Sabadosa: Boy Scout Troop 596’s excellent canoe adventure
By Reggie Sabadosa Citizen Journalistemail@example.com October 23, 2013 11:29AM
Boys Scouts of Troop No. 596, Eagle Scouts and adult chaperones recently took a canoe trip. Pictured are Ben Leslie (from left), Kevin Leslie, Dave Piech, Patrick Strahorn, Tom Groebe, Ted Groebe, Jake Fleming, Chuck Groebe and Lou Segina. | Supplied photo
If you haven’t already noticed, I love writing about our local Boy Scouts. There are so many active troops in our community. We also seem to produce a record number of Eagle Scouts year after year.
It is always amazing to hear about Boy Scout trips, especially when you are lucky enough to get the perspectives of both the Scouts and their adult chaperones. I was fortunate to be asked to join Boy Scout Troop 596 (based at Mt. Zion Lutheran Church) during their meeting a couple of weeks ago. They eagerly filled me in on their summer canoe trip to Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota.
My “tour guide” was one of the Scouting dads, Chuck Groebe, whose sons Tom and Ted (who is working toward the rank of Eagle) joined him on this trip. Groebe brought maps and a photo album to help convey the full experience of this adventure. What has become a traditional week-long trip to Boundary Waters by Troop 596 was anything but typical in July.
To give you some background, Boundary Waters is a 1 million-acre area within the Superior National Forest in northeast Minnesota on the U.S.-Canadian border. It offers more than 1,500 miles of canoe routes.
Troop 596’s journey began in Ely, Minn., with a company called Boundary Waters Outfitters that supplies the gear and transports groups. This time, 16 took part — a combination of Scouts, Eagle Scouts and dads. They were dropped off at a portage, and the adventure was a combination of canoeing and portaging — involving hiking, camping and rock climbing.
Groebe said that during the first few days , things seemed a bit disorganized because everyone was trying to acclimate and adapt to being totally at the mercy of Mother Nature. He said that by the third day, everyone pitched in and figured out what needed to be done. There was some definite “team building” going on.
Groebe along with the other parents agreed that trips such as these are important for Scouts, especially at the ages of 14 and 15, who are easily bored with typical weekend overnighters or even the organized Scout trips to Owasippi, Mich.
On the Boundary Waters trip, the Scouts got to practice survival techniques, water safety, water purification and the use of constellations to help them navigate. Within the Boundary Waters area, there are more than 2,200 campsites — some with grills and facilities, some with none.
The bigger boys carried Duluth packs with 100 or more pounds of equipment and gear as well as canoes. Scout Patrick Strahorn said carrying the heavy bags through the mud, knee-high water, uneven terrain and overgrown plants “felt like Vietnam.” He said “you just push through the pain. It was cool to be able to finally sit down and just look at the lake.”
Groebe said there were many interesting sights along the way. They even got to see prehistoric pictographs and petroglyphs on the rock ledges and cliffs as they pushed toward their destination.
This particular trip was more than 60 miles long, which is more than double a typical trek of this type. It rained almost every day. Scout Jake Fleming agreed that “it was a good workout.” They got used to seeing clouds and “light shows in the sky,” Jake said, adding that the trip was a life-changing experience that makes you feel like a man.”
Lou Segina, who is preparing for the rank of Eagle Scout, said, “Nature was outstanding, but the mosquitoes were pretty bad.”
They all agreed that it was magnificent to be able to see all the constellations at night, made possible by the absence of night lighting and pollution. The water in the middle of the lakes was so clear that they described it as a “perfect mirror.” The lake water there is very clear and pristine due to it being spring fed. The group canoed over a series of lakes — Birch, Knife, Bonnie, Spoon, and Pickle — to name only a few.
When possible, they caught fish to eat including a 44 inch, 22-pound Northern Pike. It was too big to use for food. Instead, they shared their catch with a bald eagle.
This experience in the wilderness taught these boys life skills — actually, it allowed them to put into use all the skills they have been learning through their years of Scouting. They even got inventive and used their rain flies as a sail when they tied them together from three canoes.
The Scouts who went on the trip mentioned another noteworthy and touching tradition. This year, Eagle Scout Dave Tieman again placed a cross on the campsite where his father, Jack Tieman, passed away during a similar canoe trip in 2007.
The elder Tieman was accompanying his sons, Dave and Dan, when he became unresponsive, and his life could not be saved. This is always a special moment for all involved who knew Mr. Tieman and a fitting way to keep his memory alive.
Our community is so proud of our Boy Scouts.