Scouts Explore Department Lands
than 15 miles from home.
The Boy Scout program emphasizes outdoor skills of all kinds to help build self-esteem and confidence in boys. Conservation Department lands offer a wide range of opportunities for Scouts. The Conservation Department owns or administers about 850,000 acres of land in the state, with most counties having several conservation areas.
Conservation area maps show trails, ponds, rivers and other features. Scouts can camp on conservation areas if they obtain a free special use permit from local Conservation Department offices.
Cooking is always a special event on our camping trips to conservation areas. The Scouts must cook for themselves over an open fire. I will always remember the first time several Scouts prepared corn on the cob. I assumed that everyone knew how to fix corn on the cob so I didn't bother with any instructions.
When I finally checked on the pot with the boiling corn, I noticed green, slimy looking masses floating in the water. The Scouts didn't know to peel the husks before boiling the corn. Boiling the corn with the husks on works and it tasted fine, but the corn turned an unappetizing green color.
Hiking is a traditional Boy Scout activity. Hiking opportunities on conservation areas range from short interpretive trails with signs explaining ecological concepts to trails long enough to complete the hiking merit badge. The Osage Bluff Scenic Trail on the Painted Rock Conservation Area, Osage County, is a 1.6-mile self-guided interpretive trail with a brochure describing geology, forest management and archaeological features.
The Rudolf Bennitt Conservation Area in Howard County includes a challenging 19-mile trail. Boy Scouts constructed the 7-mile Buckhorn Trail on the Prairie Home Conservation Area, Moniteau County. Wheelchair accessible trails are located throughout the state and include Bluffwoods Conservation Area, Buchanan County; Danville Conservation Area, Montgomery County and Hinkson Woods Conservation Area, Boone County.
Conservation Department areas are good locations to observe and identify wildlife. Several ecology merit badges require wildlife identification. Many conservation areas have wildlife observation towers and trails overlooking wetlands where Scouts can see unique species of birds. The Fountain Grove Conservation Area in Linn County and Ted Shanks Conservation Area in Pike County are excellent spots for seeing waterfowl and other marsh birds. Often, the simplest method for observing wildlife involves pitching tents as blinds. Scouts can move into blinds before sunrise to observe prairie chickens on the Taberville Prairie Conservation Area in St. Clair County and Osage