Even though the motto of the Boy Scouts is "Be Prepared," few would be prepared to face a moose early in the morning, especially while bathing. But that's exactly what Scoutmaster John Hanyok and parent member Michael Bealey had to do during Troop 1548's trip to Alaska July 8-20.
"We were washing up in the river and taking an early morning bath when Michael said, 'There's a moose coming over here', we had to slide and scurry over the slippery bank and hide in the trees," Hanyok said.
Troop 1548 from Poplar Tree Elementary departed for Alaska at 4:30 a.m. with seven adults and 19 Scouts (ages 12-16), picking up five more adults and one more Scout while in Alaska. The trip lasted 12 days and included a boat tour to look at whales, and camping in the wild.
The Scouts did more than 50 miles of hiking, canoeing, and portaging and earned merit badges ranging from cooking and fishing to backpacking.
ALAN GREEN, who helped organize the trip, praised the Scouts for all the experience they gained.
"They learned self-reliance, they learned discipline, they learned to reach inside and find their inner fortitude to get through all that. They not only learned from within, but they learned outside," said Green. "It was a fantastic trip. They will have stories to tell for the rest of their lives."
The cost for each Scout was around $1,400, most of it paid for by the Scout's family, although the Scouts did sell popcorn and mulch to help raise some extra money.
"We are the all-weather troop, and we call this the all-weather Alaskan Adventure. It is the ultimate adventure where the Scouts growth and development physically, mentally, and morally makes them the future leaders of America," said Bealey.
The excursion required the Scouts to camp on a sandbar in the Kenai River, in islands in the middle of lakes, and at one point on the floor of the Alaska Sea Life Museum.
David Wiggs, 15, described the trip's ups and downs, which included a seven-hour night canoeing session on Moose River in shallow water and mud caused by a lack of rain.
"Some points were pretty rough, but in the end we all had fun," said Wiggs.
JIM HUNTER, one of the adult chaperones present on the trip, was impressed with the difficulty of the canoeing trip and with the Scouts' ability to manage it.
"The first night on the Moose River was the most difficult canoe trip of my entire life, and I've done a lot of canoeing. I was real proud of the boys," said Hunter.
Brian Spear, 16, the elected leader of the troop, gained what he saw as good leadership experience while on the trip.
"It was a really good opportunity to get to go to Alaska. It's a lot of people's dreams to go there," Spear said.
"Brian did a powerful job to keep the Scouts motivated day and night," Bealey added.
Bealey explained that one of the underlying reasons behind the trip was that the troop's former senior patrol leader had been transferred to Alaska.
"So we decided to go see our friends, and they helped us out," Bealey said.