Archive for the ‘High Adventure’ Category


The Boy Scouts of America needed a new place to hold the 2013 National Jamboree. Fort A.P. Hill, located in Virginia and the site of several previous Jamborees, would no longer be available for this major event. After a lot of searching and fundraising, the B.S.A. purchased property in the mountains of West Virginia and quickly began developing the site for its needs. The Summit Bechtel Reserve opened on time for the 2013 Jamboree and became a hit with the Scouts and adult leaders.

A special program was held during three weeks of the summer of 2018 at this new high adventure base. The Summit Adventure Leadership Training course, also known as SALT, introduced Scouts to the various programs offered at The Summit. Thanks to a generous donor, the cost of the 5 day course was reduced to $45 per participant, plus the cost of transportation.

When the Central Minnesota Council received this information they began the process of trying to create a contingent of 40 or more Scouts. If they could find the forty Scouts the cost would be $325 per participant, which included the cost of a charter bus. Four Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 quickly registered for this event. Two of the troop’s adult leaders applied to be adult leaders. One was chosen to be one of the four chaperones for the trip.

The contingent of 42 Scouts and four adult leaders left the council office in Sartell Sunday evening on July 22nd and arrived at The Summit Monday afternoon. During the next few days the crew members received a sampling of many of the high adventure activities which included BMX biking, mountain biking, skateboarding, a high ropes course, rock climbing, shooting sports, and more. They even visited areas of the base that most campers never get a chance to visit, such as the logistics center. Two highlights of the trip were the 3200 foot long zip line Tuesday morning, and the white water rafting adventure Thursday morning.

Was the trip a success? Did the Scouts have fun? Well, let’s put it this way. When the Melrose Scouts were asked if they would like to go back for a full high adventure program they all agreed they would love to have the chance to go back to The Summit. I guess the answer to the question would be “Yes!”

In May I discovered that four Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 had signed up to attend the new S.A.L.T. program at the Summit Betchel Reserve in West Virginia. The Summit Adventure Leadership Training is a five day program designed to give participants a chance to sample many of the activities found at the Summit, along with some training on how to promote the Summit in their troops, districts, and councils.

I have never been to the Summit. I wanted to visit the base during the 2017 National Jamboree but things did not work out for that to happen. I decided to call the council office and check if they needed any adult leaders go to on the trip. They told me they were looking for leaders and if I was interested I should send in a “resume”. The last time I needed to send a resume to the council was when I applied to be a Scoutmaster of one of the troops for the 2001 National Jamboree.

It took me week to get around writing a resume. As I was writing it I thought to myself, as I listed my Scouting accomplishments, this could work for me or against me. The council may decide to choose younger leadership or a couple Scoutmasters for this trip. Oh well, the decision was theirs. I sent it in and waited for a reply.

For the next week I waited for a reply. To tell the truth, I was starting to have second thoughts about the whole thing. I would soon be 58 years old. Maybe I did not want to camp out for a week long trip anymore. I have not spend a week camping since I stepped down as Scoutmaster in 2011. The hot, humid, and possibly rainy weather known to be in West Virginia during July was another concern. I think I have grown a bit soft since I moved on to a committee position. I was also a little concerned because I had very little information about what would be required from the adult leaders.

After a week I received a reply from the Central Minnesota Council. They would be glad to have me join the crew if it still worked for me to get vacation time. That would not be a problem. I had already been approved the time off at work. I would have to let the Scoutmaster know I would not be spending a couple of days at summer camp which the troop would be attending the week before the trip to the Summit.

I called the council to inform them that I would be glad to attend the Summit. I would soon add a third Boy Scouts of America high adventure base to my list of bases attended.

Holy cow! The Boy Scouts of America have announced a new high adventure base to be opened in the near feature, and only a few years after the latest one, The Summit, opened. Boy, they are really trying to get new youth into the program and retain the current membership for as long as they are able. According to the Bryan On Scouting blog:

Fifty years, to the day, after an Eagle Scout was the first human to set foot on the moon, the Boy Scouts of America will create a permanent high-adventure base there.  Tranquility High Adventure Base — the fifth jewel in BSA’s high-adventure crown — will open July 20, 2019.

The BSA is partnering with NASA, Virgin Galactic and SpaceX to make this sci-fi dream a reality. Thanks to their support, it’ll cost just $24,995 to spend a week at Tranquility. That cost does not include transportation.

This article was posted on April 1st. Yes, it is an Aprils Fool joke, but just think about it if it. What if it would have been true!

img_1088Seven Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 had a blast at Philmont Scout Ranch this summer. The local newspaper was notified of the trip and decided that an article was in order. At last night’s troop meeting we received a visit from Herman, the newspaper reporter. He sat down with four of the seven Scouts for about 25-30 minutes. He had quite a few questions to ask, and the Scouts did a pretty good job of answering. It was fun to watch them as memories came back to them during the discussion.

I did not attend the trip to Philmont so I decided to stand behind the table as the interview was being conducted. I have not had the time to sit down with the Scouts myself to talk to them about the adventure so I was anxious to hear what they had to say. I helped Herman by asking a few questions of my own that he might have asked if he had been to Philmont. I was also able to give a few details about the camp itself for which the Scouts did not have answers to give.

When Herman left the meeting it just made me think that I may have to host a Philmont evening to hear their stories about the trip, and see the pictures that were taken. I might even have to make a few pizzas and have some sodas available.

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PhilmontLeaving - 5The crew is on the way! The Scouts and advisors of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 left for their trip to Philmont Scout Ranch last night. Everyone seemed to be excited for the trip. They will have a great time. Hopefully, I will be getting a few photos sent to me as they travel that I will be able to share with you.

PTC Trip 2014 - 175Today is the day that seven Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68, along with two adults, head out for the trip of a lifetime. They are going to Philmont Scout Ranch for a ten day backpacking trek in the backcountry of one of Scouting’s favorite locations. They will be driving to the ranch with a stop at Mount Rushmore.

I have been to Philmont seven times, five times on treks and two times for training. I know the Scouts are going to have a great time. In some ways I wish I was going with them but I also realize it is time for others to pick up the mantle and help the new generation learns about the magic of Philmont.

Philmont Gate 2014It is official! Boy Scout Troop 68 of Melrose is going to Philmont Scout Ranch in the summer of 2016. Our committee chairperson received confirmation of our trek registration last week. Let the planning begin!

It has been a decade since the troop went to the ranch. In 2004, six troop members and three adults went along with the council contingent. Unfortunately, we signed up late and our group was split up to fill out the two crews. It was not the ideal situation but everyone who went had a great time.

The 2016 trek will once again be a troop outing. The council did not reserve a contingent for that summer. This means we, the troop and committee, will have to do all the planning and transportation arrangements which is not a bad thing when you think about it. We will probably drive to New Mexico from Minnesota so we will need to plan the course and overnight stops. A little sight seeing will have to be included. Can you say “road trip!”?

The first time Boy Scouts from Troop 68 attended Philmont was in 1986 when five Scouts and myself partook in a trek. (This was before the two deep leadership rule.) The troop went back in 1989, 1992, 1998, and 2004. We tried to plan a high adventure trip every three years. In 1995 we went to the High Knoll Trail in Virginia. In 2001 we participated in the National Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill. The 2004 Philmont trip was the last high adventure outing for Troop 68, until now.

This is not saying that our Scouts have not had opportunities for high adventure. Several individual Scouts did participate in council contingents to Philmont and other National Jamborees over the years.

The troop has a registration for 5 Scouts and two adult leaders in July 2016. I am thinking we may have 6 or 7 Scouts sign up for the trek. We already have two adults and one Scout who will be an adult at that time who have stated they plan to attend. There has been some talk among the committee that we offer any unfilled slots to another local troop to fill out a 12 person crew.

I would like to go back to Philmont with the 2016 crew. I have participated in the previous five treks taken by the troop and enjoyed every one of them. Those five treks may have to be enough for me though. I have been having a little problem with my right knee over the last few months. Walking does not bother me but climbing stairs can be painful at times. Most of the Philmont trails have an easy seven degree incline but there are always the steeper climbs that become more challenging. I will have to see how the next few months turn out before I decide.

trexfootprint1Bob and I had a quick discussion about what we would do that Wednesday afternoon in June. We were at the Philmont Training Center and trying to plan our afternoon activity since there were no classes to attend. Philmont offered several options. I wanted to take a hike into the mountains, maybe go to the Tooth of Time. Bob wanted to check out the T-Rex footprint since he had never seen it during his previous visits to Philmont. The hike to the Tooth was not an option presented to us. I had not seen the footprint either, and it would give us an afternoon in the mountains, so we agreed to visit the fossil.

Philmont has the distinction of having the only documented Tyrannosaurus rex track in the world. It was discovered within the camp’s boundaries in 1993. It was formally identified in 1994 in North Ponil Canyon near the Anasazi Trail Camp. A cast of the famous T-Rex footprint found outside the Philmont museum matches the real one found near Ponil Canyon.

Wednesday afternoon arrived. Bob and I and several other Scouters and family members gathered for a short bus ride that would take us to the drop off point at which we would start our hike into the mountains. Two Philmont rangers joined us to be our guides.

It was great being in the Philmont backcountry once again. It had been ten years since my last visit to the ranch, and this time my hike would not involve wearing a full backpack. Our tour group included a young family and an older couple who were in their eighties. It was a nice easy going hike that actually followed a road. A hiking trail was seen a short distance to our left. I was hoping to get a picture of a crew as they hiked to their next campsite.

The trail to the footprint was supposed to be a short walk from our drop off point. We soon discovered that this was also the first time our rangers would visit the site also. They were as excited to see it as we were. Unfortunately, everyone in the group was taking and enjoying the hike so much that we walked right by the trail and did not even notice it.

I got a bit suspicious when I noticed we had come across a backcountry campsite. The rangers pulled out their maps to determine where we were. I notice a trail sign up ahead so I ran up to see what it said. Yep. We had gone too far. The T-rex footprint was now behind us.

Most of the group was okay with the extra hiking we had done but everyone had noticed the older couple was having a tougher time of it. They were getting pretty slow and quite tired. By the time we arrived back at the trail we needed to be at the older woman decided to stay behind and rest. The trail looked steeper and more rugged than the road and she did not want to risk it. Her husband decided to check out the site.

The three-toed T-rex footprint was not quite what I expected. I thought it would be an indentation into a fossilized rock or something. Instead, it was a footprint that stuck out of the fossil. The actual footprint had filled with something after being made by the dinosaur and actually became a relief of the print. I also wondered how the experts had determined this was the footprint of a  Tyrannosaurus rex. It was still cool to see it.

The site is now surrounded by a fence to keep people and larger animals off the fossil and causing any damage. A roof offers some protection from rain and the harsh sunlight. One of the people in the group told me the fence and roof were a recent addition to the site. I was glad to see the protective measures taken. Hopefully many future generations will be able to see the footprint.

Since we hiked a bit further than planned we were running behind schedule. One of the rangers ran ahead to tell the bus driver to wait for us. I was able to get the picture I wanted of a crew hiking a Philmont trail. The older gentleman of our group was determined to walk all the way back to the bus, even though we could tell he was physically pushing it further than he should. His wife gladly accepted a ride in a staff pickup that just happened to meet us on the road.

That evening Bob and I bought a patch as a souvenir of our trip to the T-rex footprint. We had both enjoyed our short trip into the Philmont backcountry. I had taken quite a few pictures during the hike, but it would be back to the classroom in the morning. Add it as one more great memory of my 2014 trip to Philmont Scout Ranch.

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Here is a picture of the crew we saw during the hike.

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