Imagine sun-filled days of bicycling beside the Atlantic coastline along windswept islands on Carolina's Outer Banks, then later following all that up with a trip to Washington, D.C., to watch the July 4 fireworks and tour various museums, monuments and government buildings. That's exactly the program a group of Boy Scouts from DeKalb's Troop 33 recently enjoyed this summer.
Troop 33's adventure began with a bicycle tour stretching from Myrtle Beach in South Carolina northward toward Kittyhawk in North Carolina. The Scouts bicycled across many islands of the Outer Banks linked together by a series of long bridges and ferryboat rides. Remote beaches, sand dunes, lighthouses, wild ponies, wildlife refuges, national seashores and various historic sites lined their route. Bicycling would range from 20 to 60 miles each day.
Their overnight accommodations included tent camping and hotel visits. Bicycling started in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where Scouts enjoyed biking along the Atlantic shoreline past high-rise hotels, elaborate mansions, beaches and parks.
Where stretches of road were not suitable for biking due to heavy traffic, the Scouts' bikes were transported by truck. Traveling into North Carolina, Scouts biked across the islands, which are known collectively as the Outer Banks.
Among the islands they bicycled on were Topsail Island, Bogue Banks, Cedar Island, Ocracoke Island, Hatteras Island, Pea Island and Bodie Island. They also visited Roanoke Island and the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.
Arriving in Washington, D.C., Scouts traveled to the National Mall to watch the Fourth of July fireworks. They encountered more excitement than expected when the entire area was evacuated at one point due to a severe storm warning.
The Scouts eventually watched the fireworks from the safety of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which provided a spectacular viewpoint from which to enjoy the show.
Among the many sights they visited in Washington, D.C., were the U.S. Capitol, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, White House, U.S. Archives and Union Station.
They also visited the Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, D.C. War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean Veterans Memorial and Viet Nam Veterans Memorial. Museum visits included the National Gallery of Art, National Museum of Natural History, National Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian Castle, the National Museum of the American Indian and their all-time favorite museum experience, a visit to the International Spy Museum.
An international folk festival took place on the National Mall, providing Scouts the opportunity to experience a variety of exotic cultures. One day they feasted on Vietnamese food and enjoyed watching a folk dance program from the Mekong River region of Southeast Asia.
Scouts also visited the expansive Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum near Dulles International Airport in Reston, Va., which is a part of the Smithsonian Institute collection. Included among the hundreds of aircraft on display were the Enola Gay and the Space Shuttle Enterprise.
Through museums, Scouts experienced everything from the priceless Hope Diamond to gigantic full-scale dinosaur skeletal reconstructions, from the Wright Brothers Flyer Biplane to a rare painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. Scouts encountered many amazing things during their tour.
Although it rained during all but three days of their trip, the weather never got in the way of the Scouts enjoying themselves and having fun. The tour provided a healthy, active bicycling adventure through a unique and historic part of America, followed by an educational experience touring the nation's capitol.
The Boy Scout program is open to boys ages 11 to 17. The aims of Scouting are to foster citizenship, develop character and promote fitness. First Lutheran Church in DeKalb has sponsored Boy Scout Troop 33 since 1925, providing a heritage of education, adventure and fun to hundreds of area boys over the years.