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That Trail: A summer camp rite of passage for scouts

That Trail: A summer camp rite of passage for scouts

By Rick Hinton

That Trail is a spur trail on the Ransburg Scout Reservation, just outside of Bloomington, running between camping sites situated along Ridge 4 and the graveled drive with the ranges, horse ranch and COPE course on Ridge 5.

We all have a That Trail in our lives. (Photos by Rick Hinton)

It’ll save you a few steps, yet you’ll still traverse the terrifying “Heart Attack Hill” on Ridge 5, an incline with years of infamy as scouters – old and young alike – have had to pause (several times) with red faces and racing hearts as they climb out of the valley and back into sanity. I have a history with this camp as does my son. Over the course of several week-long summer camps, we’ve both climbed this hill several times a day. We were younger … our legs were strong! Our hearts benefited from the thunderous pounding. Yet, years bring changes. His scouting career came to a close years ago. Mine, on the other hand, continues to chug along. Sometimes … just barely.

That Trail is the perfect metaphor for a passage – not only for the life of a Boy Scout Troop, but also a personal passage between a father and son who wanted to see what this scouting thing was all about, dug in, met some great friends along the way, and maybe learned a thing or two in the process. My appreciation for my son Kyle grew as he transformed from an awkward kid unsure of his abilities to one who, in the end, embraced a high adventure trip to the Boundary Waters. It was our last father/son trip with the troop. I wrote a book about it – Scouting the Boundary. Then came his Eagle project where he demonstrated his leadership skills and gave back to our hosting church. After that, he was done.

Joe Masterson & Terry Webster intent on their cell phones during summer camp.

That Trail in the life of a troop as nothing stays the same forever. Adults and boys cycle in and out, always being replaced by the next cast of characters leaving their imprint upon a history that is dedicated to helping youth rise to the challenge. The opportunity to make a difference in a boy’s life is the goal for the adult leadership in any troop. Troop 115 in Pioneer District has been blessed with a strong contingent of adults who have passed through its doors and then were gone like the wisp of smoke. Yet, there are those adults who continue to ride the years. …

I traveled down to Camp Ransburg last Wednesday to visit the troop for the day. I had not been to summer camp for many years. The adult leaders were new to me as were the boys. The camp, however, remained timeless. I half expected my son Kyle to come bounding into the Pine Grove campsite, out of breath from running and holding his materials from a merit badge class. I sat with Joe Masterson and Terry Webster, two adult long-term leaders whose tenure shows no sign of ending anytime soon. We recollected our glory days and visited the Trading Post for ice cream and T-shirts. We were moving slower than we had in those “glory” days, however and had no desire to take on “Heart Attack Hill,” at least not that day. I expect this to also be a passage as That Trail carries on along the banks of Lake Monroe and we retrace our steps along a journey of our own making.

Kyle & I after completing a week and over 50 miles canoeing the great Boundary Waters.

I was in Bigfoot country. As I was leaving camp in the cover of darkness, I stopped and listened. Just like I used to do. …

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