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A key requirement for us is that units need to use the height/weight limits when an event takes participants more than 30 minutes away from an emergency vehicle-accessible roadway. In our troop's case, that is often since we backpack, canoe, and other wild outings.
Our troop has a volunteer to manage health and medical form compliance. Keeping track of the changes and making sure everyone is up-to-date is a significant role tha I appreciate someone else handling. :-)
Challenge your Scouts
Whatever the temperature, cold weather camping requires additional training and equipment from the more comfortable summer campouts. It also might be a challenge to make a cold winter campout much fun since the cold can be uncomfortable. Some winter camping ideas are the usual skiing, sledding, or snowshoeing but those can get 'old hat' after awhile. A great solution is to hold a Klondike Derby for your own troop, other troops in the community, or your entire district. You don't really need snow to hold a Klondike - just modify some of the activities.
To prepare for and enjoy a simple weekend winter campout, here are a few ideas:
- Ice Rescue - troop meeting activity to prepare
- Winter Camping Tips - tips for your instructors to teach the newbies.
- Snow Snakes - patrols make and race their wooden snakes.
- Fox Hunt - tracking activity in the snow.
- Shaggy Dog, How Bear Lost His Tail, Turtle Races Bear, Origin of Summer and Winter, How Coyote Stole Fire - winter stories
- Hawk and Waterfall - a scoutmaster minute
- Ice Fishing - a funny skit
Challenge your Scouts
All current Boy Scouts and even most Webelos will have aged out by then, but it's sure excitng news. Scouts Canada, Scouts de Mexico, and the BSA will jointly host the jambo and that sounds like a great way to build cross-border scouting on our continent.
Has your troop ever travelled to Canada or Mexico? How about working on an international trek North or South in 2016 or 2017 to become pals with some Mexican or Canadian troop?
This troop distributes gear to each patrol to manage by themselves. Each patrol that wants one has been issued a dutch oven from the quartermaster. With a little training on clean-up and storage, the D.O.s make a huge impact on the cooking creativity of the scouts. They get more practice building fires, which also means gathering enough good wood and starting it early enough for the meal. They use more fresh ingredients and do 'real cooking' rather than 'warming'.
Here are ten of the favorite recipes from the past year for you to try:
- PECS - filling breakfast meal
- doughnuts - fun and tasty
- monkey bread - this gets made by at least one patrol on every campout
- apple fluff - another sweet breakfast
- pizza - easy to make, but requires a couple dutch ovens for a patrol or a lot of patience
- cowboy stew - make sure you've got a good can opener and some hungry folks
- burger beans and biscuits - great cold-weather dinner
- black forest cobbler - easiest dessert to make ever. Supply different cake mixes, sodas, and fillings and see which taste the best.
- burritos - much better than fast food burritos
- enchiladas - currently my personal favorite
Challenge your Scouts
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There happen to be nine troops within a 5-mile radius from my home. Scouts have a wide range of selection for the type of troop to join. When a Webelos scout "shops around" with his parents, he sees small and large troops, chaotic and quiet troops, crisp and scruffy troops, and hopefully one of those appeals to him and his folks.
I posted about competing scouts and warned about having a winner and many losers too often. Expanding the thought, what about competition between troops?
Camporees often have competitions between troops. A Klondike Derby usually has a race or challenge to gather the most gold rocks. These are fun, appropriate competitive activities for bragging rights and patrol/troop pride. Competition on this level helps scouts work on the Scout Law, especially trustworthy, loyal, friendly, courteous, kind, and obedient. But, outside of staged competitions, how should troops interact?
When troops compete for members, I think that is where we run into trouble. If you shower a Webelos with attention and trinkets and promises so he joins your troop, do you win? If someone joins a different troop, are you the loser? If you get 8 new scouts and the other troop gets 24, who's the winner? When the district report comes out and you have 2 new Eagles while the other troop has 12, who wins? The trouble starts when we get too caught up in the great American numbers game. To succeed, you need to grow. To win, you need to be the biggest. To be number one, you have to beat everyone else.
In Scouting, that is all wrong! Big is not the same as Good. Growth does not equal Success. Everyone really can be number one. Unfortunately, since the Boy Scouts of America is a big business, the "numbers game" exists at national, council, and district levels in the metrics of success. So, naturally, this seeps down to many individual units trying to earn the latest 'growth' recognition.
Wouldn't it be better if troops cooperated more? Heck, we're really all on the same team anyway. How can scoutmasters foster cooperation rather than competition between local troops?
- Know the other scoutmasters. Call and introduce yourself and ask if you can visit a troop meeting.
- Visit their troop meeting at least once a year. You can learn a ton about how well your troop is operating and you can pick up ideas.
- Offer joint-troop campouts. If their scoutmaster is game, see if your PLC wants to invite their troop to camp. This would be a good place for competition between all the various patrols of the troops.
- Invite them to participate in 'community-wide' rather than 'troop-only' recruiting for Webelos, such as a Scoutorama or "Meet the Troops" evening.
- Consider hosting a "Green Bar" or "Silver/Gold" party - all Patrol Leaders or just SPLs and ASPLs from all troops get together for pizza and then share Roses, Thorns, and Buds about their troops.
- Use your imagination - what other ideas do you have?
Challenge Your Scouts
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Have you ever purchased spoof merit badges?
I've looked at them and laughed at them online but was concerned the quality would be poor and they'd just be a waste of money. But, this past month the Boy Scout Store provided me with a selection of patches and they are great. My favorite is the one pictured here for 'finger carving'. :-)
My plan is to recognize scouts after campouts this year. Whether it's because they cooked a great dutch oven meal or were attacked by ferocious mosquitos or a few other occasions, I'm hoping the patches will be a bit of fun and maybe get a few more scouts to participate more.
Boy Scout Store also has Scout Coins which I started giving to new scouts last spring. They've been a very popular token with the scouts.
You're almost out of time to leave a Wicked Fresh Comment to win a gift card.
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- Finger Jousting
- Going Camping
- Hand Slap
- Hunker Down
- Kangaroo Wrestling
- Last Match
- Penny Pitching
- RPS Snake
There was a show on TV a couple years ago called "Kid Nation". The 40 child participants were divided into 4 teams for the duration of the series and they competed against each other. The show was kind of weird, but I found their challenges very interesting. Each challenge had a winner, but every challenge also had a second part - if ALL teams completed the challenge within a set time, everyone would receive a second reward. This second reward meant that every team still had incentive to do their best, even after the first team finished and they knew they couldn't win.
This is similar to a cross-country running team. We all run to be the best and win a race but the top 5 or so runners on each team gain points for their team. I may not be the fastest person on our team, but the better I run, the better our team places. I may be the 7th best on our team in one race, but the next race I might be 4th - there's always incentive to run my best.
Our team may not have an individual runner win a race, but our cumulative team score could still win. I know I'll never outrun the top guy on our team, and he has a jacket covered in medals, but I still contribute to the success of the team and I try to improve my own skills.
How would adding a 'group goal' to competitive Scouting activities change the dynamics?
- If there is a single winner, whether patrol or individual scout, once that winner finishes the challenge ends. No one else has any incentive to continue.
- If there are 1st, 2nd, 3rd places then the activity lasts longer but still only until the last place that receives a reward completes.
- If a group reward is included:
- every team does their best to complete the challenge until the time limit is reached.
- teams that complete have incentive to stay involved and cheer other teams on.
- support, advice, maybe even physical assistance from 'better' teams to 'struggling' teams can occur.
- competition and cooperation can happen at the same time.
Before January's PLC meeting, I'll be talking with the SPL about this style of activity for troop meetings. If he agrees with me to give it a try, I'll ask him to promote it to the PLC. Whatever race, relay, or game the PLC comes up with that sounds competitive for the next three months, he'll have them add a 'cooperative' goal to it. I think this secondary reward needs to be instant, affected only those in attendance, such as sharing a box of Oreos - something fun and immediate. I'lll let you know how it goes.
Charlie Brown would have been a good scout, I think. He represents boys going through those times when it seems nothing goes right, yet he refuses to give up. He keeps his sense of right and wrong, staying loyal to his friends. I don't recall him ever being mean spirited to others and often doing good deeds.
So, Merry Christmas to Charlie Brown and everyone else that stumbles across this page.
If you'd like to recover some of that $$$ you spent this year, take a minute to read this post and leave a comment there.
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This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tom's of Maine. All opinions are 100% mine.
Hey, here's a simple contest - Leave a comment about this blog post describing your most memorable Wicked Fresh moment and you might win a gift card. Read on to find out what it's all about...
Recently, it's been common for companies to market their concern for and effort to protect, preserve, and restore the environment. It seems everyone is 'going green', often in an effort to earn more business without a real commitment to the cause. But, there are a few companies that have had environmental stewardship as part of their corporate ideology from the start.
Tom's of Maine has been around since 1970 and are celebrating 40 years of offering wicked fresh products and supporting the planet at the same time. This isn't just a token support either. They do no animal testing. They use no artificial colors, flavors, fragrance, or preservatives. They use recycled content in packaging. And, quite impressively, they commit 12 days of each employee's workyear to volunteer efforts, as well as give 10% of profits to human and environmental goodness. Show me another company like this one. They even list all their ingredients and what they do on their website.
The corporate philosophy at Tom's of Maine is a key reason why I support them. Another is that I believe they have good products. Their Wicked Fresh! toothpaste works great, and is all-natural and long-lasting. It fights cavities and uses natural oils for flavor. A special, natural extract extends the breath freshening to last hours.
Follow up a brushing with Tom's non-alcoholic Wicked Fresh! mouthwash and you're good to go. I like that there's no alcohol in the mouthwash and the cool mint gives a nice kick. These are still 'smellables' so they go in the bearbag at night, but there's just something that feels right about using all-natural products when out in nature, don't you think?
Even my wife, who's been a staunch Colgate user forever is sold on the Wicked Fresh! toothpaste and mouthwash.
Tom's is using the Wicked Fresh! tagline for a great contest that you should take a minute to enter. It's a fun way for Tom's to give back as they spread the word. Just visit the That's Wicked Fresh contest page and tweet a wicked fresh moment you've had.
For me, my wicked fresh moment this year was standing on the 13,000 foot summit of Cloud Peak in Wyoming with my youngest son on a clear blue, cloudless day. The air was crisp and we could see the entire world from up there!
Go tell Tom's about your wicked fresh moment and you might win a $500 Target gift card or other cool, fresh prizes.
If you Follow @TomsofMaine on Twitter or Like them on Facebook you get additional chances to win in their contest. I've noticed Tom's folks are very active on both Twitter and Facebook, posting and responding to others' posts and tweets.
Now that you know what Wicked Fresh! is all about, leave a comment here describing your wicked fresh moment for a chance to win a $50 gift card.
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- You lean across the finish line winning the race, while the other guy loses.
- You get first chair trumpet in band and the other guy gets second chair.
- You make the varsity wrestling team, but the other guy in your weight doesn't.
- You sell the most popcorn and get the top-seller prize, and the other guy ...
- Looking out my window, I see first graders lining up for the bus. They run to be first in line, sometimes even getting upset and crying if they are last.
- Driving through town, I see people floor it so they can get past one more car and be first at a stoplight.
Competition is a key part of our society. There should only be one gold medal in an Olympic race; there needs to be state football champions; we need to have records for speed, strength, jumping, throwing, and all those ways we measure our physical abilities. I think this is good competition and healthy, helping us learn to push ourselves to excel and to understand that not everyone gets a soccer trophy in every endeavor.
We do seem to create unnecessary and unhealthy competition in many areas, resulting in a majority of losers and a select few winners, or at leaast a whole lot more stress when it really doesn't need to be that way. Does it matter if we win the church league softball trophy? Do we need to have the most Christmas lights in the neighborhood, or the biggest jack-o-lantern, or the best groomed lawn?
One of the aspects of Scouting I really like and try my best to promote and protect is that every scout can be a winner. It doesn't mean there needs to be a loser on the other side of the field - it just means he won. He met the mark. He set a goal and did it. He pushed himself and accomplished something.
The proponent and opponent in Scouting are the same - the scout. He drives himself to better his skills, develop his abilities, and overcome his weaknesses. There are some specifically measured marks in Scouting, such as completing 6 merit badges to reach Star rank or perform at least six hours of service to reach Life. But, the majority are subjective and relative to the scout's abilities and aptitudes, such as showing improvement for Tenderfoot or demonstrating scout spirit.
Can there be only one Eagle Scout in a troop? No, they can all earn that rank.
Can there by only one 50-Miler recipient, or World Conservation award, or National Honor patrol? No, everyone that sets the goal, completes the work, and turns in the papers gets the recognition.
These are all just recognition of accomplishments. There really are no 'winners' or 'losers' in Scouting. That is because there is no ultimate prize. There is no Lombardy Trophy. There is no gold medal. You might say the Eagle rank is that gold medal, but you'd be incorrect. Eagle rank is just another recognition which can be followed with eagle palms, national outdoor achievement, or Hornaday gold awards.
Implementing the eight methods of Scouting to progress towards the three aims of Scouting in a fun, exciting, challenging way is what Scouting is all about. A person never reaches a point where he is a perfectly fit citizen of perfect character, so a scout never reaches "the end" of Scouting. There is always room for growth, opportunity for more fun and challenge, and something new to try.
So, what place does competition have in Scouting? I feel that competition between patrols and troops is perfectly fine. It builds patrol spirit and gives scouts a tangible reason to practice skills. There are many ways to make competition fun for all, not just the winners. For example, having a recognition for first place but also a prize for everyone if all patrols complete the task in a time limit. That provides incentive to accomplish the goal, even for the least-skilled group.
If you notice there are often a few winners being singled out in your troop, you might want to pause and take a compass check.
Speaking of competition, tomorrow's post will include a contest for $50 or more - don't miss it.
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Oh no! We're out of matches!
Now what do we do?
It's a good idea to have a couple backup fire starting methods available and a better idea to know how to use them. They aren't all easy, but here's ten ways you could get a fire going - with a little luck and perseverence. The list goes from most to least practical, in my view.
- Matches - simple, cheap, easy to use. Diamond Strike-Anywhere matches or Wooden matches, instead of cardboard, dipped in wax and stored in a film cannister work great in all weather.
- BIC Lighter - as long as you don't crack the plastic container, these are cheap, easy, and usable in all weather. They are difficult for younger scouts.
- Ferrocerium Striker - very easy way to make sparks. As long as you have fine, dry tinder that catches a spark, you're good to go.
- Flint and Steel - the classic. With some practice, sparks are the reward.
- Fire Piston - a fun way to create an ember through simple air compression.
- Bow Drill - (also hand drill) With some sweat and perseverence, you get a lot of smoke and finally some chardust with a glowing ember. This is my favorite 'primitive' method and I have lots of room for growth.
- Magnifying Glass - also a clear ball of ice or water in a baggie can work. Focusing the sun's rays to a point on some good tinder starts it burning. Only useful on sunny days. You can use the concave bottom of a soda can too.
- Fire Plow - same principle as a bow drill, but takes more work and just the right wood.
- Battery and Steel Wool - in an emergency, or just for show, you can shortcircuit the battery through the steel wool which ignites. Not practical for planned fires, but will work in a pinch.
- Piezo-electric Igniter - these are in your gas grill and make a small blue electric spark. It won't get an ember going, but can ignite liquid fuel. Best for experiments, not fire lighting.
You can read more about these fire starting methods at Campfire Dude.
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