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Let's Be Careful Out There
When teaching Outdoor Leadership Skills for new scoutmasters, I try to drive home the Buddy System. I often say that I've not heard of TWO scout getting lost, it's always ONE that gets in trouble.

Now, I can't say that any more. Here are reports of two scouts, an adult leader, and even an entire crew of scouts getting lost in the past few days.

As you prepare to enjoy the outdoors this summer, please take time to really prepare!
Some important reminders:

In the News:

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Posted: 7:44 06-27-2010 506
Hiking merit badge
hiking merit badge I'll be taking two crews into the Cloud Peak wilderness of Wyoming this summer to experience some changes in attitude brought on by changes in altitude.

To prepare, the scouts have made a schedule of practice hikes and the two crew leaders have agreed on a minimum participation expected of each scout. Since we're hiking so much anyway, five scouts have started the Hiking merit badge. I love this badge! It's a great way to get guys out and moving for at least 70 miles over the summer.

We've got nine 10-mile hikes planned and we just completed one this morning. It's up to each scout to decide which hikes he'll go on and make his Trip Plan for each one and a Trip Report after each. Our 20-miler will be done after our trek to WY.

The scouts are using a great little tool at GMap Pedometer to lay out, save, and distribute their hike route. I get to see that it is safe and we all know right where we're going.

On our next hike, I'm going to take our SPOT Messenger so parents can monitor our progress and see when we're close to 'home'. I'll also send out an "OK" message about 20 minutes from the end so parents are at the pick-up spot on time. It's just practice for when we go on our real trek, and a fun use of technology.

See Hiking merit badge page for requirements and Trip Plan template.

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Posted: 15:50 06-19-2010 505
NHP Award - anyone, anyone?
In our troop, we've recently had one patrol earn the National Honor Patrol award. The small star patch stands out nicely next to their patrol emblem and I get the impression they are quite proud of their accomplishment.

Since they earned it, a few other patrols have been motivated and started on their 3-month effort but none have completed the requirements. The dedication to completing the few requirements has just not come around. I really encourage them to track their progress using this page, but the service and patrol meeting requirements usually fall short.

A scouter just asked me about the prevalence of this award, so I'd like to ask you all about it's popularity in your troop. If you would, please leave a comment about patrols in your troop:
  1. patrol(s) earned this award
  2. started but did not complete the requirements
  3. no interest in it

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Posted: 22:06 06-08-2010 504
LNT Online Training
Minimizing our impact in the wilds should be a goal of each scout whether at scout camp, on a high adventure, or a short hike.

The Leave No Trace outdoor ethics are seven principles by which we can help direct our actions. An LNT Awareness Workshop is the most basic level of LNT training and everyone involved in scouting really should complete a workshop - contact your council "Outdoor Ethics Advocate". See Advocate Description (Word doc) or BSA LNT Program Enhancements for details on LNT in the Scouting program.

Now, there is an online training course available for you to learn or review the basic LNT principles. Once you complete the course, you can print a certificate. Take the course at Course. Participating in a workshop is much more fun, interactive, and interesting, but using the online course to get the basic knowledge is a good start.

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Posted: 8:07 06-08-2010 503
BSA Bans Alcohol

These and many more restrictions can be found in the BSA Policy on Use of Chemical Fuels

Also, that way cool cross-over ceremony for Webelos where you burn a neckerchief is against the rules - see this alert on

I suppose the troops that still ignore the policy that paintball is prohibited in Scouting will probably ignore these policies as well.

There are some policies in place that may seem silly, but as long as they are there and we're aware of them, we should follow them. Working towards changing those policies is a better course of action than simply ignoring them.

"If I know it's not right, it must be wrong."

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Posted: 20:52 05-28-2010 502
What a Shame
We all know there is an oil spill in the Gulf. We all know it is still not plugged. It's been a month and it's no longer such big news, but more of an ongoing problem. It's sad how we get used to something so quickly.

Don't think oil down south will just mean higher priced gas for you. This disaster is affecting you in many other ways. We have three crews schedule to attend Seabase next month. Their trips may be cancelled if the oil isn't contained.

If you want to see what's actually happening, just take a look at this Live WebCam of the oil billowing from the break. While you are reading this post, more and more gallons of oil are escaping from underground into the ocean waters.

So, what can be done? Well, there are many ideas being tossed around. Here's a few:

These are ideas for cleaning up the spilled oil. Until the break is stopped, all the clean up in the world won't make a difference. I hope the attempts to stop it work this week - not much more to do but hope right now. But, remember this when it comes time to decide on more stringent prevention requirements in the near future.

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Posted: 11:57 05-26-2010 501
Next World Jamborees
Next year will be the 22nd World Scout Jamboree and will be held in Rinkaby, Sweden.

But, do you know where the 23rd and 24th Jambos will be held?

In 2015, the 23rd World Scout Jamboree is scheduled for Kirarahama, Japan.

In 2019, the 24th World Scout Jamboree will be held at The Summit in West Virginia - BSA's new high adventure base. This was announced by Tico Perez recently, not just that it was being worked on, but that it would happen. Of course, things can change.

Since 2019 is nine years away current Bear, Wolf, and Tiger Cubs are the most probable participants. It's not too early to have a Scoutmaster talk about this global event at one of your year-end Pack meetings and have scouts start saving their nickels and quarters. It's a great far-distant goal that will creep closer while keeping young scouts motivated to progress. A tiger den that makes a pact to attend the World Jambo together nine years from now - wouldn't that be cool?

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Posted: 11:17 05-10-2010 500
When I say "Scouts", you Say ...
The next time you are at church, or chatting with friends, or right now at work, ask a few people individually what they think of when you say "Boy Scouts". Then ask them how have they interacted with scouts - that is, when have they ever talked to, worked with, or engaged a scout?

Go ahead, ask someone a few cubicles over if you're at work. Then, post your results here if you have a minute to share.

I did this and the majority of average joes (from my highly scientific study) just interact with scouts when they come around selling something. When you say "Boy Scouts", they think of helping others, good deeds, camping, and all that - but they don't see it in action. What they really see is our fundraising efforts. :-(

Tomorrow, our troop has a couple dozen guys cleaning up the outdoors area of the church. We'll work with other folks in the congregation so that will be good. But we really need to toot our horn more - not for the recognition, but so the community knows we're out here doing good things. AND, we need to do more good things, more often.

We've got a few community service works we do each year: clean the veteran's cemetary, visit with a senior citizens' home, and clean the church. We also do other service as opportunities arise, as well as a handful of eagle projects each year.

Our troop will be lowering the flag at Mt. Rushmore on July 31 this summer. That will be a little bit of exposure, I guess. :-) If you happen to be there, say 'howdy'.

One way our troop tries to promote scouting to the community is to have the Troop Historian submit at least two articles to the local newspapers each 6 months. Including pictures really helps, too.

Do you have any suggestions/ideas/tricks to get scouting recognized in your community?

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Posted: 12:25 05-07-2010 499
Auction of Scout Founder's Hat
You can purchase Lord Baden-Powell's scout hat tomorrow only. It's being auctioned in England.
Something nice to go with that Centennial dollar you bought last month.

Click Here

Sure wish the dude would stop rubbing the hat so much if he's expecting someone to buy it. :-)

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Posted: 9:50 05-05-2010 498
Lost and Found
Another Eagle was recognized last month. I took his fire piston gift along on spring break so I'd get some more whittling done on it. When I got home, it was nowhere to be found. Oh great, it's sitting someplace between here and Switzerland!

I searched everywhere and was nearly resigned to start a new one for him, but I was sure I had packed it for the trip home. The next day, I was gathering my gear for our campout - sleeping bag, pad, pants, hat, boots. Huh, what's that in my boot? Yep, I shoved the fire starter in there so no space was wasted in packing. :-)
Well, that saved me a few blisters of extra knife work.

They say, "It's always in the last place you look." Of course, once you find it, you stop looking. But, there's two reasons it might not be in the last place you look:
  1. You get greedy and hope to find more of it so you keep looking, but there isn't any more.
  2. You give up without finding it.

I think we reach both those endpoints often.

We have a success and instead of being satisfied, we try to get more - whether that's money, recognition, awards, high score, or whatever the treasure is that interests us. That's ok as long as we realize that our last attempt will probably be a failure. Very few people actually "go out on top", stop participating when they are in their top form.

Giving up without finding it is more common, I think. Rather than persevering to figure out a great solution, we might do just enough to get something working. Instead of working on that flint-n-steel until finally catching a spark and coaxing the ember to flame, we say that's too much work and not really a needed skill. If the answer, or skill, or reward is not immediately and obviously obtainable, we move on to some other interest.

Perseverence isn't in the Scout Law, but it certainly is necessary to be successful.

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Posted: 15:50 05-04-2010 497
Training, Training, Training
I've been offering Red Cross CPR and First Aid training to scout groups for the past four years. I figured it would be a good way to improve my skills and knowledge, make outings safer, and save the units some money since other people were charging a lot for the training.

The Wilderness First Aid Basics training has gradually gotten more 'popular' as the BSA has increased the requirements for it - both Philmont and Northern Tier now require a trained person in each crew. I expect Sea Base add the requirement for 2011 and The Summit will have the requirement. Even if the training is not required, having trained or experienced people on your crews and campouts should be a goal in your unit. The cost of training is a poor excuse for taking youth into remote environments without sufficient safety coverage for the most likely problems.

The BSA and ARC (American Red Cross) have teamed up to create a new course - Read Here - to replace WFAB. It's called Wilderness and Remote First Aid and looks like it will be fun and challenging.

This past weekend, I presented Wilderness First Aid for the 3rd time this year and will do it again in May and June. Every session has been packed full with a waitlist, usually 6 weeks before the session date. I figure it's mostly because I charge about half as much as others since it's not my 'real job'.

If you have a high adventure coming up this summer, it may be too late to get your required training. So, find out FAST what is required and how you can get it.

If you have a 2011 high adventure, it's not too early to start figuring out your training needs.

And, don't forget the Youth Protection, Safe Swim Defense, Safety Afloat, Climb On Safely, Trek Safely, and Hazardous Weather training which you should require all adults (and why not scouts?) to complete online through before going camping.

Then, on Supplemental Training page, there's about two dozen bits of BSA training that you might find useful.

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Posted: 7:46 04-27-2010 496
Dugout Dick
It shouldn't be too hard to find a Scoutmaster Minute in this story from Idaho. I lived on the Salmon River for a few years as a little kid and this kind of spirit of taking care of yourself and not expecting a handout is what every scout, pioneer, explorer, and adventurer needs to survive.

Death of Dugout Dick newspaper article.

YouTube of Dugout Dick

Besides, he looks a lot like most of us old guys after a week of summer camp. :-)

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Posted: 16:24 04-23-2010 495
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