It was a cloudy April 1st as scouts and adults from Troop 8 filled water coolers, took attendance, and packed the trailer for a weekend of camping. The group was headed for the Pine Barrens, a scenic and biologically diverse section of wilderness in Southern New Jersey.

After the two hour car ride, the youth leadership took the reigns. Troop 8 is a boy-run troop, meaning operations and program are orchestrated by the youth leaders. The scouts pitched tents, set up an axe yard to cut wood and built a fire ring.  After the scouts cooked lunch, it was time for the day’s program.

The boys elected to do many different things. New scouts, ages 11, earned their Totin’ and Firemen Chits, after learning the basics of the axe yard and fire building, including building and lighting a fire. Other scouts dug out shelters into the ground in a shelter building activity, where scouts slept overnight in their shelter. Some adventurous scouts hiked the surrounding area, while others practiced their aim on a tomahawk range. 

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The feature program of the weekend was a tour of the area by Chief Biologist Dr. Emile DeVito, a leader in the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. He led the scouts on a tour, explaining the process of controlled burns, demonstrating owl calls, and taking a group to the nest of a Bald Eagle. The tour concluded with a demonstration on some of the snakes native to the area.

After a campfire with skits and songs, scouts went to sleep in hammocks, tents, and dirt shelters. Waking up to the sunrise the following morning, the scouts prepared breakfast with menus created by patrol.

Troop 8 meets at Ogden Church (286 Main Street) Monday nights at 7pm. If you are interested in becoming a scout, email Troop 8 Scoutmaster Eduard Mostert (emostertbsa@att.net).