What a Weekend: Planning to succeed

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“What a Weekend!”

That three-word exclamation,
usually uttered with a sigh on a Sunday evening, seems to be as much a part of
the Scouting program as the Dutch oven. If you’ve found yourself saying it
after another great trip with your unit, check out the end of this blog post to
learn how to tell us all about it.

Meanwhile, read on to learn
about Pocatello, Idaho, Troop 342’s canoe trip on the Snake River.

Throwing a bunch of gear into
a trailer and heading for the nearest river is something spring breakers do—not
Boy Scouts. So when Troop 342 wanted to take a canoe trip to nearby Snake
River, it’s no surprise they did some planning.

But what made this trip stand
out was that preparations began nine months early for the September trip.
That’s more preparation than your typical weekend adventure. Scoutmaster Steve
Larsen said the boys of Troop 342 started the process with a letter to a local
camp director in January 2008.

In the letter, the boys asked
for the camp director’s help in training the troop for the trip. As specified
in the “Guide to Safe Scouting,” leaders need proper training in
boating safety before they can take any type of water excursion.

Just like you wouldn’t want
to paddle an entire river in one day, Troop 342 didn’t want to do all of its
training in one weekend. So the boys stretched out their preparations over the
course of several months.

The gradual preparation
started in June with the troop’s Aquatics month. Weekly troop meetings were
held at the municipal swimming pool in nearby Blackfoot, Idaho. In July, the
local camp's waterfront director discussed proper personal floatation device
fitting, taught basic canoeing techniques, and demonstrated how to recover a
swamped canoe in deep water.

And gear? That was taken care
of, too, with the help of some borrowed equipment such as canoes and a trailer
from another local unit.

By September, the trip had
finally arrived. In those final few weeks, the troop held all meetings at a
nearby park. The get-togethers featured plenty of canoe races and safety
practice to complete the troop’s training. And upon his return, Larsen provided
free advertising for the effectiveness of the BSA’s training program.

“The nine elements of Safety
are fantastic,” he said. “I can't imagine conducting any
activity on the water without them.”

Careful preparations also
made harsh winds on launch day a non-issue. The troop switched to an alternate
launch point, and the wind calmed as the group arrived at Jackson Island, where
the troop trailer held a cache of equipment and food.

The troop enjoyed a calm,
nearly mosquito-free night until the honking of a large flock of geese taking
flight served as a wake-up call. While paddling the next morning, the boys
and leaders spotted many varieties of waterfowl, other birds, and mule
deer. After lunch on an unnamed island, the troop arrived at the take-out point
just ahead of schedule. The gear was rinsed and loaded, and the vehicles filled
with boys for the trip home.

After the trip, Brigham
Larsen, the troop’s senior patrol leader, confirmed that all of the planning
had paid off. “It was kind of unique,” he said. “It’s something you don't
always get to do, and it was a lot of fun.”

Brigham, his dad, and all of
Troop 342 learned firsthand the value of proper planning. It’s a lesson every
pack, troop, crew, or ship learns eventually—whether they plan to or not.

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To submit your own story to
What a Weekend, click here.

Give us a brief synopsis of
your event, including where you went and when it took place. Tell us what made
your trip unique, and send us your best three or four photos. We’ll contact you
if we’d like to learn more. Now get back out there!


  1. Hats off to a troop that follows BSA proceedures, plans in advance and gives the scouts memories for a lifetime! As the mom of 2 Eagle Scouts (and 2 more on the way) I have seen my boys experience a wide variety of outings and campouts and can say with no reservations that when the troop follows BSA proceedures, things work out best for all involved. I am impressed with the planning that involved many aspects of scouting and prepared the scouts in this troop to have a good scouting experience – proof that you can head off disaster and greatly improve the chances that no scout leaves the trip with disappointment, discouragement or injury. By the look of the boys in the picture they all had a great time! I hope that more scout leaders will follow the example of this troop in planning activities that are safe and spectacular learning experiences for the lucky boys in their troops.

  2. Sounds like the troop had a lot of fun. I did a similar trip to that when I was young on the Deschutes River instead of the Snake, and in rafts instead of canoes (there were some gnarly rapids). We had a great time. The best part was finding 2 rattlesnakes in our camp. It would be wise to wear snake proof gear in those areas like snake gaiters or snake boots. I live on the snake river now near Lewiston, ID, and there are a lot of rattlesnakes. Thanks for showing our youth the outdoors. Many of them have no other way of doing so.

  3. Good to know had a great troop. It’s really make feel charming when you’re having a trip with your nearest some. You should carry a spotting scope visiting such area to enjoy the beauty of nature . Thanks for sharing the post.

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