What did you do over the summer? It's a common question that will be fielded by students when they return to classes for the start of school next week.
For a select few from Sedgwick's Venturing Crew, they will have quite the story to tell — as members got the chance to kayak on the open ocean, go snorkeling and fish for sharks and barracudas earlier this summer, part of a week-long excursion in July to Big Munson Island in the Florida Keys.
Venturing is the co-ed branch of the Boy Scouts of America for youth ages 14-20 and Sedgwick has sponsored a crew for five years, according to advisor Kelley DeGraffenreid. While some crews have very specific focuses (i.e. shooting, archery, etc.), adventure in general is the main theme for Sedgwick's group.
"It's more aimed at high adventure kind of stuff, pushing limits. Things that you really couldn't do traditionally, you can do in Venturing," said crew member John Williams.
"I think it's just trying to do more extra stuff that you can't do in Boy Scouts because you're older, you know what's going on, you've already been through all the basic stuff that Boy Scouts does and you just want to go do something higher," said crew member Pierce DeGraffenreid.
Six members of the Sedgwick Venturing Crew — Pierce DeGraffenreid, Williams, Levi Lewman, Garrison Harris, Gary Moore and Aubrey Young — made the trip to the Florida Keys, and all are also members of the Boy Scouts of America. Not as active as the Scouts, adviser Kelly DeGraffenreid noted the crew does a few events each year, like attending Trapper's Rendezvous.
The crew's main activity, though, centers on those big, immersive experiences. Most of that is self-funded, though there are a handful of fundraisers done by the crew over the course of the year to help with that.
One of the first big trips for the Sedgwick Venturing Crew was to the Virgin Islands, and this most recent outing was intended to mirror that.
"We try and schedule something really exciting every few years for the kids," Kelley DeGraffenreid said.
Among the numerous activities crew members got to take part in on Big Munson Island, there was also a survivalist aspect as they spent five days and four nights camping on the island with no running water or electricity. Not even watches were allowed, as Lewman found out.
"There was no time. It was sun up, sun down; that was your time," Lewman said.
"It's kind of a going back to nature thing because we were stuck on this island for a while. You kind of have to learn to live a different way. It's an experience," Williams said.
Just to get out to the island, crew members had to canoe five and a half miles, while the fishing they did was also to sustain themselves while camping on the island.
Snorkeling and fishing proved to be some of the crew's favorite activities, but there was also a focus on the service aspect of Scouting — as the crew helped clean up some of the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which deposited trash from as far away as South America on the island's beaches.
Members participating in the trip shared in a lot of new experiences — from catching barracudas, which Lewman noted will remain immortalized on social media, to biting the heads off fish used for bait while deep sea fishing. Then, there was the sargassum, which is a form of seaweed that some crew members were buried in (while they also found out it was used as a fertilizer on the island).
Not all the new experiences will be pleasant memories, as crew members had to survive the heat, bugs and jellyfish (among other trials), but it is still a trip that will not soon be forgotten.
"External physical conditions, you have to get used to that, but it's definitely worth it to be out there on the ocean, to be experiencing what it's like out there," Williams said. "It's an experience that makes all the pain and all the bugs and stuff worth it."
Anyone wanting more information on how to join the Sedgwick Venturing Crew can contact Kelly DeGraffenreid at 316-209-1972.