Indiana State University Newsroom

‘Pike Patrol’ volunteers for Hurricane Irma relief

January 22, 2018

Fifteen members of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity (Pike) at Indiana State University assisted with Hurricane Irma cleanup during winter break.

The community service trip to Summerland Key in the Florida Keys was planned in conjunction with the Boy Scouts of America's Sea Base and the Indiana State Center for Community Engagement.

Pike created an adventure group the "Pike Patrol" through the Boy Scouts. They assisted the Sea Base with clean up from Hurricane Irma at the Brinton Environmental Center Jan. 4-11.

"This week was one I'll remember forever -- an experience that was truly unlike any other," said Elijah Gottlieb of Indianapolis, a junior criminology and criminal justice major. "I am grateful for everything that I have, seeing what I can do to help is now a priority."

The cleanup projects began at the Sea Base, as the Pike Patrol cleared debris between Highway 1 and the Sea Base and assisted in cleaning the Heritage Bike Trail that parallels the highway. Fallen trees and brush along with general debris were removed. Work was also completed within the base from debris removal to helping clean up rooms and get the base ready for summer programs.

The highlight of the trip for the Pikes was spending four days and three nights on Big Munson Island, an uninhabited Island approximately five miles from Sea Base. The Pikes cleared debris along the beach and helped dismantle and rebuild some compost toilet systems that were destroyed by the hurricane.

Significant time was spent in the kayak maze in the mangroves that had been blocked by fallen trees. While in kayaks, the Pikes cut limbs and trees blocking the maze. They then carried or dragged the limbs to a brush pile far away from the shore.

The island provided primitive camping for the Pikes, where they were able to be among the endangered Key Deer that pass through the campsites along with hermit crabs and raccoons known as "Vaca coons."

"This week was the most rewarding experience I have ever had! I learned a lot about myself and everyone I worked with," said Chris Bonahoom of Fort Wayne, a freshman automotive engineering technology major.

The Pikes were on break from Indiana State and dedicated the week before classes resumed to do service for others, particularly for young Boy Scouts who they will never meet. The Pikes slept in tents and hammocks along the beach and cooked their own meals. The Sea Base treated the Pikes to a morning of snorkeling in the Coral Reef.

All agreed the trip was a welcome change from the January weather in Indiana.

Photos: -- Members of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity (Pike) at Indiana State University clean up along Highway 1 and the Heritage Trail outside the Brinton Environmental Center at Florida Sea Base Boy Scout Camp. -- Pike members carry walls from a destroyed tool shed at the Wesumkee Girl Scout Camp while volunteering in the Florida Keys Jan. 4-11. -- The volunteers enjoyed snorkeling on the Coral Reef as their reward for a week's hard work providing hurricane cleanup assistance in the Florida Keys Jan. 4-11.

Contacts: David Peterson, student leader and president-elect of Pi Kappa Alpha,

Al Perone, associate dean of students, university chaperone for the adventure and faculty advisor, Indiana State University,

Scott Martin, program director, Florida Sea Base, Brinton Environmental Center,
Boy Scouts of America or 305-664-5642

Michael Johnson, general manager, Florida Sea Base, Boy Scouts of America, or 305-664-5616