High-adventure guides share tips for Family Adventure Camp

Open to all registered members of the BSA and their families, you can visit Philmont, the Summit or Sea Base and participate in exciting programs with Family Adventure Camp. Depending on where you go, activities can include swimming, hiking, horseback riding, ziplining and so much more.

If you’ve never been to any of these bases, what are the must-do activities and attractions? Let’s ask some BSA guides from each of the bases:

Which activities are the most popular at your base?

Mary LaVaque, Summit Bechtel Reserve guide: From kayaking to climbing at Boulder Cove, there are so many different choices, but I would have to say that the Big Zip is our main attraction. It’s 3,100 feet of pure adrenaline that goes up to 60 miles per hour. That’s a longer line than the New River Gorge Bridge!

Danny Tucker, Philmont Scout Ranch guide: Hiking is definitely something families wont want to miss. The options vary by length and difficulty, so there are hikes for families of all types. If you have never had a chance to ride a horse, Philmont’s working cattle ranch with expert wranglers will provide a firstclass experience.

Ronnie Fye, Florida Sea Base guide: The tide pools at Camp Sawyer are fun to wade around in and explore during low tide. You can find a variety of small sea critters to enjoy, but you will need to bring water shoes and an SPF sun-shirt for protection. Bird-watching and stargazing are also great ways to enjoy nature without entering the water. We are also next door to Bahia Honda State Park where people love to snorkel in the crystal-clear water unique to the Keys.

What’s the best “hidden gem” at your base?

LaVaque (Summit): Most of our staff will agree that spending time on a mountaintop — whether you hike, drive or bike to get there — to take in a sunset is a must-do while at the Summit. Consider hiking to the top of Mount Jack — that’s one of my favorites. Families of all ages will find awesome trails to enjoy around the Summit.

Tucker (Philmont): The legacy of Philmont and the Santa Fe Trail is so unique! We have several livinghistory, hands-on museums for your family to visit that will take you right back into the 1800s. You can check out where Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and many others spent their time during the days of the Wild West. Plus, Philmont is home to the National Scouting Museum, a must-see national attraction.

Fye (Sea Base): Waking up to the sounds of the sea waves and tropical birds while staying cool and comfortable in our “glamping”-style tents. Also, sitting on the deck of your tent soaking in a beautiful Keys sunset after a busy day of adventure. Beginning and ending your day with ocean sounds is the perfect way to relax and let stress melt away – the location of Sea Base is perfect for this.

What are great places to grab a bite?

LaVaque (Summit): The Summit has great food offerings, but if you’re looking for a little local flavor, we recommend Pies and Pints or a visit to a local bakery for a West Virginia original, the Pepperoni Roll. For breakfasts, definitely swing by to grab a bite at Tutors Biscuit World. For something a bit more upscale, try Dobra Zupas.

Tucker (Philmont): We joke that the state question of New Mexico is: “Red or green?” For chiles, that is. Both nearby in Cimarron as well as throughout the “Enchanted Circle,” you will find fun and diverse food options that allow you to get an authentic taste of New Mexico.

Fye (Sea Base): There are some really great places in the nearby community of Big Pine Key. Since we are a tourism community, there are lots of delicious options all along the island chain. Be sure to try some fresh fish if you enjoy seafood. It doesn’t get much more fresh than what you find in the Keys.

What should we be sure to see nearby?

LaVaque (Summit): The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is a must-see, and it’s also the newest of the national parks. I’d also recommend Long Point Hike; it has an incredible view of the bridge, the river and the two train tracks that line the gorge. There’s a wealth of history in West Virginia tied closely to the mining industry, so check out the Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum. Kaymoor Steps offers another unique view of the Gorge and gives people a taste of what miners experienced every day.

Tucker (Philmont): Cimarron State Park and the Palisades are just a few miles away and offer some of the best fishing you can find in the Southwest. You also might consider visiting Capulin Volcano National Monument, where you can walk around and even into the crater of a dormant volcano.

Fye (Sea Base): Check out nearby Bahia Honda State Park, where you can soak up the sun on a beautiful beach, and you can also swim, snorkel, kayak, paddleboard, hike and more. Bahia’s activities are among the best adventures that the Keys have to offer. If you are up for a short drive, head down to Key West and check out the southernmost point in the U.S., plus Dry Tortugas National Park is amazing.

What paperwork should I look at before coming to camp?

LaVaque (Summit): Check out the program supplement and start planning your stay with us. Our friendly staff will help to get things lined up for you, but we want to make sure you have a basic itinerary in mind before you come.

Tucker (Philmont): The Family Adventure Camp program guide has a full list to help you plan your visit. This will include a health history form for each member of your family.

Fye (Sea Base): Check out the terms and conditions on our website for lots of details. Other than that, it’s up to your family to determine your fitness for activities you choose to participate; it really is the best opportunity to choose the adventure that matches you and your family.

What should I be sure to bring?

LaVaque (Summit): A USB battery bank for your phone. We have great Wi-Fi and you will have lots of adventures that you’ll want to share on social media. You don’t want miss capturing those memories because of a dead phone battery. You will also need a water bottle because it gets hot here in the West Virginia summer.

Tucker (Philmont): A rain jacket or a rain suit, water bottle, sunscreen and a hat are the keys to success. But, don’t worry if you forget something you can pick up anything you need at Philmont’s store, the Tooth of Time Traders.

Fye (Sea Base): Our top must-haves are water shoes, a hat, sunglasses, reef-safe sunscreen (to help corals thrive from harmful chemicals), an SPF sun-shirt, bug repellent and a reusable water bottle. Your smartphone will also be an awesome addition for pictures and to help you stargaze like a pro — you can download a stars app to help you spot constellations and planets.

About Michael Freeman 295 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is an associate editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines.