scouts-l Mail Archive for November of 1999: Re: Planning Gettysburg
Whitehead, Ray LTC OCPA (Ray.Whitehead@HQDA.ARMY.MIL
Fri Nov 19 1999 - 15:23:38 CST
I see you've had several responses with good advice about planning a trip to
Gettysburg. Our troop goes every two years or so I thought you'd like to
hear about what we do.
>--Where is the best place to stay?
You can stay at the park's group camping area but we stay at a commercial
campground, Artillery Ridge Campground, on Taneytown Road just south of the
visitor's center. It's a little pricey -- about $5 each per night -- but it
has showers, a pool, and other amenities. We go this way since our trip is
usually visits in August when the weather is hottest -- more on that later.
Artillery Ridge also has a very popular (read book far in advance) two-hour
horseback tour of the battlefield, but this is expensive -- about $35 each
-- and is not for the younger guys. The campground can also arrange to have
a guide speak to your group for a reasonable fee. I believe you will find
that the patch booklet printed by the York-Adams Council will be very
helpful in teaching about the battle while you walk the ground. (A little
reading beforehand also helps.)
>--What experiences have troops had with chartering a bus, especially while
Since we are 90 minutes away, we don't take a bus. (We do, however, take a
bus to summer camp and wouldn't go any other way.) If you have a small
group, I would encourage you to drive and spend the money on the campground.
>--What size group should we take?
We are a large troop (over 100 boys) so we usually have a large (50 or so)
group going. Logistically it's not bad because the close proximity of
Artillery Ridge makes it easy to walk everywhere. (Unlike the park's group
camping area which way on the west side of the battlefield.) When walking,
the patrols break out on their own with at least two adults each, making
each group about 10 to 12. The park asks that you not walk in groups any
larger than that.
>--What should we make sure we see and do?
Definitely plan to earn all the segments of the York-Adams Council
Gettysburg Heritage Trail patch. We arrive on Friday morning, set up camp,
then take in the electric battlefield program at the visitor's center. We
then hike the 4.5-mile Johnny Reb section Friday afternoon. On Saturday we
walk the 9.5-mile Billy Yank section, then return to the campground for a
swim and a huge dinner. Artillery Ridge usually has a living history
program and/or movies on Saturday evenings and these are very popular among
our boys. On Sunday, we break camp early then go to the visitor's center and
catch the bus to the Eisenhower Farm. Taking the tour there earns you the
last segment of the patch. Surprisingly, we find this is a very popular
part of the trip for the boys. Then we depart early Sunday afternoon.
--What is really good time to go?
As stated above, we go in August. The weather is hot but most of the July
tourist crowds have waned. One of the reasons we pay to camp at Artillery
Ridge is the availability of showers. Unlike most hiking we do, Gettysburg
is not out in the middle of the wilderness. You and your Scouts will work
up quite a sweat and will be much more agreeable to the hundreds of visitors
you will encounter after a good shower. Also, the NPS likes it if Scout
units wear their Class A shirts while walking the battlefield. After three
days without a shower, those shirts can get pretty ripe.
Hope you find this helpful. I'd be happy to share my files with you off
list if you'd like more information. Good luck.
SM, Troop 893