Consider all your options when you register at high-adventure bases

We’re in the middle of registration periods for 2021 adventures at the BSA’s national high-adventure bases, with sign-ups at Sea Base starting this week.

While you and your Scouts might have your sights on a specific experience, keep in mind that there’s more than one path to adventure. For example, you can consider Sea Base’s adventures to St. Croix, now in its second year of operation. Life Scout Matthew Polanco of Troop 209 in Tucson, Ariz., perfectly sums up what that aquatic adventure was like last year.

“Close your eyes and stand on the grass in front of your tent, looking out at the ocean vista to start your day of scuba. You could feel the harmony of nature and the power of the ocean that awaits,” Matthew says. “I have been to three of four high-adventure BSA bases, and this is my favorite yet.”

Sea Base hosted 41 crews for its St. Croix Adventure last year, and another 25 went on the St. Croix Scuba Adventure. Matthew’s crew, most of whom were from Arizona, went on the weeklong Scuba Adventure.

“We saw tons of sea life, including sharks, turtles, eels, a wide variety of fish, coral and sponges,” says Grant Grimit, a Star Scout in Troop 209. “Scuba diving is an amazing activity to do.”

Sea Base offers 20 different adventures at six different locations. Options abound at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, Philmont Scout Ranch and Northern Tier as well. Some of the lottery periods for these high-adventure bases have passed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find slots still available or alternate adventures.

Choose your season

Troop 256 of Austin, Texas, recently returned from a winter adventure at Philmont. Instead of a 50-mile summer backpacking trek, these Scouts trudged through a foot of snow into the backcountry, built snow shelters and ended their time with a day of skiing at Red River Ski Area. For many in the crew, this trip introduced them to the most snow they had ever seen as well as temperatures as low as negative-11 degrees at night.

“I didn’t see anybody with a frown,” says Aidan Flores, a Second Class Scout. “It was a really fun experience.”

The ski trip is one of several winter adventures Philmont has; others include ice fishing and cross-country skiing. You could also go to Philmont in the autumn and try fly fishing, rock climbing or mountain biking.

At Northern Tier, you can choose a canoe trek in the summer or a winter adventure at one of two locations, the newest site being Gerber Scout Reservation in Twin Lakes, Mich., where Scouts can enjoy fat tire biking. Dog sled treks are available at the base in Ely, Minn.

Sea Base also has treks in the winter, spring and summer. The Summit has programs in summer, autumn, and new this year, winter, which includes housing and program opportunities for Scouts and Venturers at the nearby Winterplace Ski Resort.

About Michael Freeman 213 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is associate editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.