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Boy Scout Troop 23 spent a week on a high adventure trip

Pictured in the back row, from left, are Jamey Anderson (Edina) Grad of Hastings, Ed Lutgen (Edina), Will Anderson (Edina), Mat Miller, Luke Hauser, Andrew Amy, Sam O’Connor, Andrew Miller, Daniel Krey, Andrew Youngstrom, Joey Nauer, Jake Lightfoot (Virginia), Tom Lightfoot (Virginia) and Mark Simacek. In the front are Andrew Ahern, Hunter Lutgen (Edina), Jakub Youngstrom, Jack Simacek, Jesse Schumacher and Paul Youngstrom. (Submitted photo)

All aboard the Jolly II Rover! Boy Scout Troop 23 from Hastings went aboard the 85-foot schooner in August for a high adventure sea exploring trip at Sea Base in Florida. The Florida national High Adventure Sea Base is a scouting program that offers aquatics programs for the Boy Scouts of America. The group of 20 people on the trip sailed around Key West for a week doing various activities through the program including snorkeling, swimming, deep sea fishing and more.

“It’s taking everything you’ve learned as a scout and putting it to use in a real life scenario,” said Paul Youngstrom, one of the adult supervisors on the trip. In addition, he said the scouts experienced adventure and camaraderie on the in-depth camping trip.

It took two years of preparation for the trip in order to go. Sea Base is in high demand with the Boy Scouts of America, so they had to reserve their spot with the program early on. In addition, it is very costly, so the boys needed time to raise money for their trip.

Fundraising included bagging groceries at Cub Foods, selling Christmas wreaths, Gertens flower sales and J.R’s Advanced Recyclers provided the youth with a can trailer at Westview Mall.

The preparation didn’t end there. Everyone had to be prepared to pass a swim test when they arrived at Sea Base in Florida, so the boys spent four months preparing at the pool. Every Friday they practiced their swim skills in the pool at Hastings Middle School with various drills and activities. They had snorkeling practice, practiced jumping in with their clothes on, practiced line throwing and had a little fun playing games of water polo.

All the preparation seemed to pay off when the troop arrived in Florida. They spent five days aboard the boat, which had a pirate-inspired look — there was even a plank. Jakub Youngstrom, a freshman at Hastings High School, said they would jump off the plank into the water. There was also a rope swing option.

The scouts learned to snorkel and saw various types of fish, coral, sharks, stingrays and more.

“We even saw a leatherback sea turtle,” said Jack Simacek, a freshman at HHS. “We saw two and the captain had never seen one — that was the first one he’d ever seen and that was with us.”

Luke Hauser, another freshman at HHS, said one of the highlights for him was when they learned how to safely feed sharks. They had to hold a rod with food attached and the sharks would sort of jump for it.

Mark Simacek, another adult supervisor on the trip, said the many people on the trip typically spent the night on deck where it would occasionally rain. It was really hot down below, Simacek said, so he slept with a rain coat on and ended up just sleeping through the rain.

“It’s a warm rain. It’s pretty comfortable even in the rain,” he said.

Simacek said the high adventure trip was something that most people don’t get a chance to do. It is a program that only a boy scout troop could participate in.

“They learn so many leadership skills, and you can just see the confidence growing in these boys just with these experiences,” Simacek said.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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