The Keys to High Adventure

The Florida National High Adventure Sea Base offers fun and excitement for Venturers and older Scouts.

Winter is on its way, but Scouters can let their warm-weather imagination run free for a moment. For example, picture your Boy Scouts or Venturers kayaking along the shore of their own tropical island, snorkeling or SCUBA diving among miles of coral reefs and exotic fish, or traveling aboard a sleek sailing vessel across the blue waters of the Florida Keys.

These scenes can become reality, and sooner than you think. In fact, now is the best time to plan an unforgettable week for next spring or summer at the BSA’sFlorida National High Adventure Sea Base, with two locations in the Florida Keys and an additional site in the Bahamas.

In fact, last-minute openings still may be available for the winter break period this December and early next January.

Larger sailing vessels are the home base for participants in several Sea Base adventure programs.

“Depending on availability, we can take reservations as little as a week or two in advance,” says Paul Beal, Sea Base general manager. “If a troop or crew is good at putting trips together on short notice, this means they might even celebrate part of this holiday season with us.”

If that’s not possible, there is still plenty of time to schedule one of the Sea Base’s available adventure programs for next summer or even during spring break.

“Our 2007 spring season in the Keys starts Feb. 16 and runs through April 29,” Beal notes, “so it’s really just around the corner.”

Scouts or Venturers with strong camping skills and a fondness for challenge will enjoy the Sea Base’s Out Island Adventure. It features primitive camping, rugged kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, and exploring the wilderness environment of Big Munson Island. [It’s a setting reminiscent of TV’s “Survivor” series.]

Snorkeling is available on most Sea Base adventures.

Participants travel in ocean kayaks from the Sea Base’s Brinton Environment Center to Big Munson Island, where 100-plus acres of hardwoods, mangroves, rare animals, and natural beauty remain much as it was in the early 1800’s, when pirates sought refuge there.

“You wade your gear and supplies ashore and set up camp from scratch,” says Beal, “and don’t be surprised if some of the rare, endangered Key deer and Key Vaca raccoons that make their home on the island stroll through your campsite while you’re getting settled.”

During a week on Big Munson, campers have ample opportunities to enjoy some of the finest snorkeling in North America at Looe Key, fish from powerboats for grouper and barracuda, and explore both the island and the underwater wilderness around it.

Out Island Adventure participants arrive at their island destination via ocean kayaks.

A sampling of other programs:

    • Sea Exploring Adventure, geared for groups of 20 to 22, is a six-day, five-night trip among the islands aboard one of the Sea Base’s five tall-ship sailing vessels of more than 70 feet in length. Everyone pitches in with the sailing and cooking while enjoying lots of snorkeling, fishing, and underwater exploration.
    • Another exciting program is

Coral Reef Sailing

      , a weeklong odyssey aboard a large sailing vessel, with snorkeling opportunities in many reef areas. Participants can study astronomy, navigation, fish identification, and coral reef ecology—and even learn to take the vessel’s helm under supervision.

As part of the weeklong Out Island Adventure on Big Munson Island, participants in the primitive camping experience can enjoy some of the finest snorkeling in North America at Looe Key.
  • Bahamas Adventure is a seven-day cruise to the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas, home of glistening white beaches, crystal-clear water, picturesque villages—and some of the world’s best snorkeling and fishing. Participants can watch local artisans practice the ancient art of boat-building, dine on exotic native delicacies, visit historic sites, and get a firsthand look at Bahamian culture. But don’t expect luxury; this is a working voyage and everyone participates fully in the operation of the vessel.
  • Bahamas Tall Ship Adventure takes groups of 18 to 20 on the same basic voyage as above aboard a 70-foot tall ship, where participants learn the fine points of sailing, navigation, and sea travel.
  • SCUBA Adventure provides certified divers with as many as nine memorable dives in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, including one night dive, using state-of-the-art equipment.
  • SCUBA Certification allows members of groups to qualify for Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Open Water Diver certification.
  • Keys Adventure offers activities like snorkeling, sailing, boat riding, camping, historic tours, ocean kayaking, lobster catching, bird and marine studies, and more.

Sea Base programs offer opportunities to develop skills in a wide range of aquatic activities, such as learning the basics of small-boat sailing.

Certified instructors provide SCUBA training in specially designed training pools as well as in the open ocean.

The typical group for a Sea Base adventure is six youth and two adults. Youth must be at least 14 years of age by Sept. 1, 2007. (SCUBA participants must be at least 14 by the time of their adventure.) Cost of most programs ranges from $620 to $720 per person.

Visit the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base Web site,, for more program details, to make reservations for available 2006 and 2007 adventures, and (between Jan. 15 and Feb. 15, 2007) to register for the lottery for 2008 adventures.

Contributing editor Bill Sloan writes from Dallas, Texas.

On the Out Island Adventure, visitors to the more than 100 acres of remote wilderness on Big Munson Island will see a variety of rare animals, such as the endangered Key Deer.

High Adventure At Philmont and Northern Tier

In addition to its Florida National High Adventure Sea Base, the BSA offers national high adventure programs for older youth in two other locations:Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and the Northern Tier National High Adventure Program in Minnesota.

Information is available from:


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