Meet the Foreman: Your inside look at the OA Summit Experience
By Travis Broadhurst
The Summit Bechtel Reserve (SBR) is known throughout the world of Scouting as the new high adventure base and permanent location of future national jamborees, but did you also know that the Order of the Arrow provides an opportunity to experience the SBR like no one else? The Order of the Arrow Summit Experience (OASE) is the newest OA High Adventure (OAHA) program, having started in 2013. There is nothing quite like southern West Virginia and the thrill of the SBR. Gliding through the largest canopy zip line in the country, racing on quality mountain bike paths, rafting on the New River Gorge and climbing on the largest artificial rock wall in the world is just the beginning of your exhilarating odyssey.
This month we had the privilege to sit down with Keith Roscoe who has had a plethora of experience in OA leadership. Keith is a 21 year old college junior from Howes Cave, NY, studying French and Spanish Language at the Bard College. He is a Vigil Honor member of Onteroraus Lodge based out of Oneonta, NY in Section NE-3B. In his free time, Keith likes to travel, sing and hang out with his friends.
Keith’s OA leadership started as lodge secretary of Onteroraus Lodge, section chief of NE-3B and serving on NLS staff for almost two years. He was also the Inductions and Ceremonial Events Conference Vice Chief at the 2015 NOAC. One interesting fact about Keith is that he was a section chief for two different sections in the same year. More recently, Keith served as a foreman at OASE in the summer of 2015. Keith spoke about his time in Order of the Arrow and as a Foreman at the Summit Bechtel Reserve below.
What has been the best part of being a foreman?
The opportunity to educate our young Arrowmen about things so important and essential about life, such as basic leadership skills and safe, sustainable and fun ways to take advantage of nature.
Why did you want to be a foreman in the first place?
I’ll be very honest, I had never considered applying to be a foreman, but I received a phone call from the then-director of the program, Tyler Allen, who was looking to fill out the crew for the summer. I don’t regret it at all. It was one of the best opportunities I have had in the OA.
Can you share with us your most interesting story from your OASE experiences?
On one of my first crews, I had one of the youngest participants come over to me and say his eye hurt. I instructed him to rinse it out without his contacts and be sure to not get anything else in it to see if it hurts more. A little while later he told me the pain had not subsided and informed me that it started that morning. He had managed to have a piece of dirt get under his contact on the trail, yet tolerated it until the end of the day because he didn’t want to miss out on work. While that is interesting enough, it’s not even my favorite part. After I examined the small gouge he had on his eye, we went to see the camp medic. To examine the damage in his eye, the camp medic injected a fluorescent solution, turned off the lights, and shined a black light at his eye. This resulted in our participant’s eye glowing neon green as if it had become a robot eye. Now, I know that isn’t particularly program related but it was really cool. I’m also happy to report that he was completely healed after one day, pirate eye patch and all.
Can you tell us your best story of how you were a part of/watched a youth be transformed because they participated in OASE?
I find it very hard to cite a specific example of this happening because it happened on just about every crew. Each person who goes through the program undergoes a transformation of some kind - I know I certainly did as a foreman. For the sake of citing an example, my first crew that I took out had some of the worst weather out of the whole summer. It was almost continual rain and not just a light sprinkle but torrential downpours. At first, it seemed to bring down their morale but it wasn’t long until they learned to get used to it and make the best of the trip. We all know that a pair of wet socks can ruin any trip but these guys made it work and I respect them for that.
We have a lot of readers who may have never met someone that has done OASE before. So, in your words, what really is OASE?
OASE, or the Order of the Arrow Summit Experience, is an opportunity to take part in something larger than yourself to create something that people from all the across the world will use regularly. Additionally, it is an opportunity to take advantage of everything the Summit Bechtel Reserve has to offer, all while giving back and learning how to be a more sustainable person.
Could you describe the relationship between the foremen in the program?
Living in close quarters with anyone for an extended period of time is no easy task, but we are very fortunate to have the highest caliber of staffers in the Order of the Arrow. I found that even though our crew may have quarreled on occasion, our strengths and weaknesses balanced out to help us provide the best program we could for our fellow Arrowmen.
In what ways have you changed as a result of your time as a foreman?
This may be the hardest question on the whole interview. I, in particular, may have changed much more than my fellow foremen, as I was not at all anticipating this adventure. I think describing things in terms of an adventure is a very appropriate way to describe how I changed. I learned more of my limits. I learned that I was capable of much more than I thought. I entered the program with a severe fear of heights, and I’m not saying I conquered it, but now I could zipline all day, everyday. I also realized exactly what our program does overall. The OA and the Boy Scouts as a whole play a vital role in the development of our youth. It never ceases to amaze me how the young gentlemen that we had in the program become amazing leaders. In short, I learned that most people underestimate themselves. They just need someone to create the right environment for them to safely try out new things and the encouragement to do it.
Each OAHA experience features a period of labor in the local wilderness, often referred to as the work week. The rest of the trip involves participating in the program activities that the BSA High Adventure bases are known for. OAHA is one of the most sustainable ways to attend a national high adventure base. Not to mention, it is the chance of a lifetime! To learn more and apply, visit adventure.oa-bsa.org or speak to your local lodge chief or lodge adviser. OASE is already full, but other programs are available; spots are limited and filling up so be sure to sign up now!
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