Boy Scouts helping promote Atchafayla Basin
Rotarians Mike Goss, far left, and program organizer Lee Wright, far right, introduced and welcomed, from left, Boy Scouts of America, Evangeline Area Council, District Executive Justin Guidroz and Atchafalaya Swamp Base Director Ben Pierce to the Rotary Club of Crowley’s Tuesday meeting.
When Boy Scouts of America turned 100 in 2010, troops and councils across the country looked to honor the Scouts.
Parades were planned, celebrations were set. It was one or two days, maximum, of marking 100 years.
For the Evangeline Area Council, they wanted to do more, something that would last longer than a day or week, as Ben Pierce, base director for Atchafalaya Swamp Base explained Tuesday to the Rotary Club of Crowley.
Pierce said another look at the boundaries of the Evangeline Area Council – which encompasses the Acadiana parishes area – gave them their answer: the Atchafalaya Basin.
“We looked at how we can make a difference moving forward,” said Pierce.
When the decision was made to feature and utilize the Atchafalaya Basin, the council made what they call a 100-year commitment to the basin.
In that commitment, the Boy Scouts of the Evangeline Area Council are helping the rest of the country, and now the world, learn more about the basin area and help preserve it as well as battle a few stereotypes along the way.
While Louisianans tend to describe the Atchafalaya Basin in positive terms, Pierce pointed out how others look at it as muddy, dirty, etc.
As part of its commitment to the basin, the Council has already taken the charge of forest tree planting events, helping re-vegetate the area with native plants and trees and trash clean-up events.
These events are being attended by not only scouts as young as 6 years old, but those into their 70s looking to help out, and, in regards to the trash clean-up, some areas desperately needed that help.
“We had one area that hadn’t been touched probably in 40 years,” said Pierce. “It was literally, trash, then leaves, then trash, then leaves. You could have just spent hours there cleaning.”
As part of its next phase of activities, the Evangeline Area Council of Boy Scouts of America has implemented a high-adventure trek for scouts that not only highlights the basin, but serves any and all adventuring desires of scouts.
The 60-mile, five days and four nights trek, coils down the basin and highlights all of the interesting aspects of the area and its culture. The adventure trek openly asks interested scouts if they think they have what it takes to conquer the swamp.
The adventure trek runs for six weeks in the months of June and July. Throughout the year, however, it is being used by universities like the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana State University and Nicholls State to study wetlands as well as by elementary, middle and high schools around the area to learn more about the basin, wetlands and Cajun culture.
As far as the trek is concerned, however, the day travel via Atchafalayaks (kayaks designed specifically for Swamp Base, providing the perfect mixture of comfort, speed and stability) is rather evenly separated over the five days, beginning at Bayou Courtableu and ending at Grand Avoille Cove.
The nights include a night aboard a house boat, a night of camping with hammocks and two nights at Island Outpost in cabins.
And intrigue in the high adventure trek is growing, according to Pierce, both nationally and internationally.
For more information on the trek, visit bswampbase.org or call 337-235-8551.