All posts by Maria Kaestner

Pursuing the History of Our Nation: The Inaugural Hike of BSA’s Historic Minutemen’s Pursuit Trail

Submitted by William Cline, Eagle Scout, Troop 11 Dorchester, MA

On April 19, 1775, after a shot was fired in a conflict between an elite group of Colonial Militia, known as “Minutemen,” and British Soldiers, the Minutemen pursued retreating British Soldiers from Merriam’s Corner in Concord to Prospect Hill in Somerville.

Ralph Waldo Emerson coined the first shot of this historic day, “the shot that was heard around the world,” this gunshot started the American Revolution. The “shot” location has been attributed to the Old North Bridge in Concord and the Lexington Battle Green in Lexington, both historic points of interest in the area. A tribute to this historic pursuit was the creation of a 15 mile BSA National Historic Trail, the “Minutemen’s Pursuit Trail,” which is a new historic trail in the Spirit of Adventure Council.

On April 19, 2017, exactly 242 years after what was one of the most significant points in the freedom of our country, which led to the creation of the greatest democracy in the world, I had the privilege to be one of five Scouts (three from Troop 11 in Dorchester, two from Troop 132 in Concord) and two leaders to take part in the inaugural hike of the Minutemen’s Pursuit Trail. The trail consists of three primary legs, which is the actual trail, and two adjunct legs. We hiked the three primary legs and one of the adjunct legs so we could qualify the hike for Hiking Merit Badge, requirement 5: a one day 20 mile hike. Several of the Scouts hiking the trail also applied the 20 miles to the Hiking Segment of the National Outdoor Achievement Award.

The Retreat from Concord

The trail provides an opportunity to experience many points of historical importance including: Minuteman National Park, Captain William Smith House, Lexington Battle Green, The Foot of the Rocks, Old Schwab Mill, Menotomy Indian Hunter Sculpture, Jason Russell House, Uncle Sam Monument, Whittemore Park, and the concluding point of the trail – Prospect Hill in Somerville where the first America Flag was flown.

On our hike we had the opportunity to meet Captain William Smith (a reenactment actor) who played his fife and travelled with us for several miles on the trail explaining much of the history of the area. We completed our hike ascending the many steps to the top of Prospect Hill Tower, which has one of the best views of Boston. I would like to thank the Somerville Department of Public Works for opening the tower for us on April 19, 2017.

North Bridge to Merriam’s Corner marker (l to r: William, Brandon, Nick, Logan, and Justin)

A unique part of the trip for the Scouts from Troop 11 in Dorchester was the experience we had taking the MBTA Commuter Rail from North Station in Boston out to Concord to meet our fellow Scouts from Troop 132 in Concord. The cost was very reasonable at $4.50 per Scout and it was really nice to experience the train ride. Having public transportation out to Concord, from the middle of Boston, opens up a world of opportunity for Scouts in the urban areas of Boston to experience their own pursuit of our nation’s history. The train ride makes it very convenient for Scouts visiting the Boston area from all over the country to experience an awesome historic hike.

Beginning our “Pursuit” from the Concord Station (l to r: Justin, Brandon, William, Logan, and Nick)

I highly recommend the Minuteman Pursuit Trail. We stopped for Ice Cream at Rancatore’s in Lexington and had a late lunch at the Menotomy Grill in Arlington which has many historic flags, Revolutionary War reproductions, and great hamburgers!

The top of Prospect Hill Tower 20.29 miles later (l to r: Justin, Mr. Cline, Logan, Brandon, Mr. Owen, Nick, and William)

The Minutemen’s Pursuit Trail is very well documented and there is a Minutemen’s Pursuit Trail Medal a Scout can earn by completing a questionnaire about some of the historic points on the trail.  I love the history of our great area in the United States. I hope Scouts will seize the opportunity to explore a lot of our Nation’s history on the Minutemen’s Pursuit Trail. I give this trail a 10 star rating!

On April 19, 2018, there will be the 1st Annual Minutemen’s Pursuit Trail hike. This will be an awesome opportunity for Scouts from all over the country to take part in a historic hike to commemorate the original pursuit 243 years later.

For more information about the trail please send an email to David Owen: [email protected]

Summer Camp: Endless Opportunities

Submitted by Jenn Erickson, a Wilmington Cubmaster

Summer Camp…two words…endless opportunities.

Summer camp is so much better than a placeholder for your kids until you get home from work. So much better than a babysitter or electronics that keep them occupied. Summer camp is the time for kids to be kids. To get outside and learn the skills that will assist them in being better friends, prepared students and some day, engaged parents and productive adults.

The days are filled with fresh air, fun, learning (shhh!), dirty knees and hopefully sun. If not, they learn the importance of being prepared and having rain gear or learn how to be safe in a thunderstorm. They can do individual activities that strengthen their hand eye coordination, their creativity and imagination through woodworking, leather crafting, and arts and crafts. They do team building activities and learn to work and share with others. They learn new sports or maybe strengthen the skills of old ones. They learn they don’t have to be the best to have fun but they need to try their best. For many, a love of a new interest is borne or a skill crafted that they had never tried before. Who knew they were good at archery and slingshots? Who knew they could build a chair from a pile of wood? They get scrapes and splinters and learn how to treat them. They learn an appreciation of the outdoors and how to take care of it. They explore and discover new things in the world around them. They learn to care about the well-being of their friends by instilling in them the buddy system.

Summer camp is an opportunity for kids to be away from their parents. They discover what they can do without Mom or Dad there. We as parents learn what they are capable of when we step back and let them be, they truly can do so much more than we give them credit. They gain some independence, some confidence and learn from some mistakes. As they do these things, they build up their self-esteem and their self-worth. They become leaders and decision makers. They have choices that they are responsible for, they make new friends and are introduced to new types of people and situations. They grow.

Summer camp is childhood wrapped up in one week and I wouldn’t want my son to miss it for anything in the world. Summer camp is calling and he MUST go!

Councils Coming Together- Wood Badge Course

Submitted by Elaine Mason, Course Director from Cape Cod & Islands Council, BSA

Adult Leaders are invited to this year’s “Wood Badge” Course, hosted by the Cape Cod & Islands Council. The course incorporates the traditions of over 80 years of Wood Badge, while adding the management and leadership training necessary to be successful as a leader in the 21st century. Scouters will meet and build lasting friendships with others from three different councils!

Back in the old days, only a select few were invited to get advanced training and earn their Wood Badge beads.  Nowadays, this special opportunity is open to any registered adult leader with a position in Scouting.  Don’t miss it! If you haven’t taken Wood Badge yet, consider yourself invited.   This year’s course is April 28-30 and June 9-11.

Q: Who should take Wood Badge?
A: Every adult leader no matter which program you are in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and/or Venturing should consider taking Wood Badge. It’s ideal for anyone ready to build on their basic training, learn more advanced leadership skills and strengthen their commitment to Scouting. Wood Badge goes beyond traditional outdoor skills to focus on leading people: how to communicate, teach, plan, inspire, manage conflict, drive change and serve others.

Q: What Commitment does it require?
A: Wood Badge requires two three-day weekends (Fri-Sat-Sun), a fee of $275, and a commitment to apply your skills and “work your ticket” after the course. Yes, it is a big commitment, but you are getting a lot of training packed into six days! The fee covers six days of food and accommodations, t-shirt, plus a lot of training materials. You’ll get many of the same skills that people get in corporate leadership training, for just a fraction of the cost. Some units choose to help pay the fee for their leaders. A $50 deposit will hold your place.

Q: Why do we need to sign up now? Can I wait?
A: Wood Badge requires a lot of planning and volunteer time to run. The BSA only allows us to run a course if we have at least 30 fully committed participants a month in advance.

Questions? Contact Elaine Mason at [email protected]