Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Musicians, food vendors and artisans are all common sights at the monthly Third Thursday festivities. But Boy Scouts of America hikers? That’s a bit unusual.
Scouts of Troop 2, fondly known as “The Deuce,” were there last week though, taking a hike (of sorts) around the historic downtown area to raise awareness for their upcoming 51.2 mile hike happening next month.
The troop is hiking for bladder cancer research, and all of the proceeds will benefit the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN). As the boys walked around Third Thursday with their 25 – 30 lb. packs in tow, they distributed flyers and business cards to passersby, asking for donations and support.
According to Scoutmaster Glenn Justis, the troop had decided they wanted to do a large hike for a while, but it was an article in Boy’s Life Magazine that inspired him to suggest they raise money for a charity too.
Not long after, a tragedy hit the Justis family and The Deuce: Justis’ mother, Beverly, died from bladder cancer.
Beverly Justis was heavily involved with the Boy Scouts: similarly to how she was a Den mother when her son and husband worked as a team with the Boy Scouts, she filled the role of Den grandmother while her grandson, Joe, and son work as a team with Troop 2.
“She was kind of like the troop grandmother,” said Justis. “All of the scouts, they were all of her kids. That’s just how she was.”
After her death on Jan. 19, 2013, the troop chose bladder cancer research as the recipient for its hike fundraising efforts.
Justis said the troop has been training for their hike since then, completing practice hikes and camps throughout the year.
The real hike – which will take place Dec. 26 – 31 – will involve six days of hiking the Palmetto Trail. The Deuce will begin at the trailhead of Swamp Fox Passage in Awendaw and conclude at Lake Moultrie where the Boy Scouts have a camp.
Justis said while the troop has 27 scouts, ranging in age from 11 to 15 years old, only about 15 will qualify to do the hike. They must complete training hikes and camps, he said.
The next training hike will be roughly 20 miles and include crossing the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston.
That’s less than half the actual hike distance, though. The real hike is 51.2 miles, and the troop is hoping to raise $1,000 per mile, a total fundraising goal of $51,200.
“Who knows if we will raise it all, but if we set the goal too low we’ll never know how much we can raise,” Justis said.
He said the troop has mapped out their trail to include hiking between 4 – 9 miles per day. The group – which includes five adults – will not be carrying food or water, so their hikes must follow the plan in order to make it to their supply drop locations.
While the trip has been heavily planned and prepared for, it is no small feat.
“Very few scouts get to do a 50-miler like this. I’m an eagle scout, I did lots of things but I never did a 50 mile hike. They’re really doing something special here,” the scoutmaster said.
“This was [my son’s] goal. It’s not easy to hear your child come home at 11 years old and say that’s what he wants to do, but you do what you can to help support your child,” said troop mother Andi Stem.
After they reach Lake Moultrie, the hikers will meet up with the remainder of the troop, parents and other supporters for what Justis calls “the grand finale.”
The Deuce will celebrate their accomplishments with a rally including a cook out, guest speakers, music and fireworks. The Dec. 31 event is open to the public.
To learn more about The Deuce and donating to their hike, visit the troop website, http://www.scoutlander.com/publicsite/unithome.aspx?UID=11887.