In the summer of 2020, Sarah represented Nisqually Lodge and Section W-1N as the first female youth in the nation to attend OA Ocean Adventure!
“There really wasn’t an average day.” said Sarah Kitchings of Nisqually Lodge #155 (Pacific Harbors Council) as she reminisced about her recent venture to the Florida keys for the Order of the Arrow Ocean Adventure (OAOA) High Adventure experience.
In the summer of 2020, Sarah spent about nine days at OA Ocean Adventure, five nights of which were spent on the Big Munson Island, part of the Dry Tortugas National Park, completing a variety of conservation projects while also enjoying the wonders of the Florida keys.
Travelling from the pacific northwest to south Florida amidst the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be “not too bad” as Sarah said. She wore a mask during her 10 hours of travel one way and arrived safely in Miami. The morning after her arrival, she caught a shuttle from Sea Base with three other members of her OAOA crew. The shuttle took them to Camp Sawyer, a beachside BSA camp of the South Florida Council. At Camp Sawyer, Sarah met the other members of her crew, Arrowmen from throughout the country, through a series of icebreakers and other games like Ninja.
Sarah Kitchings was the first female youth ever to partake in the OA Ocean Adventure program! She was also the only member of her OAOA crew from the West coast.
In the morning, Sarah and her crew paddled a canoe 5.5 miles to their home for the next six days: Big Munson Island.
Sarah and her crew encountered a strong current working against them.
“We couldn’t all stop paddling at once, otherwise we would go backwards.” Sarah said.
Sarah clearly recalls the clarity of the water. “We could still see the ocean floor” even miles removed from land.
Before arriving at their camp on Big Munson Island, Sarah and her crew stopped to snorkel at Munson Rocks, a popular snorkeling destination.
One of the keys to the success of OAOA is, as Sarah says: “everyday had different things in store”.
After spending part of the day completing a variety of conservation projects on Big Munson Island, Sarah and her crew would explore the wonders of the Florida keys. Sarah’s favorite individual experience at OAOA was the fishing day. Sarah and her crew fished in the open salt water in the keys. “It was my first fishing experience!” Sarah revealed.
After their six day-stay on the island, Sarah and her crew spent time in Key West, Fla. and visited the southernmost point in the continental United States.
Even, or perhaps especially amidst a pandemic, OA Ocean Adventure proved to be spectacular.
Sarah expressed how OA Ocean Adventure is “…` one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in Scouting!”
OA Ocean Adventure is one of five OA High Adventure programs across all four of the BSA’s High Adventure Bases: Florida Sea Base, Northern Tier, Philmont, and the Summit. Each program has multiple sessions throughout the summer. Most programs are open to Arrowmen ages 16-20 with Summit Experience open to Arrowmen ages 14-17.
Sarah was one of six recipients of the Western Region OA High Adventure Scholarship in 2020. Sarah also received a scholarship from the Section. Thanks to the generous scholarships from the Region and the Section, Sarah was able to experience the most expensive OA High Adventure at a particularly affordable cost.
Relative to unit or group based treks at national High Adventure bases, OA High Adventure is remarkably less expensive. In 2021, all treks have program fees ranging from the least expensive OA Northern Tier at $250 to the most expensive, OA Ocean Adventure at $550. Transportation and other travel expenses are also factors, but ones that can be addressed by generous Section and Region scholarships. Be sure to apply for those scholarships now at http://sectionw1n.org/resources/
The application process for all summer, 2021 OA High Adventure programs is now open. Will you explore the gleaming boundary waters of Northern Tier, the enchanting trails of Philmont, the thrills of the Summit in West Virginia, or the mesmerizing waters of the Florida Keys? As a member of the Order of the Arrow, the BSA’s High Adventure bases are yours to explore!
Thank you Sarah for representing Nisqually Lodge and Section W-1N so well!