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Summer 2016 spaces available at 3 of 4 BSA high-adventure bases

If there are people around, try to limit your joyful screaming when you read the following sentence.

Philmont, Northern Tier and the Summit Bechtel Reserve still have openings for summer 2016. At Florida Sea Base, summer 2016 is full, but the lottery for summer 2017 spaces is now open.

Trips to these hiking, canoeing, action-adventure and sailing destinations often fill up a year and half in advance, so the news this week that slots for 2016 are still available is worth celebrating.

But you’ll have to hurry, because these spots — like summer itself — won’t last long.

Let’s go base by base for the latest. 

Philmont Scout Ranch

Philmont in New Mexico has space for roughly 70 more crews. The openings, with departure dates scattered throughout June and July, mean you and your Scouts or Venturers could be trekking at Philmont in just a few months’ time.

“It’s always a bummer when someone says they missed the opportunity to go to Philmont because they heard it was full,” says Bryan Hayek, Philmont marketing specialist.

So Hayek and the Philmont staff want everyone to know it’s not too late to be a part of the magic.

Now the technical stuff: Minimum crew size is seven people, and at least two of the seven must be adults. One of those adults must be 21 or older. Mixed-gender Venturing crews must have representative leadership, meaning both a male and female adult present. Philmont crews can be no larger than 12, but your Boy Scout troop or Venturing crew could split to form multiple Philmont crews if you have more than 12 interested in attending.

Go here to check out the openings, and email camping@philmontscoutranch.org with questions.

Northern Tier

At Northern Tier in Minnesota and Canada, there’s very limited availability for summer 2016, with departure dates in June and July.

Treks in 2017 are filling up already, but — as you’d expect — the calendar for next year has more openings.

Wilderness canoe trip participants must be 14 years old or have completed the eighth grade and be 13 years old by the time of arrival. Crews vary in size: at the Ely Base they are limited to eight people; at the Canadian bases they are limited to 11 people. All crews consist of at least two adult leaders, a youth crew leader and a majority of youth participants.

A Northern Tier Interpreter accompanies all crews. Larger troops will be divided into “sister” crews. Though sister crews may know each other, they will have independent experiences while at Northern Tier to maintain the integrity of the wilderness program. Sister crews won’t see each other in the wilderness.

Go here to check out the openings, and call 218-365-4811 or email info@ntier.org with questions.

Summit Bechtel Reserve

The Paul R. Christen National High-Adventure Base in West Virginia offers 11 different ways to have the best week ever. There are focused programs that give Scouts and Venturers a deep dive into their favorite high-adventure activity — like whitewater rafting, mountain biking or climbing. And there’s a “sampler” program, called the Summit Experience, that lets them try it all.

High-adventure programs run Sunday to Saturday, with the first session beginning June 12, 2016, and the final session starting on July 31, 2016.

Go here to learn more, and call 304-465-2800 or email summit.program@scouting.org with questions.

Florida Sea Base

At Sea Base in the Florida Keys, summer 2016 is completely booked, which General Manager Paul Beal says is “good news/bad news.” Good because it means the base is serving as many Scouts and Venturers as possible this summer, and bad because some Scouts will have to wait until 2017 to attend.

Speaking of, you’re just in time to enter the lottery for summer 2017 spots. The lottery window is open now and slams shut on Feb. 15, so go here to register.

Beal also asked me to remind Scouters that the Sea Base is open all year long, and most of its adventures also are offered in the spring, fall and winter.

Learn more in this Sea Base brochure (PDF) and call 305-664-4173 with questions.


Photo by W. Garth Dowling/BSA

6 Comments on Summer 2016 spaces available at 3 of 4 BSA high-adventure bases

  1. This info is sort of disheartening for small Troops. Our Troop would have a hard time mustering 12 people to attend together, both due to Troop size and scheduling conflicts for some. These camps should design a way for an individual scout or a small group to join along with others, so troops from low population areas can participate.

    • Check with your local council. Many will assemble crews for treks to the high adventure bases because of the amount of folks who might want to attend but cannot muster up enough folks inside their own unit to make it viable.

    • Yes! If you’ve only got a couple of boys who are hankering to try out a base, talking to strangers is the way to go. Have your interested boys call around to neighboring troops.

      Even Seabase, although all of its slots are spoken for, has units who would like to add some members to their contingent. These units post their openings on Seabase’s Scout Connections page:
      http://www.bsaseabase.org/ScoutConnections/GroupList.aspx

      The only “downside” that I know of (once you get past figuring out if dates for the trip work and any advance training can get done in time) is that you have to be ready to put up a lot of funds in a hurry.

    • And I was just reminded of Philmont’s individual trek program http://www.scouting.org/~/link.aspx?_id=E2D2654CB05840F79E53AA1F29149456&_z=z

  2. Is it unusual to have so many vacancies? Is this just an off year for these programs? I thought it was very difficult to get into these programs, but there seem to be a lot of opportunities.

  3. We tried to get a 2016 Sea Base trip and submitted 18 different lottery trips to see if one stuck and was denied a trip. At 2017 Northern Tier we were shot down on our request and had to find a less attractive alternative. Troops are going elsewhere (private outfitters) that are more welcoming AND less expensive. BSA needs to get their act together.

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