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Home from Philmont
philmont bearJust got back from Philmont last night and wanted to share this picture right away. There really ARE bears at Philmont!
Our crew ran into this bear in a ravine with a creek in the north country around Pueblano - one of the dwindling wet areas for wildlife to get water. We were hiking up the trail when the lead scout saw the bear about 20 yards ahead and hollered "BEAR!". Of course, the excitement level went WAY up, but the bear just moved along the far side of the ravine while we waited.
Once he was well off the trail and across the ravine, we continued on. I was invited to lead the hike for the next mile or so. :-) About 10 minutes before this, I had commented that it sure looked like bear country with the water, shade, and plants.

Our second crew also got to see a bear in the Hidden Valley at the end of their trip. We heard reports of quite a few crews seeing bears this week as well.

There'll be more Philmont posts over the next few days as I work my way through the photos.

Scout On
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Posted: 14:50 06-30-2008 342
At Philmont - Offline
This morning, I'm in Colorado Springs on my way to Philmont with 17 scouts and 5 other scouters. We have the opening campfire tonight and on the trail tomorrow so I'll be offline for the next 2 weeks.

On this trek, we're trying out a new gizmo called SPOT Messenger. Take a look at it at When we return, I'll post a map of our route using the waypoints it tracks. The parents of our scouts have a link they can visit to see our daily progress. If you want to check on us, visit Our Progress over the next days.

Scout On
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Posted: 7:42 06-17-2008 341
Pyro Scouts
I know you have them in your troop, too. A few guys that just love to set up, light, and then play with the fire on every campout. For these guys, a fire can never be too big, too hot, too smokey, or too much fun.

Last weekend, we had one scout that squatted by the fire with a long stick for at least two hours while dinner was being prepared, eaten, and cleaned up by his patrol. He did take a break to grab some food, but that was it. Of course the stick didn't stay in the fire the whole time. He spent his time prodding, poking, and stirring the fire - in his own little world, enjoying every minute.

I've learned that these scouts are often not the outgoing natural leader types. More likely, they are quiet and curious. And, they tend to have more patience than others. So, to challenge them with an obvious reward, I bet them that they can't start a fire using some primitive means - flint & steel, fire piston, magnifying glass, bow drill, or whatever. The reward is that they get a great fire to play in and I might sweeten the deal with getting to be first for making their dessert burrito or other snack.

Next summer, the PLC has planned a 'Wilderness Survival' campout and I'm hoping they will include primitive firestarting as a skill - no matches or lighters, and no fire means no hot food. Our troop has a selection of firestarting methods for the scouts to practice. The Sparks Fly flint & Steel sets are really great kits for learning to make fire (they're $17/each for a dozen). Our scouts have had good success in making their own charcloth and then lighting it with sparks they make. Only a few skinned knuckles along the way.

If you've got pyro scouts (and I know you do) rather than constantly pulling them away from the fire, why not have them strengthen their skills by trying different firestarting methods?

Scout On
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Posted: 13:56 06-13-2008 340
Dangerous Weather
It was sad and scary to hear about the tornado deaths at the scout camp in Iowa tonight since our eldest son is off to Boy Scout camp for the summer. From the news reports, a scout leadership camp was underway so those scouts that were there would have been the best to handle the situation, assuming they were their troop leaders. I'm sure more details will be broadcast tomorrow and following days.

Our son is the Handicrafts Director at Many Point Scout Camp for the summer. He'll be there for 10 or 11 weeks, having a ball, but dangerous weather is always a concern. It's rare to go a full week at camp without at least one fairly severe storm - in a summer, the staff usually get hit quite a few times so they need to stay on guard.

Weather Hazards Training will be mandatory for at least 1 adult leader on every tour starting on January 1, 2009. The online training is available now and it would be a great idea to complete it as soon as you can - especially before your next trek, trip, or campout.

Scout On

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Posted: 23:35 06-11-2008 339
Deal or No Deal Scoutmaster
Deal or No Deal ScoutmasterScoutmaster Adam Hansen of Troop 421 chartered to the LDS - San Antonio 8th Ward - North Stake won over $250K on Deal or No Deal tonight. Congratulations to Mr. Hansen on his winnings!

The show seemed interesting enough for me to watch when I happened to see a preview showing a man in a scouting uniform. Mr. Hansen seems like a nice guy and wound up doing very well on the show as far as stopping at the best time, taking the money, and getting out.

I was very surprised when the MC, Howie Mandel, challenged Mr. Hansen to wear his scoutermaster uniform to continue the game and he came back after the break with it on. From the insignia, it appears to be his official uniform - red shoulder loops, World Scouting emblem, US Flag, "Boy Scout of America" over the pocket, Alamo Area Council shoulder patch, and 421 troop numerals. It even had a BSA neckerchief slide. So, I figure it's really his uniform.

So, why the surprise? Well, the BSA policy on wearing the uniform goes something like this:

Did this scouter get approval from the BSA to wear his uniform in the hopes of getting Scouting out in front of the public? The show was filmed in California and he came all the way from Texas, so I don't think the uniform was a surprise to him - it was probably brought along on the plane. Did he just collaborate with the show's producers and they came up with all this Scouting theme, or were higher-up BSA folks involved?

With the marketing drive going on for the upcoming 100th Anniversary, I wonder if we'll be seeing more 'exposure' like this to get Scouting out to the masses. If this wasn't planned by the BSA, I wonder if any reprimand will be waiting for that scoutmaster when he gets home. With $260K+, he probably doesn't care too much, but it would be interesting to hear.

As you can see in the picture, the models were also dressed up in scout-wannabe outfits. If you look closely, you can see that they are not official uniform pieces at all. There were no emblems except for the troop emlems which matched each girl's suitcase number which I thought was clever.

I did notice that the scoutmaster patch on the contestant's uniform was sewn onto his right pocket instead of on his sleeve - weird. I've never seen that one before.

One thing that did bother me watching the show was continually mentioning "for the boys" as if the contestant was raising money for his troop. I believe the MC, the contestant, his wife and brothers, and even a model used the term. But, when discussing uses for the money, all I heard was "new house". Well, maybe the scouts will get new tents or something cool.

Scout On

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Posted: 23:06 06-11-2008 338
Open Source Scouting
Have you heard of the BSA's Open Source Initiative?

Huh, me neither. But, after a 6 month development effort, there is a web site with a goal of being an Open Source Software resource for scouting units.

The main purpose is to help the Open Source community and the Scouting community work together to create software to meet the needs required to support the activities of Scouting. These needs include the management of volunteers, fundraising campaigns, and events which individual units now figure out and pay for on their own. With access to a library of solutions, the effort and expense for individual units should be minimized.

This initiative could drive huge changes within the national and local BSA organizations. If it takes off and gains support, there may be many useful tools created. On the other hand, if it turns out to be just the dream of a few geeks in the national ISD (Information Systems Division) of BSA, it may be nothing. I'll be keeping an eye on it just to see the evolution over the next year or so.

Scout On
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Posted: 11:39 06-10-2008 337
Checking Volunteers
I thought the BSA did a thorough check on guys like me that registered as volunteers. When a new parent completed their form and we received it back as 'accepted', I thought that meant the person checked out ok. But, as it turns out, prior to April of 2003, criminal background checks were not done. And, anyone that registered prior to that date hasn't had a one done on him/her.

I'm sure this isn't news to most of you that are more up on this stuff than me, but I found it interesting. All these years I've been a cub scout leader and scoutmaster, I could have had a 'checkered' past and no one would have known. All the adult volunteers that have been running troops and packs for more than 5 years have not had a criminal background check done.

So, I got a nice letter from Mr. Mazzuca, the Chief Scout Executive, on Saturday. It explained the situation and asked me to help him make the BSA program more secure by providing personal information and giving the BSA permission to do a criminal background check. Since I thought it had already been done, I didn't have a problem with the request and, as a matter of fact, have already completed the process.

Those adult volunteers in the BSA that do not complete the request for private information by August 1, 2008, will be dropped from the BSA. If they want to volunteer again, they'll need to fill out a new volunteer registration - which requires giving permission for a criminal background check. So, either you get checked out, or you get kicked out. I expect some folks will be up in arms about the intrusion, but I'm all for it. The only concern I have is trsuting the capabilities of the website designers that created the site and database that will hold our information.

After August, I can be confident that any adult my son is interacting with in the BSA has had a thorough check done on him/her - which is what I've believed from the start. From my view, we're just catching up to what it should be anyway.

I also hope every unit receives a report before September informing them of which adults have been dropped so they don't hang around in any 'unofficial' capacity.

Scout On

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Posted: 15:05 06-09-2008 336
Permanent Jamboree Site Search
The Boy Scouts of America are searching for a place to call home - or at least for the National Jamboree to call home. The Jamboree has taken place the past seven times at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia and will be there again in 2010, but a permanent, BSA-owned facility is the goal as part of the big 100th Anniversary push.

Some of the requirements for this little chunk of America are:

From the requirements, I'd place my bets on land somewhere in Utah, probably just west of Salt Lake City.

The hope is to have all proposals submitted by July 11 and a site chosen by the end of 2008. The next National Jamboree would be held there starting in 2013 and the facility would be a permanent site used for ongoing leadership development programs and high adventure programs. Maybe even a future World Scout Jamboree could take place there.

So, if you've got a few thousand acres of nice land that you're tired of, give Bob Mazzuca a call. :-)

Scout On
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Posted: 16:23 06-06-2008 335
Scouting Anniversary Coins
Boy Scout 100th Anniversary coinWith the 100th Anniversary of the BSA coming up in 2010, a commemorative Boy Scouts silver coin will be issued. The House of Representatives passed H.R. 5872, an act "To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the centennial of the Boy Scouts of America, and for other purposes."

Now, the Senate will pass the bill and the President will sign it into law. The bill has overwhelming support and will most likely pass into law easily.

H.R. 5872 is officially entitled the Boy Scouts of America Centennial Commemorative Coin Act and calls for 350,000 silver $1 coins to be minted in 2010. The collector coin would contain 90% silver and 10% copper.

Interestingly, $10 from the sale of each coin will go to the BSA which could result in $3.5 million in funds to the organization.

And, with virtually everything related to the Boy Scouts, there certainly is a differing opinion out there.

Boy Scout Anniversary coinLast year, in 2007, a 50p commemorative coin was issued by the Royal Mint in England to recognize the 100th anniversary of the world scouting movement.
Scouting was begun in England in 1907 by Lord Baden-Powell and quickly spread around the world.
Many other countries have issued coins to honor the Scouting Movement as well.

Scouting Anniversary coinThis Turkish Scouting coin recognizes Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. There were only 5000 of them minted.

Australia is celebrating their Scouting centenary this year in 2008. The country has actually declared 2008 to be the Year of the Scout.Boy Scout Anniversary Australia

To keep the party rolling along, the Aussies have quite a selection of souvenirs. The Australia Post has issued three cool scouting stamps.

The Royal Australian Mint has issued this $5 commemorative coin, $10 commemorative coin, $.50 commemorative coin, and a $1 circulatory coin.

You can read more about the coins, including prices and volumes minted. The commemorative coins have very low volumes, making them quite valuable.

Scout On
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Posted: 15:02 06-05-2008 334
Returnable Propane Alert
We do everything in patrols in our troop so the largest bottles we use are the small disposable ones but I know a number of troops around our area use 20lb propane bottles for their cooking at summer camp.

The National Propane Gas Association has issued an alert to warn folks about inspecting the propane bottles they get when exchanging them at refill stations. It seems propane cylinders are being used in the manufacturing of Meth to store anhydrous ammonia. This can corrode the brass and possibly cause an explosive failure.

So, be sure to check propane cylinders you pick up for camp. See NPGA Alert for details.

Scout On Safely
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Posted: 12:17 06-04-2008 333
Eagle Gift
Our latest Eagle scout had his ceremony this past Sunday. It was a practically perfect affair with many scouts involved with short lines, all correctly memorized. Everything went off without a hitch, including the 10-minute video of the scout's career, lighting of a table full of candles of all shapes and colors, and food and cake served afterwards. It was all really very nice.

For my part, as scoutmaster, I had way too much script to read but I plugged ahead. I'm used to a scoutmaster minute rather than a scoutmaster 5- or 10-minute. :-) But, it was fun.

As a gift for the Eagle, I whittled the troop numerals and the scout's initials into a fire piston kit. The stain I used made it too dark to see very well in the picture. The kit is from and is a completely working fire piston ready to carve or finish however desired. My plan is to custom carve one for every new Eagle coming out of our troop.

In case you didn't know, a fire piston is a waaaaay cool way to demonstrate fire starting. With just air pressure, a bit of tinder ignites almost magically. It's more work than a BIC lighter, but a lot more fun and there's always a few scouts wanting to try it.

If you're looking for something interesting to get a scout advancing in rank or one that is in to fire, check out fire pistons. I'm hoping to improve my carving as I do more of them.

Scout On
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Posted: 23:56 06-03-2008 332
What's in a Domain Name?
As most folks know, the official BSA national website is at which is a great domain name for the organization. But, in the Internet world, good domain names can be bought and sold for hundreds and thousands of dollars. Just think of an interesting name such as or and it's probably already registered. And, there's a good chance it is just a place holder, reserved by someone hoping to sell the domain name instead of actually create a site with any value to it.

That's why it's pretty cool that a fella named John Hall has donated the domain names of and to the BSA. Those URLs now redirect to the site that has this press release.

Mr. Hall could have sold those domain names for a lot of money, but he chose to give them to the BSA. This simple action will benefit many people that are looking for the BSA site and search for a match. Instead of being sent to some garbage site, they'll actually get to the right destination.

There are many different ways people can support the scouting movement. I think this action by Mr. Hall demonstrates that the breadth and depth of our impact is only limited by our imagination and resourcefulness.,,,, and other names all wind up at but there are quite few others that are interesting to check out just to see where they go:
- redirects to - a football site.
- is a holder page, waiting to be purchased. So is,, and lots of other
- is used by Pack 474 in Wauwatosa, WI.

Also, if you didn't know is the home of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

Scout On
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Posted: 14:34 05-30-2008 331
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