Building For The Future

The fruits of this year’s picnic table labors will enable the scouts of Troop 507 to canoe the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in Maine, a favorite destination. 2007 will mark the troop’s fifth venture into this permit-only, limited-access primitive waterway plunked in the middle of Maine’s largest forest. Previous trips occurred in 1986, 1989, 1994 and 1999. The troop will offer scouts a nine-day and a two-week trip to the Allegash. The shorter trip will be canoe-only and cover about 60 miles of the river. The longer trip will pick up where the first trip ended and traverse about 100 miles of the river. It will also include a one-day white-water rafting trip on the Penobscot River and two days of backpack camping in Baxter State Park, the start of the Appalachian Trail.

To participate in these grueling trips, scouts must have attained the rank of First Class, be First Aid-qualified with CPR, pass the Boy Scout and/or Red Cross swimming test and qualify for the canoe merit badge. This is not the trip to learn skills!

Boys are challenged to refine skills already learned, to take these skills into areas where few venture, and to survive whatever the fates and nature throw at them. Weekend camping trips are where younger or newer scouts hone skills to the level demanded of high-adventure outings.

On alternating years the troop leaves the canoes behind and focuses on unique backpacking trips. Perhaps the most memorable land-based trip the troop took was in 1988 when they spent 16 days hiking the Grand Teton Mountains. The 16-member group split, with one group hiking north across the Tetons and the other hiking south. They met in the middle to exchange car keys and information. The Teton Mountains afforded the troop spectacular scenery and the opportunity to see several varieties of animal not seen in highly traversed camping sites. Among the animals viewed were buffalo, elk, mule deer, eagles, ospreys and mountain goats.

It may sound clichéd, but the high adventure trips build character the Marines would be proud of. And it all starts with a picnic table project. But this project is more than simple table building; it is a special experience from which proceeds are used to fund additional special experiences.

And what is the best part? When the boys fund their own trips, there is more money in the bank for mom and dad!

Linda Stalvey is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Camp Business, who gave up Washington, D.C., public relations to indulge her passion for parks, the environment and outdoor activities in Medina, Ohio. You can reach her via e-mail at lstalvey1@verizon.net.

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