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Survived Summer Camp
Man, it doesn't get any better than this!
I just finished signing a stack of Blue Cards about a foot high for merit badges earned at camp. We had excellent weather with few bugs and lots of sun - only one big rain storm and that was on Monday evening so it was forgotten by the end of the week.
It was great to see seven patrols running their own camp and how they improved over 6 days. You could hardly tell our 3 new scout patrols were 'new' by Friday.
The staff at Many Point do an excellent job of filling a week with activities and learning. They build the biggest bonfires I've ever seen and really have enthusiasm!
Things our scouts did:
- 5 mile Hike
- Archery, Slingshots, Tomahawks
- Rifle shooting
- Climbing tower
- Polar Bear
- Water trampoline
- Greased watermelon
- Water Polo
- Ironman challenge
- Canoe/Yurt overnight
- High ropes course
- Huck Finn rafts overnight
- Environmental Science
- Fish and Wildlife
- First Aid
- Mammal Study
- Rifle Shooting
- Wilderness Survival
Now, that was a busy week - I can hardly wait for next year! We've got two campsites reserved so we'll have a competition between two halves of the troop. And, we'll definitely give a bus a try.
Posted: 0:00 07-20-2005 25
Ready for Camp
Sunday we leave for a week of camp at Many Point Scout Camp. With the troop growing so much the past two years, we are taking 47 scouts to camp this year - 40% more than last year. 11 vehicles driving to camp and back - next year I believe we'll be using a bus.
Going to camp is an exciting time for scouts, especially those going for the first time as 19 of ours are. But, for the Scoutmaster, I've learned the time leading up to camp is awful hectic with lots of planning, arranging, changing, form filling, and re-arranging. That is followed by juggling, shuffling, accomodating, reiterating, and reminding. To tell you the truth, I'm really excited to get to camp just so its actually happening rather than planning.
But, if the scouts get there and back having no idea what went on behind the scenes to make the week work, then it was a success. I can't do anything about the weather, and very little about the activities they choose, but as long as I've got rides for them, payments made, and forms turned in then that's good.
This will be my 4th year in a row going to Many Point. The lake is clear, the staff is great, the program is full, the food is good, and the raccoons are friendly. I'll let you know how it went when we get back.
Posted: 0:00 07-08-2005 24
Knives and Knicks
This past weekend, a new scout was eager to earn his Totin' Chip. He had missed the previous outing where some Eagle scouts had taught safe axe, knife, and saw skills and then tested scouts before handing out the Totin' Chips.
So, I sat down with this scout and he showed me his very cool 75th Anniversary Cub Scout pocketknife. I taught him how to pass a knife, sharpen it, and care for it. He demonstrated that plus safe cutting, folding, and carrying skills.
Then, we moved on to the axe and talked about all the safety concerns and how we make a cutting yard on all our campouts. He showed me perfectly how to carry, pass, and use an axe.
Finally, we covered the same topics for a camp saw. He did just great so I told him he had earned his Totin' Chip and he could now use his knife and the hatchet in the cutting yard.
No more than five minutes later, two other scouts were getting to practice their abilities to administer first aid for 'minor cuts' on this little whittler! :-)
Posted: 0:00 06-24-2005 23
Return From the Wild
Both crews from the Boundary Waters canoe trip returned safely, worn out, tanned, and full of stories. The 14 scouts and 4 adults that made up the two crews explored lakes 1, 2, and 3 for four days in the same perfect weather we enjoyed on our local campout.
Many fish were caught and a couple nice walleye were filleted for dinner one evening. Lots of stars at night and a beautiful, blue sky all day made for a great time on the water.
Posted: 0:00 06-21-2005 22
When a Plan Comes Together
When I was young, my brother and I watched 'The A Team' and George Peppard's line of [I love it when a plan comes together] is just how I feel after this weekend.
The weatherman came through for us and I doubt we will have a better setup for camping the rest of this year. A little breeze kept the mosquitos away and nice temperatures made the days and nights very comfortable.
We arrived early and each patrol located a site, set up tents, and got organized. The Senior Patrol Leader had one patrol map out a short hike and lead the troop on it. On the way back, everyone collected wood and a fire was made.
A new snack was tried - Dessert Burritos
- and they were a big hit!
Many scouts learned how to locate and recognize the north star. The moon was so bright, we even set up a sun compass using the moon.
Saturday morning, scouts walked the trails after a big windstorm a few days ago and did a one hour service project picking up limbs and stick from the paths. We encountered some horse riders so we got to review and practice trail etiquette. We saw a deer and her new fawn right in the trail no more than 30 feet ahead of us. We identified a few animal tracks, some trees, and other wildlife.
In the afternoon, an orienteering course kept them busy for 90 minutes finding markers, writing down the secret word found there, and identifying a knot for extra points.
Fire starting skills were practiced after that with the new scouts learning about the 3 things needed for a fire and different ways to lay a fire.
A few scouts that had not earned their Totin' Chip got to earn that - and one proceeded to immediately nick his finger with his knife. :-)
The Senior Patrol Leader organized the other 14 scouts to prepare a big meal for parents and families invited to come out for dinner. After the dinner, dessert was Banana Boats
A short campfire entertained the guests for a half hour and then they left around 9:45pm.
The scouts did more skits and stories and ended the evening with stuffed apples cooked in the coals before bed. Most scouts left their rain flies off and enjoyed the stars and cool breeze.
Sunday included a nice breakfast, site clean-up, signing off of completed requirements, chapel service, and reflection. From my point of view, just an excellent weekend!
Posted: 0:00 06-20-2005 21
There are 52 weekends in a year. Only a couple of those will have everything come together for a perfect camping opportunity - temperature, humidity, cloud cover, moon, wind, and bugs. This weekend looks like it just might be the best one for this entire year.
It's supposed to be
mid-60s at night and mid-80s during the day with no clouds, 8mph wind, and 40% to 60% humidity. We've also got a bright moon, not yet full and the mosquitoes haven't gotten too bad yet.
So, 14 scouts in our troop are going to take advantage of this opportunity and camp! The guys up in the Boundary Waters must be having an excellent time, but those of us left behind (mostly younger scouts) are going to a local park for two nights of scouting. One Life scout will be taking on the SPL role which should be a good learning experience and everyone else will be doing activities to help advancement towards 1st Class.
I'm trying some new meals for the adults - Egg in an Orange
, Tuna Tortillas
, and Pig on a Stick
. We're going to try Dessert Burritos
tonight and Banana Boats
tomorrow after the campfire program.
Back on Monday.
Posted: 0:00 06-17-2005 20
Our two Boundary Waters crews of 7 scouts and 2 adults each are on their way this morning. At 6:45am, during a downpour that promised to blow quickly through, I handed off medical forms and a Guide to Safe Scouting book to the trip leader and watched them pack up.
Everyone was ready except for one of the two oldest scouts who had not arrived yet and was holding up departure. The one thing I tell all new scouts and then repeat many times is Don't Be Last!
I think that's a good goal to set since you don't need to be first or the best, but its better to not make others wait on you.
This afternoon, after 6 or so hours on the road, the crews will hit the water for 3 days of excitement and hard paddling. Man, I wish I was with them! :-) The forecast is for 80+ temps and lots of sun so they'll have an awesome time. The worst part will be the traffic for the first hour getting out of the city - that 20 minute delay waiting for one scout will cost about 45 minutes of sitting in traffic.
They have 165 pounds of food so no one should starve. A few scouts took collapsible fishing poles and high hopes. Everything is packed in plastic bags inside plastic liners inside Duluth packs. They are using an outfitter in Ely this year so no canoes are being towed.
Each crew has defined their own canoe route on lakes 1, 2, and 3 but they plan on asking the outfitter for campsite recommendations when they arrive. They'll change their plans as weather and interests demand but remain in the same general area. I can hardly wait to see the pictures.
Posted: 0:00 06-15-2005 19
Time to Breath
From the minute I unlocked the church door at 6:20pm to when I locked it again on the way out into a night of lightning and pouring rain at 9:05, I don't think I took more than 2 or 3 breaths. :-)
I believe every scout, every parent, and every adult leader had a form to turn in, question to ask, point to make, or topic to discuss - sometimes twice. In a troop that has mushroomed this year to 59 scouts, just a small bit of time for each person really adds up. My fear is that someday I'm going to run out of time before assisting everyone that needs something. I've been delegating off lots of responsibilities and the patrol leaders are doing a great job of running their own patrols and funneling items up through the SPL. But even if it is just telling someone they need to go talk to Bob or turn that permission slip in to Jim or download the form from the website, it all adds up. As our group of 20 new scouts gets used to how things run over the next couple more months, I'm hoping the need for these redirections will taper off.
We've got two crews heading off to Boundary Waters tomorrow bright and early and the rest of the troop heading to a local park for our first 'Parents Night' campout this weekend. I'll get some time to relax at the campout and hopefully just chat with a few of the scouts.
Posted: 0:00 06-14-2005 18
A whole weekend with no scouting - feels weird. :-)
The crews are preparing for their Boundary Waters trip so I've been passing out extra tents and backpacking stoves when requested. Other than that, it has been slow with the scouts pretty much ready for their two outings this month.
Our SPL is now at Pine Tree youth leader training camp for the week. When he returns we'll figure out how to implement what he's learned. This gives the ASPL a chance to run the troop meeting tonight so we'll see how that goes.
Posted: 0:00 06-13-2005 17
Old Scout Book
A Tenderfoot scout showed me a book at the troop meeting this week. He had been on vacation in Wisconsin with his dad and stopped in a book store. There, they found a 'Handbook for Boys' from 1949.
It was very cool to hear his excitement about having this old book. Plus, there was a bonus inside. While skimming through the pages, he found a half dozen old BSA cards with James Emmett as the recipient. There was a BSA membership card and a few more that I didn't get to check out much.
Now, this tenderfoot has a mission - he's going to try and track down James Emmett. He has the old troop number and town so he'll try to find them on the Internet and see if their historian can help. What a great project. I'll let you know what he finds.
Posted: 0:00 06-08-2005 16
Another Scoutmaster Conference
With our 21 new scouts in the troop this spring, it's been a lot of fun having the first Scoutmaster conference with each one. The energy and enthusiasm and expectations of adventure are sky high. It's interesting to see how some scouts 'get the program' right away and understand how advancement works while others take a few reminders and prodding to get along. With our Court of Honor coming up the end of this month, I'm hoping that all the boys get through their Scout requirements, but a couple might not get around to it.
When it starts getting tight like it is now, I try to check in with the parents to make sure they understand that their son should be calling me in the next week or two. One of the most entertaining parts of being a scoutmaster is the timid phone calls from new scouts and getting to tell them they did a great job taking the responsibility to call me. Every bit of encouragement and positive feedback makes an impact.
Posted: 0:00 06-07-2005 15
The FEEPs, Indians, Panthers, Alligators, Sharks, Cobras, Roadrunners, and Buffalo Bills patrols each cooked up an entry in the second annual Troop 479 patrol cook-off. Entries ranged from Eggs-in-a-Bag to Chicken Quesadillas to Italian Spaghetti.
We'll find out who won when the SPL and ASPL tally the votes from the impartial judges. Patrols were given points for Taste, Creativity, and Kitchen Cleanliness.
It was a fun event outside on a nice, clear, warm evening - great times!
Posted: 0:00 05-24-2005 14
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