This past summer we travelled with the Boy Scouts to the Sea Base High Adventure Camp in Islamorada, Fl. for a full week of SCUBA diving. We were there from July 31st to August 7th with 8 scouts and 4 adults. The scouts were between the ages of 14 and 18.
We did a total of 11 dives during the week. All the dives were coral reef dives on the Atlantic ocean side of the keys. The divers were to a depth of 20 to 30 feet. Water visibility was anywhere from 80 to 40 feet, depending upon the weather conditions. The scouts got to dive both hard corals and soft coral reefs.
The abundance of sea life was just out of this world. We got to see tons of reef fish. Just about every dive we saw at least one barracuda. On the night dive, we saw the barracuda schooling over the reef. We saw a couple of nurse sharks. On one dive some of the boys got to see some black tip reef sharks. The nurse sharks were great. They were between 5 and 6 feet in length and we were able to swim with them for quite some time. We saw some grey spotted eels and several moray eels. On one dive we swam with a sea turtle that was about 3 feet in diameter.
All the scouts and two of the adults had to get PADI certified in SCUBA diving before going on the trip. The scouts did their certification in May & June.
||Long Key Reef
||Pillars of Atlantis
||Capt Grumpy Reef
||South End of Alligator Reef
||North End of Alligator Reef
||Landing Strip Reef
In December I completed the Wilderness First Aid that is offered by Solo (Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities). This was in preparation for the Philmont trip in June/July. The adults needed to be certified in Wilderness First Aid, so we would have the background to handle any issues that occur while we are in the back-country.
What a fun course! It has been a number of years since I took a first aid course. Wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was not expecting the course to be so interesting. With the focus being on the back-country, where medical services are typically hours away, the course covered topics that is normally left for medical professionals. Restoring circulation for a broken limb, de-crumpling a person who has fallen and learning about clearing a head-neck-spine injury were some of the topics we covered.
I have to say that the course really boosted my confidence to be able to handle the situations we may face while we’re in the back-country. If you every have the opportunity to take a wilderness first aid course, even if you are not a outdoors type of person, there is a lot you can learn.
We had our first Philmont shakedown hike last weekend. The whole Monmouth Council Contingent of 90 scouts, 20 advisor’s and more than 20 staffers travelled up to Stokes State Forest on Friday evening. On Saturday the boys packed up all the tents and loaded up our backpacks. Our crew was somewhere in the middle of all the crews in getting out of camp in the morning. It took the boys an hour and 15 minutes to break camp.
We hiked 10 miles up to theAppalachian trail and over to the fire tower. The boys did well physically. Most of the backpacks were in the 40lb range weight wise. Although the packs were not balanced correctly and there was a lot of loose gear on the outside. So we do have to work on the skills to pack a backpack. One of the games Frank & I were playing is to guess who would lose a piece of gear next. Along the trail we had to stop several times to re-strap on someone’s sleeping bag or tent.
The crew really enjoyed getting to the fire tower. At the fire tower we had our lunch and enjoyed the overlooks. We saw a single hawk riding the thermals while we ate.
Getting back to camp, we were the second crew in. Both Frank and I were amazed. We didn’t think we hiked at a breakneck speed. Being 2nd into camp gave us time to setup the tents and relax before we had to start cooking dinner. All the food we ate was Philmont style food. That is to say it was dehydrated backpacking meals. For the most part the food was good.
Saturday night it rained like hell. One tent the scouts pitched in a small depression. All the rain water collected in their tent. Suffice it to say this is a self correcting problem. The scouts whose tent is was will definitely take more care in setting up their tents in the future.
Overall the shakedown was a success. The boys got a good taste for backpacking and what will be expected of them in the coming months. Next Sunday, 10/11 we’re going to take a day hike to get the crew together and stretch the legs.
Last week we took the Boy Scout Troop up to Ten Mile River Scout Camp. What an amazing time! In addition to the boys working on the merit badges, we also did a lot of other activities such as the polar bear swim, high cope course, mountain biking, repelling and barbecuing. The kids had an amazing time. They earned a ton of merit badges.
If you are involved in Scouting, but have not yet gone to Summer Camp, it is a very relaxing week. It was very nice to have a few hours each day where there was absolutely no demands and you could sit back, chill out. The fact that cell phones either didn’t work or were very spotty (depending upon your carrier) was an added bonus.