Camping and Events

Apple River Canyon

This past weekend we traveled to Apple River Canyon near Warren Illinois. This was our first visit there and I think that most of the boys had a great time. The park is about 2 ½ hours from Niles without traffic and even though we added another hour to our drive out there with traffic, it was well worth it. The camp site was populated with 2 other scout troops so we knew we were in good company.

We had plenty of places to pitch our tents and it is always nice if we can use our car lights to help while putting up the tents – which we did. Ok maybe that’s cheating a little bit, but if you won’t tell, I won’t.
Apple River canyon is apparently the remains of what the area used to look like before the glaciers flattened most of the hills in Illinois. While we could not really see any of the beautiful hills in the dark, we did notice the somewhat unlevel campsite.

Since we didn’t have our troop SPL to guide the younger scouts as to where to pitch their tent’s, the boys did a bit of “on the job training” in this regard. I have to say they had a decent arrangement except for a few tents.

Because we took the small trailer, we were able to leave it right at the campsite and were able to leave a lot of out perishables in there; safe in the event of rain. That trailer is a godsend. We would have to have at least 4 drivers without it for only 10 boys.

It was almost 10 by the time we had everything set up, so we didn’t bother to start a fire the first night. I think most of the boys were pretty tired as well and we didn’t have to do much to get them to their tents after our cracker barrel of cookies and juice. However, I do believe there was a little concern with what they thought were wolves. When the howling started I quickly reminded the tent next to me that these were only coyotes.

But this was just the start of a lot of animal noises!

Luckily the rain passed us by on the first night, so there was no thunder or lightening to keep us up, however, there happened to be a farm RIGHT NEXT DOOR; which included one LOUD ROOSTER.
I thought that since it was fall we wouldn’t have to listen to the cacophony of birds chirping at 4 am – mainly because the sun doesn’t come up until 630. I guess the darn rooster didn’t get the memo! Cock a doodle darn do at 430! UGH#E$Q#$@#$!@#!!@#@!#$#. I noticed that he kept going all day too.

Someone had donated an outdoor kitchen to the troop and we decided to bring it with and give it a try this weekend. I think it was a big hit and all we need is a foot pump to get the water going. Otherwise, it was nice to have a place that we can clean and dry our pots and pans. Definitely something we need to use more!

Ultimately, the rain finally showed up, right as we started our breakfast. Thunderstorms too! This only delayed us a little bit and our breakfast of bacon and pancakes was delicious.

Our plans for the day were to work on physical fitness, which is our monthly theme. Harry J. walked them through some early morning calisthenics and then after breakfast we hiked the “Primrose Trail”.

The park has a neat little pamphlet that describes various spots along the way and this was helpful for the boys who are working on their identification of local plants. The trail also goes along a very high ridge and we were told to make sure that they boys stay away from the edges because people have fallen over in years past.

Of course a smart group of boys like ours kept out of harm’s way.

I should say though, that there were lots of neat little areas to explore and I would think that if I had gone to a place like this as a scout, it would have been a lot of fun. For instance, we had to cross a creek where the bridge was out and even though there was very little water there, the scouts seemed to want to hang around there for some fun exploring.

The trail took us to the edge of the Apple river, which itself, isn’t much more than a creek. After the requisite skipping of stones and throwing of rocks into the water, we made our way back to camp for an easy cold cut lunch.

On the way I did mention to the boys my latest interest in Chantrelle mushrooms. I guess I didn’t expect their enthusiasm in helping me look for them, because before I knew it, every 10 feet I was getting asked if this or that mushroom was it ( nope, but they certainly tried). It really kept them busy. Anything to keep them interested in nature! ( I’ll never harvest them since I am not sure how to be certain of identification, but one day I’ll find them!)
So of course after lunch, the boys wanted to play in the creek, go fishing and maybe even a do little more exploring. We were a little cautious about letting them go down to the river, because the trail down to it was quite steep.

With a LOT of supervision we made it down and they had a great time.

Some of the boys stayed back at camp and worked on scout skills – cutting and sawing wood, first aid, physical fitness etc. It was really impressive to see the initiative that a few of the older scouts took in helping out the younger ones with learning these skills. There was no prompting by any of the adults to get them to do any of this; it was all on their own.

We did play the “Thief” game again – which involves telling one of the boys that he is a thief and he needs to get some item from out in the open of the camp site, to another location without someone else catching him and stopping him. They typically will either be brash about it and just try to grab it and run. Or they’ll be stealthy. Both ways seem to work. Next time I think I’m going to have them use a very large object, like a beach ball or something like that. It should be interesting.

Our cooks did a great job at dinner and there was plenty of food for all. We then had a campfire, which they always seem to love building.

Unfortunately, we haven’t sharpened our axe or saws in some time so we had to improvise with the wood. Nonetheless, it was a good fire, with jokes, songs, Ghost Stories.

Next campout will be in the PMC in October – details to follow. Then Eagle Cave in January – 28th-30th. Mark your calendars now! Also, don’t forget the Spaghetti dinner on Oct 9th. This year we are doing a murder mystery dinner along with the meal. Invite your friends!

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This entry was posted on September 26, 2010 by in Uncategorized.
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Bryan on Scouting

The official blog of Scouting magazine, a publication of the Boy Scouts of America.


All The Wrong News That's Unfit to Print is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

Bryan on Scouting

The official blog of Scouting magazine, a publication of the Boy Scouts of America.


All The Wrong News That's Unfit to Print is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

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