SIDNEY — The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Troop 95, of Sidney, recently celebrated the National Park Service’s (NPS) centennial birthday by earning the National Resource Stewardship Badge at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (HOCU).
The Boy Scouts not only earned their Resource Badge, they camped out overnight inside ancient earthworks, learned how to use an 18,000-year-old Native American hunting system called an Atl-atl, and earned an additional junior Ranger Badge.
HOCU is a 2,000-year-old Native American site, and has been one of Ohio’s eight full-fledged National Parks since 1992. Hopewell preserves and protects the few remaining Hopewell Culture sites. Visible remnants of Hopewell Culture are concentrated in the Scioto River valley near the present-day city of Chillicothe. This year, the NPS engaged in a year-long celebration throughout the country.
Boy Scouts Alex Vanderhorst, Andrew Blackford, Brandon Jones, David Brunner, Ian Bonifas, TJ Leonard and Andrew Bonifas spent Saturday afternoon within the geometric earthwork surrounding Seip mound lopping trees and improving the landscape for visitors.
Ian Bonifas said his “favorite part of the day was watching the sun set” over the site.
They also learned to use a throwing stick/spear system that Indians utilized for nearly 16,000 years until the bow and arrow system was developed in North America roughly around 600 A.D. Mark Blackford was the winner of the atl-atl accuracy competition. The boys and their leaders, Bill Fuller, Jerry Vanderhorst, Julie DeDominic and Mark Blackford spent the night camped next to a 28-foot-high Hopewell Culture Indian Mound.
Between 200 B.C. and 400 A.D., an extraordinary blossoming of cultural development occurred in southern Ohio. Even though they did not live in villages or practice large scale agriculture, people of the Hopewell Culture made amazing advances in the fields of mathematics, engineering, art, trade and astronomy. However, why they built so many enormous earthwork complexes in this area remains a mystery. There is no evidence that people lived within these earthworks. Rather, these huge architectural wonders appear to have been designed for large ritual gatherings. The timing of these special ceremonies was perhaps determined by astronomical cycles.
Fuller said, “This is the best spot that we have ever camped at.”
After a night under a clear, star filled, 62 degree sky, Troop 95 traversed to the HOCU’s Visitor Center. At the Visitor Center, the boys expanded their knowledge while on a mound tour led by Sidney native, National Park Ranger Joe Ratermann. After the mound tour, the troop took the challenge to solve the riddles, puzzles and codes necessary to earn the NPS Junior Ranger Badge for HOCU.
Like the Hopewell, members of Troop 95 pilgrimaged a long distance to visit the earthworks. Millenniums ago, pilgrimages may have been made to these sacred enclosures by celebrants from far away, just like Troop 95 travelled in the National Parks’ centennial year of 2016.
Troop 95, chartered by the Knights of Columbus, in Sidney, are members of the Miami Valley Boy Scout Council. The Miami Valley Council was first established in 1918. While preserving a proud heritage of camping and outdoor activities for young men and women in the Miami Valley, Troop 95 exemplifies the mission of the BSA to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Boy Scout Oath and Law.
The NPS and BSA have made a concerted effort to instill the values of resource stewardship and conservation to our nation’s youth through the Scout Ranger Resource Stewardship Program and other collaborative efforts.