Lock-in at Baltimore Aquarium


Identifier: 20051104-Baltiomore Aquarium
Purpose of outing: Overnight Lock-in and Science Center visit
Advancements: Fish and Wildlife Merit badge
Mode of travel: Car
Planning horizon: 6 months (spring request for space in November)
Capacity: 65
Fees: $65 per scout, $70 per adult
Distance: 59 mi, 75 min
Location: Inner Harbor Baltimore, MD
Contact: Troop 1501
Dates: 2005-11-04 - 2005-11-05
Description: The National Aquarium in Baltimore sponsors sleepovers at the aquarium several times a year for Boy Scouts. Since the number of scouts is limited to 65 participants, we got on a waiting list in the spring. We were contacted in September 2005 with notification that we were allotted 25 scout slots and 4 adult slots (originally we had requested a total of 30 slots). The scouts arrived at the church at 4:15pm and departed around 4:45pm. Traffic was heavy, and we arrived at the aquarium at 7:00pm. Scouts had dinner (which was pre-arranged and included in price of trip) at the café, then went to underwater viewing area to watch the night dive. Cathy H., a volunteer diver at the aquarium arranged for a special night dive for the scouts. This was an addition to the regular schedule, but the boys enjoyed the opportunity to watch the rays, turtle and shark being fed. Cathy also took underwater photos and got shots of the boys thru the glass. Scouts then took a private tour of the entire aquarium with Ed Carlson, one of the volunteers at the aquarium who was in charge of our group for the overnight. Ed provided a lot of extra information about the different exhibits. Scouts also got to go on catwalk over the shark tanks to see them from above. Scouts were taken behind the scenes to the food preparation area where Mrs. Hamilton explained what is involved in feeding the animals in the ray tray and the Atlantic Coral Reef. At approximately 10:30pm, scouts were taken to a classroom where they were provided a late-night snack (included). Then it was time to settle in for the night. Some groups slept in the dolphin viewing area (although curtains were closed so no viewing was possible). Our scouts slept on the 2nd floor of the aquarium. 6:30am came early, and the scouts packed gear and headed downstairs to the breakfast area. Breakfast (included) featured cereals, yogurt, muffins, donuts, bagels, juice, hot chocolate, coffee and tea. Everyone had plenty to eat. Next, the scouts headed up to the Maryland and Chesapeake Bay exhibits, where they were able to complete 1/2 of the Fish and Wildlife Merit badge. The aquarium provided lots of information on fish and wildlife management and conservation. 23 of the 24 scouts (one scout already had the MB) were able to complete 4 of the 8 requirements for the badge. Then everyone was taken on a tour of the Amazon Forest portion of the aquarium. At 9:00am, scouts left the aquarium and headed outdoors for some sunshine and free time before the Maryland Science Center opened. It was a beautiful morning and the boys enjoyed being on the inner harbor. The Maryland Science Center opened at 10am, and the boys spent approximately 2 hours in buddy teams exploring the hand-on science exhibits and learning about everything from the human body to the solar system. After leaving the Science Center, everyone went to the food court in the near-by mall and had lunch from a variety of vendors. Scouts left Baltimore around 2:15pm and returned at approximately 3:30pm. All scouts then participated in the first part of Scouting for Food.
Assessment: 1. Unique opportunity for the scouts to see the aquarium when it is closed to the public. 2. Mattresses were a good idea, because the floor of the aquarium was pretty hard, although it was carpeted. 3. Traffic is heavy on Friday night, and it would be difficult to arrive much sooner than we did. Because we arrived 30 minutes late, the scouts missed the Dolphin Trainer talk. 4. Because there wasn’t any itinerary provided, adults decided to do the Fish and Wildlife MB for the boys so they would have the opportunity for scouting as well as a good time learning about the aquarium. This MB may end up being offered in the future through the aquarium. 5. This event was costly because it included the overnight, dinner, and entrance to the Science Center. This cost didn’t seem to be a restricting factor since it hadn’t been done before and scouts were eager to participate in the event. 6. This is a good event, but probably should be done every other year so as not to get “old” or tiresome for the scouts. It was unique and fun, and the scouts enjoyed the event.