He’s visiting all 4 high-adventure bases in 1 epic summer

It could be the most epic summer in Scouting history.

Ben Pycraft, a 19-year-old Eagle Scout from North Ridgeville, Ohio, will travel solo to all four BSA high-adventure bases this summer.

But, true to Scouting values, the trip isn’t all about Ben.

At each stop along the way, he’ll perform service to give back to BSA high-adventure bases, local council camps and communities.

“I started a plan of a journey that would top absolutely any Scouting experience I have had in the past,” Ben says. “I wanted to live a story that I could share and inspire Scouts who wanted to truly see an example of what it means to serve and what it means to me to be a Scout.”

Ben’s trip includes more than 8,000 miles by car. He departed June 2 in Ohio and will finish Aug. 14 at the Florida Sea Base.

The trip is built around participating in Order of the Arrow programs at each of the BSA’s four high-adventure bases. The Order of the Arrow, or OA, is Scouting’s service-focused honor society.

Alone, any one of Ben’s high-adventure trips would be an experience of a lifetime. But four in one summer? Yeah, that’s epic.

The plan

  • June 2 to 4: Attend the first lodge event of a new OA lodge, Erielhonan. Ben helped start the new lodge.
  • June 4 to 8: Travel from northeast Ohio to New Mexico.
  • June 8 to 22: Participate in OA Trail Crew session at Philmont Scout Ranch. Trail crew includes a week of service building trail followed by a weeklong trek.
  • June 22 to 28: Travel from Philmont to Minnesota along a scenic route that includes stops at the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Yellowstone National Park.
  • June 28 to July 12: Participate in Canadian Odyssey at Northern Tier National High Adventure Bases. Participants spend a week restoring portage trails in Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park followed by a weeklong paddling trek.
  • July 12 to 15: Travel from Northern Tier to West Virginia.
  • July 15 to 29: Attend the 2017 National Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve. Ben will serve as a member of the OA’s communications team to write articles about participants at the Jamboree.
  • July 29 to Aug. 8: Travel from SBR to Florida with stops that will include Cedar Point amusement park and Washington, D.C.
  • Aug. 8 to 14: Participate in OA Ocean Adventure at the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base in the Florida Keys. Participants perform service at Dry Tortugas National Park while also getting to snorkel, kayak, paddleboard and swim.

The preparation

Ben is a visual guy, so he picked up a travel journal — a blank hardcover book with inspiring travel quotes on each page. He wrote what he wanted to do and where he would go on a road trip across the country.

Then he bought a map of the United States and put a yellow push-pin in each of the four high-adventure bases. Red push-pins marked other landmarks he wanted to see along the way. Among the places marked in red: the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the Grand Canyon in Arizona and the National Scouting Museum in Texas.

“I spent the evening mapping out this visual of this route I would take and how far apart each high-adventure trip would have to be to incorporate rest, travel and pit-stop time,” Ben says. “After a week of editing and restarting, I finally had a route that fell perfectly along three different OA High Adventure sessions that would also let me be able to be at Jamboree.”

With the four primary stops set in stone, Ben’s dream was becoming more and more real. He used Google Maps to predict driving distances and routes between each high-adventure base.

Ben says he looked at the Guide to Safe Scouting’s recommendations on driving time and will follow its rule about a maximum of 10 hours of driving in one 24-hour period.

“Although it would have been easier, I wanted to hold myself to those standards so that I could serve as an example to Scouts,” he says.

Each of Ben’s driving days ends at a Boy Scout camp where he’s arranged to stay the night.

“I plan to rest at these select camps and provide my support of their program for a few hours before I hit the road again — in thanks to supporting me with a safe place to sleep for the night,” he says.

The packing

Ben’s gear needs will vary from one high-adventure base to the next. You don’t take the same things backpacking through New Mexico that you’ll need canoeing through Canada.

That’s why Ben settled on driving from base to base instead of trying it by plane or train.

“Having that ‘base of operations’ in my car where I can store more clothes, gear and other necessities to be swapped out between treks was important to me,” he says.

His car will store paperwork and forms needed at each stop. His trunk will house a camp washing machine he built using a 5-gallon bucket and plunger.

The postscript

This trip is shaping up to be the highlight of Ben’s Scouting career. But how did he get here?

Ben was never in Cub Scouts. He joined Scouting in 2010 when he was in the sixth grade. Ben’s first position of responsibility was Troop Guide — meaning he’d help younger Scouts learn the ropes.

Ben loved this job “because I got to work with the new Scouts,” he says. “It was the first opportunity in my life that I realized I was actively an example to others.”

He served as senior patrol leader, junior assistant Scoutmaster and another term as Troop Guide. He was super-active, attending pretty much every troop event.

At age 16, a troubling thought hit Ben: “I’ve already done everything there is to do in Scouting.”

But then he joined the Order of the Arrow, and everything changed. Scouting’s National Honor Society introduced him to new leadership opportunities and fresh activities.

He’s now a Vigil Honor member of the OA and received the OA Founder’s Award.

The past few years, Ben has been pulled in a million directions with Scouts, work and school. But he says Scouting’s still his favorite way to spend time.

“I’m 19 years old, and I’ve been and done a lot of things that I would not have been able to experience if not for the opportunities that Scouting offers,” he says.

Best of luck, Ben. And happy trails.

28 Comments

  1. What a great trip! Best to do it now, before college, work, etc. take up all of your time.

    Not that you need additional stops, but I see you will be traveling through Illinois on your way east from Northern Tier. W.D. Boyce was from Ottawa, Illinois (and is buried there), and there is a scout museum there. I have never been there but hear it is very nice – and they of course have a patch!

    Save Travels!

    https://pickusottawail.com/attractions/scouting-museum/

  2. Great adventure – would be interesting to have a perspective on how you are fininancing the trip. The model of service offered at your stops is great – but what is your budget?

  3. I would love to hear how Ben financed this trip as another way to help other Scouts who would like to do something similar to this incredible trek.

    • Good question, Steve! I’ve been working through high school since I was 15 at McDonalds, where I am now a manager, (but more currently on a leave of absence), so I’ve been using that piggy bank for the trip. The biggest help was the discount on the OA High Adventure trips, having to only pay a fraction of the cost to experience the adventure.

      • AWESOME! Glad you developed a plan and saved up for it. GREAT EXAMPLE FOR SCOUTS, SEA SCOUTS, AND VENTURERS!

        May I offer you another opportunity for the future?

        The European Camp Staff Program is an exchange program where 18 – 30 year olds involved in the BSA can volunteer at a camp over in Europe? It’s another great opportunity.

  4. Safe travels, Ben! I work with a Troop at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland and this undertaking of yours sounds truly spectacular! Hope you meet up with plenty of great Scouts, Scouters, and regular folk who will help you and not hinder you!

  5. Is he traveling as a Venturer youth participant? Or is he traveling as an adult Scouter? Venturing is an awesome program for young adults like Ben who want to continue their scouting careers with a couple more as a youth once aging out of Boy Scouts.

  6. Ben, I salute your aim, your plan and your service. The opportunity to serve as a resource, leader, helper, or inspiration as personal example will never end, for the time never ends to give a hand up to those who are unaware of their own capabilities to succeed.
    May you be successful in every way to fulfill your quest,

  7. This trip sounds fantastic!! Wishing you safe travels. Any chance you’ll be blogging about your experiences? I’d love to hear about how things are going!

  8. This is amazing! Any way other scouts and scouters can follow your journey on social media? Facebook, Instagram, etc.?

  9. Bryan, the correct terminology for what team Ben will be serving on is JamboLink – nothing in relation to the OA.

  10. Awesome! Troop 100 (Garland/Dallas TEXAS) will greet you at the National Scout Museum. Do you have an estimate of which day you will be there? Rodney Rowan 972.278.0404 text

  11. Safe travels, or as we say in Chinese, 安全旅行 Hope to see you at the Jamboree. I’m staffing the Scouting Heritage exhibit for the first period.

  12. During the summer of 2015 Trevor Nichols, an Eagle scout of Troop 6, Clayton, Ga and Mowogo Lodge, went to all 4 High Adventure bases under the OA program at each base. Then on to NOAC for the 100 year anniversary of the Order of the Arrow.
    Congrats to Ben Pycraft on his great service to scouting and an inspiring journey for current and future scouts and arrowmen. Praying for fun, excitement and safe travels on his awesome journey.

  13. Ben suggest you find a good place along your route to view the Solar Eclipse on 21 August. Best seen in the SE US……

  14. This is a opportunity of a lifetime. Use it well ,document it for the future when you have children and share the experience with all who wish to hear and see. Safe travels , and may the lord be with you .

  15. I wish Ben Pycraft the best on his awesome adventure this summer. Will love to hear the highlights as is it unfolds.

    • The 4 National High Adventure Bases are: Philmont Scout Ranch, Northern Tier Canoe Base, Florida SeaBase, & the Summit. There are over 20 other “adventure bases” ran by councils that are in the next tier below. They all also offer adventures of a lifetime and are normally a lot cheaper.

  16. MAY GOD BE NEAR THROUGHOUT THIS ONE OF A KIND JOURNEY… YOU WILL BE IN THE THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS OF MANY PEOPLE… GOD BLESS AND ALL THE BEST TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY…. YOURS IN SCOUTING, “CHAPPY BOB” BALDWIN of Carlisle, PA

    PS… I’VE ONLY BEEN IN SCOUTING FOR 57 YEARS NOW… I’VE BEEN THE RESIDENT SCOUT CHAPLAIN FOR THE PAST 19 YEARS AT HIDDEN VALLEY SCOUT RESERVATION NEAR LOYSVILLE, PA. I’M AN EAGLE SCOUT WITH EACH OF THE THREE PALMS AND A VIGIL OA MEMBER, BEEN A NATIONAL JAMBO. CHAPLAIN AT 2 OF THE JAMBOS. I’VE ATTENDED PHILMONT 3 TIMES, FLORIDA SEA BASE ONCE AND WENT THROUGH OUTWARD BOUND IN MINNESOTA AS A YOUNG ADULT. SERVED IN THE COAST GUARD AND THE ARMY NATIONAL GUARD. WE BOTH WOULD STRONGLY AGREE THAT SCOUTING HAS SO MUCH TO OFFER FOR ANYONE AND EVERYONE WHO HAS AN INTEREST IN “HIGH” ADVENTURE…. PLEASE LET US KNOW IF AND WHEN YOU MAY BE ABLE TO DO A PRESENTATION OF THIS “HIGH ADVENTURE.”

  17. Where exactly will Ben finish his journey? Sea Base includes multiple locations and the work in the Dry Tortugas is the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m leading 16 Scouts and Scouters for Scuba Adventure arriving on Aug 13 and it would be great to meet Ben

  18. Our troop has 2 Crews that will be starting their Coral Reef treks on the 14th. Will it be possible to meet up with Ben for a few minutes of inspiration. I’m sure it’s going to be a great story.

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