“I thought well, this is going to be a once in a lifetime experience,” said Bronson Vann, a boy scout in Troop 889.
That’s how Bronson and his fellow scouts from Troop 889 felt when they left for Tanzania with the goal to return home having conquered Mount Kilimanjaro.
“We were looking for something that would be a significant challenge both mentally and physically, but something that’s achievable. So we’re looking for a cultural angle as well. So we got to visit a completely different culture than what these guys are used to and we really got immersed in it by meeting with the boy scouts over there and interacting with actual families that live over there,” explained Bill Glase, the camping coordinator for the troop.
Four scouts from Wheatland Salem Church Troop 889 were joined by their dads for the trip. With the help of mountain guides, they all trekked up 19,341 feet in just six days.
“As the altitude increased it got a lot more barren,” said Scout Alex Glase. “So at the bottom we were in a forest that was very humid and green. And then as we went further up it started to get more dusty and there were a lot less trees.”
Reaching the icy top of the mountain wasn’t easy, with changes in altitude, climate, and morale.
“I think what surprised me was it wasn’t just an individual challenge; it was really a group challenge as well because all of us struggled at times. Someone hits a wall and someone else on the team really has to encourage them to try to help them get past it,” added Bill.
But their journey didn’t end at the top of Kilimanjaro. In fact, the group also explored wildlife on a safari, camped out in the Serengeti National Forest, and met nearly 130 boy scouts in Tanzania.
“I think the values of both the American scouts and the scouts in Tanzania are very similar. But the environment is kind of different; especially the camps are different from what we have here. They were really outgoing and kind to us. I made some new friends,” said Scout Zach Vitous.
It was an experience that left Troop 889 with a lifetime of lessons.
“This experience is just a reminder that I can do anything I put my mind to. This was probably the biggest obstacle I’ve ever had to overcome,” said Bronson.
“I always underestimate myself and what I’ve learned is that I can do more than I think I can and I should be grateful for what I have,” said Zach.
“Keep on walking,” added Alex.
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.
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