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Gregg H. Rox!
Silver Beaver Gregg Hilferding
Gulf Ridge Council presented a Silver Beaver award to Gregg Hilferding who works at in Florida.
The silver beaver is the top recognition a council can present to an adult volunteer, and I wholeheartedly applaud their choice in Gregg. Rather than duplicate it all here, you should check out ClassB's article listing all Gregg's involvement in Scouting. He has certainly set the bar high for volunteers!

Scout On
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Posted: 16:32 04-22-2014 1086
Without Bugs
SansBug sleeping tent

How bad will the mosquitos be at camp this summer?
When was the last time that bunkhouse mattress was cleaned?
Are there mice running around these floors at night?

Whenever a night is spent at scout camp, these sorts of questions might keep you awake. I've stayed in some pretty nasty places where I would have liked a little protection between me and the insects and vermin sharing the wilds with me. I know of a few young scouts just starting out that missed some great campouts because they were scared of the bugs.

A tent works fine, with mesh screen and floor, to keep the blood suckers at bay but most scout tents are 2, 3, or 4-person varieties. They take up a lot of space, weigh quite a bit, and are cumbersome. I know of a better idea for many situations.

I've just received a SansBug shelter to try out. It's a very cool automatic pop-up bug-free zone so campers can sleep in comfort! Besides being a small, light solution to the "can't sleep worrying about creepy crawlies" problem, it is a ton of fun to set up. All you do is Let Go - it pops itself open and you crawl right in.

The fine mesh of the SansBug lets breezes blow through but prevents bites, disease, and general pestering from all flying and crawling insects - that's mosquitos, spiders, ticks, bedbugs, and all their little friends. Not to mention snakes, scorpions, and lizards.

SansBug at Scout Camp

SansBug can be set up on a floor, tent platform, bunkbed, cot, or inflatable pad - wherever the scouts are spending the night. If your scouts stay in canvas tents at summer camp, the SansBug is a perfect replacement for the hanging mosquito netting you use now. Even if you are sleeping indoors, the SansBug keeps your tender skin completely isolated from whatever's out there.

At less than 2.5 pounds and folding into a flat 20-inch disc, it's very easy to pack - even one for every scout. People have used SansBug shelters in Thailand, Afghanistan, Haiti, and even Scout Camp! A church took 30 SansBug tents to sleep in on their mission trip to West Africa, for example.

So, what are the drawbacks of this nifty little invention? Well, it's not rain protection - but a tarp above it can fix that for outdoor use. If you open it in your living room with candles, flowers, and stuff sitting around your wife mom might get mad at you. It really does POP open.

I'm planning to hike at least half of the Appalachian Trail this summer - anyone want to join me?
I was planning to use my tent and avoid the shelters that have been built about every 10 miles along the trail because they are notorious for mice and other critters. Visiting with all the other hikers that use the shelters would make my hike much more enjoyable, so I would miss that.
With a SansBug available, I now have to rethink that plan. I could save a lot of time every day since I wouldn't be looking for a camping spot every night, setting up my tent, and taking it down in the morning. Just pop up my SansBug, throw in my gear and I'm ready to tell stories around the campfire until the mosquitos swarm - then I just hope into bed. And the mice can scurry around all they want.

Scout On
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Posted: 11:11 04-18-2014 1085
Scout Dies
Boy Scout Killed
Life Scout and his grandfather are two victims in yesterday's Kansas City shootings. It was saddening to find out about the attacks, and even more so when another connection is found.

One Scouter is assembling a package to help the Underwood family here, in case you would like to help.

If your unit would like to send a note of support to his troop, Reat Underwood was a member of Troop 92.

Send any cards to the council headquarters, care of Reatís family.

Reatís Family
Heart of America Council
10210 Holmes Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64131

Any donations need to be designated either for the family, or to a James West Fellowship.

See this page for more.

Scout On
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Posted: 12:16 04-14-2014 1084
Scout Tech
Scout Tech Chip
A BSA executive has posted his opinions on the use of smartphones in Scouting for Bryan @ Scouting magazine.

He presents that smartphones are tools that can be used, or abused, similarly to pocketknives. He touches on the problem of some of us old guys trying to force our fond memories of Scouting as youths onto the youth of today - without realizing their youthful view of the world is not ours.

I'm glad to see words like these from the BSA closely matching my view on the topic. Just yesterday, I was helping with the local high school Robotics team and noticed every single youth had at least one electronic device, most had two. None were playing games on them. They were documenting, communicating, planning, sharing, developing, and on and on. Oh, there were 3 scouts on that robotics team, too.

Sure, if there is nothing better to do, these electronics will provide entertainment. A planned program should carry itself and demand participation so there is no downtime with the need for entertainment. If "free time" is part of the plan, then electronic entertainment is just another form of fun.

The scouts in Troop 479 have been responsibly using electronic devices of all kinds for over 5 years now. Waaaaay back then, the Senior Patrol Leader and his Patrol Leader Council came up with a troop policy regarding electronic devices. Every six months, the newly-elected SPL and his PLC re-adopt the policy and it hasn't changed yet.
To support their policy, a Tech Chip training plan and wallet card were developed and are available for any other Scouting units to use or adopt. The Tech Chip directly addresses use of electronics which the BSA Cyber Chip leaves up to individual units.

The comments on Bryan's blog have been interesting. 4 or 5 years ago, 90%+ would have been against electronics and state that they are banned and taken when found. Now, it appears to be a slight majority allowing scouts and scouters to have electronic devices.

So, how about you? Care to share what your pack/troop/crew does regarding electronics at Scouting activities? It's a good thing to discuss occasionally as the cyber landscape continually changes.

Scout On

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Posted: 13:28 04-09-2014 1083
Win a Scout Ring
Joy Jewelers
Someone's going to win a Scout ring from Joy Jewelers in 5 days - why not you?
In March, April, and May, the Boy Scout Trail monthly give-away includes a custom ring, valued at $250! All you need to do is enter your email address on my Contest page for a chance to win.

Even if you don't win, you really should check out the Joy Jewelers scout rings - especially if you know someone looking for a unique scouting recognition item. They also have rings for Wood Badge, Sea Scouts, and Venturers - all of which can be customized.

Enter once per month to maximize your chances at winning - and make sure you enter your address correctly or your winning notification will be lost in cyberspace forever. And, we certainly don't want to add to all that cyberjunk out there.
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Posted: 14:36 03-26-2014 1082
Changes On the Way
2015 Cub Scout Changes
There have been a lot of comments on my Belt Loops page about the proposed 2015 cancellation of that part of the Cub Scout program.

The Academics & Sports program going away is just one of the changes we'll see next year. Change, even change for the better, causes a disruption in our routine. Many of us are comfortable doing things the way we've always done it - even if that way is not the best way. Routine is comfortable.

So, as you probably guessed, most comments do not favor the change. But, in 2016 or 2017, whatever the "new" program is will be "the way we've always done it". We'll get used to the changes and deliver the program, and my expectation is that the changes will be an improvement.

The retirement of Academics & Sports is just one of a big handful of proposed changes. Next year will see some relevant updates to the Cub Scouts, and 2016 will see the Boy Scouts changing.
Some updates to look for:

There's more. Check out this PDF for the most "official" info from Dec. 2013.
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Posted: 7:27 03-20-2014 1081
Healthy Scouts, Strong Scouts
ScoutStrong Patch

Does your Scouting unit include healthy drink, snacks, and activity in all its meetings? It's easy to do, but often lacking. Regular physical activity and healthy eating are two areas for improvement in most Scouting units, in order to advance that "physically strong" part of our oath.

So, the BSA has started a simple 3 step program to help units moving in the right direction. All you need to do is: Drink Right, Move Move, and Snack Smart. If your scouts are motivated by patches, they can all receive a free one if your unit tracks its efforts.

This new Healthy Unit program is aligned with the ScoutStrong program. I blogged about the ScoutStrong program 2 years ago.

Download this PDF file with all the details about getting your unit on a healthy path and receiving free patches for your effort.
HealthyKidsHub has more info and ideas you can use.
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Posted: 13:23 03-18-2014 1080
FL Patch Traders?

A Cub Leader in England left me a message. Tracey will be visiting Orlando, FL (I wonder what's there to visit? :-) ) in April. She has asked if any Scout Leaders in the area would like to swap patches and badges during her visit.

If you are interested, please email Tracey at:
straceydor @ A O L . c o m

Sounds like an opportunity to chat about international scouting and demonstrate BSA hospitality for any of you way down south.

Scout On
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Posted: 10:33 02-28-2014 1079
$30K Art Scholarship
art merit badge
As winter drags on, the snow keeps falling, and temperatures refuse to climb, it's a great time for scouts to tackle the Art merit badge.

I just found Doodle 4 google which might be a nice bit of motivation for some scouts to try their hand at Art. A $30,000 college scholarship and $50,000 grant for his school will be awarded to some young K-12 artist that submits the winning doodle.
The theme for the competition is: If I Could Invent One Thing to Make the World a Better Place... - the enthusiastic scout might also use this work towards the Inventing merit badge!

Entries need to be complete before March 20.

Scout On
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Posted: 8:30 02-21-2014 1078
LNT Master Educator Course

How would you like to camp in Moab, Utah for a week in September?

The Utah National Parks Council is sponsoring a Leave No Trace Master Educator (LNT ME) course with 5 focus options - Frontcountry, Mountain Biking, Backpacking, Rafting, and Horseriding - from Sept. 15 to Sept. 20 at the Entrada High Adventure Base.

This is an opportunity for you to expand your LNT abilities and become authorized to train more LNT Trainers. Every BSA council should be working towards having LNT MEs locally, so you might contact your Council Outdoor Ethics Advocate to find out how you can help.

See LNT Course page for details and registration.

Two of my LNT friend in Minnesota will be part of the training staff for this course - Lucky!
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Posted: 9:32 02-14-2014 1076
For Service's Sake
Scout Service Project

In the cold and wind yesterday, the scouts provided service to some elderly citizens in their community. We joined a church's project to rake leaves from the yards of seniors that needed assistance. It was a great excuse to be outside enjoying a fall day before the snow finally arrives.

The weekend before, I had the opportunity to participate in a Habitat for Humanity panel build day. Habitat constructs homes for families and have a very good reputation. To make construction go faster, wall panels are constructed in a warehouse and assembled into a house at the site.

I did this service as a member of my church, not with scouts. I would HIGHLY recommend every young man take part in any Habitat project he can. If you've never done it, you will be amazed at the skills you learn on a project - for free! I've put up walls, sheetrocked, painted, put on siding, used hacksaws, levels, power saws, palm nailers, t-squares, and the list goes on and on. All the safety stuff that goes with the work is also covered and professional builders provide direction.
Look for Habitat opportunities in your community!

One hurdle I find with Scouts and Service is the expectation of reward for work provided. When our raking service opportunity was presented to the troop, one scout asked, "Do we get paid?"
I thought about that for quite awhile. In our society, nothing's free. You work, you get paid. If someone helps you, you'll owe them a favor later on. This is shown to us often in movies and media. Seldom are we taught to do service for service's sake. Even many philanthropists get tax breaks, names on buildings, or some other reward for contributions. Friends of Scouting even does this - contribute enough and get a coffee mug, or collector coin, or artwork.

Remembering all the scouts in this troop have been in Scouting less than 6 months, his question was a good one. Do we get paid?
Yes, I believe we do. There is the easy answer of "Yes, you get service hours for advancement." But, I think that is a poor answer that turns the service into a job with a reward. As soon as scouts have enough service hours, they stop serving others.
The more meaningful pay is not instant, tangible pay and can be difficult to grasp.

My pay from Habitat included learning some skills that are useful the rest of my life. My community will have a new family owning their own home. And, I had fun meeting and working with members of my church.

My pay from raking leaves was that I got to meet Jane, a widow living in the same 1937 house since she bought it with her husband in 1962. I got to hear her story of adding an addition and having children grow and leave home. She got to see some Scout uniforms doing a Good Turn rather than trying to sell something, so her view of the BSA might go up a notch and she may share that with her friends. And, I got exercise, fresh air, and time to chat with a couple scouts with nothing else to do.

More than all those reasons, doing service just For Service's Sake is really the best reason to do service. When a scout recognizes that his time and effort really helped someone else, while receiving nothing in return, I think that is one big step towards being a Scout.
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Posted: 10:24 11-10-2013 1071
Big Wins

On my first campout with the scouts since returning from my hike across WI. We picked a cold, wet weekend but still had a good time making a trebuchet and launching tennis balls. With just 8 poles, you can build a very nice little launcher.
Food was the major chore yesterday and today. Here's a scout making pancakes over the fire. They also made bacon and hashbrowns while the rain turned to sleet and a few bits of hail.
It's important for us to keep expectations realistic for new scouts. I believe scouts can do tremendous things, usually much more then they think. Just remember that small steps of experience build their abilities so they are able to tackle the big things. Sometimes, just having the pancakes come out not burned and not gooey IS a big win!

A few people asked about the trebuchet, so here's a picture of what we built. Click it to see a larger picture. See the comments for a link to the plans.
Scouts only needed to learn the clove hitch and square lashing to create it. It's a good beginner lashing project.
A plastic serving spoon from a patrol box was lashed to the end of the throwing arm with a round lashing to create the bucket to hold ammo. At the troop meeting last week, some scouts volunteered to bring items to throw, but none followed through. :-( So, the scoutmaster conveniently had a few tennis balls, just in case.
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Posted: 7:55 10-20-2013 1069
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