Eagle Scout James Michael Willett of Asheboro Troop 527 recently received the rare National Medal for Outdoor Achievement and the coveted “Grand Slam of National High Adventure Award” from the Boy Scouts of America.
The National Medal for Outdoor Achievement is the highest recognition a Boy Scout can earn for displaying exemplary knowledge, experience and skill in high-level outdoor activities. Willett achieved the award in the areas of camping, hiking, adventure, riding, conservation and aquatics.
Among the various requirements needed to achieve this award, Willett camped over 125 nights, backpacked over 200 miles, bicycled over 200 miles, took Wilderness First Aid training, completed the mile swim, and completed his Open Water Scuba Diving Certification.
Michael recently returned from serving as a member of a Northern Tier High Adventure Base crew in northern Minnesota. His completion of this 7-day canoe adventure qualifies Willett to earn the “Grand Slam of High Adventure Award”.
The “Grand Slam Award” is a national award program honoring those few Scouts who have successfully completed a trek at each of the four National High Adventure Bases operated by the Boy Scouts of America.
Willett’s recent wilderness adventure began July 9, 2017 as a member of the Northern Tier Crew. The crew of six Scouts and two adult leaders shared three canoes, which carried all of their gear plus all of their food for the full trip. During the trip, the crew canoed and portaged through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of Minnesota.
Willett also served as a crew member at the Florida Sea Base High Adventure Base in 2014 with Boy Scout Troop 527 from Asheboro, NC. This adventure included living on 40 foot sailboat for 6 days and learning hands-on sailing skills. During the adventure the crew spent their days fishing and snorkeling throughout the Florida Keys.
In 2016, Willett completed a 12 day backpacking trek at Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico. The crew from Ramseur, led by Scoutmaster Tommy Boyd of Troop 508, trekked over 100 miles carrying all their gear and food for several days at a time. Willett and the crew hiked to the top of Baldy Mountain (12,441 feet) during their trek. Their itinerary included stops at camps offering activities such as black-powder rifle shooting, rock climbing and rappelling, and gold mining. Philmont is BSA’s second-oldest High Adventure base and covers more than 214 square miles of rugged terrain.
After returning from Philmont, Michael then spent the following week attending the “Order of the Arrow Summit Experience” program for 8 days at the Paul R. Christen High Adventure Base in West Virginia. During this time, Michael spent five days backpacking and building trails in the New River Gorge National River Area. The remaining days included whitewater rafting on the New River, along with mountain biking, climbing, and participation in other Summit activities. The highlight of the Summit Experience is completing the “Big Zip” – a 3⁄4 mile long zip line which takes riders at speeds nearing 50 mph over a valley and Bravo Lake. This is one of the longest zip line courses in all of North America.
For more information about the National Outdoor Award, please visit http://www.scouting.org/Home/BoyScouts/Youth/Awards/NOA.aspx
For more information about the Grand Slam of National High Adventure, please visit https://www.nationalhighadventureawards.org/