Just got back from a 2 night trip of the Standing Indian Loop trail. On the second day I stopped at Standing Indian Shelter pretty early around 3:00 pm and set up camp, hung my bear bag anticipating the storm that was rolling in. Well the bottom dropped out and there was a terrible storm around 5 and I was by myself in the shelter. At around 5:00 I saw a group of kids running up out of the rain and more and more kept coming, about 40 all in all.
Now I certainly don't fault my fellow hikers for coming in and seeking shelter in a rain storm. What I do mind is that a couple of them ran off with my hiking poles to mark the trail for their other friends (luckily someone picked them up and brought them back) and then for the next 2 hours with standing room only in the shelter I was treated to what amounts to a sermon as this was a church youth group. A bunch of the kids were initiating into whatever their group was and they recited some mantra "I am not ashamed of the gospel of christ...etc." After about an hour of this I finally got fed up and went and crawled in my tent where I could still hear them going on for the next half hour. When they finally headed on they left behind some plastic ponchos, a sock, and other various trash and the entire shelter was muddy and wet.
I don't have a problem with a church youth group taking a trip on the A.T., however not everyone on the trail shares your beliefs, nor do they want to listen to your religious service at the shelter. You may not be ashamed of your lord and savior, but you should be ashamed of taking over a shelter, leaving it a mess, and giving no consideration to your fellow hikers.
Sorry, rant off.