Monday, September 12, 2011

Chapter Three: Canoe Trips – Surviving In Boy Scouts

Chapter Three of the Autobiography...  Letter C, Canoe Trips.

Chapter Three
Canoe Trips – Surviving In Boy Scouts

Around the age of twelve I moved up from being a Cub Scout to being a Boy Scout. Our Scout Leader was a close friend of the family, so it made it much easier for me to want to continue attending and participating in Boy Scouts. As part of our learning experience we attended a few weekend outings at a local Boy Scout Camp. During these weekends at camp we experienced a variety of different activities like learning to use a bow & arrow, starting a fire with flint & steel, or even making a shelter out of sticks and leaves in the summertime or out of snow, sticks and leaves in the wintertime. The most useful thing that was taught to us in my opinion was the proper technique of how to canoe. As much as I enjoyed the time I spent there, the upcoming experience was one I couldn’t have ever expected. We began to further prepare for a week-long canoe and survival trip. We were trained in CPR by our local Fire Chief also. We were allowed to bring a swimming suit, a couple sets of clothes, a compass, a survival knife, and the necessities to catch a fish (hooks, lines, sinkers, etc). Other than that, we only brought pots to cook in and tents to sleep in. After a final farewell to our families, we were off on our trip. I don’t recall exact locations anymore, but we headed north and were dropped off on the Kickapoo River somewhere. The first day we canoed for eighteen miles down the river before ending for the day. It was a stressful and exhausting day as the majority of us hadn’t had that kind of physical experience. At the end of the day we were so exhausted, but it wasn’t over. We still needed to pitch tents, cook dinner, eat, and clean-up before going to sleep that night. Some of us caught a fish here and there along the trip so far, so it made things a little easier. The constant downpour during the first day had me wanting to quit, I’ll admit. After a short pep talk from our Scout Leader, and I had a change of heart. That was the best decision I made for a long time after. I had the greatest time I ever could have imagined. Six days down the Kickapoo River, Wisconsin River, and Mississippi River. We even watched Bald Eagles soaring through the sky and even swooping down to grab fish from the river. I learned a lot about teamwork, determination, and untold amounts about myself. I never took so much time to stop and think about anything for any period of time before this, but had plenty of time to think while alone in the wilderness. We did a total of seventy-six miles of canoeing down those rivers in those six days. I saw wildlife that I could never have imagined I’d normally ever have seen. At one point on the Wisconsin River we even passed a nude beach too. We didn’t make it through the trip without any mishaps either, believe me. We came across a number of small waterfalls on the Kickapoo River that needed to be crossed. We didn’t bother pulling out and going around. Instead, we went right on over. Some of the group didn’t make it over so easily, and they ended up flipping their canoes over and dumped all of their gear and everything else inside as well. We all had to stop then and collect everything they lost, get them back in their canoe, and get back moving. Interestingly enough though, this still seems to be one of my fondest memories from when I was beginning to be a teenager, and I was still mostly innocent. I often think back to these times and wish I could do it again. I’ve talked to my old Scout Leader and she recommends that I start a new Boy Scout troop so I could share this experience with another generation. We no longer have a local Boy Scout troop in our area. I may think about starting another troop is I can regain the acceptance and trust that I would need from my community again.

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