All 4 high-adventure bases now qualify for Triple Crown

I jumped the gun last week, but now it’s official: The Summit Bechtel Reserve is now a part of the Triple Crown of National High Adventure Award.

And a new honor, the Grand Slam of National High Adventure Award, recognizes Scouts who participate in qualifying high-adventure programs at all four national high-adventure bases. That’s Northern Tier, Philmont, Sea Base and the Summit Bechtel Reserve.

We get our first look today at the redesigned patches for the Triple Crown award. Now that there are four different qualifying combinations of high-adventure bases, the award needed four different patches:

  • Philmont, Sea Base, Northern Tier
  • Summit, Sea Base, Northern Tier
  • Philmont, Summit, Northern Tier
  • Philmont, Sea Base, Summit

The patches include animals to represent each national high-adventure base: a bull for Philmont, a loon for Northern Tier, a dolphin for Sea Base and a black bear for the Summit.

The Grand Slam award patch design will be unveiled soon.

Applications for both awards are being accepted now, but because the new patches will take time to produce, processing won’t begin until November for those who attended the Paul R. Christen National High Adventure Base at the Summit.

More about the Triple Crown and Grand Slam of High Adventure awards

A group of awesome volunteers from the Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association created the Triple Crown of National High Adventure Award in 1996.

The goal? To recognize adults and youth “with a thirst for high adventure.” The award gained additional notoriety in 2012 when the patch was depicted in Joseph Csatari’s 100 Years of Eagle Scout painting.

Youth and adults who participate in qualifying high-adventure programs at either three (Triple Crown) or four (Grand Slam) national high-adventure bases are eligible for the awards.

Obvious question: What’s a qualifying high-adventure program? Glad you asked.

The Sommers Alumni Association offers this guide (PDF) that tells you exactly what is and what isn’t a qualifying program.

You’ll find that information, an award application and more answers to your questions at the award’s official website.




  1. Sure do wish there had been a “Double Play” award for those of us who completed adventures at two of three in the past.

  2. Love the new Triple Crown patches! Using the animals in different combinations is genius. I hope we see something really cool for the Grand Slam, like a jacket patch or metallic threads. If a boy manages to make it to all four, it would be great to recognize him with something out of the ordinary.

  3. Applications for the Grand Slam Award are not yet being accepted. The web site states:

    Important: We’re excited to launch the Grand Slam! The application and patch design for the Grand Slam of National High Adventure Award will be released in the near future. For now applications and requests for the award are not being accepted.

  4. My understanding is that Maine and Land Between the Lakes used to be accepted for Triple Crown. Now they are clearly marked as exceptions. There’s no justification for this other than that the folks who make up the rules didn’t go to these locations. These places closed down in the late 1970’s so I doubt that there would be more than one or two adults per year who would be qualified to use them to reach Triple Crown. Also, I’ll never get credit for it but I came up with the “Grand Slam” name many years ago via an early Facebook post (Grand Slam = you get to all four bases in baseball). A Northern Tier Staff Alumni guy immediately dismissed my idea and stated how few people could afford to go to four high adventure bases. I was amazed at how out-of-touch he was as I was (and am) sure the majority of Scouts cannot afford to go to one high adventure base, let alone three or four. (My son just completed his Triple Crown this summer, so we’re lucky enough to be able to afford it.) FYI, if you can’t pass the BSA swim test, you can now make the Triple Crown via Philmont, Okpik, and the Summit.

  5. Also, not sure I agree on counting the OA High Adventure programs. Arrowmen attend them as individuals, and it creates a disincentive to attend a (council/troop) trek if a Scout can earn the Triple Crown award by going via the OA High Adventure route. It also allows for double-dipping – Scouts can qualify for the OA Triple Crown and then they will automatically be qualified for the Triple Crown.

  6. So what exactly is Sea Base’s logo? They didn’t know and I was there last week. Is it the Conch Shell, the Bull Shark, the Dophin? Can we pick one and let people know.

    Thanks… oh and you missed the mark BSA not including the Jambo at the Summit but included the Summit Experience which is a taste of the Jambo? So what you are saying is Jambo doesn’t equal high adventure but the taste of it does? Gotta love those folks that never went to either deciding on what counts so they can create a patch for it…but I digress.

    • Jambo is a big convention that happens to now be held on an HA base. Great experience? Yes. Unique super-activity? To some, yes. High adventure? Sorry, no.

      • The key is they have a Summit Experience which is all the same stuff as Jambo but Jambo doesn’t count.

        Imagine you were actually a youth who saved up for Jambo at the Summit over a couple popcorn seasons, hiked to each place, participated in each activity, and even broke and arm (or two) while there. Now the 150 miles you hiked that week in the heat and rain, the broken arm you got riding the Mountain Bike Course or BMX course, the skateboard extreme course you busted your behind on, and the whitewater adventure down the New River you went on after you shot a pistol at steel plate wasn’t quite high enough adventure to count for a specific award. Remember, it is just a big convention where Scouts and Scoutmasters get together to trade patches and ride the bus.

        But guess what… for $800 more you can come back, do it all again, and this time it counts.

        • Spot on Mr. Don. My son had a similar experience at the first Jambo and it was way more high adventure than some of the other programs. Tooling around key west going to museums and paddle boarding is one lesser comparison that comes to mind.

  7. We just had 3 scout work at philmont on the OA trail crew and were told if they want sea base they need to do it next year because it is going to close at the end of 2015. Any truth to that because they were planning on northern tier for 2015 and are now changing plans. Just wondering???

  8. You might want to check your definition of “Grand Slam” in baseball. All four bases is a Home Run. A home run with three men on base (thus scoring four runs) is a grand slam. (I suspect the grand slams for tennis and golf were derived from baseball.)

  9. Well, I just explained this to my son and he said it is pointless to save for camps anymore. In his words “I guess if you can’t afford to go to specific programs, then scouting can’t afford you!”. He has sold popcorn and worked hard to go to “HIGH ADVENTURE” bases, just to be told that what he could afford doesn’t count for what he was thriving for. Well, he was saving for Philmont, but told me he did not want to go anymore. Thanks, now I can only hope that he doesn’t decide to drop from scouting all together. What he has learned is very simple, those who have money get awarded, those without money are considered of much less value to the entire program.

    • Is he a member of the OA. There is a program where you can go to philmont for 2 weeks work one week and hike the second week (OA Trail Crews) also at the other three. Cost is $250 Sea Base is more. Travel expense is on you, but is a cheaper way to go. Hope this helps

      • Thanks, but no he is not a member of OA and does not want to be a part of a “Basically Secret Group” (His Words). He has checked out of the entire program now. He told me that he is tired of trying to achieve, then being told that what he has done isn’t good enough for those in scouting that put themselves on a soapbox and act like they are better because of it. He no longer wishes to be part of a program that has become so self absorbed in their own arrogance it has lost the basic meaning behind what it was suppose to do for youth. We had designed his class ring on the internet recently, so that when it came time to order it, he was ready. Today he wanted me to remove the Boy Scout symbol on the side and eliminate the Eagle Scout engraving on the inner ring.

        I have to admit that I do not care to try and change his mind either. His arguments are making sense and I can’t find anything to argue in favor of scouting anymore. It does break my heart that he has worked so hard to get to this apex of scouting and now has lost all faith in the program. My wife and I have been involved in every aspect of the program and supported him every step of the way. I was looking forward to going with him to Philmont in some way, but that will not happen now.

  10. In real terms these are awards for Scouts from wealthy families who can afford the fees and travel and equipment. But who else is going to do this?

  11. My son attended qualifying programs at Philmont and Sea Base and now is working as staff at Summit. Does this qualify him for a triple crown?

  12. So how do we apply for the Grand Slam? Both my son’s already have the Triple Crown and last summer they attend the Summit Experience with our Crew.

  13. What about Denali High Adventure Scout Base in Alaska? In the Great Alaska Council.

    This doesn’t qualify?

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