Scouting out America
This canoe trip was full of scenery, but not many fish
"Seventy-five percent of Scouting is outing," is an adage that the Boy Scouts of America use to remind scouts that the outdoors is an integral part of being a Boy Scout.
Baldwin Troop 65 does its best to give the scouts the outdoors experience. The troop schedules a monthly campout, goes to scout camp every summer, and for the older scouts there is a yearly "High Adventure" trip. The high adventure trip is the culmination of all that a scout may learn as they go through the ranks towards Eagle.
"High adventure is a rigorous challenge for the boys and the leaders," said Roger Boyd, assistant scoutmaster and seven-time high adventurer. "It builds character and maturity in the boys by showing them that they can do things they might not have thought possible before the trip."
In the past several years Troop 65 has canoed in Canada and the Kansas River, hiked in South Dakota, Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as white watered in Colorado. Next year's plan is to travel to the Canada National Jamboree if funds can be raised.
According to Boyd a trip usually costs a scout around $200, but there are ways that they can raise funds to decrease the out of pocket expenses.
"The boys can raise money for themselves with wreath sales," said Boyd. "We also raise money for the troop with our trash pick up at the Maple Leaf Festival."
This summer, scouts Austin Inzer, Kenton Shuck and Aaron Beuthien utilized their wreath money to help pay for a trip to Ely, Minn., where they spent six days on the lakes of Boundary Waters National Park. Accompanying the boys were Scoutmaster Martin Pressgrove and Assistant Scoutmasters Mark Shuck and Bill Inzer.
When they arrived in Ely, the troop rented their canoes and gear and bought food from a "trip outfitter" and carefully packed for the week ahead. Predicting what gear from home is a necessity and what should stay in the van is important for the scouts.
"Coming from 98 degree weather to a more wet and cooler atmosphere was something that we didn't think about enough," said M. Shuck, who has now survived three high adventure trips. "I had planned to have a T-shirt for everyday, but I should have thought about bringing a light jacket instead. With the limited amount of room in the pack you can't bring everything you are accustomed to on a regular campout."
The natural elements challenged the scouts on the first day. Headwinds made it seem like the canoes were making minimal progress and the map reading was not going very well.
"Within the first half an hour we were unsure where we were," said M. Shuck. "Martin and Aaron were the only ones with any real canoeing experience. Not being able to canoe straight is a lot more important on a Minnesota lake than practicing at the Old Baldwin Lake."
After a challenging first day of battling the wind and backtracking several times, the scouts settled on a campsite. They arrived at the first night's camp late and it was starting to get dark. As soon as the sun started to fade the mosquitoes started to swarm.
"Since we got into camp late the mosquitoes were pretty bad the first night," said Beuthien a five-year veteran of high adventure trips who was participating in his second trip in Minnesota. "Eating your dinner while they eat you just isn't fun."
Day two started out better, as they found where they were on the map and were able to navigate through the Boundary Waters more accurately.
"Once we figured out where we were, things went smoother," said M. Shuck. "What makes it hard is that the map might show an island next to a large piece of land, but a mile away you can't tell which is which."
In the last two days on the water the scouts began to need more food for energy, but their food supply was dwindling and the fish were not biting.
"I think that Cliff, our outfitter, expected us to catch more fish because we were low on food the last couple of days," said Beuthien. "The last time we came we caught over 30 fish, but this trip we only reeled in 11."
"We were eating the same amount of food as when we started," said Shuck. "It was just the fact that we were a lot hungrier made it appear as if we were low."
The scouts canoed into base camp on Friday afternoon with 50 miles of canoeing experience and an adventure they will remember for years to come.
"It definitely builds up mental and physical stability," said K. Shuck. "We utilized the skills we learned more in those six days than any other time."
"Three months ago I would have laughed if you told me that I was going to canoe 50 miles," said M. Shuck. "We pulled together and learned to work as a team."
After loading up their canoes and gear the scouts returned to Ely and civilization to enjoy some blueberry ice cream and a relaxing sit in the sauna.