As it became clear that it would not be possible to operate its Scouts BSA resident camp safely this summer, Camp Director Clint Buxton, now unemployed, decided to turn a lifelong dream of a Long Trail through-hike into an opportunity to support the organization amid the pandemic.
Nearly four weeks and 272 miles later, the 61-year-old Richmond native stepped off the trail Thursday, Sept. 24, at Journey’s End, having raised $30,000 to help offset a devastating operating shortfall, and inspiring hundreds of people across Vermont.
“This hike has provided me with much in the way of introspection,” said Buxton on Thursday. “I hope these last 27 days will inspire more youth and leaders to discover our Green Mountains just outside our back doors.”
Buxton has led programs serving more than 500 youth annually at Mt. Norris Scout Reservation in Eden since 2017. He made the trek from North Adams, Mass. to the Canadian border in Vermont.
“Clint presented us with a quintessential opportunity to showcase what scouting is all about. Our programs kindle purpose and passions within people, and a path to setting and achieving goals and overcoming obstacles. Clint epitomizes scouting’s call to adventure and service,” said Mark Saxon, scout executive and CEO of the Green Mountain Council.
Buxton had been conditioning throughout the summer but found himself taking a crash course in social media and grass roots community organizing just before departing. He quickly got up to speed and had a support team of friends and family behind him as he stepped onto the trail and adopted the trail name “Hawkeye” in August. Along the way, dozens of scout packs and troops linked up with him as he made his way toward the Canadian border. Others joined in virtually by posting their adventures with a “Flat Buxton” cutout on social media using the #BuxtonHikesLT hashtag.
Saxon said Buxton’s hike raised awareness of the forced closure of the Green Mountain Council’s summer camp operations at Mt. Norris and Camp Sunrise in Benson. Over the course of his hike, more than 100 individuals and families joined Buxton in pledging a total of $110 per mile to help offset a $160,000 seasonal camp revenue shortfall which threatens the council’s ability to steward 1,200 acres of wilderness.
“The response has been overwhelming,” Buxton said, noting he is going to take a few days to recover from the journey. “I’m not going to move much on Friday.”
The council is planning a homecoming celebration for Buxton on Saturday, Oct. 17, following the final service day it is promoting as part of Buxton’s call to action.