April 19-27, 2008
Trip to Gettysburg School Vacation 2008
After months of planning, some of it at the very last minute, the Gettysburg, PA trip went into motion. Early in the morning on Sunday, April 20th we all met at the temple. Jim Dowd was our leader and was towing the trailer for this trip. We had five days of food, clothing and “stuff” crammed into the trailer for the trip.
There were 15 scouts and 5 adults going. But on the way down, it was just four adults with Peter Beauregard joining us sometime later that night.
The plan was to travel the first 4 hours or so and stop at Steamtown in Scranton, PA for lunch and a “tourist” break. So with the 15 scouts and 4 adults crammed into 3 vehicles, we headed to Scranton. All were equipped with DVD players and some DVD’s. The Bourne Sanction DVD seemed to be the common movie on the way down. Just listening to it being played thru the speaker system in my truck made for an entertaining ride. The scouts in the back seat seemed to enjoy watching it as well!
We all enjoyed a tasty PB & J sandwich for lunch at Steamtown. We then toured steam town. Some of the scouts got to “self power” one of the manually operated train car. It was an interesting stop, but we couldn’t stay too long as there was still another 166 miles to Gettysburg.
The ride south was pretty uneventful. We were up pretty high, around 1800 feet for part of the way before going into the valley below of Harrisburg and Gettysburg. Of course, typical to campouts, and after 7 hours in the vehicles of driving in sun and clouds, it began to rain about 30 minutes from the campground.
Now we’re not talking just rain, but torrential downpours. Heavy, heavy rain. The campground assigned us to our location which was sitting in 2 inches of water. Not a pleasant location to set up camp. So we moved to higher ground. We quickly got the cooking shelters up as well as most of the scout tents. But of course, now it started to thunder and lightening. We all ran into the men’s room for shelter. Here we stayed for more than an hour.
Now it was past dinner time, some tents still had to go up and everyone was hungry. On a brief gap from the storm, we all got into the vehicles and went into town in search of food. McD’s to the rescue. 19 hungry people eating 15 minutes to 10pm before they closed.
After dinner, the storm finally let up enough for us to get the rest of the tents up and finally relax. Sometime after 1am, the last member of our crew arrived and set up his tent to the snores of everyone else in camp!
Monday arrived and it was a beautiful day. A few clouds in the sky, but thankfully no rain. Our first stop was the brand new visitor’s center. It was real nice, had lots of displays and still had a ways to go before being completed. We watched a movie on the civil war and how it pertained to Gettysburg. We lunched at the visitor’s center before heading out on the first of three main hikes.
By late afternoon everyone was back in camp and preparing for a delicious dinner. The weather had turned warm and comfortable and the nights were just as pleasant.
Tuesday was the day of the big hike. Water bottles were filled; snacks and lunches prepared and off the scouts went. Certain hikes and requirements were on our list to earn all portions of the Gettysburg patch. They were:
1. The Visitor Center/National Cemetery
The big hike was 9 miles. But since the group started from the campground, that 9 miles became 11. One extra mile to the trail head and back again. That gave the scouts not only the requirement but also a 10 mile hike under their belts.
Unfortunately, it was the warmest day of the week. The sun was shining brightly in a cloudless sky. I chose not to do the hike as I plans to meet a friend who was coming up from Baltimore area. Once my visit was completed, I bought the 2 cd set and headed onto the battlegrounds. Directed by the cd, I was reliving the Battle of Gettysburg. Plus I had 20 geocaches with me and I found 9 of 11 that I had time to complete. Needless to say, I did not get to finish both cd’s and want to go back again. It is so easy to get wrapped into the battle, the scenery and story; you can envision being there with the troops.
I did keep in touch with the scouts via ham radio and Peter Beauregard. When they stopped at the lookout tower, I met them there. Thankfully I had my cooler in the back and refilled every water bottle or refreshed them as they were dry, hot and tired. After the refresh, they headed back onto the trail to complete the hike. Thankfully I had chosen to not hike with them!
Back at camp, there were many tired people and some sore and blistered feet. By the time dinner was ready, many were dozing in front of the camp fire. Many, many snorers were heard that night!
Wednesday was our last day in Gettysburg. We had 2 hikes set up. The urban hike with Jim Dowd reading from his booklet about the history of different buildings. We all enjoyed the “urban” aspect of the hike. We made it an early day, made an early dinner and headed back into Gettysburg around sunset for a “Haunted” hike around the seminary. The seminary used to be the Battle of Gettysburg Hospital.
Many stories were told about each building and the surrounding grounds. Many in our group even saw “orbs” in their pictures which could not be explained! Were they really ghosts?
Thursday came all too quickly and we packed up camp and started to head home. We did make one major stop at the huge Harrisburg Bass Pro Shops store. This expected one hour stop turned into a long 3 hour stopover. Once we returned to our vehicles, we found out that one of us had their keys locked in their vehicle. Thankfully they had On-Star and after a series of phone calls for passwords, On-Star quickly unlocked the vehicle!
The ride back was pretty uneventful. In our truck, the scouts watched part of the “Gettysburg” movie. We up front listened and were heavily into it when we made a pit stop. Once we got rolling again, to our dismay, the movie had been changed and I never got to hear the end of it. I still have yet to rent it and watch it myself!
We stopped in NJ for a much deserved dinner at an Italian restaurant and then headed home, many hours behind schedule. Sometime around 11pm, we pulled into the temple parking lot to awaiting parents.
It was a fantastic trip! One that I’d like to do again. Walking on the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg gave us all a new perspective into the historic battle that happened there. Everyone should go and experience it.
Larry Krainson Assistant Scoutmaster