Powder Horn in Paradise: Scouters take training course in Hawaii

Scuba diving in enchanting aquamarine waters, sailing in a bay adorned with a lush mountainous backdrop, savoring a delicious fish and rice dinner cooked in leaves and bamboo. Sounds like a great vacation, right?

It also sounds like Powder Horn at Hawaii’s Aloha Council.

In March, the council hosted 48 Scouts and Scouters from Hawaii and the U.S. mainland for an extended weekend of high adventure training at Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden on the island of Oahu. Powder Horn serves as a supplemental hands-on course for registered adults and youth who are at least 13 and have completed the eighth grade.

“The beauty about Powder Horn is that both Scouts and Scouters get to participate,” says Lizzy Kwock, Powder Horn course director. “Wood Badge is for adults; National Youth Leadership Training is for youth; Powder Horn is for everyone. It brings them out and exposes them to some new experiences.”

Fun in the sun

The Aloha Council had a program full of new experiences for attendees. They got to choose different adventures: scuba diving at Turtle Canyon Reef, small boat sailing in Kāneʻohe Bay, stand up paddleboarding in Kailua, outdoor ethics sessions at camp or working on the Hawaiiana Award, a council award geared toward learning the state’s rich history and culture.

Some events lasted 45 minutes while others were three-hour excursions. Sessions at camp included learning how to say the Scout Oath and Law in American Sign Language, geocaching, fly fishing practice and hiking to check out Hawaii’s flora and fauna. And, of course, cooking. Part of the menu featured wrapping fish in ti leaves and cooking rice inside bamboo shoots. Everything was designed to keep Scouts and Scouters engaged.

“The older Scouts are looking for something more,” Kwock says. “It’s really effective to get older Scouts excited about something new.”

Adults, on the other hand, gain insights from networking with other Scouters. Brad Larson, a Venturing crew committee training chair from Boise, Idaho, says the event had a “family atmosphere” with attendees sharing tips on everything from cooking to camping.

“The huge and valuable lessons in this event was having great Scouters available, sharing their stories and questions; this was ‘volunteers teaching volunteers,'” says James Taylor, El Camino Real District commissioner in California’s Orange County Council. “We had a varied and excited group of active students, both Scouts and Scouters, who used the opportunity to find the lessons they needed. They dug and asked questions and worked together to do something new.”

Plan to go to Powder Horn

You don’t have to buy a plane ticket to attend a Powder Horn course. Check with your council to see if one is scheduled in your area.

Ginny Conway, an advisor for Crew 457 in Williamsville, N.Y., attended Powder Horn in Hawaii in March, but she also attended one in 2010 in her home council, the Greater Niagara Frontier Council. There, sessions focused on cold weather camping as well as living history. Canadian and American Scouts met at Fort George to reenact a War of 1812 battle.

“Outdoor Living History” is just one of several activities outlined in the Powder Horn syllabus. Other activities you can delve into at a Powder Horn course include astronomy, cave exploring, cycling, equestrian, shooting sports and wilderness survival, just to name a few.

“Each Powder Horn is a unique adventure,” Conway says. “Location plays a big role in what is offered. At Powder Horn Hawaii, I learned more in a few days about Hawaiian culture, ecology and cooking than I could have possibly learned as a visitor in a month.”

Those who complete the course can sport an award that hangs from your shirt pocket.

“I would encourage anyone that can, to take a Powder Horn course, if not in Hawaii, anywhere they are being offered,” says Stephen Jung, a Scouter from Nampa, Idaho. “As leaders in both Scouting and Venturing, we need the education to provide the best high-adventure program possible. The youth in our Scouting program deserve no less.”

About Michael Freeman 43 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is associate editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.