scouts rafting trip
By Kimball Vaughn
Apr 19, 2018

50-Mile Rafting Trip No Match For Scouts

A 50-mile rafting trip, that’s what 17 Scouts embarked upon in the Summer of 1993. But, what influenced a group of boys to accomplish such a daunting task? It all started when Mike Hall, the Varsity Scout Coach, suggested that the boys take Scouting to the next level.

“In December of 1991, I laid out three options for high adventure activities that the boys could do. They chose to do a 500-mile bike ride because they thought I would back out of it. But when I said I would do it, they wondered what they had gotten themselves into.”

Planning the 50-mile Rafting Trip

Five months later, the boys completed that 500-mile bike ride with Hall leading the charge. It was a wonderful accomplishment that really tested the boys physically and spiritually. 

As the months rolled on, another December had arrived, and it was time to plan the next big event for Summer 1993. They eventually decided upon a rafting trip that would take them 50 miles from Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake in Yellowstone National Park.

The trip proved to be easier to plan than the first since some of the boys that had completed the 500-mile bike experience were still on the team. This was a huge confidence booster to the whole group.

Preparation included a well-rounded schedule of weight-training, swimming, biking, canoeing, fishing, and fly fishing. The training went on from February to June.

A Grand Beginning

On Monday, July 12, 1993, the group of boys began their next big adventure. Before heading North toward Yellowstone National Park, they gathered together and prayed that the Lord would bless them with safety and protection on their journey.

At 5:30 P.M., they arrived at the South entrance of Lewis Lake Campground but were unable to get in the campsite that night. Instead, they were told they could enter the next day.

When Tuesday arrived, the group divided up into three separate groups across the campground. They then departed for Lake Shoshone. According to Hall, “the lake was higher than I had everseen!” Everyone met up and had lunch at the mouth of the river. Shortly after, they canoed around Lewis Lake, up Lewis River, and then around Lake Shoshone.

Crossing the Wind and Waves

The next day, our band of Scouts experienced a real test of wind and waves. The waves were strong and the wind blew hard. The boys petitioned the Lord that He would calm the elements or at least make them more manageable.

The waves were not calmed, but the conditions were manageable. It proved to be a real mental and physical test for the boys.

Hall writes from his journal, “On Thursday, my group slept in, it was great. I sent my boys to exchange food with the other groups. We met at Grizzly Beach. we walked to meet up instead of canoe because there were whitecaps that you could have surfed on. We went out, caught some fish, and we even saw a grizzly bear. We retired to bed really early”

An Answered Prayer

No one saw it coming, but Friday proved to be the most difficult day of the trip. Another storm had been brewing that day with heavy wind and rain. As the young men were canoeing into the storm, they felt prompted to make a temporary shelter. Another one of the boys prayed that the Lord would calm the weather – He did so.

With the improved weather, the group was able to navigate across the narrows to safety. Because the whitecaps had been so treacherous, everyone to this day believes they would have been crushed on the rocks if not for their answered prayer. Their difficulties wouldn’t stop there though.

They continued downstream, but the wind was so strong that it felt as if they were paddling upstream. The young men paddled mightily against the wind, but it was frigid and they were exhausted. They knew they couldn’t make it without divine help. They offered a powerful prayer to Heavenly Father asking for his assistance. Once again, He answered their prayers.

Their rescuer appeared in the form of a powerboat driver. Astonishingly, the man just so happened to be LDS. He had received a prompting to drive where the tired boys were. Luckily for the group, the man hearkened to the voice of the Lord. He towed the group through the storm and to camp.

When everyone was finally situated, they loaded the cars and headed to Evanston, WY to get something to eat.

Hall recounts, “We were all so hungry that we wiped Pizza Hut out of food. We ate everything they had.”

The next day the Scouts returned home to Utah.

Scouting Can Build Youth

Experiences like these really help Scouts become stronger in so many ways. The Savior developed in a myriad of ways over his lifetime. From Luke 2:52 we read, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” Scouts don’t necessarily need to bike 500 miles or canoe 50 miles, but they should do things that help them grow in many ways like the Savior did.

After all, that’s what the Scout Oath is built around. 

On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

Scouting isn’t just about earning merit badges and awards. It’s about building the future leaders of this world. It’s about instilling character and morals into young men. Scouting isn’t just an organization, it’s a way of life.  

 

Author: Kimball Vaughn | PR Marketing Associate, Utah National Parks Council

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