Setting up Camp: 765 Scouts and Leaders participated in the Isaac Davis Trail Walk this year, with 59 different Scouting Units representing all six New England states. The young man in the photo is Greg Rosen from Holden MA, who camps with Venture Crew #34, from Shirley.
By M.E. Jones
ACTON -- History credits Captain Isaac Davis as the first Massachusetts man in uniform to be shot in the line of duty on the first day of the Revolutionary War: April 19, 1775.
On that day, Davis mustered the Acton Minute Men for the march to the Lexington/Concord line and the old North Bridge. There they met a well-armed contingent of British soldiers bent on derailing the drive toward liberty represented by New England's rustic, volunteer militia.
On or near that spot, the "shot heard round the world" was fired, launching the revolution that would ultimately end in victory for a new nation, the United States of America.
More than two centuries later, Capt. Davis is still making history. For the past 57 years, Davis, after whom Route 2 is named, has been the inspirational focus for an annual Patriot's Day weekend Scouting event that apparently grows in size and scope each year.
Last year, more than 1,000 Scouts -- boys and girls from across New England and other states -- walked the 8-mile trail from the historic Isaac Davis house in Acton to the Old North Bridge, retracing the path Davis and his minutemen took more than 200 years ago.
Participants arrive on Saturday and Sunday, gathering on School Street soccer fields, where they set up a sprawling camp. Motorists passing by the Route 2 rotary on Patriot's Day weekend have remarked that the fields look like a "tent city," said Kathy Bourassa, of Shirley, whose Scout group, Venture Crew #34, has been participating for 11 years. "It's a very exciting event."
"Venturing" is co-ed Scouting for ages 14 to 21, she explained. The Shirley Venture Crew is chartered by a local business, Shirley Fuel and Gas.
Although uniquely a New England happening, Scout units have also come from other parts of the country, including Michigan and Pennsylvania and as far north as Quebec. Celebrities, too. In 1976, for example, President Gerald Ford came for the bicentennial, Bourassa said.
Although the hike is geared for older Scouts, Cub Scouts are also welcome, she said, like her son Liam, who walked the trail at 5 years old and was the youngest ever to do so.
After a decade, Bourassa's group has achieved "staff" status. "They help make it happen," she said, noting that months of meetings and preparation precede the annual walk and its attendant gathering. This year was no exception.
Although the event has all the perks of camping out, including a "huge bonfire" and the kind of camaraderie that creates lifetime memories, the focal point is the walk and the significant events it commemorates.
Wakened at 4 a.m. to the call of "reveille," walkers set out early, stopping at historic sites along the way, such as Strawberry Hill. The two- to three-hour trek ends in Concord, just in time for the town's Patriot's Day parade.