Updated December 13, 2010

Camping on the
John W Brown
Liberty Ship
December 10-12, 2010

On the weekend of Dec 10-12, 17 boys and 5 adults headed South to Baltimore's Pier 1 to stay on board the John W Brown Liberty Ship.

The ship was built in 1942 at the Beth Steel Ship yard and used to haul troops and cargo during WW II, its maiden voyage was to deliver supplies to Russia taking a route through the Panama Canal, down around South America's Cape Horn and across to Africa's Cape of Good Hope through the Indian Ocean and up to Persia to avoid the German U-boats, the voyage took 9 months and was the first of many. We learned that it is one of only 3 existing ships, out of over 2700 built, still around today.

The boys enjoyed learning about how cargo is loaded and unloaded using the series of booms located along the length of the 441'-6" long ship. The ship also houses 3 museums documenting the Merchant Marines, US Navy Armed Guard and the Ship Building industry. The most interesting activity had to be when one of the ships volunteers, a WW II Gunner, described how it takes two men working as one to aim and fire the cannons on the Brown, pairing up and taking turns the boys were allowed to operate the 3 biggest guns on the ship.

The first night was spent in bunks piled 5 high in the UNHEATED "tween deck" of the cargo hold, just how the enlisted Troops slept while on their voyages. As a special treat on the second night we were invited to sleep in the heated Merchant Marines quarters thanks to our gracious hosts, Ron and Vicki Carlson along with their daughter Lisa. Saturday evening the boys were challenged to see how much they had learned by completing a scavenger hunt to answer questions on all kinds of facts and figures from all over the ship. As usual when Mr. Steve is in charge of the food everyone enjoys the variety of flavorful foods not expected on a camping trip. Great job to all the boys who helped with cooking the meals.

The weekend had it's challenges due in part to the confined space and steel hard surfaces of the ship but mainly the endless energy of young boys. Hopefully the story told by Mrs. Vicki will leave a lasting impression on the boys that needed to hear it, I doubt it, but I hope so.