Troop 868 in Action

CAMP LOUIS ERNST (May 2009)

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Troop 868 was fortunate to have an influx of new scouts join our unit during the months of March, April, and early May.  A few boys were totally new to Scouting but most were Webelos crossing over from various Cub Scout packs.  All were new to Troop 868 and to Boy Scouting.  So the Patrol Leaders' Council thought it wise to hold a "traditional scouting" weekend campout to help the new boys gain an understanding of "the patrol method" of operation prior to summer camp.  The destination selected was Camp Louis Ernst near DuPont, Indiana.

Camp Ernst is an older, very small Boy Scout camp owned and operated by the Hoosier Trails Council, BSA.  There are several cabins that are popular for winter camping, but the camp is lightly used during the spring, summer, and fall.  There are two large fields suitable for tent camping and a single open-sided shelter located between them.  A nice, new latrine is located within a convenient walking distance and water is available at the shelter and also outside the old dining hall near the latrine.

The camp has a nice campfire ring and also a nice chapel that are in good condition.  The former dining hall is used for winter camping but needs quite a bit of work and looks like it might be pretty drafty!  Momentos of past summer camps, camporees, and OA functions  decorate the walls and rafters of the old dining hall.

A wide creek runs through the property and cuts the camp in half.  At one time there was a steel bridge that spanned the creek, but it collapsed during a flood some years ago and has not been replaced.  Thus, the back half of the camp is no longer accessible by vehicle and the old gravel camp roads have severely eroded.  All of the original tent camping sites were located on the far side of the creek.  They are now overgrown by grass and underbrush; and the old latrines and other structures have fallen into a state of decay.  It's really rather sad to see a once vibrant camp in this condition.

But the front part of the camp is readily accessible and in good shape.  We enjoyed our weekend visit and would certainly recommend Camp Ernst to other troops looking for a good spot to do primitive camping.  And the far side of the creek (which is crossable by foot) would make a good place to work on Wilderness Survival Merit Badge or backpack into.

We spent our weekend at Camp Ernst working on the basic scout skills our newer scouts need to learn to earn the Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks.

The troop falls in for flag raising on Saturday morning.  "Hawkeye" Tim's bathrobe does not impress the Scoutmaster. Kraig and Spencer perform color guard duty.
The Cobra Patrol campsite. The Falcon Patrol campsite.
Scoutmaster Meek talks to Matt and Spencer about woodstools safety and the proper way to handle an axe. Then Matt gives it a try.
Cody examines the rings and texture of a stump where the camp ranger or some previous camper had felled a cedar tree. Building a fire to cook breakfast on Sunday morning was a "whole group" activity in the Falcon Patrol.
Kraig and Gage chat by the fire.   Jon and Adam.
The troop falls in for Sunday morning flag raising. Drew and Scott perform color guard duty.
The troop gathered for Sunday morning worship in the camp's chapel which was only a short walk from our campsite. The last thing done before departing camp was to lower the colors.  Gage and Matt folded the flag.