Looking for an Alternative to a BSA Scout Camp
We have decided to forgo the typical BSA Scout camps the last two years in my troop. Our boys were
mostly life scouts and didn’t need any merit badges. And what struck us more, was that many of the boys had never been a few hours south to some of the national and state parks that are so awesome and magnificent. We decided that we would propose to the boys the idea of going to some national parks this year instead of a traditional BSA Scout Camp.
Preparing for the Week in ZNP
We realized pretty quickly that if we needed to have a pretty good plan for our week. We found that we could save on entrance fees by purchasing annual passes for only $80 per vehicle. We have been able to use these passes for other campouts since. We also needed to plan our days so that we could have the most adventure and productive.
Camp Activity and Cooking Duty Schedule
We took one of our Scout nights to have our boys plan out each days events, menu, and cooking schedule. In case you are interested, here is a rough draft of what they put together for us. The week before our camp, we took the troop grocery shopping so that they could learn to shop and see what all was involved in preparing for an event like this.
We also had them help us pack the food in coolers and the dry goods into the trailer. We had plenty of paper products, spoons, plates, cups, and toilet paper. Be sure to also plan for first aid also. There are very few clinics in the wilderness.
|Activity||Get to Zions, Get Camp Site, Angels Landing, Get Trail Permits||Zion Narrow for Older Boys. Younger Scouts work on Tenderfoot, 2nd Class and 1st Class requirements.||Swim at Toquerville Falls||Orderville Gulch, Camping Merit Badge||Return Home, Camping Merit Badge|
|Breakfast||Eat Before Coming||Tin Foil Breakfast||French Toast||Tin Foil Breakfast||Pancakes / Leftovers|
|Lunch||Bring Sack Lunch||Sack Lunch||Jdawgs||Sack Lunch||Sack Lunch|
|Dinner||BBQ Chicken / Baked Beans||Pot Roast and Apple Cobbler||Spaghetti & French Bread||Tin Foil Dinners|
|Assigned||Toby, Quinton, TJ, James||Younger Scouts and Jeff||Bryan, Dylan, Bradley||Cory, Bridger, Sam, Ryker||Everybody!|
|Evening Activity||Night Games||Testimony|
Scout Hikes in Zion National Park
We had to be pretty careful as we planned our hikes. We had to be sure that we had the proper clothing, equipment and permits for the hikes. Because they limit group size on their permitted hikes, we had to split our activities on days that require permits. For example, the day our troop went down the narrows, we split out the younger scouts and had them work on their rank advancements at camp and at the ZNP nature center. This gave us the chance to make some awesome pot roast in the dutch ovens while the older boys were hiking. Be sure to check for group size when you plan your hikes.
First Scout Hike – Angels Landing
As soon as we arrived in the park, we found a place to park (this is not
always easy between 8am-early afternoon and got into the ZNP shuttle line. (This line reminded me of similar lines in Disneyland.) We got off the shuttle at the Grotto stop. They have a nice water station where you can fill up your water bottles. It was a fairly warm day, but being early, it wasn’t too bad and our boys did really well.
We had spoken with the boys several times about the dangers of this particular hike. There are some places that demand full attention. The hike can be a bit strenuous with the heat and about 1,500 vertical feet of gain. We prepared as much as possible with hats, sunblock, and preparation for potential wind and rain.
Hiking the Narrows as a Troop
As I mentioned above. The Park Service wants to limit the group size that can get a permit, you may need to split up your troop into different activities while some go on a permitted hike while others do something
else. This may be a way to manage those boys that are less capable of a strenuous hike. We did both the full narrows hike (15-20 miles) and the smaller Orderville Gulch Hike. Of the 2, I think that our boys liked the Orderville Gulch hike better as there were more obstacles to pass through, wildlife and it isn’t quite a long. Orderville Gulch begins as a dry
wash river bed into an amazing slot canyon. Several miles in, depending on the time of year and how wet it has been, you will encounter water that in place will be to your ankles, waist, shoulders or in a couple places and times over your head. You will want to be prepared for sun, water, descending obstacles no more than 30 feet high. Check with the permit office at the park for more details on preparing.
Toquerville Falls Utah
I learned as a new scoutmaster that Scouts will not shower or bath on their own. We have always found a nice fun and relaxing swimming hole for a
Wednesday cool down and at least rinsing of the boys. Toquerville Falls was a perfect place for this event this year. If you are planning to go to Toquerville Falls, be sure that you are prepared for a fairly long 4×4 road into a very dry and remote area. We took our portable grill and cooked some foot long hot dogs with sauerkraut, onions, and some special sauce we purchased from JDawgs restaurant here in town. This was a fabulous relaxing change after 2 days of long hard hikes. The only issue we had was the long drive. Remember that whenever you cross Zion National Park, you will need to be prepared to wait for tour buses, your turn for the long tunnel, etc… Our trip from Orderville to Toquerville took over 2 hours. But the falls were gorgeous and the boys have a memory for the rest of their lives.
Unlike other waterfalls in utah, Toquerville falls does not have any deep pools for good swimming. But you can sit down in the water, wade in the pool, or take a shower directly under the falls. You can find shade under the overhanging rocks above. This is a great place for boys to explore. Our scouts didn’t want to leave
when it was time to go. But we had a long drive to get back to camp.
Finding a Place to Camp
Perhaps the biggest challenge we faced was finding a place to camp for our troop. We investigated camping in the park and at other areas near the park. There were options in East Zion, and in areas like Virgin and Hurricane. In the end, however, we got lucky as one of our parent’s had some acquaintances down in the Glendale and Orderville area. He spoke with them and found that they were willing to host our troop. They had the most awesome and beautiful spot for our boys to stay complete with a little stocked pond and a pavilion. This spot became a very nice and private place to go back to after a day of hikes in the park. Thank you for your hospitality!! This would have been a even more perfect place to stay had we had enough time for Bryce Canyon and Coral Sand Dunes State Park as we had originally figured we would. In the end, we have no regrets in our choice to go on our own alternative Scout camp. The boys had an experience that they will never forget!