Kristy Hartzell and son , Parker, had to cut short a camping trip to Cumberland Island because of the government shutdown. CONTRIBUTED

Shutdown sends Cobb Cub Scouts on camping trip home early

It seems even the Cub Scouts aren’t immune from the effects of the government shutdown.

On Saturday, Parker Hartzell, 11, and about a dozen members of his Cub Scout den from Cobb County had to cut short their camping trip on Cumberland Island.

Kristy Hartzell, Parker’s mom and a group leader, said about  12 adults and 13 boys from the Mount Bethel United Methodist Church Cub Scout den were on the trip, which had been talked about for nearly a year.

“They were really looking forward to this trip because a lot of them are getting ready to move up to Boy Scouts,” she said. “This was their last big adventure.”

The Hartzells made the drive from Marietta and arrived on Friday afternoon. The plan was to leave on Sunday. 

It was good while it lasted. 

“We all backpacked, set up our tents and were having a good time,” she said. 

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Saturday morning, several of them walked back to the ferry to try to buy extra firewood. That’s when they were told by ferry operators that they were taking people off the island. The Cumberland Island National Seashore is part of the National Park System, which means it's affected by the federal government shutdown.

The news took them by surprise. She said they were never informed of the change in plans by the park service.

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Pack leader Shannon Drake was there with his son, Davis, a student at Murdock Elementary School.

“I was really looking forward to sharing the island with the Scouts,” he said. “It’s a beautiful island...The boys were definitely disappointed.”

He said rangers told them that they could stay on the island, but they couldn’t guarantee there would be a ferry to go back and pick them up. Since they didn’t know how long the shutdown would last, the group decided not to take a chance. 

What really bothered some of the parents, though, was the lack of communcation and the five-hour wait for the ferry for the return trip .

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“If we had known it would take that long to leave we could have gone and explored the island,” said Kristy Hartzell

Her son took it all in stride.

“He undertands,” she said. “He’s very interested in politics, unlike his mother. He asked a lot of questions about why they had to leave.” 

Because of the shutdown, the NPS is not able to fully staff properties under its management, according to the  National Park Service’s Cumberland Island National Seashore website.

The NPS has stopped providing services for campgrounds it operates, including maintenance, janitorial, bathrooms, showers, guidance, assistance or emergency response.

Drake said he hopes to take the group back.

“Our motto is to be prepared, but no one tells you that you also have to be prepared for a government shutdown.”