A group of 15 bicyclists stopped at Athletic Park in Newton today for lunch. Not an out-of-ordinary sight for a town on the Trans-America Trail. This group, however, was a bit different.
To push the pedals on this cross country tour a cyclist must be an Eagle Scout. One of those finished up his certification just three days before the trip launched. The group has 10 scouts between the ages of 15 and 18. Five adult riders, ages 26 to 64, are also riding 4,000 miles from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
"Our mission is to inspire the other youth of America to live a healthily and active lifestyle," said 18 year old Joseph Lawrence of Virginia.
Along their route the scouts sleep primarily at scout camps if possible — but any place with a hot shower will do.
Cycling is nothing new for Boy Scout Troop 165 of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The troop takes a week-long cycling trip each summer. In 2010 the troop took on a 2,000 mile loop from Virginia to New York and back to celebrate the anniversary of scouting.
It was during, and right after, that trip that the idea of a cross country trip was formed.
"We thought about what we could do to top that trip," said 18 year old Benjamin Prevost.
A cross country trip idea was hatched. Nearly two years of planning later, the scouts were eating balonga sandwiches in a park half a content away from home.
The trip began June 15 in San Francisco. They entered Kansas July 17. Monday they started the day in Hutchinson, and were head to El Dorado. A 120 mile day was the plan for today.
The group plans on finishing the trek Aug 15 — for some, they won't go home before heading off to college. For others, they will miss the first few days of high school.
They will take with them a summer of meeting people from dozens of states.
"Where we are from, the news is all about politics and how we can't get along," said scout leader Bruce White. "Out here, in the real world, we meet down to earth people. Everyone we meet wants to help us in some way."
Updates on the trip can be found on the group' s blog at www.ESCAA2014.org