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Somers Boy Scouts Go ‘Off the Grid’

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Troop 376 on Big Munson Island
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Troop 376 member Connor Westerman reels in a several-pound bluefish on open water fishing day.
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Eric Swee and fellow Troop 376 members swing on the ropes course.
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Troop 376 Scout Max Zheng, center, shows off the Bonnet-head shark he caught while surf-casting on Big Munson.
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Troop 376 paddles the inner lagoon of Big Munson Island.
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Troop 376 members paddle to Big Munson Island.
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Troop 376 takes a group photo at Seabase Dock before launching on the High Adventure.
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Troop 376 at Seabase after returning from Big Munson
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Troop 376 Scouts Jack Hannan and Connor Westerman get ready to take a dive on the Key’s coral reef system.
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Scout Jack Hannan and other Troop 376 members participate in team-building games on the ropes course.
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SUMMERLAND KEY, Fla. – Twelve Scouts and four adult leaders from Somers Troop 376 attended the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base located on Summerland Key, Fla., during the February school break. This facility, succinctly known as Sea Base, is a high adventure program run by the Boy Scouts of America in the Florida Keys.

Sea Base offers several programs, and Troop 376’s Scouts participated in the week-long Out Island Adventure. The Scouts and leaders were divided into two crews and, with assigned island guides, paddled in Polynesian war canoes to Munson Island, an uninhabited island located five miles offshore from Summerland Key gifted to the Boy Scouts of America in 1982.  After wading ashore with their gear, both crews camped on Big Munson Island for five days.

One of the Sea Base requirements is that all technology be kept off the island, leaving the Scouts and leaders without smartphones, electricity, running water, watches or any other modern conveniences. They functioned off the sun and the moon, creating their own system of “island time.”

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Over the course of these five days, Troop 376 Scouts shark-fished from shore (and caught nurse and bonnethead sharks), hiked the island, engaged in team-building exercises, ocean-kayaked, performed a conservation project, boarded Sea Base vessels for a successful day of fishing in a driving rain and high seas and snorkeled on offshore reefs. Their meals included fresh-caught snapper from the off-shore fishing excursion. The Scouts learned how to fillet, gut and cook the fruits of their own labor.

The Scouts and leaders returned home exhausted but exhilarated from a challenging and unique adventure.

Max Zheng is a Scout with Troop 376. All photos and captions courtesy of John Hannan.

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