While we were cleaning out the basement last weekend, I came across a set of BSA Gettysburg patches from YEARS ago. I have no idea where I got these. I know that my old troop never took a trip to Gettysburg, and I never really earned these patches. I had to investigate what this BSA Gettysburg program was all about.
After poking around on the Internet for a little while, I learned that these patches were the product of the local BSA Council for that area, the recently re-dubbed New Birth of Freedom Council (and what a killer council patch they have, too!). The different patches correspond to trails you are supposed to go on. There’s a guide book, t-shirts, the whole deal. They’ve even updated the patches and tours back in 2009 since the Visitors Center changed locations.
I love the new set of patches. The main one in the center (with Lincoln on it) is earned for doing a tour of the Visitors Center & National Cemetery and answering a few questions related to the experience. The “Historic” patch at the top is earned for taking a guided 3-mile hike through downtown Gettysburg that hits a few of the key landmarks. On the left, the gray Confederate soldier is earned for completing the “Johnny Reb” trail: a 3-mile hike around Cemetery and Culps’ Hills. The blue Union soldier on the right is earned for completion of the big one: the 10-mile “Billy Yank” trail that winds through the main part of the battlefield, from Meade’s headquarters, down to Devil’s Den, across to the Confederate line, and finishing up in a hike across the fields of Pickett’s Charge. Finally, the 5-star patch on the bottom is earned for visiting Dwight D. Eisenhower’s home west of the battlefield.
Since I’ve done all of those things before (without really knowing that I was fulfilling requirements) I don’t feel guilty about having been given that patch set years ago anymore.
Since I found out about the existence of this program in my web research, I decided to read up on the route and requirements so that I can put myself out there as a volunteer guide for any BSA Troops that want to make a trip up to Gettysburg. I called up to the Council office in York and ordered a set of trail guides and patches.
I have to say, the tour is a pretty solid one – very similar to one that I used to do on foot with friends (although mine was a shorter 7-miler). BSA collaborated with the NPS in developing the materials. The guidebook lists several stops that they want you to make and includes a paragraph-worth of story / background for each location.
I can’t wait to get back up there and try it out!
Who’s with me?