As the year 2020 kicked off, Troop 79 was eagerly awaiting the end of school that marked the start of a fun-filled summer – camp in Michigan and high adventure like The Summit Experience at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia. But as we all know, 2020 has been nothing but unpredictable. As we neared closer to the date of departure, we were met with a stringent set of health checks and requirements designed to make sure that everyone stayed safe, but had a fun experience at camp. The crew ended up being comprised of three scouts and two adults – Daniel, Sawyer, Nicholas, Mr. Falkner and Mr. Schnee. Our small crew size didn’t diminish our enthusiasm to make it an enjoyable time though. Paired with a great troop from Memphis, Tennessee (Troop 197), we set out each day, masked up, full canteens and looking for fun. Each Day looked to outdo each other as the best day at Summit.
Day One led the excitement with rain and a service project! A Scout is Helpful! Helping to clear woods and build trails on the far side of Summit was strenuous work in the backwoods of the Appalachians, but quite rewarding as we saw the fruits of our labor at the end. Plus, the general thought was to get the hard work out of the way early in the week to set up a full week of fun. The afternoon brought just that – whitewater rafting on the Lower Keeney Rapids of the New River Gorge! Just the thing after a hard day’s work on the trail. Our small crew size paid off by us being paired with the best guide on the river (Justin aka “Motorboat”) in the smaller and faster boat than our sister troop. With this great setup, we were able to tackle rapids from Class 2 all the way up to Class 5. Although we were shaken up a bit at points, we all made it through unscathed and a bit more confident out on the water. We even tackled some of the rapids out of the boat, in the water!
Day Two had a hard act to follow from the previous day’s events. But it proved up to the challenge. As everyone knows in the Scouts, it’s not worth it unless you hike there. Summit does not disappoint in this respect. Everywhere you go, you walk. Take lots of water, lace up your boots and head out. Our second day of events consisted of rock climbing and rappelling. Sawyer proved himself the star of this event, easily scampering up the rock courses with his nimble arms and legs. Everyone succeeded in their endeavours at the wall, no matter their skill level. What do you do after climbing the rocks? Rappel back down – on a different tower. This included traditional rappelling on the wall, but also a confidence jump. This meant you were tethered to a pulley and harness, but you jumped off the platform to be lowered to the ground gradually by gravity. It took some nerve to willingly jump off of a platform 30 feet in the air.
In the afternoon, we hiked over to the Canopy course for some fun in the trees. The canopy course was a lesson in navigating the zip lines up in the trees and learning how to fly from tree to tree, but stop before you slammed into the far tree or worse, the staff member waving for you to slow down. This was a fun challenge and gave us a preview of what to expect on the Big Zip. After a fun day on the ropes, everyone was eager to head back to base camp and relax.
Day Three proved a step up from Day Two. On deck were The Big Zip, Ropes course and Mountain Biking! The Big Zip is a 3,500 foot long, 400 foot drop zip line from the top of the hill, over a lake to the platform below, all at over 40 mph. This was a lot of fun and worthy of a second run, but then you would have to hike to the top of the mountain again. Next trip. The Ropes Course was a challenge course up in the trees and was quite the challenge for adults and Scout alike. The adults certainly paid for their youthful tries later that night. Mountain Biking proved every bit the challenge with the endless hills and rough terrain, but the views of the Reserve from the vistas were worth it.
Day Four offered up a day at the ranges – shotgun, rifles, pistols and archery. After a safety briefing, the crew stepped to the line to try their hand at clay pigeon shooting with 12 ga shotguns. Although newbies, everyone scored a hit with what appeared to be ease. Nicholas, Sawyer and Daniel mastered the pistol and rifle ranges as well, with little instruction. No matter the caliber – 12 ga, .22 pistols or rifles or .223 rifles – all were great shots! Archery ended up being rained out, but this offered up a great afternoon lesson in breaking down the firearms and lessons on safety and cleanliness. A great Scout lesson. The boys learned how to break down the shotguns and rifles and safely reassemble them. Arguably the highlight of the day.
Day Five was the last day at camp, but was not to be outdone by the rest, including skateboarding and BMX bikes. The boys took the challenge to brush up their skills at the skate park and tackle the concrete jungle of Summit. Everyone came out in one piece, so it was deemed a success. The BMX course was the last, but not least event of Summit. The boys and Mr. Falkner got some good fundamental training on maneuvering the hills, dips and turns of the dirt course, then hit the track. This proved to be quite the fun event with endless runs on the various tracks.
Summit definitely didn’t disappoint and lived up to the High Adventure spirit of Scouting. At the end of an eventful week, the crew looked back and determined it was the best it could have been, even with the pandemic trying its hardest. Everyone tested their personal limits, came away scraped, sore and bit bruised, but were beaming from ear to ear on the drive home. Someday Troop 79 will return to Summit, a new crew, but eager to conquer again.
YIS, the Summit 2020 Crew – Daniel, Sawyer, Nicholas with Mr. Falkner and Mr. Schnee
[PHOTOS] Summit Experience @ B. Schnee and G. Falkner