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Paddling the great river

Davin Grapentine, left, Brian Halloran, Maggie Matthews and Eric Grapentine stopped at Jaycee Park in Hastings last Friday, about two weeks after they started their journey at the Mississippi's headwaters.

On Sept. 14, four Boy Scout leaders set out in two canoes to paddle the entire length of the Mississippi River.

"It's something I've always thought about doing," said Brian Halloran.

So he teamed up with Davin and Eric Grapentine and Maggie Matthews on a trip to bring a little extra awareness to the Boy Scout program.

What they didn't expect was to be gliding along through fall floodwaters. Fast flowing water means the four are making excellent time; they've been able to move along at 4.5 miles per hour just drifting, Eric Grapentine said. But it's not without it's dangers.

"It also creates more hazards," he explained.

Floodwaters carry with them extra debris, such as broken trees washed off the shores.

"And it changes the currents," Matthews said.

Halloran and his three companions have grown up with the Boy Scout program and all serve as aquatics directors at Boy Scout camps, so the extra risk flooding brought to their trip doesn't concern them too much.

"We're very comfortable in the water," Halloran said.

Their experiences with the Boy Scouts is the one thing that's made the trip possible. Scouting is the reason they all got to know each other, and it's the reason they're so comfortable spending more than two months on the water and camping along the way.

"All the skills we learned at camp we're using here," David Grapentine said.

They hope that others will see just how many skills a boy can learn through Boy Scouts. It doesn't stop with skills. The know-how gives boys a better chance to find themselves in the midst of a fantastic experience.

"Once you put a uniform on, you're raising your potential for adventure," Halloran said.

The Scouters plan to paddle all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, and hope to get there by Thanksgiving.

To follow their progress, look for the TSR Mississippi Expedition page on Facebook.