Prior to attending this year’s summer camp, the majority of Boy Scout Troop 431 members, Washington, had never been sailing and none of them had been on a Scout outing outside of their own council.
That all changed when 29 Scouts visited Camp Roy C. Manchester at Kentucky Lake to complete its premier sailing and aquatics program — Aquabase.
Scouts could also choose to participate in Landbase, a more traditional camping experience, required for those under the age of 14, or the Eagle Bound Program which helps younger Scouts complete some of the class rank requirements and help familiarize them with camp.
Several Scouts, including Jacob Huxol, TJ French, A.J. Hoffman, Dene Hoffman and first-time camper Graham Hoerstkamp, as well as Scoutmaster Paul Beuke and camp coordinator Cynthia Hoffman, sat down with The Missourian to talk about their experience.
“We knew we wanted to go out of council,” Dene Hoffman said. “We had narrowed it down to Camp Orr in Arkansas and Camp Roy C. Manchester in Kentucky.”
The Scouts had heard a lot of good things aboutCamp Roy C. Manchester and voted to attend.
“This camp offered something for our older Scouts — a high adventure opportunity — yet didn’t deter opportunities from our younger ones,” Beuke said. “It was a getaway from normal camp.”
Cynthia Hoffman added “It was a chance to try something they have never tried before.”
Campers ranged in age from 11 to 17.
During Aquabase, Scouts slept, ate and sailed in a 25-foot Catalina 250 sailboat without an adult — though they were in radio contact with an adult at all times and a safety boat was nearby.
Scouts were given a crash course in sailing and were set to sea, or lake in their case.
Only a few Scouts were aboard each boat, which ensured that each had the opportunity to sail and do the other boating jobs.
Scouts also could earn merit badges in aquatics, ecology, handicrafts, Scoutcrafts and shooting, if they hadn’t already. Other aquatic activities included canoeing, motorboating, fishing, rowing, water skiing and more.
On Landbase camp, French, like other Landbase Scouts, used his free time to swim, fish and earn merit badges including shotgun shooting, environmental science, emergency preparedness and orienteering.
French also was certified in shotgun shooting in addition to earning a merit badge.
Hoerstkamp and eight others worked on earning badges and rank requirements through the Eagle Bound Program.
At first, Hoerstkamp said he was a little homesick, but overall he enjoyed the camp. It was his first Scout summer camp.
Scouts are equipped to deal with whatever is thrown at them during camp, including any mishaps.
“Our entire boat was a mishap,” A.J. Hoffman said jokingly.
Though the boats were sailboats, Dene Hoffman explained, they still had motors to help in anchoring and getting out of coves.
“There were a lot of situations where our boat would almost or fully run into another boat,” he said. “But we weren’t moving fast — so we didn’t dent any boats.”
Also, friction anchors would get buried in the bottom of the muddy lake, making moving difficult.
One night, a major storm blew through. Scouts in one boat had just set things out on the boat to dry.
“We never saw those things again,” Dene Hoffman said.
Then, their boat started leaking from the ceiling all over one of the beds.
Another boat, Huxol said, began drifting away after its anchor became loose.
On another day, a boat lost battery power for their radios and the Scouts didn’t realize they had a backup battery, so they lost radio communication.
“One of our best days communication-wise was when our battery didn’t work,” Huxol said teasingly.
Landbased Scouts weathered the storm without incident, French said.
In all, Scouts agreed that they loved their week-long camping experience and that they would do it again.