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Our Science Treks


Dr. Crockett

Dennis Crockett is the founder of Troop 1210, Chairman of the Orange County BSA High Adventure Council, Doctor of Head & Neck Surgery practicing in Orange County, father of 2 Eagle Scouts ... and is an Eagle Scout himself.

Dennis' dedication to the Boy Scout program is immense, and his passion for combining science related merit badge studies with outdoor adventure is a central part of our troop.

Please read on to see examples of the excitement Troop 1210 seeks to inspire in our scouts.  Young scouts and older scouts ... all remember back on these experiences of some of their favorite in the troop.

(And, YES, siblings and families are welcomed to join these family oriented excursions).

Saturday: we will meet at McDonalds in Foothill Ranch at 7 a.m. (updated 6/18/18) and take off (carpools previously arranged). Take the 241 Toll Road north … 91 Freeway east … Interstate 15 north to Kramer Junction (break and gas) … then on to Lone Pine (lunch) … then Independence … then Big Pine. Just north of Big Pine, turn right on Highway 168, and go approximately 15 miles to USFS Cedar Flat Group Camp Noren (elevation 7700 feet), where we will set up camp…this will be our home base through Monday morning. We have reservations for 35 campers.


Saturday Afternoon and Evening: set up camp …relax. After dark Star Party with amateur astronomers from Orange County Astronomers at OVRO with big binoculars, reflector, refractor and Dobsonian telescopes. Excellent visibility of Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn with good weather. Sunset is about 8:30 pm so we will be up late…about midnight.


Sunday Morning: sleep in a little…breakfast … drive back down White Mountain Road … back west on Highway 168 … right at Leighton Road …visit and tour Cal Tech Owens Valley Radio Observatory with Cal Tech scientists…lunch. 


Sunday Afternoon: Planet Science Lecture with Dr. Crockett.   


Sunday Late Afternoon and Evening: head back to our camp … relax … dinner … campfire…Star Wars Planet and Star Systems Trivia with Dr. Crockett.


Crack of Dawn Monday Morning: up early at 4 am with Dr. Crockett to view early morning constellations. Then, pack up and breakfast at Mt. Whitney Café in Lone Pine … drive home. 

Astronomy Merit Badge

Cal Tech Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO)

Saturday Night Start Party with Amateur Astronomers

Example Itinerary

Reptile & Amphibian 

Merit Badge

Example Itinerary

Saturday: We will meet at Foothills Church at 6 a.m. and take off (carpools previously arranged). Take the 241 Toll Road north … 91 Freeway east … Interstate 10 and out to Amboy Crater. After we are done hiking Amboy Crater and chasing lizards, head to Joshua Tree National Park, where we will set up camp…this will be our home base through Monday morning. 

Saturday Day: Amboy Crater hike to the summit and ID, chase and catch lizards all day (lizard loops…no harm to lizard)…field lab work/lectures with Dr. Crockett. Return to Joshua Tree for camp, dinner and campfire.

Sunday Morning:  Breakfast. Dissect double injected specimens (Carolina Biological Supply) of Rana catesbeiana (American Bullfrog).

Sunday Day: Hike the Boy Scout Trail and ID and observe lizards, and maybe Desert Tortoise and maybe a snake or two (as we are in a National Park, can’t touch ‘em). Lunch on the trail.

Sunday Late Afternoon: head back to our camp…dissect several rattlesnake specimens (Carolina Biological Supply) as a group. Dinner and campfire.

Monday Morning and Day: up early…breakfast…off to either Chuckwalla Mountains or Ord Mountain to ID, chase and catch lizards…when Scouts are tired, drive home. Lunch on the road.

Saturday: We will meet at Foothills Church at 5:00 a.m. sharp and take off. Carpools arranged previously as well as drivers. First, Aliso Viejo fossil reef…then San Andreas Fault……then Major Adams X-15 crash site near Randsburg (fun weather talk by Dr. Crockett…coriolis effect/atmosphere and greenhouse effect)…then Fossil Falls near Little Lake off 395 (combo volcanic and Sierra glacier melt geology)…then Mt. Whitney Visitor’s Center…then Grave Site of 1872 Earthquake Victims (the largest CA earthquake ever…bigger than 1902 San Francisco…formed Diaz Lake via a “graben”…don’t know what a graben is?...come along and find out…opposite a “horst”…find out what that is)…then Owen’s Dry Lake and California Water Wars (a fascinating history…hydrologic cycle)…then Panamint Valley and Mountains where our Scouts have backpacked…camp in Furnace Creek Group Campground. Geology lectures and demos by geologist Dave Mark along the way. Basic weather measurements and cloud ID throughout the day.


Sunday: All day tooling around Death Valley…cold fronts, warm fronts, cyclones and anticyclones, adiabatics, precipitation and cloud physics during breakfast by Dr. Crockett…hike Mosaic Canyon…Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes to run around…Furnace Creek Visitor’s Center…Furnace Creek Weather Station (lecture by ranger meteorologists)…DV Mining Museum…Devil’s Golf Course…Badwater and Badwater Weather Station (lowest point in US…-242 feet)…Artist’s Palette…back to camp. Geology lectures and demos by geologist Dave Mark along the way.


Monday: Zabriskie Point (fabulous geology views…Lake Manly)…then Dante’s View (Obi-Wan, Luke Skywalker, R2-D2 and C-3PO were filmed here in 1975 looking down at Mos Eisley Space Port for Star Trek IV) to look across Furnace Creek to Telescope Peak (highest point in DV at 11,049 feet) where 1210 Scouts summited in 2011,  2014, and 2016 …In & Out Burger…home. 

Geology & Weather Merit Badges



Example Itinerary

Saturday Day:  Morning drive to Carpinteria and hook up with the Santa Barbara Channel Keepers ( at 1pm.  Collect measurements on the Ventura River for ongoing SBCK data measurements efforts, including temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, conductivity, bacteria, and nutrients.  Camp at Carpenteria State Beach.  BBQ. Enjoy the beach

Saturday Evening:  After dinner, carpool to the Santa Barbara Planeterium for star gazing. The evening will be hosted by members of the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit, who will provide telescopes and their expert knowledge of the night sky.  Clouds permitting, we'll be up close and personal with planets, stars, and galaxies.

Sunday:  Early morning, lead Flag Ceremony for Carpinteria State Park Rangers. Mid-morning Dr. Crockett will lead an Oceanography talk with samples of various crustaceans, mollusks, and echinoderms, including dissection of dog sharks and squids.  After lunch, tide pool along the coast and search for sea stars.  For those who remember, our Troop 1210’s own Chris Pitterle conducted his Eagle Scout project with the Santa Barbara Channel Keepers back in 2015 to help protect the Naples Marine Protected Area off the coast of UCSB.  Check out Chris' website to take a look at what Troop 1210 accomplished!  (


Monday:  Up early and we'll take off with Island Packers from Ventura harbor catching the 9am ferry to sail for Santa Cruz Island (group campsites A & B).  Once there, we'll setup camp in Scorpion Bay and prepare for adventure.  Santa Cruz Island is part of the Channel Islands National Park, and our large group campsite will give us ample room to spread out and explore.  We'll day hike, snorkel in Scorpion Bay, and hang out along the shore.

Tuesday:  We'll suit up in wetsuits and climb aboard our sea kayaks for a daring adventure through the Santa Cruz Island sea caves (equipment and guide will be provided by the Santa Barbara Adventure Company - who will meet us on the island).  These caves are right out of a pirate movie, and our guides will give us a great experience.  Here's a link to a YouTube video that shows what we may expect (Santa Cruz Island sea caves).  In the afternoon, day hike across the island.

Wednesday we'll break camp, catch a return ride with Island Packers to Ventura harbor on their 4pm ferry, and then drive home.

Oceanography & Environmental Science Merit Badges

Example Itinerary

Insect Study &

Mining In Society Merit Badges



Example Itinerary

Wednesday: We will meet at Foothills Church at 5:00 a.m. and take off (carpools previously arranged). Take the 241 Toll Road north...91 Freeway east...Interstate 10 (breakfast at Grandma’s Kitchen in Banning) east all the way to Phoenix and on to Tucson...lunch on the way...we have reservations for camping in very nice group sites (flush toilets and warm showers so cushy camping) at Catalina State Park in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains outside Tucson. We are in the Flycatcher Group Site through Friday morning and move to individual sites x 3 Friday night that are next to each other.

Thursday: INSECT STUDY MERIT BADGE...up early...cook our UA entomology grad student ...spend the morning collecting insects in the Catalina Mountains with insect collection nets...field identification and photography... mounting and pinning.  In the afternoon, tour and lectures by in entomology at the University of Arizona Insect Collection. In the evening, Carolina Biological Supply prepared grasshopper dissection with Dr. Crockett.

Friday: MINING IN SOCIETY MERIT BADGE...up to UA Department of Mining and Geological Engineering for mineral and rock mechanics lab with UA mining engineering grad students.  In the afternoon, drive south of Tucson to ASARCO open pit mine for tour...Discovery Mineral Center.

Saturday: MINING IN SOCIETY MERIT BADGE CONT...Up south of Tucson to San Xavier Mine, which is the underground hard rock training mine for UA Department of Mining and Engineering...demos by UA mining engineering students...done by noon.

Sunday: Break camp early...on the road by 6 food breakfast and lunch...reverse Wednesday’s route to Interstate 10...home.

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