Our annual backpacking campout is always one of our scouts’ favorites. The beautiful Ouachita Mountains provide a scenic backdrop for an amazing adventure each year.

The trip began, as usual, with the Troop meeting at the 17 acres parking lot at 6:30am on Saturday morning. We gathered our gear and hopped in the cars for the 4 hour drive to Oklahoma. After a pit stop at the Travel Center in Atoka for breakfast, we headed east to the Ouachita National Forest. We arrived around 11am at a small parking lot near the Winding Stair Campground along the beautiful Talimena National Scenic Byway.

We divvied up the crew gear (tents, camp stove, first aid kits, etc.) and separated into two groups. The older, more experienced backpackers headed out first, and the younger, less experienced backpackers stayed behind to learn basic hiking and navigation skills. For example, the person leading the hike is called the crew leader and is at the front of the line. The second person in line is the navigator, who makes sure the crew stays on the correct trail and does not get lost. Before heading out, the crew leader will yell, “is anyone NOT ready.” If everyone is ready, the last person in line will yell, “HIKE ON!”

After about a mile, we sat down under a small pavilion and ate a packed lunch. While there, the boys started a hilarious roleplay game that lasted the rest of the 4-mile trail. Every once in a while we would take a small water and snack break. At one stop, we saw a giant hornets nest! Once we arrived at our camping spot, the boys set up their tents and some even tried hammocking for the first time on a backpacking trip. We hung out by the campfire after making some tasty meals out of dehydrated dinners and boiling water. After a long day of hiking, the boys headed to bed.

When we woke up, we hiked another 2 miles to a creek, where we wearily crossed it. Our shoes got wet, but luckily the cars we close by. So we stomped up to the cars and prepared for the car ride back. We stopped for lunch at a Sonic in Atoka before heading home. Overall, the boys had a great time and we can’t wait to go back next year!

 Now we are looking forward to our Holiday Chopped! Campout in December.