Crew Sharktopus poses for a picture at BSA Sea Base at Islamorada in the Florida Keys. From left are; seated, Daniel Haley, (Asstistant Scoutmaster), Donna Haley (Troop Committee) and Suzanne D’Angelico (Committee Chairperson); standing, Will Branch (N.C.), Benton Hunsicker, Kevin Haley, Anthony Etzler, Kyle Haley (Youth Crew Leader), Adam Sachs (Fla.), Derek Sheldon (N.C.), Owen Krisnitski and Ian DeHaven.
Crew Sharktopus earned the SCENE award, which was presented Monday Dec. 18 at Boy Scout Troop 333’s winter Court of Honor. From left are Owen Krisnitski, Anthony Etzler, Kevin Haley, Benton Hunsicker and Kyle Haley. Not pictured, Ian DeHaven.

Boy Scout Troop 333 in Fincastle presented the International SCENE award to nine Scouts at the troop’s end of year Court of Honor last week.

Kyle Haley, Benton Hunsicker, Kevin Haley, Owen Krisnitski, Anthony Etzler and Ian DeHaven were members of Crew Sharktopus, a scuba-diving crew that traveled to the Boy Scout Sea Base in the Florida Keys for a Live Aboard Scuba Adventure Program. Adults who traveled with the scouts were Dan and Donna Haley and Suzanne D’Angelico.

The troop members learned to scuba dive locally at the Claytor Lake Aquatic Base summer camp in preparation for this high adventure trip. They traveled to Florida in late June and spent a week living aboard a 40-foot schooner. They dove daily and interacted with several species on different reef locations around Key Largo. One dive was at night and on a historic shipwreck.

The group swam with nurse and lemon sharks, a sea turtle, barracuda, sergeant majors, dolphins, wrasses, tarpon, lionfish, flounder and more. The group also spent time in Key Largo studying coral reef conservation.

Sea Base is a member of Project Aware and recognized as an NOAA Blue Star Operator. Scuba participants have the opportunity, at their choosing, to participate in specialty education courses including marine debris education and sharks in peril.

Sea Base scuba participants also have the opportunity to participate in fish counts. Data collected is shared with the Reef Environmental Foundation.

Florida Sea Base became the first Scouting facility in the United States to be designated as a Scout Center for Excellence of Nature and Environment (SCENE). Through participation in environmental programs like exotic plant eradication, potential and actual marine debris removal, fish identification and counts and by completing a project at Sea Base, crews can earn a Project SCENE Award.

A SCENE Centre is committed to protecting its natural environment, minimizing its environmental impact and enabling all who are connected with the centre to engage with nature and become empowered to make their own personal commitment to the environment. A SCENE Centre leads by example and acts as a positive role model to other Scout and non-Scout centres, to its guests and to its local community. It can provide real hands-on educational activities for Scouts and training opportunities for leaders, equipping them with an enthusiasm for nature and a desire to do something positive for the environment in their home-life.

Crew Sharktopus completed two marine education programs to earn this award. The scouts completed the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Project Aware on Coral Reef Conservation, and a PADI fish identification and count project. They also completed a grounds keeping service project while at the Florida Sea Base.

After they returned home, they had to perform a minimum four-hour service project as well. Crew Sharktopus compiled a PowerPoint presentation for the Blue Ridge Mountains Council University of Scouting and was available to answer questions about their participation and coral reef conservation and restoration.

The group also earned the Sea Base Captain’s Club Award. To earn this award units must properly prepare for the adventure, elect a seasoned Youth Crew Leader, assume all vessel responsibilities, utilize proper scuba and sailing techniques, become proficient snorkelers and adhere to the Scout Oath and Law.

Boy Scout Troop 333 meets every Monday at 7 p.m. at Fincastle Baptist Church in Fincastle. Sixth to 12th grade boys are invited to visit the troop and see what scouting offers. For more information on joining scouting contact Suzanne D’Angelico, Committee Chairperson, at (540) 537-7869 or Larry Etzler, Scoutmaster, at 520-4522.