Monday, July 21, 2014

Pictures from the Summit Bechtel Reserve

Sunset over the CONSOL Energy Bridge.

Monty exploring his new environment.
Monty at Twelve Points.
Map of the Summit Bechtel Reserve.
A view of the Rocks.
Looking down the Energy Bridge.
Monty does a bit of "rock climbing" on his own.
We were rather surprised to meet this little bat on the rock climbing wall.
Monty fits right in at Adventure Valley.
Base Camp Bravo.

Summit Day 5

Today was our final full day at the Summit Bechtel Scout Reserve. My group (six out of ten of us) went to the Ropes in the morning and the Rocks in the afternoon. Ropes is multiple aerial challenge courses high in the treetops. It was a lot of fun, but not too terribly tiring. I don't think any of our crew members fell during the whole morning (we did two courses).
The afternoon was rock climbing, which was good. Most of the rock climbing courses are set up with an auto-belay system which is actually quite convenient, and simpler than being belayed by a person. The staff only had to check our carabiners and harnesses and keep an eye on us - they could be climbing walls too. The best I climbed was a 5.6, but we have a few spider monkeys in our crew who made valiant efforts at the 5.10's and 5.11's. There was also an area for bouldering. We are required to have two people spotting for every person climbing, but it was fun. It's strange climbing without a harness, and even scarier than usual, if that's possible. (I really don't like heights.) After bouldering and rock climbing, we rappelled down the side of the rappelling tower, and did the Leap of Faith. The Leap of Faith is almost like a zip line set up with the auto belay system, so as you jump off the rappelling tower you move out and down. It was a lot of fun.
That evening was the closing ceremony. The closing ceremony is basically a flag ceremony at Twelve Points, and then you get your evaluation forms, patches, Big Zip cards, etc. The patches say Christen High Adventure Base, and don't have a year on them. Unfortunately, the Duty to God and Outdoor Ethics patches are not available yet.
Overall, going to the Summit was a lot of fun. I wouldn't hesitate to do it again or recommend it to another crew. However, it is most definitely a new camp that is still rather disorganized and has a lot of learning to do. Also, don't expect a high adventure experience like Philmont, Northern Tier, or SeaBase. The Summit claims to be a high adventure base, but it is really more like an extreme version of summer camp.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summit Day 4

I feel like our week is nearly over.
Last night was incredibly cold. No matter the amount of clothing and blankets I add, I'm still shivering in my sleeping bag.
Today we began with our service project. We raked mountain bike trails, getting dead leaves and loose rocks out of the path. The majority of the time was spent on hiking, waiting for tools to be found, and being driven to and from the site. It wasn't bad, although we didn't do much work.
After lunch and a ride back to the Scott Visitor Center, we stopped at our campsite and then continued beyond Bravo Camp to The Canopy, our elective. We did two sets of zip line courses in two groups. It was pretty fun, but uneventful.
Tonight all the usual activities will be open. A few people will have latrine duty. We also have to start thinking about preparing to leave on Saturday morning.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summit Day 3

Today was our day of whitewater rafting. The weather was somewhat sunny, and colder than desirable, but no one got hypothermia and died. In the morning when we got up, the fog was so thick that we couldn't see to the other end of the energy bridge.
Rafting was great. I'd love to investigate the possibility of doing a whitewater rafting 50 miler. We did one Class V rapid and several Class IVs. Only one crew member on our raft fell out once, so we were mostly successful.
Rafts are much easier than the duckies were because the guide does all the steering, there are eight people paddling, it isn't necessary to paddle constantly, and the rapids are more fun and more frequent.
Tomorrow we have a service project and our Canopy elective.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summit Day 2


 It is the end of our second day at the Summit Bechtel Scout Reserve in West Virginia. Today we went whitewater kayaking. We didn't actually use kayaks, we used inflatable kayaks, called "duckies". Most of them are designed for two people, and it's a lot like canoeing, although you use double-bladed kayak paddles. They are difficult to steer- real kayaks are more maneuverable, in my opinion.
We kayaked 9 miles in total, and did two Class III rapids in the afternoon, which was a lot of fun. That means we have completed a portion of our watercraft elective for the Ranger Award. We also built, claimed, fought over, and destroyed a large floating fortress created out of overturned duckies. It rained on and off throughout the day, but wasn't terribly cold. We were worried anyway, because today is Hypothermia Day.
I explored the Sustainability Treehouse, which was kind of neat, although I still don't understand why they didn't build a useful building, like the Visitor's Center/Trading Post, sustainably. As it is, they've made a cool, sustainable building that is not suited to any purpose besides displaying how sustainable it is. It's still cool, but it would be nice to see the solar panels and sustainable technology incorporated into places like the bathhouses.
At Action Point, I attempted BMX and mountain biking, which was pretty terrible. I also had latrine duty tonight. One of my crew members was sweeping out the youth male bathroom, and was mistaken for a bathroom authority figure due to the fact that he was holding a broom. He was questioned as to the proper methods for showering, which was quite strange.
Tomorrow is whitewater rafting, and it's supposed to be sunnier.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summit Day 1

Playing hangman on our way there.
It is the end of our first day at the Summit Bechtel Scout Reserve in West Virginia. The start of our week was the Big Zip. It's a 45 minute uphill hike to the launch point, but the zip was worth it. It was quite fast - it is supposed to go up to 65mph. So that was pretty cool.
After that, we hiked a short ways down to Bravo Lake for kayaking. That was a lot of fun. I like kayaking much better than canoeing; it is easier to coordinate just yourself than working with a second person. The Summit has nice PFDs and equipment; it is their first year. We practiced wet exits, team rescues, two-man rescues, self rescues, swamped and  unswamped kayaks. The best part of the day was Ultimate Frisbee in kayaks, which was intense.
During the afternoon, we saw an ambulance whizz by on one of the roads with lights flashing and sirens wailing. Later we saw a helicopter, and we are pretty sure somebody got airlifted. (Later found out that a boy fell wrong mountain biking, broke his arm, and then lost consciousness, but was fine).
The view from Rock City.
Another Rock City picture.
Venturing uniform under blacklight.
Creepy gnomes in the Fairyland Cavern
Ruby Falls.
After dinner, Action Point was open for activities. I did a challenge course with my brother, while several other crew members did BMX and mountain biking. Some of us took naps, and our advisors had their coffee meeting.
We will go over our info for camp duties, whitewater kayaking in the morning, do our LNT discussions, and do our devotional, as well as do our Thorns and Roses before we get to bed tonight. Whitewater kayaking tomorrow!
Monty has been in several photos, and I'll put them up here when I get a chance to go through them.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer Camp

So, Venture Crew 70 went out of council for summer camp this year. Troop 70 and Crew 70 both went to Camp Yocona in Yocona Area Council this year.
I really enjoyed the experience, and it was one of the best trips I've had with my crew. All ten of us were there.
Six crew members, myself included, did COPE. Four crew members did merit badge classes. On Monday, we all got COPE names: Radar, Strawberry, Brains, Siri, Wilbur, and Beans. We played a lot of icebreaker type games. Monday and Tuesday were spent on low course elements and team building exercises.
Wednesday we did the trust fall in the morning and rock climbing in the afternoon. That night was the OA campfire, which was pretty impressive, but very long. One of the troop boys got tapped out, as well as, to her great surprise, my mother.
Thursday was quite rainy, so we played board games in the morning before rappelling that afternoon. We cooked hobo packs and Dutch oven cobbler in the campsite that night, but had to leave before all the food was ready for some Venturer-only events.
Yocona's council is a lot more Venturing friendly and has multiple Venture crews. They also offer trainings for Boy Scouts, Venturers, Advisors, and Scoutmasters that aren't offered in our council and can only be taken at the council level.
We attended an ice cream social with a few other venturers, and roasted s'mores over a campfire - a crucial part of every camping experience. Then we took Introduction to Leadership Skills for Crews, a council level training not offered in our area. Now that we've taken it, we can bring that training (or the troop version) back to our own council, or qualify to take National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT).
Friday was our last day - in COPE, we did tightropes with a walking belay and the zipline, which was pretty fun. We had a closing campfire that night as well. Many troops had already left by then. We performed the "Johnny Got Hit By a Bus" skit. Six of us got our knots for doing COPE. We were also the first venture crew to earn honor "crew" at Camp Yocona. Overall, it was a really awesome week of camping. I would certainly like to go back to Yocona, or COPE, or NYLT training.