Troop 24 spends week at Fla. Key
by Mark Andrews
Jul 12, 2013 | 1173 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cartersville Boy Scout Troop 24 recently returned from a trip to Summerland Key, an island in the Florida Keys, taking on aquatic excursions at the BSA Florida Sea Base. The BSA operates four high-adventure bases in the U.S., says Troop 24 Scoutmaster Tracy Heath.

“We try to make it to one of the high-adventure bases every other year,” Heath said.

Arriving July 2 and leaving July 8, the Scouts took on a myriad of adventures, including night snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, an environmental service project and sailing. The Scouts also spent a night on Munson Island, during which they had to survive the elements.

“You’re given food, plus we had our fish, and they pretty much drop you off at the island about 100 yards from shore and the water is waist deep and you have to carry all your gear,” Heath said. “We cleaned our fish, cooked our meal and spent the night, then the next morning we went on a kayaking adventure on the island.”

He continued, “This particular island has a lot of waterways through it ... and they have what they call a mangrove [tree] maze and your crew is put in a situation where there’s a starting point with all your boats, there’s two manned kayaks, and the only instructions are to find your way out. We had to go up several narrow channels before we found the correct path.”

He explained many of the outings were designed to encourage team-building skills.

“Everybody has to do their part. For example, we had to have a Scout at every position on the boat and the captain gave the orders,” Heath said.

Jackson Bartmess, an upcoming freshman at Woodland High School and member of Troop 24, added, “We had to work together to raise the mast and keep the ship on course and that was pretty good teamwork.”

He described the trip, which he funded entirely through first-aid kit sales through BSA in 2011, as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“Deep-sea fishing [was my favorite activity],” Bartmess said. “I caught a 26-inch barracuda.”

He said the water-themed trip encouraged him to seek employment next summer as a lifeguard.

Tyler Smith, an upcoming sophomore at Cass High School, said his favorite activity was sailing.

“[I enjoyed] just being out there on the ocean with the crewmates and Scouts and everybody working together,” Smith said.

He said the overnight trip on the island was challenging, but rewarding.

“The island tests you because the weather we encountered was really harsh and we were so tired, and then we had to do manual work for our patch,” Smith said.

He added, “With all the events and activities we did, it really showed how much it takes from each other to [complete] an activity.”