Members of Troop 2001 canoe down the peace river in December 2019. (Photo: Courtesy of Dan Zurbrigg)

Maybe the Scouts didn’t get a badge for it, but members of Boy Scouts Troop 2001 certainly earned their November feature in the organization’s in-house magazine, Boys’ Life.

“I just couldn’t believe it. I was thrilled,” said the troop’s assistant Scoutmaster, Deanna Bickford. “The phrase that comes to mind is once in a lifetime.”

The troop’s December 2019 canoe trip down the Peace River in Southwest Florida will be featured in next month’s edition of Boy’s Life, which is available to youth members of the Boy Scouts of America and Circulates to about 750,000 people.

Boys’ Life Associate Editor Michael Freeman wrote in an email that Troop leaders reached out ahead of the trip, and he and his team were interested in the way the trip combined adventure, culture and scouting skills.

“Searching for fossilized shark teeth, visiting Solomon’s Castle filled with unique artwork and paddling nearly 20 miles on a river teeming with wildlife — it sounded like an awesome and fun trip,” he wrote. “In doing research about the area, we were fascinated by how abundant fossils are there, and Scouts discovered more than two dozen shark teeth in the brief time they looked for them.”

Bickford said the trip is something of a tradition in the troop, but they can’t always make it out for the weekend trip due to weather and water conditions. They launch on a Saturday morning, camp overnight, and finish paddling on Sunday.

Rylan Zurbrigg, a 13-year-old in the Troop, said he enjoyed seeing all the alligators and turtles on his trip down the river. The river offered valuable lessons, too.

“There’s going to be more than one turn in life,” he said.

Rylan’s dad, Troop 2001 Scoutmaster Dan Zurbrigg, said he was impressed by the Scouts’ performance on the water, and said the trip developed paddling skills and endurance, which will be important for other more intense trips in the future.

“I couldn’t have been more proud of the Scouts. And they felt proud themselves, realizing that they just canoed down this river,” Zurbrigg said.

Both Zurbrigg and Bickford said they distinctly enjoy watching the Scouts grow into leaders, and it especially taught the Scouts how to be flexible.

Boy Scouts is “teaching these kids that they can be independent and they can make decisions and people are going to listen to them,” Bickford said. “It’s still a wonderful opportunity for kids to learn about the outdoors and being independent.”

The article will also be featured online at

Andrew Atkins is a Naples Daily News features reporter. Contact him via email at [email protected] To support work like Andrew’s, please consider subscribing:

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