Lodge Ledger: Portage Lodge leaves lasting impact on Mohican Trail Area

By Austin Pauling

In celebration of the Order’s century of service, Portage Lodge of the Heart of Ohio Council spread the spirit of cheerful service beyond the borders of their council camp and into the council’s communities. This feat was not easy and took plenty of preparation.

To prepare for this great endeavor, Portage Lodge and its members began searching for a service project towards the end of 2014. The lodge leadership wanted to find a project that would be seen as something tangible and would impact multiple generations.

Portage Lodge Chief Ben Pycraft highlighted that the lodge wanted to find a project that they could look back at and say, “we did that.” To do this, the lodge consulted Brad Bodoh, the Heart of Ohio Council Scout Executive, who directed the lodge to the North Central Ohio Land Conservancy Group. This conservation group had been working on a project idea in the Mohican Area for two decades before being approached by the lodge.

The Mohican Area is located at the southern end of the Heart of Ohio Council, near Butler, OH. The idea for the project was to connect most of the hiking trails in the nature area, 4.2 miles of existing trails, into one cohesive trail system which would be roughly seven miles long after completion. The goal for the project was to ensure that any person enjoying the nature area could easily hike the through the entire preserve and not miss out on a view. The lodge worked in conjunction with the conservancy group to plan a massive work weekend for National Trails Day. Portage Lodge reached out to not only all of its members, but to all of the council to assist in completing this project.

On June 6, nearly one hundred Scouts, Scouters and community members joined the lodge in their mission to carry out their centennial service project. Upon arriving, the participants set up camp in a nearby area owned by the First Congregational Church. In order to complete the project, the lodge needed to borrow several tools from their local resident camp, Firelands Scout Reservation. They also asked participants to bring anything that they could.

At the beginning of the event, the participants were divided into six crews. Each crew was led by one youth Arrowman along with a representative from the land conservancy who was familiar with the project area. The trail routes were tagged by the conservancy group, and the crews were divided into three separate areas. In each designated area, a crew started on either end of the trail and began to build the trail toward each other. After nearly eight hours of arduous labor, each crew met the other in the middle of their segment and commonly held a celebratory high five.

Throughout the day, meals were generously provided by the First Congregational Church and the Land Conservancy Group. All of the crews were united approximately one hour later, and the lodge had successfully brought together 4.2 miles of trail by building nearly 3.7 miles of trails. Following the conclusion of the project, the participants celebrated in their base camp with an ice cream party and campfire.

The newly built trails were recently unveiled on October 17 with the newly-created trails marked with their appropriate posts. Portage Lodge members, community members and representatives from the Heart of Ohio Council were in attendance at the unveiling. This centennial project has made, and will continue to make, a lasting impact on the conservation area and will surely be appreciated by visitors and residents of the Mohican area.

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