By REGAN DEVLIN – CENTO WRITER
JUNIOR SAM CLAGGETT REFLECTS ON HIS SUMMER DEVOTED TO SERVICE, SCUBA, AND SEA-BASE ADVENTURES
As part of his summer of service for the Centre Bonner program, junior Sam Claggett spent his time volunteering at the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base in Islamorada, Fla., a program for Boy Scouts of America located in the Florida Keys.
During his time at the aquatic program, Claggett worked as a coral reef mate for the sailing program, along with leading additional handson activities in the water. He learned how to scuba dive and participated in eight dives, one of which was a night dive. Claggett volunteered for 1,300 hours during the program even though he was only required to work for 280 for his Bonner summer of service.
The Sea Base is one of four High Adventure bases run by the Boy Scouts in the country. Claggett taught incoming crews how to snorkel in addition to basic swimming skills and helped prepare the members to go out to sea. Upon their return after two and a half days on the water, crews would have an activity day in which Claggett would also participate. Such days involved sailing small boats, paddle boarding, kayaking, tubing, and playing volleyball.
When reflecting on his personal scuba-diving experiences, Claggett emphasized the beauty of the coral reefs beneath the water and how special he felt to have experienced the wildlife, especially on his night dive.
“It was pretty intimidating at first because you go when the sun is setting. As the night goes on, all you have is your flashlight illuminating the floor below you,” Claggett said. “When you look up, all that is around you is completely pitch-black. It’s kind of eerie but also kind of cool to see the ocean at night. You [actually] get to see more wildlife.”
Also impacting his experience was his personal, one-on-one work with the Sea Base crews.
“I came in as a shy individual. But with each crew, you have to put yourself out there and be a leader with them [as well as] sort-of act ridiculous and have fun,” Claggett said. “I was able to build a foundation with them and with all of my staff members.”
Above all, the most-significant experience for the volunteer was the last night before the crews left, during which Claggett participated in a reflection with them. Though the scouts usually came in very quiet, he remembered that they left emphasizing that the experience they had at Sea Base was the best thing they had done in their lives.
“They were always really grateful and they had a great time. That [impacted me] because it meant I was doing my job correctly and helping them out.”
Ayla Butler, a friend and staff member of Claggett’s who met him at the Sea Base, reflected on her months volunteering with him as enjoyable and memorable.
“Working with Sam was a lot of fun,” Butler said. “He made working down there a blast.”
When considering Claggett’s work as part of Centre’s Bonner Program, Centre’s Community Service Coordinator Mark Addison acknowledged that Claggett is always a willing and impressive volunteer.
“You can always point someone to talk to [Claggett] about how to do things. He is already a mentor to others in the program after being involved for just a year,” Addison said. “He always knows what to say to others.”
Addison also speaks highly of Sam’s commitment.
“He is very diligent in terms of doing what he promises to do, whether it is service work or keeping up with the web-based reporting system,” Addison said. “He is also very attached to what he does. He absolutely believes in and commits to it very wholly.”
According to Addison, summers spent volunteering allow students to connect more extensively to that which they are passionate.
Additionally, students are able to work closely with those who share those same passions, mentors in these fields, whether they be directors, program managers, or otherwise, and can gain valuable experience in their area of choice.
More importantly, summers spent dedicating time to service give students opportunities for reflection on the work that is being done, which is ultimately very rewarding.
“You have time to reflect. You can go do your work and at the end of the day [without] worrying about doing homework,” Addison said. “You can sort of reflect on what it is you are doing, what things you want to improve [about yourself], and most importantly, why you are doing what it is that you are doing.”
In the near future, Claggett plans to volunteer at the Philmont Scout Ranch. Like the Sea Base in Florida, the ranch is another High Adventure Center for Boy Scout troops. Claggett will be doing work and participating in activities similar to what he experienced at Sea Base. Specifically, he will be leading crews, teaching hiking bases, and preparing scouts at the ranch to go out on trails.
To those Centre students like Claggett who are considering the possibility of dedicating their summers to service work, Claggett offers a few words of advice. These words to live by are some that Claggett has personally taken to heart as well.
“Do something that you enjoy and that you know you’ll get something out of,” Claggett said. “At the end, you will look at it as a rewarding experience and want to go back again.”