – sunny, light breeze, warm temperature – all the elements of an enduring spring. There was no April Fool rain cloud in the sky – only the call of the trail thundered in the distance. I have placed an order for 120 days just like today…. beginning on April 26th.

This past weekend, however, was not a good one for some boy scouts on the A.T. The Chesapeake, Virginia troop missed the merit badge of “Be Prepared” during their weekend outing. They woke up to several inches of snow on Sunday morning and were not ready for the change in weather. Some of the scouts called for help from the Seeley-Woodworth Shelter near Montebello, VA around 8:20 am. The eight boys and an unknown number of adult chaperones made contact with emergency responders. Fortunately, no one was injured.

I really do understand young lads coming unprepared for the elements and naïve to the changes in weather – part of scouting is growing in wisdom and discernment about such things. I have a harder time understanding the mindset of the leaders. I obviously was not there and know none of the details, so my finger pointing is not at the Chesapeake troop in particular. But, a leader needs to take responsibility for the group – especially when the team is focused on mentoring, growth, and development. Shame on the scout who shows up unprepared – double shame on the leader who allows the scout to continue in his folly. The foolish scout should be sent home to contemplate his mistake by the light and safety and embarrassment of the fireplace. The leader should reward wise preparation and praise the readiness of well-equipped hikers.


Seeley-Woodworth Shelter

Seeley-Woodworth Shelter

The emergency personnel offered some sound advice to the troop: 1. spring can be an especially tricky time of year for hikers in the mountains; 2. the weather can change really quickly – hikers should plan to check the forecast before they hit the trailhead, keeping in mind higher elevations can be substantially colder than the valleys below; 3. during the fickle spring season, it’s also a good idea to bring rain gear along with extra layers of clothing to add or remove as the temperatures dictate; 4. always be prepared with a small first aid kit; and 5. be sure to let someone (not on the trip) know the destination of the hike and the time of the expected  return – enabling a check-in protocol and a source of direction for rescue groups in case of emergency. Reading between the lines, I could not help but wonder how unprepared this group of scouts and their leaders might have been.

Shelter Photo

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Backpack, Hiking, Shelter, Snow, Trail, Virginia | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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