Our next Chief Scout Executive tackles OAWarrior course at NOAC 2015

Not many chiefs-to-be of major organizations or companies would attempt something like this.

Mike Surbaugh, who on Oct. 1 will become the BSA’s 13th Chief Scout Executive, climbed, ran and crawled through the OAWarrior challenge course at NOAC 2015. The course — part American Ninja Warrior, part Wipeout — is designed with teenage Arrowmen in mind, not future Chief Scout Executives.

But Surbaugh handled it with ease, never stopping until he crossed the finish line with arms raised high. Along the way he ran through tires, climbed up and over giant stacks of hay bales, and crawled through the dirt.

Showing off his skinned-up knee after completing the course, Surbaugh told me it was “fantastic, fun and totally awesome.”

“I’d do that again in a heartbeat,” he said.

I wasn’t the only one impressed to see our next Chief out there.

Mike Rosenberg, 18, is the youth lead of OAWarrior. He said seeing Surbaugh complete OAWarrior speaks to the next Chief’s willingness to be “one of the guys” within Scouting.

“I love seeing all the national guys down here,” Rosenberg said. “Knowing that they’re here to test it with us and just have some fun is awesome.”

Being “one of the guys” is a tradition Surbaugh will carry forward from current Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock. Like Surbaugh, Chief Brock doesn’t sit in some conference room at events like NOAC. He’s out there meeting as many Scouts and Scouters as he can.

OAWarrior in GIF form

Here are some GIFs from Surbaugh’s excellent run through OA Warrior:

OAWarrior-1 OAWarrior-3 OAWarrior-4 OAWarrior-6 OAWarrior-7 OAWarrior-8

More about OAWarrior

With OAWarrior, Rosenberg and his team have created the largest challenge course in the history of the National Order of the Arrow Conference.

The response from Arrowmen has been universally positive, Rosenberg said. Though Arrowmen only get one shot at the course for their official time (as of this writing, the record is 6 minutes, 15 seconds), they can return as often as they want. And they do.

“A lot of them want to keep coming back to try it again and again,” Rosenberg said.

OAWarrior is more than just a fun physical course. It’s mental, too. At each obstacle, signs like “Take a Leap” and “Overcome Your Obstacles” and “Do Not Let the Tires Tire You” make the Arrowmen pause to ponder.

“It’s supposed to make them think about their journey in the Order of the Arrow,” Rosenberg said. “Some of the language is even taken from their Ordeal ceremony.”

The course itself

So what’s the course like? This story on the NOAC 2015 website explains:

The course begins with several tunnels that lead to “Spider Mountain,” an air-locking web cylinder filled with bungee cords. After “escaping,” contestants slide down and pounce over 6-foot high bales before sprinting to the tricky tire obstacles. Participants must next climb up to the top of the hippo and slide back to ground level. Tire obstacles block the way to the “Big Ball,” followed by more tires, hay bales and the “Boot Camp Challenge,” where participants climb walls, cross water with by rope, climb through tunnel, hurdling hay bales, and jumping off a 16-feet cliff before sprinting to the finish line.

NOAC coverage

Read all of my NOAC posts right here.

About Bryan Wendell 2893 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.