While on a Scouting High Adventure Contingent in 2012 to Barrow Bay in Ontario, Canada, the last thing members of Boy Scout Troop 781 and Venture Crew 781 expected to do was rescue three people from an inflatable raft on their first full day of the trip.
But when Alan Deal, an adult leader, noticed the raft in danger of being swept out to a much larger Georgian Bay, scouts piled into two canoes and chased after the raft while Deal followed in a kayak.
"We were at my family cottage having lunch and I noticed something didn't look right," Deal said. "We've actually been rescued off that lake once before. You can tell when you're not in control. These people were not in control, they were paddling into the wind and going the opposite direction, which tells you the wind is pretty strong out there. It didn't look that bad, it looked kind of peaceful. But when we got out there it was completely different."
The scouts worked together and attempted to tow the raft back to shore however, the
breeze was too strong. The three people ended up abandoning their raft it to be taken to shore by the scouts. During their abandonment, the wind picked the
large raft up into the air, capsizing one of the canoes which was still attached. Everyone was able to return to shore safely.
Nicholas Armstrong, 18, and Scott Davison, 19, were in the first canoe to reach the raft. The pair paddled two rafters back to shore before heading back out onto the water to help retrieve the scouts from the capsized canoe.
"I wasn't really thinking about what I was doing at the time," Armstrong said. "I felt good that we helped them out and relieved that no one was hurt. And also a little tired from paddling the tall waves."
Deal, Armsrong and Davison will be honored along with Erica Bingham, Jacqueline McCormick and Michael Fluegemann with the Honor Medal for Saving Life by the National Court of Honor, Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
A National Court of Honor ceremony will be held on Sunday, Dec. 29, immediately following the noon Mass at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church to recognize the extraordinary acts of heroism in the rescue of three young adults stranded on a windswept raft in open water in the Bruce Peninsula of Ontario, Canada.
The Honor Medal is awarded to youth members or
adult leaders who have demonstrated unusual heroism and skill in saving or
attempting to save a life at considerable risk to self. Lifesaving awards from
the BSA started in 1911 and a rigorous recommendation and evaluation process is
There were 52 total medals awarded in 2012.
"It's kind of cool that we're getting acknowledged for it, but I feel better knowing that we helped the people thank I do getting rewarded for it," Davison said. "It sounds kind of corny, but it's true."
The Scouting Units are chartered by Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church, located in Plymouth, and have now been awarded a total of eight BSA Lifesaving Awards.