It was a mild, overcast day in March — hardly beach weather — but the Scouts were out there anyway, walking the sandy shoreline at Fort Flagler Historical State Park in Washington.

They weren’t out there to swim or surf. Scouts BSA Troop 319 was there to scour the beach for trash.

They filled a trash bag with all kinds of washed-up waste: loose plastic foam, broken plastic glass and a metal window that appeared to have come from a boat.

Everything was going swimmingly until the Scouts rounded a corner about a mile from camp and realized the found of all those little foam pieces they were collecting.

Right there, tangled in some bushes, was a giant foam buoy. From far away, one of the girls thought it looked like a full-grown cow.

“I thought, ‘Wow, I’ve got to get that!’” says Mena, one of the Troop 319 Scouts.

Rolling with it

They ran toward the buoy to assess the problem. After the flow of questions ebbed (How did it get there? When did it get there?), the Scouts got to work.

They started by disentangling the giant foam cylinder from the bushes.

Next, they rolled it up the beach and carried it over a hill to the park ranger.

What started as a routine beach cleanup project became a moment these Scouts won’t ever forget. But isn’t that often the case in Scouting? The coolest moments often happen in the least expected places.

Thorns and roses

Later, during the end-of-camp “thorns and roses” reflection time, most of the Scouts mentioned how proud they were to do something so significant for the environment.

“At first, I thought the beach cleanup was going to be picking up normal trash and bringing it to the dumpster,” says Alice, a Scout in Troop 319. “When I saw the big buoy nestled up into the hills and all the debris it was dropping, it made me sick to my stomach. I felt so happy that I could be part of something that would make a difference on that beach.”

Troop 319 Scoutmaster Lisa Battern says the beach wasn’t the only thing that was changed for the better that day.

“I was inspired to see the positive impact that their community service made not only on the environment, but also on the girls,” she says.

A new troop tradition

Cleaning the beaches near Fort Flagler is becoming a tradition for both troops chartered by Edmonds United Methodist Church in the BSA’s Mount Baker Council.

The church also sponsors Troop 312, a Scouts BSA troop for boys that cleans a stretch of the beach during the Scouts’ annual Webelos recruitment campout.

Now that Troop 319 conducts a similar project, the impact on this stretch of shoreline has effectively doubled.

Great job to all these great Scouts!

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