What You’ve Missed at OAHA this Past Summer

By Ben Pycraft

If you did not know already, OA High Adventure (OAHA) is a fantastic opportunity for youth Arrowmen to experience a different perspective of the OA and Scouting. OAHA encompasses five programs that take youth Arrowmen to one of the four national high adventure bases: Northern Tier, Sea Base, and Philmont, and The Summit Bechtel Reserve (SBR). These programs are offered to Arrowmen at an extremely discounted price and are well worth the price, ranging between $200 and $500. The Northern Tier, Sea Base, and Philmont programs are offered to Arrowmen between the ages of 16 and 20, while the SBR program is offered to Arrowmen between the ages of 14 and 17.

One of the most unique aspects of OAHA is that participants coordinate their own travel to and from the adventure bases. It is designed for participants to meet new people from all over the country, rather than stay with a close knit group of Scouts from one area who already know each other. Because of that, everyone is placed in groups intertwined with Scouts from various parts of the country so that, by the end of the adventure, everyone has something to learn and someone to meet. This experience provides the ability to grow in brotherhood with other Arrowmen, but whether you travel with a council contingent or an OAHA crew, both options are great choices to get Scouts to our national high adventure bases!

See below for descriptions and testimonials on each OAHA program. Remember to sign up early and cheerfully for any or all of the OAHA opportunities taking place in 2017! A whole variety of information including packing guides, applications for 2017, and codes of conduct are all compiled in one area on the national website here. We hope to see you on the trails or the waves in the summer of 2017!

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The newest OAHA program is the OA Summit Experience (OASE). OASE is a great 8-day, entry-level high adventure experience; four days will be spent building or maintaining trails around the SBR and the other four days will revolve around the SBR activities. JJ Conklin, a 2014 OASE participant, took pride in his experience, stating, “[even though] we rarely wore our sash, our actions showed everyone around us that we were members of the OA by giving service to The Summit Bechtel Reserve.” This program teaches the fundamentals of trail building, how to minimize your impact on the environment, and, of course, how to have fun at the facilities. This fun includes whitewater rafting, the big zip line, canopy tours, and action point. Like all OAHA programs, this one starts with service and ends with fun - worthwhile to any Arrowman looking to test the trails of high adventure! OASE costs $250 for each participant. More information can be found here
 
OA Canadian Odyssey (OACO) is offered at Northern Tier and starts at the Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base in Minnesota. It’s a 14-day experience that takes participants to conservation projects on the portage trails in Ontario, Canada. After a week of maintenance, the Arrowmen paddle their way back to the United States through international waters on a trek they select, and one week later they arrive back at base camp. This program is designed to seclude yourself from worldly distractions and grow closer to the outdoors. Craig Powell from Nguttitehen Lodge attended the program this summer and spoke highly of the experience, saying, “I got so much out of it. One week without a cell phone, distractions, obligations….none of it. Just us.” Powell’s favorite memory from the trip is a surprise storm that hit his group one morning; it caused the crew to execute quick decisions and work towards getting their campsite set up efficiently. “There were no campsites nearby and we had one flashlight,” he continued. Since the team of former-strangers had spent so much time together throughout the trip, they moved like a well-oiled machine and were able to set up camp quickly and safely. Overall, Powell had a great time and enjoyed the reward of creating the turnpikes so others could use the area in the future. OACO costs $200 for applicants selected to attend. More information can be found here.

OA Wilderness Voyage (OAWV) is another program located at the Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base in Northern Tier, just like OACO. However, this 14-day adventure is located on portage trails near the Boundary Waters, inspired by voyageurs who traveled the wilderness in the 1700 and 1800’s. Arrowmen spend the first half of the voyage working on portage trails and campsite maintenance and then they get the privilege of planning a canoeing adventure for the remainder of the program. Noah Kelly from Konepaka Ketitwa Lodge attended the program in 2015 and being able to paddle up to painted rocks and caves created by American Indians centuries ago made the experience for him. “It stands as one of my most memorable Scouting experiences,” he commented. OAWV costs $200 for applicants selected to attend. More information can be found here
 
OA Ocean Adventure (OAOA) takes place at Sea Base located in the Florida Keys. The 7-day adventure expands personal growth -- both physically and mentally -- with a primary focus on conservation. Talks are held to help participants reflect and find answers within themselves each night of the adventure. The main area of service is at the Dry Tortugas National Park. Located 70 miles from Key West, it comes along with all the great perks the Florida Keys have to offer, including snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding and swimming. In 2015, Sean Sedey from Cahuilla lodge attended OAOA and shared his experience. “We had to work as one team efficiently to get through the work in order to have fun,” he explained. Some discussions focused on manhood and reinforcing important character traits that should be heavily used in life. “Overall, it was a refreshing way to look at life,” Sedey said to sum up his experience. They worked on island time, not needing to know the time of day. They ate when they were hungry, slept when they were tired, and grew in brotherhood through cheerful service as a team.
For this aquatic adventure, the cost is $500 for applicants that are selected. More information can be found here.
 
OA Trail Crew (OATC) is located at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. This 14-day trek is a fantastic way to have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience Philmont differently from many others. The first week is about trail construction and maintenance, and the next week is a backpacking trip designed by the participants. OATC is a life changing program that tests Scouts to their limits; the value of the sights seen and the peaks summited are truly priceless. OATC costs $300 for each participant. More information can be found here

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