Troop 195 scouts get outdoors to appreciate nature and respect the environment. We camp as a troop once a month at state and local parks within the tri-state area, including a winter ski trip. We spend one week during the summer at Onteora Scout Camp in Livingston Manor, New York. For those boys that are eligible, our High Adventure program involves a week of canoeing and hiking in challenging environments in beautiful places in New York and New England. Core to the objectives of our camping program is that scouts are continually learning to be confident, responsible and productive young men.
To prepare scouts for camping, our experienced scouts and outside experts make presentations and deliver training on topics such as first aid, emergency preparedness, hiking, fire building, cooking, backpacking, and wilderness survival. Troop Alumni – across a wide range of ages and life experiences – volunteer their time and energies to ensure continuation of the troop’s legacy of producing scouts with a love of camping and adventure by developing and practicing a wide range of skills that emphasize self reliance, teamwork, and leadership.
As Boy Scouts, Troop 195 follows the precepts of “Leave No Trace” in all of our outdoor activities. Our goal is to leave wherever we have visited in better shape than we found it on arrival. This means, among other principles, gathering any trash present before our arrival and taking it with us upon departure. Summarized below are the foundational principles of the “Leave No Trace” approach to camping, appreciation for nature, and respect for environment. These principles include: (1) Plan Ahead and Prepare, (2) Hike and Camp on Durable Surfaces, (3) Dispose of Waste Properly; Pack It In, Pack It Out, (4) Leave What You Find, (5) Minimize Campfire Impacts, (6) Respect Wildlife, and (7) Be Considerate of Other Visitors.
Onteora Summer Camp
Troop 195 has made an annual summer camp trip in July for as long as the troop has existed. The first few decades these summer camps used to be 2 weeks long but, given the development of week long High Adventure trips in August, traditional summer camp is now one week. While there have been several scout reservations for summer camp, some that no longer exist as such, the Onteora Scout Reservation (OSR) in the Catskill Mountains has been Troop 195’s summer camp for the vast majority of years since OSR’s inception in the 1950s. Please visit the Onteora (http://www.troop195.info/onteora/) section of our website for a full description of our annual summer camp experience.
Leadership Development Camping
In the beginning of Summer 2016, the Troop 195 Leadership Corp embarked on a journey to Mount Washington. Life Scout, Liam Higgins writes about his experiences below in an article featured in the NorthWord News…
The Long Hike To The Summit
By Liam Kiggins
The morning of the 24th of June this year saw a group of 12 people, including scouts, troop alumni, and adults take part in a camping trip to the presidential range in the White Mountains. The mountain that was the main focus of the trip was Mount Washington, the tallest mountain in the Northeast, with an elevation of 6,298 feet. This three-day trip was designed to allow scouts to improve their skills on a trip with a much more challenging itinerary than a standard monthly campout. We departed at 8 a.m. from the Glen Head community center and stopped for lunch at White River Junction in Vermont. After lunch we drove to the AMC Highland Center before parking at the trailhead. After we arrived at the trailhead, we distributed troop gear between all of the backpacks before heading out on the trail. We hiked late into the afternoon when we stopped at the Mizpah Spring Hut to rest and refill our canteens. After our quick break we continued down to our campsite near Dry River Falls, arriving at the site at dusk after hiking down a steep, muddy and overgrown trail. We set up camp and began cooking our first meal, a delicious pasta dinner. Following dinner everyone went to their tents for a much needed sleep after hiking a tough five miles during our first day.
We woke up at 8:30 a.m. the next morning and cooked a quick breakfast of pancakes and sausage, while preparing for our hike to the summit of Mount Washington. For the hike we did not bring our full packs, but instead hiked up the mountain with day packs. The day packs we used on the second day included essentials like rain gear, a first aid kit and of course lots of water. The water came in handy as it was hot throughout the day. At 10:30 a.m. we started hiking up the Eisenhower Trail to the ridge line of the mountains. Once we reached the ridge line, we took the Crawford Path Trail to the summits of Mount Franklin and Mount Monroe. From the ridge line we could see for miles in all directions including seeing the imposing outline of Mount Washington which dominated the ridge line. After passing these mountains we reached the Lake of the Clouds Hut where we stopped for lunch before beginning our ascent to the top of Washington. We then set out on the steep trail to the mountain and reached the summit at around 4 p.m. After resting and taking a few pictures at the summit we began the trek back down to the Hut where we enjoyed some cool lemonade before hiking back down the same way we hiked up to our campsite. In total on Saturday, we hiked a difficult 10 miles. Once we arrived at the campsite we cooked dinner which consisted of a vegetable stew followed by delicious chicken and bean burritos.
The next morning we had an early 7:45 a.m. start and packed up camp while cooking oatmeal for breakfast. We hiked up to the Mizpah Springs Hut and then we continued on down to the trailhead. There we packed up the cars with all of our gear in the packs and headed home. We stopped in White River Junction again, stumbling upon and eating lunch at Big Fatty’s BBQ. We continued the drive home after lunch arriving at around 10 p.m. The trip was an overwhelming success with everyone who set out for the summit on the second day making it there. The trip as a whole went smoothly and while the total distance hiked of 20 miles was formidable, it was manageable to everyone on the trip since it was broken up over the three days. Everyone who reached the summit should be proud of themselves and any standard hiking campouts should now be a piece of cake. Troop 195 has at least one campout a month throughout the year and speaking as a veteran of countless camping trips, while this trip was one of the hardest.
When the Alder Lake Scout Reservation closed in the 1980s, scouts in the Theodore Roosevelt Council no longer had a venue for an adventure based second week of summer camp. Around this time, Troop 195 began to create its own High Adventure Program built around the principles of Scouting, the love of the outdoors, and adventure. This program is open to Scouts 13 years old and older, whom have earned both Swimming and Canoeing merit badges. High Adventure takes place one week after the troop attends traditional Boy Scout Camp at Onteora. This much anticipated annual event represents the grand finale of the Scouting year, and has high participation by scouts, parents, and alumni.
Years of research, exploration and refinement have developed a range of canoeing and hiking based adventures set in the wild areas of northern New York and New England. Each excursion is unique, as no two are exactly alike. The core agenda is typically a 4-5 day canoe traverse of wilderness rivers and lakes, and rounded out with hiking, peak bagging, or whitewater rafting side trips. High Adventure emphasizes the following principles: Solitude, Self-reliance, Teamwork, Responsibility, and Stewardship.
The scouts are as “hands-on” as possible, tasked with executing all the daily camping and traveling chores − organizing equipment, preparing meals, navigating, making and breaking camp, and taking care of each other. High Adventure also embraces the concept of Trekking. The scouts carry with them all the supplies and equipment necessary for their journey, and every campsite is a days paddle from the previous one.
The troop relies on the sum of its parts to get from Point A to Point B. Scouts emerge on the other end with individual feelings of accomplishment measured in miles paddled, difficulty of rapids ran, height of peaks climbed, as well as a wealth of shared memories of epic rope swings into deep water, glimpses of animals in their natural habitat, a savory
meal after a long paddle day, laughs with friends around a campfire, and smiles.
To provide a feel for the excitement of a specific High Adventure trip, what follows is a synopsis of the 2008 trip in the words of two scouts – Tommy Montgomery and Jon Mandarakas – both Eagle Scouts from that period of the troop….
High Adventure: The 2008 High Adventure Experience
After an eight-hour ride north on various highways – 26 scouts, alumni, and adult leaders from Boy Scout Troop 195 arrived in Freeport, Maine and spent the night camping in Bradbury State Park. Most boys would consider this in itself an adventure, but this group saw it as a night of relaxation before setting out on an arduous week-long canoeing trip the following morning. After waking up and driving another four hours, the troop finally put their canoes in the Penobscot River and paddled east, deep into the wilderness of Maine.
On the river, the boys paddled 40 miles over the course of five exhilarating days. They cooked their meals over campfires, set up their tents at the various sites that they reached each day, and braved the elements of this harsh environment. But it wasn’t all work and no play; daily activities consisted of swimming, hackeysack, and relaxing in between bouts of intense paddling.
When the last night on the river finally came, the scouts constructed a bonfire of immense caliber, built of logs and teamwork. As they led the rest of the group by the light of a torch to the site, threw the torch upon the eager logs, and watched as they burst into flame, the dancing yellow glow illuminated not only their smiling faces but also their spirits.
After a short paddle the following morning, these adventurous scouts packed up their canoes and returned to Bradbury State Park for one final night of rest before the long ride home the following morning. Upon arriving safely back in Glen Head, the boys returned to their homes for a well-deserved rest.
High Adventure brings together all of the elements of Scouting that are focused on during the course of the overall annual program, culminating in a week long execution of hiking, canoeing, camping, cooking, teaming and bonding with nature in a very non-evasive way. A group of 20 or so young and old men working together to set and break camp, cook and feed themselves over the course of many miles regardless of the weather and other obstacles that nature and chance may bring. The isolation from civilization and the need to depend on oneself and the group as a whole to prepare in advance so that the comforts of home are unnecessary brings the group together. The experience can be life changing and the memories are ones we keep forever. Ask any alumni of our troop about their experience during high adventure, and you will be responded to with a smile and a host of stories certainly to be shared with fondness and pride.