I was thrilled last month to receive an invitation to speak to a Boy Scout Troop in Xenia, Ohio. One of the members of the troop is a student at Xenia Christian School and he sent me an email to see of my interest in sharing about my journey on the Appalachian Trail. I am always interested in sharing my story with anyone who will listen, so we arranged a date early in March and I brought my projector, my computer, and my passion for the trail.
The troop is considering hiking some of the AT this summer. They are headed toward the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. My hike through the Smokies was so enjoyable so I spent a little more time than usual sharing with the scouts about this part of my thru-hike. I really enjoyed meeting the young men and their leaders. Most of them already have more experience camping than I did before I left for the trail, but my time on the AT provided lots of practical lessons in setting up and tearing down camp, in filtering water, and in hiking strategies.
I shared with the troop that I had several positive encounters with scouts during my hike. Mike (check out his blog, South Jersey Trails) is a scout leader and I was able to briefly visit with them twice along the trail – just north of the southern border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania and again on Mount Graylock, the highest peak in Massachusetts.
I also had a connection in Maryland with the scouts as I encountered a group of boy scouts at Dahlgren Backpack Campground when we all took shelter to avoid a downpour of the summer’s liquid sunshine. One of the leaders, in particular, was interested in my hike while he was texting his wife, who was coming with dinner for the troops. He was rather surprised that I left the campground before the rain was over, but I needed to truck on in order to make my destination for the night.
There were several bridges and wooden walkways along the trail that had been constructed by local boy-scout troops or as an eagle-scout project. I tried my best to vocally thank the scouts as I safely traveled on their construction with dry shoes and a good sense of humor. I was truly thankful for their efforts and grateful for the improvements to the trail.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Troop 165 in Xenia and I am excited for the scouts as they spend some time in the Great Smoky Mountains this summer. May they represent the scouting tradition well. May they enjoy the forest trail and learn about themselves as they experience God’s Creation.
Photo of Troop found at http://scoutingsite.tripod.com/