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A LOW, LOW PRICE Troop 99 experiences a lot of adventure because they’ve found a way to keep trips low-budget. Shirk says the weeklong trip to the Chesapeake Bay cost each Scout $200. Backpacking in Maine for 10 days during the summer was $225 per boy. A two-week trip to Glacier National Park for 32 Scouts was $200 each. The number of Scouts on a trip ranges from four for a recent beginners canoe trip to the 36 who went to Sea Base last summer. That trip ran Scouts $1,100, most of it going to cover the $750 Sea Base fee.


shows them how to pull and empty the pots. They also learn from Sanford how to hold the crabs from behind to avoid the painful pinch. Some grasp the technique and others merely get grasped. Smith Island, though, is just their first


destination on this bay adventure. The next morning they boat to Port Isobel, a small island next to Tangier Island, and enjoy brunch on the way, eating the crabs they caught, cooked by Capt. Wes in a pot on the dock. At Port Isobel, the Scouts sit out a storm,


some using the opportunity to work on the Weather merit badge. Their service project consists of replacing the rotted planks of a walkway and nailing down the loose boards of a dock while VanOrmer builds a 16-foot bench to replace one swept from the dock in a hurricane.


They go out with Capt. Charles F. Parks to


dredge for oysters and drag the sea-grass beds for soft-shell crabs and other critters such as shrimp, puffer fish, sea horses, small eels and flounder. “These grasses are very important,” Parks says, explaining that they have dwindled from about 350,000 acres in the bay in John Smith’s time to about 65,000 acres now.


BACK AT THE education center, they identify the critters and count them. Then it’s time for what the Bay Foundation educators like to call “MTV: Marine TV. ” “Watch what happens when things get real,” says Thomas Komir, one of the Chesapeake Bay educators at the center. Immediately, the puffer fish in a tank, preda- tors, gobble up some of the small fry for dinner. One of the reasons Troop 99 can offer so


many activities is its bus, which can transport up to 38 people. The troop first purchased a bus in 1980. The most recent, a “step up” from its predecessors in quality, Dave Shirk says, cost $15,000. Several of the troop’s adult volunteers have their commercial driver’s license, so the troop always has bus drivers. While it might not be feasible to take 30 Scouts on a trip with three adults in three cars, it’s easy with the bus, he explains. Troop 99 has a lot of adults who are good


at a lot of things, whether building structures, whitewater rafting, biking, backpacking or leading wilderness adventures. “That’s how


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S COUTING ¿ MAY•JUNE 2014


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