Our family recently had the privilege to attend the 5th Ranger Battalion Open House at Camp Merrill in Dahlonega, GA. The Dahlonega Ranger Camp open house is a community outreach event open to the public where the soldiers of Camp Merrill expertly demonstrate the skills and capabilities required to accomplish their mission. Visit the Ranger Open House Facebook page for event information.
There’s a lot to see and do at this free event. They really did a great job keeping kiddos in mind, and so much of it is geared toward the little people. Adults will be equally entertained.
CAMP FRANK D. MERRILL
Camp Frank D. Merrill is a military base operated by the US Army. One important aspect about this camp is that it is the general meeting point for the 5th Ranger Training Battalion and a school for Army rangers and is run by small units. The general purpose of the camp is to train these troops in various environments.
The general idea is to deal with the adaption and movement on the ground, especially in mountain phase environments. The camp is located close to Dahlonega, Georgia. According to the statistics, 1/8 of the world formation consists of mountainous formations, therefore such training activities have their particular importance level.
FIVE TIPS: DAHLONEGA RANGER CAMP
1. PLAN FOR A FULL DAY
There is so much to do at this event! There are numerous, live demonstrations at scheduled times, as well as a multiple learning stations to interact with Rangers, and view and use equipment. You’ll also want to stay for the live music, which will take past 6:00 p.m. And if your kids are like ours, they’re going to want to do it all.
Plan accordingly! Backpacks are allowed. Stock it with extra water, sunscreen, phone chargers, external batteries, and of course your camera because there are photo opportunities just about everywhere you look.
2. ARRIVE EARLY
This is a really popular event – and increasing in popularity every year. So much so that the organizers were a bit unprepared to deal with the volume. When we attended, the main event was set to kick off at 11:00 a.m., which is also when we arrived. We, along with a few hundred others, were diverted to a secondary parking area about two miles from the camp, and it took a couple of hours to bus us to the event itself.
This was entirely a parking issue – once at the Ranger Open House there was more than ample room to move around and view everything, and the crowd wasn’t overwhelming in the least. But the parking was a bit of a snafu – they were caught off guard and this is completely understandable. Don’t let this deter you though! The organizers assure us that they’ll be additional planning and extra buses next year to handle this. Even so, it won’t hurt to try to arrive well before the scheduled start time.
This year there was a small amount of parking within the camp itself – if you get there early enough you won’t need to take the bus at all. The county is asking that attendees not park on the street, which is illegal and contributed to the delays.
3. CREATE A SCHEDULE
Did we mention that there’s a ton to see and do at the Dahlonega Ranger Open House? We recommend that you organize your day around the live demonstrations, some of which are repeated once or twice throughout the day. We enjoyed the venomous snake and hand-to-hand combat demonstrations. You’ll have a couple of opportunities to attend these.
But the huge hit was when the Blackhawk helicopter entered the scene. We got to see the Blackhawk in action in three separate combat scenarios, including air assault (rappelling) and casualty extraction. The kids also enjoyed the HALO (High Altitude Low Opening ) demonstration. Here we witnessed right up close as five Ranger “skydivers” dropped in from out of nowhere and landed in a field right in front of us.
In between live demo’s go check out some of the many learning stations on site. When we attended, these were all located down a road to the right but set back a bit from the main event. Be sure to explore the area because we almost missed them.
Our boys got to pick up (or attempt to pick up) a 110 pound ruck sack, try on a ghillie suite while looking down the barrel of a sniper rifle, and zip line among other things. They’ll never look at Fortnite the same way!
4. BRING CASH
The open house is a free event, but concessions are available so bring extra cash. They also opened up the Post Exchange to visitors where you can buy extra snacks and drinks, as well as Ranger memorabilia like shirts and hats. The PX is located on the main road right next to the guard station.
5. MAKE IT A WEEKEND EVENT
Those in the Atlanta metro and beyond should consider making this a weekend event. We did just that and stayed at the Forrest Hills Mountain Resort & Conference Center Friday and Saturday.
We hear that the Dahlonega Ranger Camp Open House always corresponds with the Bear on the Square Mountain Festival, another big spring event that takes place in downtown Dahlonega. Here we enjoyed a number of local musicians and artists, and sampled some great local food.
Speaking of local food – your next stop in Dahlonega will not be complete without a visit to our new favorite restaurant. Bratzeit is an unassuming German/Swiss restaurant a couple of blocks from the square that will completely blow you away. Don’t pass this one up!
Want to experience more of Dahlonega? Enjoy wineries and other outdoor adventures at this riverside cabin in Dahlonega.
CABIN RENTALS NEAR CAMP MERRILL
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