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EXPLORE


It’s quiet on the clay-speckled shores of the Pamlico River. Fishermen silently toss


crab pots into the brackish water, home to scuttling armies of blue crab. A baitfish does a belly flop. Here, in the Pamlico Sound on the southern coast of eastern North Carolina, not much happens before 9 a.m. besides dropping the day’s fishing lines. Kudzu, with its invasive vine-arms, slows the hurried pace of everyday life to an amble. That’s until a harmony of varrroooms explodes across the lapping banks. Seagulls take flight when six Sea-Doos cruise along the shoreline of Pamlico Sea Base, a Boy Scout camp in the East Carolina Council. Members of Crew 615 from Florissant,


Mo., have spent the past half-hour practic- ing steering maneuvers on the personal watercraft while keeping the boats slowly moving forward. The leader of the fleet, staff instructor Jordan Byrum, Order of the Arrow lodge chief for the council’s Croatan Lodge, shouts over the motors. “All right, I want everyone to get in line and give it a little juice,” he says with a thick Southern drawl. “Just get a feel for how the bow of the boat comes out of the water. But,


whatever you do, don’t bury the throttle.” Riding in pairs, the Venturers and leaders slowly fall


in line behind Byrum. The group, wearing matching life jackets, steers out into the open like a row of ducks. Doug Stone, a volunteer with the crew, and Venturer Alex Braun share a seat on a navy-blue Sea-Doo, fol- lowing about 30 or 40 feet behind the boat in front of them. Braun, a 17-year-old who has never driven a per- sonal watercraft before, grips the T-shaped handlebars and squeezes the throttle tighter, exclaiming, “I could see how your hand would get tired from this.” The nose of each boat rises up out of the water as the Sea-Doos speed up to reach about 10 miles per hour. At the end of a stretch of shoreline, the watercraft


regroup, and it’s time to switch drivers—a balancing tango that sends one teenage boy into the warm water. He laughs off his misstep, climbs back on board, and plops into the driver’s seat. Another teen motions a squeezing of the throttle—as if he’s revving a motor- cycle—and impatiently asks Byrum, “When are we gonna go fast?” It’s an expected dilemma at any camp that puts Scouts in the driver’s seats of personal watercraft.


 2012 ¿ SCOUTING 39


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