The Venture Patrol’s latest embarkment was at Linville Gorge in our good ole state of NC…. Hmm? What’s that? Whats the Venture Patrol? Well then, let’s back up a little bit and break this down just a tad: The word “venture” according to Dictionary.com is as follows: “Anundertakinginvolving uncertainty as to the outcome,especially a risky or dangerous one.” In other words: a crazy amount of fun! 😀 Now that we have that established, let me tell you what a venture patrol venture looks like. Picture this.
Imagine walking up the side of mountain… through dense bush and brush, pushing and shoving through leaves and branches. Meanwhile trying to maintain your balance as your feet wobble on top of loose rocks under the weight of your backpack. The 45 degree incline of the mountain-side is putting a burning sensation in your legs but you ignore it and keep going and pushing it to the back of your mind because you know what’s waiting for you at the top; what’s been calling your name every since you were a Tenderfoot scout. You replace the discomfort with all the stories that the older scouts loved to talk about so much, summiting and scaling mountains and seeing spectacular sights. You wonder why they always struggled to find words to describe what they saw. Now your in their shoes, “Whats this all about?” You ask yourself. “Man, this better be good.” You say, half complaining. Suddenly you emerge from the claustrophobic wood, with a few scrapes from the briers that wanted to say high on the way up; and a bruise or two from a tumble off that unstable rock. You stumble out onto a massive rock that stretches for a good few hundred yards. When you catch your breath and look up from your muddy boots, your
eyes fall upon something you’ve never seen before. The grandeur of what you are seeing inclines you to ask yourself if your dreaming, but the wonderful breeze that quickly cools, and almost chills, the sweat on your face gives you more than enough proof that this is real.
Mountains…. as far as your eyes dare straining to see and capture in one moment. Blue mountains. Huge mountains. Something is so very mystifying about them, maybe its the colosality of the rocks; or maybe its the fact that you are only six feet away from a cliff that drops a thousand feet; or maybe its the feeling of inexplicable accomplishment; or perhaps its being eye level with a big white cloud but something about this really puts life into prospective for a time and provokes deep thoughts.
This trip was very difficult, including a massive climb up along the trail at a inclination of 75 degrees. Many times the certainty of the direction of the trail was sketchy due to it’s being blocked by fallen trees and being over grown by bushes and briers. The humidity and heat were inevitable and very uncomfortable. However, the pros out weigh the cons by a landslide. The views of the mountains were the best that I have ever seen in my entire life, which made the rough terrain worth it. To combat the heat we pulled off the trail a couple of times to swim in the river. We crossed over a bridge made of a tree split in half with a hand rail attached. We also waded across that same river our last day on the way out, with our gear on, making for a very interesting exodus.
After all the grandeur sights and trials of this past weekend, I realized what this trip is: humility. Realizing that we are so very small in this giant world. Come explore it with us, the Venture Patrol, and realize your full potential in God’s creation.
On Saturday, June 18th, three Scouts from the Troop 26 Venture Patrol, along with three adult leaders, met early in the morning at IHM for their first Venture Patrol outing, namely, Whitewater Rafting at the U.S. National Whitewater Center near Charlotte. The day started out warm and sunny, with temps expected to climb into the nineties by late afternoon. The Scouts (Alex Zito, Landon Hilliard, and Austin Garmer) and adults (Mr. Garmer, Mr. Humphrey, and Mr. Gottwalt) had prepared by bringing recommended items such as sun screen, eyeglass straps, a towel, and a change of clothes, as well as wearing the appropriate clothing like swim trunks, close-toed footwear, and a t-shirt. Since the group was obtaining AllSport Passes for the day, Personal Flotation Devices (PFD’s), helmets, and paddles were supplied by the USNWC. An AllSport Pass enables one to participate in a variety of activities offered at the Center, including climbing, ropes course, rafting, whitewater kayaking, still water kayaking, adventure course, biking, and zipping (flying above the ground on a zip line).
The plan was to arrive, participate in the first scheduled whitewater rafting session at 11:00 AM, then schedule a second whitewater rafting session for the afternoon. Between sessions, the group could eat lunch and participate in some of the other activities available at the center. For some in the group, it was their first experience with whitewater rafting, so there was some anxiety as the group went through the requisite safety training session run by one of the Center’s excellent rafting guides. We were shown (graphically!) how harmful the T-handle on the end of the paddles could be if you didn’t hang onto them at all times. After the safety briefing, the group suited up with PFD’s, helmets and paddles and were assigned a raft and guide. The size of the group made it ideal to all stay together in one raft. The guide was terrific, and helped everyone feel at ease as we started with one of the less challenging routes. Each “session” consisted of three trips down the various man-made rivers, followed by a conveyor trip back up to the top. The second and third trips down during the first session featured increasingly challenging rapids and an introduction to “surfing”, where the raft gets positioned in the back-current directly behind a submerged obstruction. Totally fun! By the end of the first 45 minute session, everyone (even the guide!) had gotten dunked in the man-made river.
The group scheduled the second session for 2:00 in the afternoon, then went to grab some lunch. After lunch, the group wanted to try the Climb-2-Zip activity, which involved climbing a rope net to a platform, then taking a zip line to the ground on the other side. Little did we know that the line would take well over an hour and force us to exit the line and return to the rafting area in order to make our second scheduled rafting time. Our second rafting guide, “Sunshine”, was entertaining and fun, as the entire group enjoyed the challenging rapids of the Competition Channel, “Zoom Flume”, and “Big Drop”. After the second session, the group split in order to allow scouts to participate in whatever other activities the Center has to offer. Not much later, a storm front moved in with wind and lightening, causing many of the activities to be temporarily shut down. As the rain came pouring down around 4:30 PM, the group decided to head back to High Point. Everyone agreed it was a great trip and a rewarding experience. Thanks to everyone who helped make this trip a success. The next Venture Patrol trip will be an extended backpacking trip planned for this Fall.