This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
“A.J., AT THE START, go right to get away from those other canoes,” shouts Bob Miller, a leader of Venturing Crew 313 from Bogalusa, La., to Scout A.J. Holmes, one of the novice paddlers tensely awaiting the start of the annual Boy Scouts National Invitational White River Canoe Race. A spectral fog covers the river here

below Bull Shoals Dam in northern Arkansas, where the release of frigid water (despite the July heat) creates a swift current. Race officials warn the paddlers to beware of rocks and

stumps and especially the dock on the river’s left side a few miles down. Eighteen boats are poised to

start one of the oldest canoe races in the country, a three-day, 120-mile marathon that’s been held annually in Arkansas since 1966. Miller, a retired Marine colonel,

has led teams here since 1977, and his Bogalusa Venturing crew ranks as the defending champ in the race’s top class: Open Cruising. The 84-year-old Miller keeps bringing teams back for many reasons: the camaraderie, the nightly cookouts, and, of course, the

crucible of character that the competi- tion provides. He’s not alone. For many teams like the families and Scouts from Bogalusa, the White River Canoe Race has become an annual reunion in addition to a competition—a chance to renew old friendships, refresh fading memo- ries, and experience again a seminal moment in their young lives. All in three exhausting and exhilarating days. A.J.’s father, Mark, watches from the bank as his 14-year-old son and his son’s paddling partner pull ahead of the other racers in the Novice class. Mark competed in the race from 1979-82. “We all come up every year,” he says. “It’s a family thing.” Stephen Lynn of Russellville, Ark.,

helped organize the race. He agrees that the impression lasts a lifetime. “I did the race [from 1973-76] when I was a Scout, and it still stands out as one of the best accomplishments and neatest events I’ve ever done,” says Lynn, who still races canoes. “It was just a monu- mental undertaking for a teenager.” George Latus, another orga-

nizer, brought a team from nearby Batesville, Ark. The race and the prepa- ration that goes into it are special to him. “I’ve done a lot of Scouting activi- ties,” he says. “This is one that has a tremendous value for these kids. They learn determination. They learn team- work. Heartbeat for heartbeat, stroke for stroke, breath for breath, you have to become one person in that boat.” Those heartbeats soon accelerate

as the racers take off in staggered heats, each with a handful of adult leaders who paddle their own canoes alongside the boys for each leg of the race. A.J. competes for the Bogalusa

crew in the Boys’ Novice Aluminum

Anticipation builds at Bull Shoals Dam on Day 1 as Advisor James Short (above) announces the starting lineups for the 17-mile first leg. Later, Venturers encourage and signal incoming team- mates as they prepare to switch paddlers (left), a frantic scene reminiscent of IndyCar pit stops.


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68