Meridian Star

January 28, 2013

Scouts hike Bonita Lakes

Special to The Star
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     If you are going to venture out into the wilderness of the Old West, it is a good idea to brush up on your hiking and map reading skills otherwise you might discover that being lost in the Rocky Mountains is not a good thing.

    In preparation for their two-week hiking and camping trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, Boy Scouts of America and scout leaders of Troop 9 in Meridian practice these and other skills at Bonita Lakes Recreation Park. Scout leaders have found the terrain, albeit not the Rocky Mountains, is still good preparation for the rigors and adventure of the upcoming excursion.

    "This is a great location with rolling hills plus the city's Public Works Department has a great contour map of the entire area that we use to teach map reading skills to the scouts," Scoutmaster Steve Corey said. "With the topographic map in hand, Scouts learn how to find their way by reading contour lines on the map and learning how lines on the map can represent a hill or valley while the shape of other contour lines represent flatter terrain."

    Philmont Scout Ranch is the Boy Scouts of America's largest national High Adventure Base. Its 34 staffed camps and 55 trail camps provide an unforgettable adventure in the high country along hundreds of miles of rugged, rocky trails, ranch officials say.

    The ranch is a bustling center for high adventure and training. Youth and adults take advantage of the ranch's camping, training and work programs. Most activity takes place during the summer, but Philmont also offers Autumn Adventure and Winter Adventure programs.

    More than 950,000 Scouts, Venturers, and leaders have experienced the adventure of Philmont since the first camping season in 1939. Throughout its existence, conscientious attention to low-impact camping techniques have helped maintain the ranch's wilderness, Scouting officials say.

    Corey said Assistant Scoutmaster Zane Neal does a fantastic job with the Ccouts when teaching these skills. Neal uses these same skills on his job almost daily in the forestry business and the Scouts get a good first-hand understanding that these skills are useful.

    Sometimes the troop hikes the trail system at Bonita Lakes to work on hiking merit badges. Other times Troop 9 puts on full backpacks and hits the trails for training for a big backpacking trip.

    "These map and terrain reading exercises are skills I am continuing to master because I know I will need them when we go backpacking in the Rocky mountains," Scout Jacob Westover said.

    The scouts of Troop 9 have been to Philmont before and they plan to go back in the summer of 2014.