ArrowTour, The Centennial Experience of The Order of The Arrow, Offers History and Excitement at Denver Area Council

ArrowTour-5.jpg“Text and Photos by Joshua Murdock”

In the summer of 1915 at the Treasure Island Boy Scout Camp of the Philadelphia Council,  Dr. E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson created a program through which scouts who lived the Scout Oath and Law in exemplary fashion could be recognized and could coordinate to better serve their fellow scouts at camp.  100 years later, the Order of the Arrow is officially considered the National Honor Society of the Boy Scouts of America and has more than 170,000 members across the United States.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Order of the Arrow, Arrowmen from each of the nation’s four scouting regions organized an ArrowTour – a “Centennial Experience” of the Order of the Arrow that would visit councils around each region during the summer of 2015.  ArrowTour stops are open to current Arrowmen, scouts, and the general public.

ArrowTour-1On Sunday, July 26, the Western Region ArrowTour visited the Denver Area Council’s Frederic C. Hamilton Scout Headquarters in Lakewood.  The Centennial Experience was based around three goals, said ArrowTour West Road Chief Michael K.: Reflect, Connect, and Discover.  Exhibits showcasing the history of the Order of the Arrow allowed visitors to connect with the organization’s past, while other exhibits, along with road crew Arrowmen and local Arrowmen volunteering at the event, offered visitors a connection to the Order of the Arrow as it exists today.  One of the main goals of the ArrowTour was to “get the message out there about who we are,” said Michael.  The discovery portion of the mission was based off of the previous two points, he explained, “People are reflecting and connecting with the Order of the Arrow, now what can they do with the Order in the future?”

The Denver Area Council stop of the ArrowTour was unique in that it incorporated the facilities and programs offered at Colorado Adventure Point, a hands-on technical and adventure facility at the council headquarters, including indoor rock climbing and a hydrogeology stream table that modeled riverbed formation.

Chandler H. of the White Buffalo Chapter of the Order of the Arrow in Denver was the ArrowTour Chief for Sunday’s visit to the Denver Area Council.  More than three months of planning culminated in roughly 40 local Arrowmen volunteers assisting the eight Arrowmen on the road crew.  “It’s definitely putting a spotlight on the Order of the Arrow and the council,” he said.  Chandler was pleased to see a large amount of Cub Scouts non-Arrowmen Boy Scouts learning about the organization throughout the afternoon, and he hoped that the ArrowTour stop in the council would result in more Ordeal candidates.

ArrowTour-8.jpgWhile many of the visitors to the ArrowTour could only learn about the history of the organization, Al Paul lived it.  At 64 years old, Paul became an Eagle Scout in 1965 and was a Brotherhood Arrowman during his time as a Boy Scout with Denver Troop 201.  He became involved in scouting once again when his sons became Boy Scouts in the late ’90s, after which he became a Vigil Arrowman.  Paul believes older scouts often need more than simply what their troops can provide, and that, “the Order of the Arrow provides that opportunity for growth and leadership.”  Paul was present at the Denver Area Council ArrowTour stop not only as a visitor, but also to help distribute gear to local Arrowmen for their upcoming trip to the National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC) in East Lansing, Michigan.

Brothers Spencer G. and Trenton G. from Troop 130 in Golden paid a visit to the ArrowTour on Sunday.  Spencer, 14, is a Life Scout and Ordeal Arrowman while Trenton, 11, is a recent Arrow of Light crossover who has already reached Second-Class Scout and has aspirations of someday being elected into the Order of the Arrow.  Not only did they enjoy the exhibits and activities, but the ArrowTour reminded Spencer how proud he was to be in the Order of the Arrow.  “I have more responsibility in my troop,” he said, “The Order of the Arrow is about being a better scout.”  Spencer said he admired his fellow Arrowmen.  “You can really tell the difference based on their attitude and the way they lead.”

The Western Region ArrowTour route covers more than 7,400 miles and, between the San Francisco Bay Tunnel, Rocky Mountain National Park and various wilderness areas of the west, it is the highest, lowest, and most remote ArrowTour in the U.S..  All four of the nations’s ArrowTours are planned exclusively by Order of the Arrow youth (under 21) and are a testament to “what the Order of the Arrow is capable of,” said Michael.  So far, the Western Region ArrowTour has seen more than 11,500 visitors, which accounts for nearly one third of 35,000 visitors thus far nationwide.

More information on the ArrowTour can be found HERE.

More information on the Order of the Arrow can be found HERE, including the ORGANIZATION’S HISTORY.

En Route to Cycling Merit Badge, Scouts Get a Taste of Colorado Mountain Biking at Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch

“Text and Photos by Joshua Murdock”

Cycling Merit Badge-7On Fridays during the summer at Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch, most campers are freely visiting program areas to finish remaining merit badge requirements and councilors are preparing for their weekly attempt at beating the campers in Colter’s Run – a relay circumnavigating the camp.  But a select group of scouts forgo the relaxation afforded by the final day of their week-long visit to Peaceful Valley and embark on a long-distance mountain bike ride as part of the Cycling Merit Badge.

Cycling Merit Badge-8Known for its beautiful views, solitude, and rolling terrain, Peaceful Valley is home to some of Colorado’s best mountain biking east of the Front Range.  In fact, each spring before campers arrive, a popular mountain bike race attracting hundreds of riders is held on the trails at Peaceful Valley.
Scouts traveling to the ranch from around Colorado, and often from states as far as Texas and California, have the unique opportunity of experiencing Colorado mountain biking at its finest through the Cycling Merit Badge offered at the camp.  Beginning on Monday of each week with a relatively non-technical two-mile ride, scouts ride progressively greater distances each day of the week, culminating in a 15-mile ride on the camp’s doubletrack and singletrack trails each Friday.

Cycling Merit Badge-4At 9:30 a.m. on Friday, July 3, a hot and sunny day typical of summer in Elbert, Colorado, scouts assembled at the the Fort Laramie Adventure Lodge to begin their ride.  After councilors Seth, Joel, and JC checked the scouts’ bikes and made sure each scout had enough water and food for the ride, the group pedaled up the dirt road leading away from the camp and into the forests and fields to the south.

With a mixture of smooth singletrack, doubletrack, and dirt roads through fields, as well as sections of rocky, technical singletrack in the forest, the ride offered ample opportunities for scouts for practice their mountain biking skills.  Some of the skills focused on included smooth pedaling technique, proper braking, and descending skills.  The rockier trails gave scouts a chance to test their abilities to ride technical obstacles.

The ride took nearly four hours with stops, and the three scout councilors were nearly omnipresent – coaching, encouraging, and mentoring campers every step of the way.  Carter G., of Loveland, Colorado Troop 81, said that the ride was “not too hard,” but that the advice from Joel, Seth, and JC throughout the week had helped him greatly improve his abilities.  Fellow Troop 81 scout Cody A. said that even though he frequently mountain bikes, he was challenged by the distance and terrain covered on Friday’s ride.

After encircling Camp Dobbins, Camp Dietler, and Magness Adventure Camp, the group of campers and councilors returned to the Fort Laramie Adventure Lodge tired, dusty, and ready for lunch.  But there was also a sense of accomplishment permeating the quieted scene of scouts stowing their bikes in the lodge.  For many scouts, the ride had been the longest off-road cycling experience of their lives and some had never truly mountain biked until that week.  Seth explained that scouts in the Cycling Merit Badge often feel pride in “conquering things that seem unconquerable.”

The long ride each Friday is designed to make memories, said Seth, and it did just that.


Spanish Scout Visits Denver Area Council Following Rayado Trek

“Text and Photos by Joshua Murdock”

Frontier District Day Camp-21With more than 40 million scouts in 223 countries and territories worldwide, there is no need for one’s scouting experience to be limited to their own country, and the United States’ Rocky Mountains offer incredible scouting experiences.  With that philosophy in mind, Spanish scout Nuno Munoz embarked this summer on a nearly month-long trip to the United States to participate in Rayado, a 21-day service project trek at Boy Scouts of America’s legendary Philmont Scout Ranch.  During his travels home to his hometown of Salamanca, Munoz visited Denver Area Council’s Frontier District Cub Scout Day Camp to get a taste of U.S. scouting outside of Philmont.

Frontier District Day Camp-4Over the course of the trek, Munoz and seven other scouts hiked more than 200 miles through the Sangre de Cristo mountains of northern New Mexico.  The crew was scheduled to reach the summit of Mount Baldy, a 12,441-foot-tall mountain that towers over Philmont, but storms in the vicinity spawned safety concerns and the crew decided not to attempt reaching the top.  Despite not reaching the summit of the iconic peak, Munoz said the overall experience of the trek was “so good.”

Munoz and his crew completed service projects around the 219-square-mile ranch, including removing fallen trees from camps and clearing forest areas burned by wildfires.

Frontier District Day Camp-5This was Munoz’s first visit to the United States for a scouting function, and he was impressed by the “awesome” culture of scouting in the country.  Munoz said that while the group of scouts on the trek started their adventure relatively shy and quiet, they quickly opened up to each other and became quite close.  “You make friends for the rest of your life,” he said of his Rayado crew.

Friendly support was crucial on the long and rigorous undertaking, he said.  A competitive runner in Spain, Munoz was still challenged by the demands of the trek.  “It’s hard when you make a lot of distance in a day at altitude.”

Munoz hopes to return to Philmont in future years as a staff member.

Day Camp and Summer Camp Kick Off in June

“Text and Photos by Joshua Murdock”

PV Dobbins 6-19-15-3.jpgSummer is in full swing in the Denver Area Council, and Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts alike are having fun at camp now that school is out!  Five of the seven districts within the council held their Cub Scout Day Camps in June, while Tahosa High Adventure Base and Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch each saw their first few weeks of scout campers.

From shooting sports and leatherworking to mountain biking and scavenger hunts, scouts of all ages had a great time at camps this past month.