This spring, 57 scouts from BSA Troop 1, chartered by St. Andrews Episcopal Cathedral/St. James Episcopal church, ventured to the Grand Canyon. It was a long and fun trip, but this adventure required almost six months of planning. Leading the charge, Assistant Scoutmaster Aven Whittington made sure that every scout would have an amazing time.
To camp in the Grand Canyon, one must obtain a Backcountry Permit. These permits must be requested in advance. More than 9,000 permits are denied each year. Most people don’t even attempt at getting permits for large groups. However, Whittington applied for seven permits. Getting the permits was a long and arduous process. For a trip in March, we applied in November. Whittington called the backcountry office weekly to try and get the permits. After numerous calls we finally got all seven permits.
Our contingent consisted of three groups of 11 and four groups of six. We took a charter bus to the canyon, and the troop braved through a 27 hour bus ride. We arrived at the canyon and set up our base camp. This is where we would stay when we weren’t in the canyon.
The next day my crew hiked the South Rim Trail. This trail stretched around the rim of the canyon, and the view was outstanding. Whittington’s crew hiked down into the canyon and camped at the Indian Garden Campground. They said all the stars were breathtaking; without the light pollution, they could really shine through the night. For Wilson Carrol’s crew, it was not all fun and games. Their permit allowed them to camp at Horseshoe Mesa. That night strong winds came and blew through the camp. The tents began to rattle. Then one after another, the tent poles snapped. The tents collapsed right on the boys as they slept.
Friday morning, as we packed up camp, something wonderful happened. It began to snow. It was light and fluffy, and there was lots of it. Also, the nature was awesome. We saw a variety of animals from elk to squirrels. Laying eyes on an elk or mule deer was not normal for most of the Scouts, not to mention seeing one from less than five yards away.
At dusk and dawn, a sun shines over the canyon leaving a beautiful cotton candy colored sky, which will leave you amazed and glad that you came. Just to mention a few things we witnessed on the beautiful trip.
Once you lay eyes on the sight of the Grand Canyon and its many beautiful views, you forget about all the hard work it took to get there. The long bus ride, the permits, the grueling training hike all go away.
Hess Booth, Talley Noah, Guy Wilkins; (fourth row) Clarence Pope, Ross Reily, John Sistrunk, Assistant Scoutmaster (ASM) Dan Champney, ASM Aven Whittington, ASM Wilson Carroll, Leigh Darden Carroll, Grant Morgan, Noah Berry, John Ray, Robert Branson, Bernard Booth, Mike Brown, Scoutmaster Bill Cheney, ASM Stephen Bye, Scoutmaster Emeritus Jay Cooke; (third row) Logan Johnson, Clayton Wilkins, Burkitt Anderson, Ryan Fisackerly, Bennett Wier, Clayton Mahaffey, Sandon Gild; (second row) Jace Roach, Alex Mungan, Charles Mungan, Owen Newburger, Ethan Bye, Evan Champney, Brooks Magee, Jimmy Manuel, Charlie Whittington, Sam Wade Booth; (front) Robert Noah, Austin Morgan, Keith Thompson, Matthew Blackwood, Justin Bye, Carter Thompson, Sam Reily, Quin Pope, Senior Patrol Leader Gibson Cheney