Every year the troop plans a mini-trek for backpacking in order to give the younger scouts a taste for self-sufficiency. The Scouts typically start in Clarence Fahnestock State Park and backpack a portion of the Appalachian Trail (AT) into Durland Scout camp. First year scouts, and even guests, are instructed to wear day packs only as some have not experienced much hiking, especially around the hills of Durland Scout camp! Scouts must prep for backpacking and target total pack weight of only one-third of their body weight and ensure they have comfortable fitting hiking boots (not sneakers!). Sometimes the troop splits into two groups, with the younger scouts taking a path less than 5 miles. Too, they get ample practice with map and compass on the trail.
There is a rich history in the area with several abandoned mines from the mid-1800s. Iron ore was mined in those days and shipped westward to nearby Cold Springs to the foundry there. There are even remnants of an old town deep in the woods. If the history is not enticing enough, the natural beauty of a hike during fall foliage is! Temps can drop into the teens on Saturday night, so the outing is also a good primer for Winter Camping skills. Many often stay warm after dinner by performing acrobatic skits to everyone’s appreciation. Prior to departing for home, however, scouts often engage in a traditional game of “acorn wars”. There is a degree of comfort in camping at Durland each year, akin to donning an old pair of sneakers, as these pictures clearly show!!