Scouts from Scouts BSA Troop 321 Set Sail in the Florida Keys
Members of Scouts BSA Troop 321 of Long Beach joined scouts from Troop 97 of Sumrall, Mississippi, to sail in the Florida Keys during summer of 2021. Two scouts, Addison Carroll and Austin Reeves, and two leaders, Terry Togstad and Tommy Carroll, joined Boy Scouts from Troop 97 of Sumrall on Troop 321’s first BSA High Adventure trek.
The scouts traveled from Mississippi to Islamorada, Florida, to participate in a sailing, snorkeling and fishing adventure that they will remember for a lifetime. At Sea Base, scouts learned how to snorkel and were checked-out on their swimming capabilities. Scouts then boarded the Conch West and set sail into the sunset for a 5-night and 6-day adventure.
The Boy Scouts of America hosts seven high adventure camps around the country that each specialize in individual areas. Sea Base adventures fulfill BSA requirements for completing the Triple-Crown and Grand Slam achievements, which are the pinnacle of Boy Scouts of America adventures.
While on their sailing cruise, scouts cooked their own meals including steak and the fish they caught each day and cleaned up the ship after their meals were complete. They were only afforded one good day of sailing weather with good winds and they took advantage of those winds and learned how to sail their sloop-rigged ketch by hoisting and retrieving the jib, mainsail and mizzen sail. They snorkeled in several different locations including Coffins Patch Reef, Bahia Honda Key and the Sombrero Reef. They fished for Mai-Mai and Spanish Mackerel while underway and grouper while stationary over reefs.
Although they slept on the ship every night, they conducted shore calls at a Florida State Park Beach on Bahia Honda Key one evening and spent one night moored at Marathon Marina. Each night the scouts took turns standing watch in 2-hour shifts throughout the night, watching thunderstorms pass over Cuba, counting over-passing satellites, identifying constellations and enjoying the haze of the Milky Way. The scouts and leaders slept on the deck at night to keep cool and were run into the cabin around 4 a.m. by light rain showers that rose like clockwork each morning.
In total the scouts sailed and motored in the Florida Keys about 130 miles during their adventure.
On their last day at Sea Base the scouts checked out stand-up paddleboards and paddled around Veterans Key, fulfilling requirements for the BSA Stand-Up-Paddleboard patch. During their last night at Sea Base they partied in a luau where they competed in a limbo contest and just had a grand time!
Scouts must be 13 years old to participate in BSA’s High Adventure Camps. Now that the core group of scouts have reached that age, in addition to their other high-adventure outings, the troop will be participating in these camps as well. Currently they are planning to canoe and portage the Canadian-boundary waters in Minnesota in July of 2022 at BSA’s Northern Tier Camp.
Scouts from Troop 321 hail from Bay St. Louis, Diamondhead, Poplarville, Gulfport, Biloxi, Ocean Springs and Long Beach. For all scouts involved, this adventure has taught self-reliance and built confidence in their growth and maturation.