Shiloh - Spring Break 2013

Shiloh Military Park, Trail 4, Odd Year Compass Course
Saturday, March 9, 2013 - Monday, March 11, 2013

   In 2013, the Troop decided to travel to Shiloh National Military Park to hike Trail #4.  This trail is a compass course that takes the group from one landmark to another without using roads and requires a little more skill and knowledge of reading a map and using a compass to get to your points successfully.

   The Troop departed First Baptist Collinsville early in the morning on Saturday in order to arrive at the campground by Noon so that we could get a good spot to camp for the weekend.  Saturday was spent traveling and setting up the campsite we would be at for the next few days.  The older Scouts were able to work with the newly "crossed over" Scouts who came up from the Webelos on setting up camp and pitching their tents.  The boys did really well working together and getting camp up with plenty of time to have some fun.  
   After everything was setup, we loaded up the vans and went over to the visitor center to watch the movie there about Shiloh and the battles that happened there.  After the movie, and a restroom break, we departed out on a road course for a quick hike to get out and stretch our legs.  While on this small hike, we did come across an Eagle's nest off in the distance.  It is amazing how large the nests are!  

   On Sunday, we divided the Troop into 3 groups after our Chapel Service to go out onto the course in waves.  This way, it was easier for 6-8 boys to get through the course at a time than 20-24 Scouts and adults all at the same time.  The first group was our youngest and least experienced in hiking, which for that reason we sent them out on the course first so that they would have plenty of time to complete the 10-mile course.  Our second group then departed out about 30 minutes later to start their trek.  And then our last group, the Eagle Patrol, departed out another 30 minutes later. 
   All groups took plenty of water, as well as their lunch with them to eat on the trail.  I was with our Eagle Patrol as we took off last.  One thing our group was doing on the hike was getting the GPS coordinates for each landmark as we went along the course to give to the volunteer group that keeps up the compass course so that they could also use that as a GPS course for the Geocaching Merit Badge.
   For our group, they did very well (for the most part) with reading the instructions and putting that to work with the map and compass that we had.  Many points were fairly easy to navigate and get to.  But as we continued on, they began to get harder to find.  Some included walking through very thick brush and we had to get around that without losing our bearings.  We had our moments where we got a little lost, but the experience of getting lost and then finding your way back on track by going back to the last place you knew you were on course was a very good lesson for the group to learn.  
   We stopped for lunch around 2:00 that afternoon, we were obviously starving, and looking at the points that we had been at, it was discouraging in that in the "number" of points left, it looked as though we were only halfway through.  But then we showed them the map and how many of the points were much closer together.  About an hour later, as we were back on the trail, a storm came up.  In the middle of the woods and a storm brewing is not a good thing.  We continued on to our next point, hoping to find some shelter along the way, but the storm itself blew over and just dropped a good bit of rainfall on us.  The boys enjoyed the rain some, in that it definitely cooled us off...but some realized that being wet meant your clothes were heavier.  Personally, I enjoyed it and thought it added some excitement to the day.
   We finished up the hike a good bit later than we needed to as we were supposed to be at a restaurant for dinner at the time we were walking back into camp, and soaking wet still.  We had sent along the other groups on to the restaurant and we changed and then met them there as soon as we could.  The boys got to enjoy some great fried fish or fried chicken that evening...all while it continued to rain outside.
   Now getting to the rain...  It rained for a good 12 hours straight...not necessarily hard, but just continous.  After eating and getting back to camp, all the boys were exhausted from the hike and with the rain, they quickly went to their tents for the night.  Finally, about the time the sun came up Monday morning, the rain let off and we were able to come out from our "hiding."  Many of the boys' tents had allowed water to come through them for whatever reason and we had many with soaking wet clothes, sleeping bags, etc.  The wind had gotten hold of the tent I was in and loosen one of the flaps that should have kept me dry, and so even I too, experienced being wet more than I'd like.  But it was all good.
   The boys packed up camp, ate some quick breakfast, and we departed the campground. On the way back, we stopped over at the Mossy Oak store in Westpoint for lunch and to look around the store.  This definitely brightened the boys' moods.  We also stopped one last time in Brooksville at the Ole Country Store (Mennonite Bakery) to pick up some donuts and other goodies for the trip home.

   Overall, the boys had a great time on this campout and the only recommendation to make it better was to have not had the rain...although, not in our control!  It was a great experience with the hike and the boys learned alot about Orienteering, using the map and compass, and going on a compass course.  Although the course is rated to be approximately 10 miles long...for many of us, it became a 12-14 mile hike.  But it was still a lot of fun and something we would definitely do again!