Before there was the BSA’s Grand Slam, there was Cub Scouts.
It was more than 15 years ago that Becky Lutz and her husband, Steve, signed their first-grade son up for Cub Scouts. They had very little experience in Scouting up to that point, but already knew it was the program for them.
“We were asked who was going to be the leader,” says Becky. “All the parents looked around the room at each other and somehow my husband and I went home as the new Tiger den leaders.”
Now, 15½ years later, their son, Colton, is an Eagle Scout and an assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 439 in Washington, Missouri.
Becky is still an assistant Scoutmaster while also serving as the district’s camping chair. Steve is the troop’s committee chair.
In 2021, all three of them earned the BSA’s Grand Slam of National High Adventure award, for youth and adults who visit all four of the BSA’s national high-adventure bases.
Around 85 adults per year earn the Grand Slam, according to the Charles L. Sommers Alumni Association, which created both the Grand Slam and Triple Crown awards. Fewer than 10 of those adults, on average, are women.
“Being able to do any Scouting activity with my family has been a blessing and an incredible opportunity,” says Becky. “Being able to do these high-adventure bases has been amazing. I know we are lucky, and I am so extremely grateful to be able to do this with two of my favorite people.
“We are able to push each other just enough to stretch our comfort levels and come out stronger and successful.”
First base: Philmont
It started at Philmont Scout Ranch, where Troop 439 regularly sends crews to visit. In 2016, the Lutzes completed a 12-day backpacking trek, highlighted by a hike up Mount Baldy.
“That day had everything,” says Becky. “We started out at beautiful Miranda Camp, summitted Baldy, and spent about an hour on top before a storm could be seen coming in. We descended and went to Baldy Town for resupply, where we ate lunch under the porch in the rain before heading back to Miranda. I think it was a 15-hour day.”
Becky found the experience so positive, that when they returned, she began to gauge the participants’ interest in going to Northern Tier. That trek happened in 2019.
“What a gorgeous place,” says Becky. “Every day was like a postcard. I’m not a fisherman by any means, but I’ll never forget the day I almost caught the biggest pike ever. … It took my line and as I’m trying to reel him in, he is literally pulling our canoe around.
“Just as I’m getting him to the surface and can see this giant monster, he breaks the line. I lost the fish and the lure, but I got a heck of a fish story.”
That same year, Colton was invited to join another’s unit’s Sea Base trek. That meant that Colton had earned the Triple Crown, and he was one step closer than his mom and dad to the BSA’s Grand Slam.
Hitting it out of the park
Becky, Steve and Colton visited the Summit Bechtel Reserve in 2020, where they participated in the New River Experience.
“What an awesome trek,” says Becky. “Each day, the rapids got a little more difficult. The last day, we were riding Class IV rapids.”
This trip marked the Grand Slam for Colton, and the Triple Crown for Becky and Steve. Just one trip to go for mom and dad to earn their Grand Slam — they visited Florida Sea Base in 2021 and participated in the Keys Adventure program.
“It’s an absolutely stunning world of color and life just under the surface,” says Becky. “We saw so many colors of different fish, sea turtles, sharks and plant life.
“Our walk from Munson Island to the boat dock was so exciting. I think we had four sharks swimming around and through us. My husband was walking behind me and had to stop, or he would have run right into the shark that passed between us. Incredible!”
A hall-of-fame experience
This spring, Colton graduated from college. With all three Lutzes now officially adults, they have no plans to quit Scouting.
Always the proud mom, Becky says Colton’s Scouting experience has benefitted him as he begins his post-college years. In addition to earning the Grand Slam, he also earned every merit badge that was available during his time in Scouts BSA and also served as chapter chief for his Order of the Arrow lodge.
“Colton gets a boost during interviews and job applications because he can share his Scouting experiences,” says Becky, “which I believe exposed him to so many different experiences that have helped him carve out his own path.”
She also says she believes the experiences at the high-adventure bases played a role in the man Colton has become. He served as crew leader on a couple of the trips.
“I have been fortunate enough to witness the growth in my son from doing these high-adventure trips, from working with adult advisors and the high-adventure base staff to leading the crew and problem-solving along the way,” she says.
And that doesn’t even take into account the bonding experienced by son, father and mother, in earning the BSA’s Grand Slam — and doing everything else Scouting has to offer together.
“Without a doubt, we have been able to do things and go to places that we very likely would not have done had it not been through Scouting,” says Becky. “We have met so many people and have made some lifelong friends that we would have not crossed paths with otherwise.”