Boys from Troop 647 get back out on trail and learn life lessons

For the Reporter

Eight boys from Troop 647 get back out on trail for an epic 12-day 73-mile hike at Philmont Scout Camp while another group of 10 boys go to Camp Parsons to learn life lessons in July 2021.

After over a year of not being able to experience and learn together in person, the Philmont crew flew from Mercer Island to New Mexico to tackle what was probably the most grueling hike of their lives requiring stamina, grit, and digging deep to overcome obstacles naturally thrown their way. The Camp Parsons crew got to adventure in the Olympic Peninsula “where the mountains meet the sea” adventuring in a week-long summer camp. All boys came back at the end of July with unforgettable experiences that stretched and pushed them.

Amid lightening, rain the size of golf balls and blazing heat all in the same week, Troop 647 boys carrying backpacks close to 50 pounds each, needed to map their course, stay safe and support each other to make it across the back-country at Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimmaron, New Mexico. “The first 3 days were the toughest. It’s a shock to the body and mind to carry a pack like that and reset camp each night after having been at home for over 16 months,” said Eric Dorre, one of the adult leaders hiking with the troop.

The scouts, all ages 15, were joined by 4 parent volunteers as they tackled 73.5 miles, 13,162 feet in elevation, and 12 nights in Philmont, which covers 140,177 acres of mountain wilderness in northeastern New Mexico. The scouts and parent volunteers learned life lessons during the trek, including how to be prepared for setbacks like lightning and rain that requires you to be patient, getting lost and going too far off course (which over 72 miles just makes the hike longer), and most importantly, leaning on each other. Quinn Shavey, 15, said “There were moments my friends needed me and there were moments I needed them to keep going. Towards the end, we found our rhythm and I could have kept going past the 12 days with this crew because we all knew how to operate together so well.” There were emotional moments like one where Nathan Yang, 15, describes, “There was another troop that we knew had a rough day and needed help. As they were coming in late to camp, we made them dinner and washed up for them. We knew that any other troop out there would have our back if we needed.” The scouts became pros at setting up the camp every night, cooking dinner, hanging 30-pound bear bags containing anything that bears can acutely pick up in smell like sunscreen, carrying their own water for long durations and using the outdoor latrines. In addition to the physical elements was the mental strain, and all 8 boys – Magnus Dorre, Finn Hensey Christopher Lein, Joey Ruan, Quinn Shavey, Kai Smith, Gareth Tatum, and Nathan Yang, accompanied by parent volunteers – Eric Dorre, Andrew Dowds, David Ruan, and Pam Shavey completed the hike proudly with no visits to the infirmary!

Meanwhile back in the Puget Sound, 10 boys ages 11 – 15, had the privilege to attend the 100- year-old scout camp, Camp Parsons. Camp Parsons is in the Hood Canal and is the USA’s oldest Scouts BSA (Boy Scouts of America) camp west of the Mississippi! Scouts spent their days earning merit badges and experiencing the beautiful shoreline like canoeing on glassy salt water. Troop 647 from Mercer Island got matched up with another troop in Oregon and we spent our week-long adventure together making new friends. Each day, the boys got to swim, canoe and sail, try a climbing tower, have time at the rifle and archery ranges, and finish the week with a relay race across all these activities. One of the boys, Jackson Chang, age 15, enjoyed his experience so much, he returned to the camp in August as a camp counselor. All 10 boys didn’t want to leave and asked to return next year – Connor Campbell, Davis Chang, Jackson Chang, David Dorre, Davis Fick, Vander Garr, Ethan Schaps, Zayar Thein, Kolby Varnes, and Alex Yin. “The best part of the week was the epic pier jump,” said Ethan Schaps, age 11, where you need to gather the courage to hurl yourself off the 500+ foot long pier into the Hood Canal. “It’s an unforgettable experience!”

Troop 647 meets on Mondays at 7 p.m. at the Redeemer Lutheran Church on Mercer Island.

Courtesy photo
Troop 647 at Camp Parsons.

Courtesy photo Troop 647 at Camp Parsons.