Boy Scouts Saved in the BWCA

Luckily the Boy Scouts involved in a recent capsizing followed their motto and were prepared. They were wearing their life vests while paddling in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Whether or not they should have been paddling in the first place is another story altogether.

On Thursday, June 12th a Boy Scout Troop(reported to have been led by a guide from the Northern Tier Boy Scout Camp on Moose Lake) were paddling on Basswood Lake when they capsized. Why were they paddling on one of the largest BWCA lakes while it was raining and wind speeds were gusting up to 40 miles per hour? The waves were reported to be almost 4 feet tall, the high temperature for the day was barely in the 60’s and dropped into the 40’s and the water temperature while being turned up by wind and waves couldn’t have been warmer than 60 degrees either.  I have paddled Basswood on a windy fall day and it led to an “on the water divorce.” Basswood is notorious for big waves.

I am thankful the 5 youth and 3 adults were all wearing their life vests and no one died. I am not sure why they were paddling or if they know the danger they put their rescuers in by making their decision to paddle.  Or if they know the associated cost involved in having a helicopter from the Twin Cities dispatched to rescue them. Of course it was worth it to save their lives but what I don’t understand is what where they thinking and if these Boy Scouts did have a guide from the Boy Scout Base what are they taught about paddling in unfavorable conditions?

It scares me to think about people making decisions to paddle in inclement weather. I think I’ve mentioned this before but we see it at Voyageur when the weather gets foul. People start paddling out of the woods and even ending their trip early to “escape” the bad weather.  They put themselves into a dangerous situation which could be avoided if they would just wait 8-10 hours to paddle.  Friday morning and throughout the day it was sunny and dead calm, a perfect paddling day.  The Boy Scout Camp should expect their groups to be delayed when there is bad weather so there is no need to paddle in dangerous situations. We don’t worry about groups who don’t make it in when there’s been big wind or waves and we tell people to wait it out and stay put.

I know we all make bad decisions from time to time and our decisions sometimes affect others.  I just hope this story will make people think before they venture out into turbulent waters putting themselves and others at risk.


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