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Flexibility at Philmont
I just received the 2011 Philmont registration packet. It looks like the nice folks at Philmont are making an effort to be a bit more flexible with their height/weight limits for youth, and maybe adults.

From the packet:
"For participants under 21 years of age who exceed the maximum acceptable weight for height, the Philmont physicians will use their best professional judgment in determining participation in a Philmont trek.
Participants under 21 years of age are strongly encouraged to meet the weight limit for their height. Exceptions are not made automatically and discussion in advance with Philmont is required regarding any exception to the weight limit for persons under 21 years of age, whether it is over or under. Philmont will consider up to 20 lbs. over the maximum acceptable as stated on the chart, however, the exception will never exceed 295 lbs.

So, it's possible that a youth can weigh more than the limit and be allowed on a trek, but the trek organizer had best discuss it with Philmont well before hand.

Regarding adult height/weight, the document says:
"Participants 21 years and older who exceed the maximum acceptable weight limit for their height at the Philmont medical
recheck WILL NOT be permitted to backpack or hike at Philmont.

That's direct and clear to me. But, another statement in the document is:
"A water-displacement test to determine percent body fat will also be accepted in lieu of the height-weight guidelines.
Women will need to have a body fat of 20% or less and men will need to have a body fat of 15% or less to be qualified to participate.

That seems to contradict the previous statement. If I'm 72 inches tall and weigh 240 pounds, I'm outside the limits and I can't trek. But, if my body fat is tested to be 14%, then I can trek.

Well, it's not a concern for my 6-2, 175lb. body when we go in 2011, but I appreciate Philmont in moving away from a zero-tolerance sort of policy with the weight and being more creative in determining who is capable and prepared to trek.

Scout On

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Posted: 9:32 10-14-2009 452
Letter or Spirit?
Eagle Scout Suspended for having a tiny pocketknife in his car parked on school property.

Cub Scout Suspended for eating lunch with his pocketknife-fork-spoon.

Zero-tolerance policies are all the rage. The problem with "zero" is that there is no leeway and no way to use the brain God gave you with which to think. Policies set up with absolutes often cause a mess.

These two scouts didn't follow the rules and they both understand that. But, one minute of talking to the 'offenders' and any sane person could tell there was no danger to others posed here - anyway, no more than from the pencils, pens, backpack straps, belt chains, hair picks, rulers, compasses, protractors, ... and the infinite other potential weapons that exist at school and in everyday life.

The spirit of safety policies are, of course, to keep people safe. When those in authority drift from the spirit to the letter of the written policy, they tarnish their reputation and lose respect.

It happens in scouting too. Scouts are good at figuring out ways around troop policies and game rules. We just had a good discussion about electronics use at troop activities. It ranged from "zero-tolerance" to "whatever". Once the discussion clarified what our goals in limiting electronics were, it became much easier to define how scouts are expected to act with these tools rather than banning them.

We're fortunate. In the Scout Law and Oath, we have pretty much all the behavioral expectations set for everyone to understand and accept. Not much more is really needed besides that.

Scout On

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Posted: 16:22 10-13-2009 451
Adult Training Day
District "Intro to Outdoor Leadership Skills" training all day tomorrow at camp. I'm driving another trainer up to camp at 6am. He teaches Ropes-n-Knots to start the day at 8am and I end the day with Leave No Trace and then First Aid.
I've been doing these two sessions for the past two years now and they fit in perfectly with my LNT workshops and Red Cross WFAB sessions. I'm looking forward to some time with other scouting adults - hopefully pick up some tips and share some best practices with the noobs.

I just made a new "Scout Skills Jeopardy" board with First Aid questions for T-2-1 and will test it on the attendees tomorrow. It's a good demonstration of different (fun) ways to teach and review skills and knowledge.

That's a big drive over this winter in our troop - the new SPL wants to make it more fun and I want to focus on scouting skills. I just met with the SPL tonight and he's ready to go for his first PLC meeting on Monday. Exciting transitions!

Scout On
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Posted: 21:59 10-02-2009 450
Three Winners
Picked the September give-away winners yesterday.

Enter on for the October give-away.

Scout On

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Posted: 12:42 10-02-2009 449
Cheap Uniforms
If you're just the right size, you can get BSA uniform shirt, pants, and even socks for under $20 total! is really trying to get rid of their old inventory and have cut / hacked / slashed / obliterated prices on remaining quantities.

My size in pants is gone. :-( But, I'm telling the troop so the bigger adults and smaller scouts can get a deal if they need it.

Heck, for $1.62, it's tempting to get a pair of knee socks. :-0

Scout On
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Posted: 8:16 10-01-2009 448
Philmont Inflation
This past weekend, the PLC decided to add Philmont to the 2011 calendar so I was online checking for registration dates. If you want to receive a registration packet, you should send a request to now. It's also not too early to gather interest from scouts so you can request the right number of crews before the end of November.

I also found the preliminary Philmont fees for 2011.

Are you ready?

Are you sitting down?

I searched around for fees from past years, and here's the Philmont fee over the years, per person:
2004 - $475
2005 - $495+04%
2008 - $560+13%
2009 - $595+06%
2010 - $620+04%
2011 - $725+17% !!!

Ouch, I'm hoping that is a typo or else 2011 is going to be a pretty expensive trip.

Scout On
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Posted: 12:34 09-30-2009 447
Lazy Man's Court of Honor
Like many troops, ours has courts of honor every quarter - March, June, September, December. The September court is by far the busiest with summer camp merit badges, new scout advancements, and general end-of-summer finishing up of awards. The SPL and ASPL normally distribute merit badges and other awards, then, as scoutmaster, I'm up front talking way too much doing the ceremonies.

There is a requirement in the Communications merit badge that the scout lead a campfire program or court of honor. Usually, they opt for the campfire option since it's less formal. I lucked out and a scout needing to complete this merit badge for Eagle planned and ran the court.

So, I got to be lazy and watch scouts run the entire thing with not a single adult out of his/her seat, except to stand and applaud. I could really get used to this and would highly recommend getting your scouts to at least occasionally perform ceremonies, if they don't already.

Scout On
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Posted: 22:48 09-29-2009 446
Yet Another Eagle Leadership Service Project today. It was fixing up the playground at a local church. We've had a glut of projects this summer - actually 7 of them. The projects were at four different churches, a nature area, and two city parks. Lots of landscaping, painting, and building of outdoor furniture.

Today's project had a relatively small group of scouts compared to the size of the troop. It still went well, but I'm afraid Eagle Project Burn-out has set in. I've been warning the Life Scouts of this since July and the last one even gave out ice cream coupons at troop meetings to get guys to volunteer - smart scout!

Five and a half years ago, the troop had a great group of about 16 scouts join. Many of them reached Life quickly, catching up to the scouts in the two years ahead. But then they went into idle mode, feeling they had "lots of time" to get to Eagle. In 10th grade, a couple of them got in gear and pulled the other seven along in their wake and put the pressure on the guys a year older. So, now we have 18 Life scouts, 13 of which are Juniors or Seniors, all anxious to get Eagle. Makes lots of service hour opportunities and a good impact on the community, but difficult to convince scouts to set aside yet another day for volunteer labor.

We still have 3 more projects being planned before winter sets in. They are good projects, but will be extra challenging to complete with the short time left and tired out scouts.

I will be using "the Summer of '09" as an example of planning your project well ahead of time, for a long time. Acquiring volunteers is a crucial part of the project plan that can't be taken for granted.

Scout On

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Posted: 22:00 09-27-2009 445
Training Day
troop leader training Senior Patrol Leader elections were last week with an 8th grade Life scout taking the reins for the next 6 months. The troop elects a new SPL in Sept. and March - then a mad flurry of training occurs. It's pretty fun and the training of scouts is one of a Scoutmaster's main goals.

Since we have elections mid-September and the new leadership team takes over on October 1, we have about 2 weeks for initial training. And, it goes something like this:

We use the small Troop Leader Training package from BSA and give out position cards. But, we also include other topics that have been fairly helpful. The day lasts about 3 hours plus 1/2 hour lunch and goes something like:

The Troop Planning session has the SPL and Patrol Leaders deciding on activities for a 6-month period 12 months out and putting them on a calendar. This is following the 18-month calendar plan from the BSA so they are planning activities for next year.
Each patrol leader present volunteers his patrol to plan and organize one of the campouts.
They also brainstorm high adventure ideas for 2 and 3 years out to make sure we're doing the Philmont and SeaBase lotteries.

This planning session can happen any time in the first month or so, but the new SPL chose to do training and planning today. In the past, we've done training on a campout or at our meeting location. But, the scouts' favorite spot is my basement so I'm off to vacuum the cobwebs and shove the Wii into a corner.

Train On

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Posted: 6:31 09-26-2009 444
Say Thank You
The troop took a week-long trip this summer, having a great time exploring the Pacific Northwest. We ran into lots of different people, some just wanting to exchange money for a campsite and that's all, others enjoying life and sharing their little part of the world with visitors.

A few folks we met really made an impression on the crew by their helpful and friendly attitude. So, on the way home we had a discussion about how people make an impact, good or bad, and what we might do to encourage the 'good'. The scouts thought it would be nice to send Thank You notes to a few they remembered.

I bought some official BSA cards and gave them to one scout that volunteered to write the notes. He then brought them to a couple troop meetings to have all the crew members sign them. Then, I addressed them (since I had all our trip bills and paperwork) and included one of our troop nickels. The notes just finally got sent - about 2.5 months after the trip, but at the end of a busy summer for most of the people that we wrote to.

I'd like to think that receiving a thank you card might bring a smile or two. It also might make it a bit easier for the next troop that visits where we stayed. And, if nothing else, it gave our scouts experience in showing appreciation to others.

In case you were curious, here's some of the people that we met:

Don't forget to thank the people that help make the scouting experience special for your scouts. Lots of people do a bit extra and we certainly shouldn't take them for granted.

Scout On
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Posted: 16:54 09-23-2009 443
BSA Green Bag
The Scout Shop has another new item I'm compelled to mention. For just $.99, the BSA Green Bag gives you a handy recyclable carrier made of recycled materials.

I can hardly wait to see if it sparks any conversations at the check-out buying groceries. I also plan to get a couple for our new Leave No Trace troop trainer to carry his demonstration materials and props in. Gee, maybe every patrol can have one for carrying their dry goods on campouts?

Scout On
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Posted: 13:41 09-17-2009 442
Merit Badge Sash Pins
Last year, my wife got me the world's most useless Christmas present - a BSA Branding Iron (which, if you read the page, has a warning that it is not intended for children under 3 years due to choking hazard, but no mention of burn hazard ???)

But, I just saw that the Scout Shop has now made available possibly the most useful item ever - a Merit Badge Sash Pin
The scout pins it through his epaulet and sash to hold the sash in place - wonderful!

I've been looking for something to present to scouts at their Star rank presentation and this is it. Their sash is getting top-heavy and sliding to the front and this will be servicable and sharp-looking.

I expect it would work just as well for an OA sash, so I might get one for myself - I deserve it. :-)

Scout On
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Posted: 8:40 09-16-2009 441
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