This sure beats an afternoon at the community pool.

This summer, the Scouts of Troop 223 from Pacific Palisades, Calif., part of the Western Los Angeles County Council, will travel to Alaska for an epic two-week adventure.

The trip will be the culmination of months of preparation at troop meetings and on weekend trips. The Scouts have practiced wilderness first aid, honed their leadership skills and perfected their packing technique.

Like all the best parts of Scouting, the entire journey — from idea to planning to on-the-ground leadership — has been youth-led. And more than just making these Scouts feel more confident outdoors, this journey has brought them closer together.

“I have made new friends and discovered that there are so many other girls who love nature and the outdoors, just like me,” says Jennie Pitcher, a Tenderfoot and founding member of Troop 223.

Preparing for Alaska

Before their big trip this summer, the Scouts of Troop 223 will have completed three backpacking trips — all meant to help them Be Prepared for Alaska:

  • Bear Creek Trail in Angeles National Forest
  • El Montañon on Santa Cruz Island
  • The Golden Trout Wilderness in the Sequoia National Forest

“I’ve really been loving Scouts. I honestly feel extremely prepared for Alaska,” says Ruby Rose Carlson, a Tenderfoot and another Troop 223 founding member. “It will be even better with more days and more time.”

The Santa Cruz trip was perhaps the best moment in Troop 223’s brief but meaningful history. Many of the Scouts had never summited a mountain before, so making it to the top of El Montañon was a special thrill.

The 360-degree view from the top was spectacular, but Troop 223 Assistant Scoutmaster Cierra Gillard says she was impressed by what she saw during the climb to get there.

“They checked in with one another frequently, gave encouragement, studied the map, adjusted their packs, and kept a steady and manageable pace,” she says. “All of the skills they have been practicing were on full display.”

The Alaska plan

Troop 223 will spend one week camping and kayaking along the waters of the Prince William Sound on Alaska’s southern coast. After that, they’ll spend their second week backpacking through rugged forests and paddling mighty rivers.

And throughout the process, the adults will be there not to mow down obstacles but to cheer the Scouts on from a safe distance away.

“Because Scouts BSA is youth led, Scouts do all of their own packing, navigating, cooking and cleaning up,” Gillard says. “Youth leadership is a primary objective of the program, and the girls have risen to the challenge. They’re the real deal, and they’re ready to take on Alaska.”

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