Heading Home

It’s 4:12pm EDT and we just left Gettysburg.  We’re headed home!

We’ve had a wonderful back end of the tour.  Unfortunately, wifi connectivity has made posting difficult.  We’ve also been so busy, that I’ve found it hard to find time to post much.  I’ll have time on the way back to fill in.

For now, I’ll fill you in on today’s adventure.  We pulled in to camp Tuckahoe last night after dark.  It’s a boy scout camp and they had just finished their summer camp season.  We filled up two cabins.   Each cabin had a little more than 20 bunks.  We had just a few boys that slept on the floor.  The weather was perfect, so the lack of air conditioning was not a factor.  Each unit had a large ceiling fan that kept the air circulating.  Plus, it was probably in the 60’s so it wasn’t hot anyway.

We woke up at 5:45 to pack and eat breakfast.  We were on our way to Gettysburg by 7am and arrived for our 2 hour guided bus tour of the battlefield.

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Making a note to myself here to insert video of our bus tour when I have the opportunity.

We have Mrs. Moore (Josh’s Mom) to thank for donating the funds to have the guided bus tour.  It was soooo worth it!  The tour guide was very knowledgeable and gave us a great tour.  I have always found it hard to look at the monuments and understand what took place on the battlefield.  After our tour, I had a good understanding of what took place.  The boys raved about it.  Each one of them took something away from the experience.  They walked through areas where the battle was fought, climbed a 100 foot tower to get a birds eye view of the battlefield, learned the names and places where significant fighting took place and learned about the farmsteads that were taken over during the battle and used for things like field hospitals.

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Following our bus tour, we returned to the visitors center.  They had a 30 minute moving explaining the events that took place.  We watched the movie and then viewed the cyclorama, an oil on canvas painting that was painted in a round room with a 360 degree view.  It was an amazing piece of art.  The Gettysburg Cyclorama is 377 feet long, 42 feet high and weighs 12.5 tons.

We then headed for lunch.  Several of the boys said it was the best meal of the whole trip.  We ate, just off of National Park property at General Pickett’s Buffet.  Breakfast was light, so everyone enjoyed getting full on an all you can eat buffet!

After lunch, we returned to the park.  We spent another hour going through the gift shop and the museum.  I tell you, these are the shoppingest bunch of boys I know!  They spend as much time in the gift shops as they do at the attractions.  But, they’re happy and they’re enjoying themselves and learning, gaining memories and that’s what matters.

We finished the day with the Gettysburg Pledge 2, a very special ceremony written by our own Scoutmaster.  I got video of the first part of it, but, fittingly enough, a thunderstorm came through just minutes into the ceremony and I had to shut down my camera to avoid damage from the rain.  The ceremony consisted of a remembrance of those troop 26 boys who toured Gettysburg in 1981.  That ceremony in 1981 was the original Gettysburg Pledge.  We reminded them of several of the boys who were there, that returned this time as adult leaders.  Adult leaders who now have sons participating in the troop.  Thus, the “2”.  The pledge asks the boys to commit to completing high school and earning their Eagle award.  In 1981, 106 boys accepted the pledge.  Of those 106, 75% completed their commitment.  This time, 71 boys took the pledge.  Their names will be enscribed on the reverse of the sword commemorating the 1981 pledge that contains the names of the boys taking the pledge the first time.  It will be displayed in a two sided case at courts of honor.

So, as I said, it was a fitting end to a trip where we were challenged with adversity due to rain at the jamboree.  The men participating in the ceremony were soaked to the bone as well as the boys.  No one said a word.  We’re scouts, after all!  We continued on with rain pouring down and the wind picking up.  Thunder cracking in the distance.  Years from now everyone will look back on the ceremony that went on through the rain. Some will remember the huge raindrops dripping off of Mr. Z’s nose.  Some will remember me trying to protect my tablet by putting it inside my shirt and covering it up with my script.  Some will remember Mr. Steele trying to stay dry by holding his folder over one side of his pants to keep just a little bit of him dry, or Mr. Lowe standing there, not being able to see a thing through his glasses while continuing to refill the box of coins as the boys passed through the line repeating those words, “I Do Pledge.”  Some may have been watching Mr. Warriner’s head bead water and run off like a car with a new paint job!  Or Mr. Fournet maintaining his composure and attitude through the whole thing.  Mr. LaFortune and his steadfast commitment to capture the moments with his camera.  Mr. Smith standing at attention holding a very special book in a plastic bag that each one of them will havein their hand very soon.  Mr. Baumgartner’s words “The screams of dying men and horses, the blast of cannons, the clash of sabers must have been deafening” while thunder claps around us.   At the end of the ceremony, each boy is asked to come forward and remove a coin from a box.  He must reach in and take the coin. and repeat the words, “I So Pledge.”  That is his first step to accepting the commitment he’s pledging to complete.  I will remember all the boys standing there at attention.  Eyes and ears intent on the words they were hearing.  Fighting the dripping, blowing rain drenching each one of them yet continuing to maintain the strength and resolve of completing the ceremony with dignity.  I’ll remember little Casey Z, his arms to his side, his head leaning to one side so the drops of rain don’t fall down his eyes.  I’ll remember Parker’s prayer to close the ceremony.  I’ll remember Caleb and his helpfulness to me.  I’ll remember R.C. being there to honor his son and the commitment his son was about to take.  The same pledge he took 32 years earlier.  I’ll remember thinking of Bill back home.  How much he’d like to be a part of what we were going through.  I’ll remember the resolve I saw in both of my own boys eyes as they repeated those words. We completed the ceremony and the rain lightened up.  It didn’t matter much though, we couldn’t get much wetter!

We knew we would make memories that would last a lifetime.  We definitely succeeded in doing that!

We walked back to the bus and opened up the bottom so we could retrieve towels and dry clothes for the ride home.  Everyone is comfortable now and settled in for the ride to dinner.  We have about 2 hours left of the 3 hour drive to dinner.  We’re watching the movie Gettysburg.  Everyone is pretty quiet.  The ceremony was a solemn occasion.

So, we’re an hour behind schedule.  We’ll try to catch up on some of that by shortening our meal and pit stops.  The plan is to be back tomorrow around 3pm.  We can better estimate the exact return time as we get closer to home.

See y’all soon!

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