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scoutmomma

Compare & contrast: SeaBase, Northern Tier & Philmont

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So our Philmont crew has just returned from a highly successful trip, and now our Scoutmaster is talking about the next high adventure on the horizon. My son meanwhile attended ArrowCorps5 and after a week talking to Scouts with other experiences, has come back all jazzed about SeaBase. The SM tells me the Northern Tier is the way to go because SeaBase is "basically a vacation on a catamaran." I've looked at the SeaBase website and it sure doesn't sound that way to me -- but I thought I'd ask for first-hand perspective from folks who've experienced more than just Philmont -- anyone who's done all three? Our troop does a lot of camping & hiking, but frankly the most popular trips in our troop seem to be the multisport trips, combining hiking, biking & canoeing. But we've never done anything comparable to SeaBase, and beyond a handful of Scouts who have done BSA Scuba or Small Boat Sailing MB at summer camp, have zero diving or sailing experience. I don't think our SM does either.

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Depends on the SeaBase adventure you go on. There's SCUBA, sea kayaking and sailing. Sailing IS a vacation. No physical training or conditioning was required to do the sailing. A little sailing, a little snorkling, a little beach combing. Just be able to pass the swimcheck.

 

I've also done Philmont and NTiers. Both required some conditioning. Philmont required much more training and conditioning than NTiers, but NTiers was so much more unique than what we normally backpack that I think it was the better. A troop who canoes all the time probably thinks Philmont is better because it is more unique to them.

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scoutmomma,

 

I've done all 3 BSA high-adventure base trips, and they are all great in their own ways. Do them all, and have your guys earn the high-adventure triple crown of Scouting.

 

Gern is right. Coral Reef sailing at Seabase is a vacation. The scouts learn how to sail from Seabase to Key West and back (about 150 miles round trip), snorkel along the way, and deep-sea fish off the back of a 41-foot sailing sloop or ketch. They also get to filet and grill whatever they catch that's worth eating. It's a wonderful trip. We sailed through Tropical Storm Alberto in 2006 with 50 knot tail winds for almost four hours one afternoon. The captain said "no worries, boys; this boat has survived 6 hurricanes, and 50-knot winds is just good sailing weather."

 

Northern tier is also wonderful. You paddle and portage for at least 60 miles in the great Canadian northern pristine wilderness fishing for bass, walleye, and northern pike, sleeping out at night on an island in the middle of a huge lake watching your campfire, the stars, and the Aurora Borealis, and viewing loons, moose, and bear along the way.

 

Like I said, encourage the boys try everything. Start your fund raising now, though, because prices keep rising every year.

 

 

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This year our V Crew did back to back SeaBase and Philmont adventures. Two fellows actually did both. They enjoyed each for different reasons - apples and oranges (I suppose NTier would be bananas).

 

But don't let the SM decide what next year's adventure will be. That's up to the boys!

 

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"But don't let the SM decide what next year's adventure will be. That's up to the boys!"

 

Yep, Trev said that right!

 

Additionally, have your youth look closer in too. Appalachian Trail... Hiking in the Adirondacks... many Councils have HA bases that are just as exciting, and certainly more unique, than the National 4 (we haven't mentioned Philmonts outlier, the Double H Ranch).

 

The important thing about the National 4 is they are common experiences which many youth can have and bond under as they become adults. I submit there is every bit as much challenge on some of the Council trails!

 

Get the youth to study up and do the research. Amazing what can be found from google. Would they like it if they can go farther, longer and do more for less $$$? Your parents might. Good lesson of personal management!

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I've done both Philmont & Seabase Coral Reef Sailing. Next year I plan to do Double H. The experiences are totally different. I agree with everything said.

 

I agree that the sailing program is essentially a vacation. It's not a real "Scouty" activity. But, what's wrong with that? Our guys love Sea Base, and want to go every other year (with other high adventures in the off years). If it builds teamwork, positive memories of scouting, and keeps them engaged in the program, isn't that a good thing? As long as it doesn't take away from the message and purpose of scouting, I'm okay with it.

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We sent two crews to seabase this year, one to the Coral Reef sailing off the Keys (crew of 8 on a monohull) and one to the Bahamas Tall Ship (crew of 18, large catamaran). The adult leader from the Keys trip said the skipper really wanted to show the boys how to sail, navigate, seamanship, fish. It was the skippers first trip with SeaBase and was pretty stoked. The boys didn't reciprocate. They showed little interest in learning anything new. Drove the skipper and our adult leaders nuts.

 

The other crew was skippered by an ex-Aerosmith band member on a giant catamaran. They really didn't get to do much of the actual sailing since the yacht was setup for single handed sailing but still had a great time. Lots of time just hanging out with their friends and a pretty cool skipper (in their minds).

 

Like many said, its a vacation more than a classic scouting experience. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The scouts will get out of it what they put in.

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I have accompanied scouts on all 3 types of trips (though not all at BSA national bases). I would go backpacking and canoeing with scouts again, but not to a beach/sailing vacation. The allure of hanging out with friends in a sub-tropical environment is certainly strong, but I think that the scouts get more out of a trip that challenges them. My observations of scouts after the trips has been that there is a feeling of accomplishment from the backpack / canoe trips that just wasnt there on the beach trip.

 

That said, if scouts wanted to plan a high adventure trip to the beach, I would tell them that if that is what they wanted, proceed with making plans. I would ask them to recruit other adults to accompany them, as I would not be going.

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Those who live in the southwest may want to go to Minnesota. Those in the upper midwest New Mexico. For myself, the mosquito population in New Mexico is much less than in Northern Tier and Florida is just Michigan in the summer time. ;)

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Thanks for all the feedback -- it's very helpful. I think our SM is very much of a mind that the strenuousness of the activity is what makes it high adventure, which I think is why he seems to have a negative impression of SeaBase.

 

EagleInKy said

I agree that the sailing program is essentially a vacation. It's not a real "Scouty" activity. But, what's wrong with that? Our guys love Sea Base, and want to go every other year (with other high adventures in the off years). If it builds teamwork, positive memories of scouting, and keeps them engaged in the program, isn't that a good thing? As long as it doesn't take away from the message and purpose of scouting, I'm okay with it.

 

and I think that I would have to agree with that viewpoint. Certainly the experiences available at SeaBase are unique opportunities, and some of our Scouts who are not as enamored of backpacking as they are of whitewater rafting would like it very much. We've done canoeing in the Adirondacks twice, and it was enormously popular, so I think they would also like Northern Tier.

 

And finally, I agree that our Scouts should decide whether they'd rather do SeaBase or Northern Tier or some other high adventure.

 

Any additional viewpoints are also welcome, but again, thanks to all so far for their input.

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One of the troops I've worked with goes to Sea Base regularly. They always have a great time, so there's something to be said for that.

 

I'm intrigued by the Out Island adventure. For those worried about Sea Base trips not being "scouty" enough (a valid point worth considering in my view)this should do the trick.

 

I recall a write-up in Scouter or Boys Life not too long ago.

 

 

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We are looking at doing the AT for a week next year in our off year from Philmont. Being within 400 miles of the start point of the AT is just too hard to pass up. I'd love to get up to N Tier also since I love to canoe.

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Our Troop bypassed the "vacation" aspect of a trip to Florida this year. They planned their own ocean kayaking trip down the southeast coast. Won't be much lounging on a boat in the sun, they will be paddling!

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Back from both Philmont and Seabase, our V Crew started their annual planning last night. They came up with a list of a half-dozen great ideas for a 2009 adventure. Northern Tier was there, along with whitewater rafting, and something they called a "triathalon". They described this as a single trek involving cycling, hiking, and rafting/canoeing. Has anyone heard of this?

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