A local Boy Scout troop recently canoed more than 60 miles down the James River and came away from the trip with more than just life experience — they also fished about three dozen tires out of the river.
The tire recovery effort last month was part of the second leg of a three-part trip this year for Boy Scouts Troop 29, chartered by Peakland United Methodist Church of Lynchburg.
The trip began in Iron Gate and stretched to Snowden, finishing up with a trip to Balcony Falls, a Class 3 rapids on the James River. The troop also completed a 50-mile backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail in April.
The Scouts navigated through rapids on the river during their five-day, four-night trip, but the most important part was the tire rescue mission they took part in.
Through a partnership with Twin River Outfitters, 15 Scouts and 6 adults from Troop 29 recovered the tires from the James River, which in turn led to the tires being recycled through the Virginia Department of Transportation.
“All the boys navigated it like pros,” said Chris Molseed, Scoutmaster for Troop 29. “They had a great time and got to have a good chuckle when their Scoutmaster flipped over at the very end.”
The journey was an example of the Scouts holding up to their oath, which includes “...to help others at all times” by cleaning up tires and other debris from the river.
“Yeah, the trip was fun, but we were also doing a service to the community by keeping the river clean,” Molseed said.
The troop did its service portion but Scouts also learned other values, such as teamwork, while canoeing.
“If you’ve ever been on a canoe, some people call it the divorce boat,” Molseed said. Canoeing is a good example of the scout’s teamwork. One of the people in the boat shouts directions, while the other steers. This can cause some tension between the two in the boat.
The Scouts had to work together to get the tires into the canoes in order to get them to the drop off points, which can be hard while trying to keep the canoe upright.
But while the troop did its hard work during the day, the quality time was spent at the campgrounds over the four nights, where they shared their experiences of the day over the meals the scouts picked out.
The next step for the troop will be a 70-mile bike trip on the Greenbrier River Trail in West Virginia that it will embark on in August. This will be the final leg of a three-leg journey this year for the troop. The scouts will participate in another form of community service on this trip as well, but they aren’t sure what it’s going to look like yet.
George Clay, the Scout Executive for Central and Southwest Virginia, said the Blue Ridge Mountain Council of Scouts put in nearly 100,000 hours of community service in 2020, despite the pandemic.
“Most of the hours are done by Scouts,” Clay said, “and they didn’t miss a beat last year.”
“This is what the older Scouts said they wanted to do, so we’re game to make it happen,” Molseed said about the three-part journey. “They wanted to push and challenge themselves, and they certainly did.”