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2 Week Vacation
Tomorrow we leave for two weeks of backpacking. We had a pack check-in and distribution of crew gear and food on Wednesday.
My pack weighed in at 51 pounds! After going through it two more times and dropping out shirts, socks, trail mix, and exchanging my sleeping pad, its now down to 44. I have a tent, 15 pounds of food, and other crew gear that totals about 25 pounds. Since I also have to carry a camera, medical forms, permits, ... it adds up.
We have a few sub-100 pound scouts going on the trek so they can't carry nearly as much but we have food amounts based on 150 pound people. I don't mind picking up the slack - my pack at Philmont grew to 65 pounds by the end of that trek. This time, it should get lighter, especially after Tuesday's lunch which is the first meal I'm carrying. I expect we'll probably have too much food at meals so I'll be the garbage disposal.
We have the rental van ready - it's white. Dry-erase markers are great fun to write on vans. You can really customize your ride and then it wipes right off. White's a good color for the prairies this time of year too. It's supposed to be 105 in Wall, SD when we drive through tomorrow!

The weather forecast for the Buffalo, Wyoming area is high 90s and 18-25% humidity with a low probability of scattered rain all next week. I hope they're right! We will attempt to summit Cloud Peak on Wednesday and that is forecast to be practically perfect.

So, I'll be back online in 2 weeks.

Scout On
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Posted: 21:01 07-20-2007 160
Backpacking, Anyone?
We have a crew of 8 scouts and 2 adults traveling to Wyoming to backpack in the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area, leaving this Saturday!
Last night was our last training meeting, reviewing map and compass as well as the first aid topics of dehydration, hypothermia, and altitude sickness. For us flatlanders at around 1000 feet, going up to 13000 can cause some problems.

This crew has done a terrific job of preparing for the trek! The scout in charge just got back from our council's week-long leader training course called Grey Wolf and he's done great work in organizing the preparations. We've done 5 10-mile hikes for the Hiking merit badge as well as 5 4-mile hikes. One scout located and reserved a campground for the drive out and back at Mountain View Campground. Another designed and ordered crew t-shirts online at Two more created the menu and purchased the food - they are doing the repackaging tomorrow.
We have our final pack check and distribution of crew gear tomorrow night.

For my part, I dried about 40 pounds of bananas, apples, cantaloupe, and strawberries in our dehydrator. :-) I also did a couple pounds of hamburger for adding to our spaghetti dinner - first time for that and it seemed to turn out great.

It looks like the total cost per scout will be about $275 for the 7 day trip, including rental of a van. That includes the complete cost for the adults, too. If you'd like a breakdown of our expenses, just send me an email and I'll get it to you when we return.

Scout On

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Posted: 12:51 07-17-2007 159
Back from Camp
The troop spent last week at Many Point Scout Camp. After one big lightning/rain storm on Monday night, the rest of the week's weather was practically perfect for camping. Waking up to see your breath in the morning and warming up into the mid-70s in the day. Just a little too cool for many water activities though.

This was the first year our troop has used the dining hall - we've always cooked our own food in the past. Wow! just like a vacation! No messy campsites, no critters, really good food, and plenty of it. It was so nice that the troop has decided to use the dining hall again next year.

The down side of the dining hall is that scouts can't take the Cooking merit badge and don't develop cooking skills. So, next year's schedule is including lots of cooking the other months to make up for it. This summer, the new scouts will not cook from April until the end of August which doesn't help their advancement.

Some scouts working on the Communications merit badge planned a terrific troop campfire one night with lots of new stories, skits, and songs. "If I Werent a Scouter" was the favorite.

The 15 first year scouts that attended camp all took the Leatherwork and Basketry merit badges with most of them completing their projects. Now, that's a lot of baskets accumulating around the campsite!

We also had a lot of scouts earn their Totin' Chit and a few earned the Firem'n Chip card. We tear off a corner of the Totin' Chit to start and burn off a corner of the Firem'n Chip. Then, any infractions result in tearing or burning off another corner - when they're gone, the scout needs to go through the training again to refresh his understanding.

The troop also learned a new, simple way to make rope so I expect we'll see that at a troop meeting some time in the coming winter. That would be a good Webelos recruiting activity, I bet.

Scout On
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Posted: 23:51 07-16-2007 158
Trail Built
Wow, that was hot! We had 95 degree days swinging pulaskis, mattocks, and rakes. The scouts put in 10 hours of work and completed about 600 feet of trail out of 2.4 million feet in the entire trail. So, we did our .025% of the trail. :-)

We drove to the trailhead and hiked in about 1/2 mile, following blue painted blazes on trees along a barely discernable trail and carrying our tools, water, and lunch food. The mosquitos and flies were thick, the humidity was high, and it was hot!

We were shown where the existing trail headed straight up a steep hill and the need to reroute the trail along the side of the hill to keep within the grade guidelines. Then, we spend the next two days cutting out brush, digging out rocks and stumps, and creating a trail tread from scratch. It was slow, hard work but we completed the reroute and cleared another few hundred feet of overgrowth.

The trip itself was a great time. After working until 1:00pm, we got to wash off in the cool, very clear waters of Bad Medicine Lake at the High Pines resort run by Ray Vlasak. Ray works in the Laurentian Lakes chapter of the North Country Scenic Trail Association, taking charge of completing and maintaining the trail in the area west of Itasca State Park.

In the evenings, with no planned program and tired bodies, we tried a lot of dutch oven recipes from Dutch Oven Dude and relaxed with a campfire.

This turned out to be a wonderful experience for a small group of mature scouts ready to work. The tools are heavy and smaller scouts would probably not accomplish much. I'm hoping to do this again in future years as a team-building trip before summer camp for the troop leaders.

Scout On
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Posted: 10:42 07-15-2007 157
Trail Building
Sorry for the lack of posts - we just returned from our family vacation in northern Minnesota. Another year without catching a muskie. But, my youngest son has gotten hooked on flyfishing so I have high hopes of him rounding up a couple guys to do the flyfishing merit badge!

On Thursday, we have a group of 6 scouts and 2 adults heading out for a 3-day trip of trail building on the North Country Trail that will run from North Dakota to Maine when it is completed. This is our first time doing this, so we are excited to see what we've gotten ourselves in for. At least, we'll each get a patch for our efforts. :-)
We're running it much like a trek crew with all of us acting as a single patrol. Since we have evenings with no real program, there's lots of dutch oven meals on the menu.
The various scouts will use their work hours towards different awards - rank advancement, Leave No Trace, and 50-Miler. I'm hoping it's a good experience and we have more scouts involved next year, and maybe someone working towards a Hornaday soon.

I'm afraid the posts will be sparse over the next month. With scout camp and two backpacking trips, I'll let you know how it goes. I hope you all have a safe and adventurous summer.

Scout On!
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Posted: 0:05 07-04-2007 156
Scouting Article has an article on Scouting, including bits about the upcoming Centennial, Good Turn for America, and historic items.

Nice to see some positive press for the BSA. The first reader comment is about the article - from there on, it's just the usual noise about gay/atheist policy.

Scout On.
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Posted: 14:11 06-22-2007 155
Merit Badge Survey
The official BSA national site has a merit badge survey for Scouts and MB Counselors. Please take a few minutes and give them your input.

Check out Merit Badge Survey

I took the counselor survey and read through the scout survey. It sure looks to me, from the wording of the questions, like someone is attempting to justify podcast and video production. Those are cool things, but I don't think they promote the adult interaction concept of scouting. I'd rather have my son converse with a real person than watch a video on the Internet.

Scout On
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Posted: 10:13 06-21-2007 154
Scout Camp CIT
CIT - Counselor in Training

Today I get to drive my oldest son to Many Point Scout Camp for a 5-week session as a CIT. He's been looking forward to this for a long time and hopes to be hired on for the second 5-week session as regular staff.
I see it as a longer-term opportunity to team up with other high-caliber scouts such as he met during his 1-week NYLT camp last summer. It's good to meet and interact with scouts other than those in the same patrol that you've been with for years.
He spent most of yesterday laying out his gear, checking it, and packing it up. I think the most important item he's taking is the small bottle of detergent! :-)

I'm giving rides to 3 other CITs from around the area so that's my Good Deed for the day.

Happy Fathers Day!
Scout On
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Posted: 9:18 06-17-2007 153
Philmont Wilderness First Aid Requirement
Are you going to Philmont in 2008? If so, be sure to read your Philmont 2008 Planning Guide closely and especially notice the requirement on page 3:
Philmont requires that at least one person, preferably two, (either an advisor or a youth participant) in each crew be currently certified in American Red Cross Wilderness First Aid or the equivalent and CPR from the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross or the equivalent. You must present current certification cards upon check in to verify this requirement.

I'm glad to see the requirement. It will ensure each crew has at least some exposure to self-sufficiency in an injury or emergency situation. Unfortunately, the requirement means an additional 16 hours of training at a cost of somewhere between $50 and $200 per certification, depending on where you get the training. So, you might want to plan that additional cost into your trek expenses. Fortunately, the certification is good for 3 years.

I'm an authorized Red Cross instructor of CPR and First Aid and will be authorized to present the Wilderness First Aid at the end of this summer. Hopefully, I can help troops meet this requirement and provide a safer high adventure environment.

Scout On!
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Posted: 20:59 06-15-2007 152
We've had an exchange student from Brazil staying with us the past few months. This past week had us participating in high school graduation ceremonies, graduation open houses, and an all-night senior party at which I got volunteered to help with security in the wee hours of the morning. So, sorry for no blog entries.

We have been doing some hikes for the Hiking merit badge, though. A group of about 6 scouts are working their way through the 5 10-mile hikes and trip plans. On Saturday, we'll do another one. These have been a lot of fun with a new location being explored for each hike.

Hey, if you don't have one yet, I'd recommend asking for a Boy Scout Fieldbook for Father's Day. It expands on information in the Scout Handbook and Passport to High Adventure. I'm asking each scout in our trek crew to read the relevant sections.

Scout On
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Posted: 17:15 06-14-2007 151
New Online Tests
Check out the Online Tests page for another First Aid test, Scout Trivia test, and a couple crossword puzzles.

Scout On
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Posted: 12:52 06-04-2007 150
25th Anniversary
Our troop just celebrated its 25th anniversary. Last fall, a scout wanted a leadership position to advance to Life but all the regular spots were assigned by the new SPL.

So, I got to use the "Scoutmaster assigned leadership project" clause in the advancement requirements. This scout took on the task of organizing the anniversary party while working with an adult volunteer. He found the location, ran a contest for the scouts to design a patch, developed an agenda, and organized the food and activities. About 7 months later, the party was a big success!

The scout did a lot of behind-the-scenes work, but he also got to speak in front of the entire troop a few times. I feel it was a great opportunity for the scout to practice planning and organizing before his Eagle project.

We wound up having a simple but fun lunch of sub sandwiches, ice cream in a rented cart from Culver's, soda, and chips.
We rented three inflatable structures - an obstacle course, bouncing cage, and bungee stretch. They were kept busy the entire 3 hours.
Each patrol organized a game or activity.
We invited Webelos too, but the local Packs already had their picnics planned for the same day.
This was a party and all family members as well as past troop members were invited. There was not really much 'scouting' involved. A few demonstrations or competitions of scouting skills would be an area to add next time, I think.

If your troop is coming up on a 5, 10, ... 75, or 100 year anniversary, don't let your troop committee define the celebration - use it as an opportunity for leadership for a scout or two.

Scout On
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Posted: 10:29 05-30-2007 149
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