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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

A Boy Scout adventure

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ready for road trip - Members of Boy Scout Troop 107 were ready to go at 5 a.m. on Father's Day for their long awaited trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota. L to R: Brian Nelson, Matt Padilla, Benjamin Nelson, Victor Ross, and Scoutmaster, Barry Nelson in the back.
Troop 107 ventures to the Black Hills of South Dakota

Scouts of Troop 107, left to right, Scoutmaster Barry Nelson, Brian Nelson, Benjamin Nelson, Matt Padilla, and Victor Ross of Cherokee, stand for a group photo at the base of Mount Rushmore at the Avenue of Flags in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Visiting the national site was a highlight of their trip taken in June. Photo by Nancy Nelson
After nearly two years of planning, the members of Boy Scout Troop 107 were able to take on their adventure in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Of course, it was all made possible with the generous support of the Cherokee community through the troop's fundraising efforts.

The trip began at 5 a.m. sharp on Father's Day with a stop in Mitchell, SD to visit the Cabela's store and the famous Corn Palace. It was still early in the day and they traveled further west, taking a lunch break at the Missouri River just past Chamberlain. The final stop was the camp site reserved for them at Custer State Park. They pitched their tents, set up camp and were ready to call it home for the whole week.

The scouts had planned out what they were going to do on each day of the trip. Monday presented itself with the opportunity to go to the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs. Once there they learned how the site came into existence and toured the facility. The Mammoth Site is an active archeological dig with more and more of it being excavated all the time. While there, the scouts also participated in learning how to use an atlatl, a prehistoric hunting weapon used to throw arrows at prey. The boys found it was a lot harder than it looked.

Hungry hunters - The scouts of Troop 107 discovered at the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, SD that they would likely be hungry hunters if they had to use an atlatl for hunting their dinner.
As the boys traveled to and from their campsite, they were privy to a multitude of wildlife and scenery. They weren't used to seeing so many trees, mountains, and narrow winding roads. Some of the highlights included Legion and Sylvan Lakes, Needles Highway, scenic overlooks, and loads of wildlife.

On Tuesday, their decision was to go see Mount Rushmore traveling the Needles Highway to get there. On the way there they stopped at Sylvan Lake and walked the trail that goes around the beautiful mountain lake. Once at Rushmore they were able to take in the avenue of flags, which is a walkway showing the flags from all 50 states. They also walked the trail which took them underneath the carvings and back down to the bottom. At the bottom they were able to see the sculptor studio and the air compressor used to power the jack hammers during construction. Then it was back up to the top by way of stairs to see the movie presentation about how Rushmore was built.

On Wednesday, the scouts went to Jewel Cave where they took the Historic Lantern tour of the original opening of the cave. The guides were dressed in the authentic historic park ranger uniforms and one real kerosene lantern for every two people was given to the group. The tour took them inside the cave, down some very steep and narrow stairs, through some cave tunnels to the bottom. They experienced what it was like to be in pitch black when all the lanterns were shut off. They also learned how the cave was discovered and capitalized on and how a cave lives. Then it was back up the steep narrow steps, through the tunnels and back outside. Then it was back to Custer State Park for an afternoon of swimming in Sylvan Lake.

A crazy big undertaking - When the members of Boy Scout Troop 107, left to right, Matt Padilla, Victor Ross, Brian Nelson, Barry Nelson, and Benjamin Nelson, visited the Crazy Horse Memorial being carved out of an entire mountain in the Blacks Hills of South Dakota they discovered that this was a huge and noble undertaking.
Thursday found the boys at the Crazy Horse Memorial where they surprisingly discovered just how huge the Crazy Horse project is. The entire mountain is being carved into the Native American hero Crazy Horse on his horse. They were not able to hike up to the base of the mountain because it was being worked on at the time. So they took the bus tour to the base. They learned many interesting and amazing facts about this project. Also at the memorial is a beautiful visitor center that houses a Native American museum with artifacts from many North American tribes.

There was still time left in their day to go to the Reptile Gardens in Rapid City. They were able to attend three shows, each showcasing animals at the facility. The first show was about snakes where they saw, learned about, and even touched live snakes. The second show was about birds, and the final show was about alligators and crocodiles. At the end of that show they were able to touch and feel a live baby alligator. Inside the dome and around the facility the boys were able to explore many other animals housed at the gardens. Frogs, snakes, lizards, alligators, birds, turtles, tortoise and more are cared for at the Reptile Gardens.

Friday was the goof off day that included traveling the Wildlife Loop at Custer State Park. Some of the wildlife the scouts were able to see throughout the week included: bison, antelope, prairie dogs, wild burros, mule deer, marmots, elk, and big horn sheep. On a daily basis they had visitors to their campsite. Each morning around 5 a.m. a turkey hen would wake them all up while calling for her poults. The regular evening visitor was the same male bison making his rounds. The scouts dubbed him, "Bubbles" the buffalo. On another afternoon a group of five big horn sheep grazed their way through the camp area.

Scenic overlook - Taking a photo opportunity at the highest point in Custer State Park, the members of Boy Scout Troop 107, along with a little sister, pose on a rock formation at the Heddy Draw Overlook. Pictured front to back, Annalie Nelson, Benjamin Nelson, Victor Ross, Brian Nelson, Barry Nelson and Matt Padilla.
Saturday morning the boys packed up and readied themselves for the trip home. On the trip home they stopped at Ellsworth Air Force Base to visit the air museum located just outside the base. Then, of course, no trip to South Dakota is complete without a stop at Wall Drug. Did you know there are 87 signs for Wall Drug from Sioux Falls to Wall, S.D.?

Overall, the scouts and adults had a great time and recognize that none of it would have been possible without the support of the citizens of Cherokee. More pictures of the trip are available on their Facebook page, Boy Scout Troop 107 Cherokee, Iowa.

A very large visitor - Nearly every day the same bison would wander through the campsite area where Troop 107 was camped in Custer State Park, SD. The scouts officially dubbed him "Bubbles the Buffalo."

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