The trip gave the scouts an opportunity to practice camping in multiple locations in various conditions. They camped at Chickasabogue Park, north of Mobile. Scouts learned that they must always be prepared to establish and erect their camp in all types of conditions — midnight at Chickasabogue was a very good opportunity for practice.
The scouts also camped on Dauphin Island, in the shadow of Fort Gaines. The ancient fort is on the eastern end of the island guarding the entrance to Mobile Bay. There the challenges had to do with the weather — cold, wind and torrential downpours created another opportunity for the scouts to overcome. The scouts not only established their campsite but also prepared their meals during the evening hours.
In addition to camping, the scouts visited numerous historic sites and learned about the culture, history and people that make up Alabama’s port city. The scouts were able to visit and tour the oldest church in Mobile — Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception — which was completed in 1850. Parishioner Tillman Brown gave the scouts a detailed tour, including a historical and architectural lecture that kept even the youngest enthralled. He covered the history of Mobile and history of religion in the Gulf Coast. He explained the French, Spanish and British influences in settlement and architecture of the region. Brown toured the group around the beautiful cathedral and explained the ancient German stained glass and Italian murals decorating the place of worship. The group was amazed and left with a since of wonderment that is seldom equaled.
The scouts then hiked and toured the historic areas of downtown, including the Fort Condi and waterfront areas of Alabama’s port city.
They were able to attend several Mardis Gras parades, including the Joe Cain Parade. The scouts caught beads and Moon Pies from the revelers on the dozens of floats and processions. Additionally, they were able to meet many of the local residents as well as neighbors from Jacksonville who also attended.
The scouts had the honor and privilege to camp on the historic USS Alabama Battleship. The ship, a decorated veteran of World War II, is still a wonderful living museum for past, present and future generations. The scouts camped with about 100 other scouts inside the ship in the actual berthing areas that sailors and Marines used more than 65 years ago.
The scouts took the self-guided tours or just wandered around soaking up much about world history, American history and the accomplishments of what some have called the greatest generation. There are five decks down all the way to the engine rooms. There are seven levels going up from the weather deck all the way to the wheel house.
Troop 9 also toured the USS Drum located in the park and the aircraft museum. The Drum is a WWII submarine that was credited with sinking over two-dozen enemy ships. The aircraft museum highlights naval aviation and the heroes who flew the planes. Battleship Park is listed as a National Historic Site and is managed and maintained by the USS Alabama Battleship Commission.
The scouts from St. Mark United Methodist Church learned two important life lessons during their February camp. One is to always “Be Prepared” for whatever life — and weather — can throw at you. The second is to be appreciative and thankful for “Alabama the Beautiful” in the United States of America.
BSA Troop 4009 is led by SPL Tyler Mitchell and SM David Gladd Jr.