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watch in his bag. No more constantly checking the time. No more answer- ing e-mails. Just a single item would occupy the


assistant Scoutmaster’s normally jam- packed schedule for the next five days: a 40-mile rafting trip down the rugged Rogue River in southwest Oregon. With 11 Scouts and Scouters


from Los Angeles-based Troop 223, Brown was leaving behind a life that’s measured in 30-minute blocks on a calendar for one measured only in miles and memories. Welcome to release from the ticking clock and the buzzing smartphone. Welcome to a world where the schedule ebbs and flows not around the next meeting but around the next bend. “This trip just shows you how


quickly you can get back to nature and how important it is to do this once or twice a year,” Brown decided. “The other stuff isn’t going to matter in the long run.” Welcome to River Time.


ON THAT FIRST MORNING, Troop 223’s Scouts and Scouters made their way down a hill from the Galice Resort in Merlin, Ore., a charming, riverside retreat where they had bunked in rustic comfort the night before. Each of them carried two dry bags


stuffed with everything they’d need for the coming week—and a few things


MONEY MATTERS The eight Scouts and four adult leaders paid $1,595 each. That rate included:


fffOARS’ fee: $940 per person, which included shuttles to and from the airport in Medford, Ore. Everyone paid the youth rate, even adults, because OARS’ customary steak, wild salmon, and alcohol were not served.


fffRoundtrip flights from Los Angeles. fff$1,100 tip split among the four guides.


fffDinner and one-night stay in the large cabin at Galice Resort the night before departure.


30 S COUTING ¿ MAY•JUNE 2011


they wouldn’t. Somewhere near the bottom of the bags were cell phones, MP3 players, and game systems— superfluous devices when you’re living on River Time. The group gathered at the put-in


point, a slow-moving stretch of the Rogue, where the trip’s hired guides had been preparing for at least an hour. The rafts—one 14-foot paddle raft and three 16-foot, oar-powered gear boats—were loaded with every- thing but the guys’ personal gear. Eli Helvey, their thirtysomething lead guide with full beard and a dark tan, met them on the bank dis- playing a large smile and an amiable attitude. Removing his hat, he approached the group and shouted, “Hey guys, good morning! Let’s huddle up for a quick chat.” The Rogue glistened behind


Helvey as he reminded everyone that they must wear helmets at all times. Another must? Personal flotation devices, or PFDs. “But it’s not enough to just wear these,” he emphasized as he checked 12-year-old Alex Brown’s helmet. “You have to secure them tightly. A loose-fitting helmet or PFD is basically just a useless fashion acces-


sory if it isn’t properly worn.” Helvey advised that when Scouts


needed a break from paddling, they should keep both hands on the paddle. Failure to do so, he explained, could result in someone going home with “Summer Teeth”—river slang for where a rafter’s teeth might land after taking an errant paddle to the mouth. “Summer in the raft; summer in


your mouth.” Helvey’s joke concealed an


important safety lesson—a tactic that seasoned Scouters use all the time. The veteran guide next told the boys how to rescue someone who had taken an unintentional plunge into the water. Helvey cautioned not to pull him


up by anything that’s part of the body: arms, legs, hair. Instead, they should lift him using his lifejacket. “If that rips, it’s easy to sew back together. Sewing on an arm? That requires equipment you don’t have,” he said, drawing another laugh. Next, Helvey promised that after


their first day on the river, they’d have an opportunity to test their skills in the inflatable kayaks known as “Duckies,” so named because their yellow color and rounded shape suggests rubber


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