Day 35: I got to visit Troop 342 in Ashland, WI tonight. I'm visiting my nephews and one of them just joined that troop this month. It's good to check out other troops when you can. You get to see what you're doing right, pick up ideas, and see that generally all troops are chaotic. :-) This troop's scoutmaster does things much differently than I do, but the scouts certainly have opportunity to lead.
It was great to see some 16 and 17 year olds welcoming the new 5th graders that just crossed over. I imagine this scene is unfolding in thousands of troops across the country this week. Guys barely up to the elbows of the Life and Eagle scouts learning two half hitches or trying to do a pull-up or two, and being obviously impressed by the skill and leadership of the older scouts.
I got to chat with an Eagle scout volunteering as assistant scoutmaster now. He showed me their gear room (I'm jealous!) and told me about their fundraising, summer camp, and usual weekend campouts. There are many logistical differences between a troop of 20 scouts and 80 scouts, but the individual scout challenges are identical - how do I motivate this one to step up and lead? why doesn't this one ever bring his book? how do I spread this one's enthusiasm to the rest?
Day 34: Yet Another Cold Campout - another weekend camping with snow and cold. About 15 degrees colder than forecast. Tying knots and lashings when it's 15 degrees isn't all that much fun so I'm now officially looking forward to Spring and the thaw.
The guys had some fun, learned some stuff, and got dirty - it was a success. I held four scoutmaster conferences on the campout so that was fun for me. One of the new scouts joined us as a guest of an existing patrol since he's not received his patrol gear yet. He did complete his Joining requirements last night.
Hopefully, next month's campout will be rain rather than snow. :-)
This post brought to you by Victor Pest. All opinions are 100% mine.
Occasionally, a troop trailer will be stolen or equipment will be broken but, every year, troops and scouts run a greater risk of losing gear to mice and rodents. Tents, sleeping bags, rainflies, and the like are fine nesting spots for the little critters and cooking items not thoroughly cleaned can smell like a free meal.
At summer camp last year, we had a mouse actually get into a patrol box, shred paper towels, and make a nest. Everything non-metal in that box got thrown out and everything else was totally sanitized before being used again.
I just found out that Victor has some way cool high-tech rodent control options that are perfect for scout troops like ours. There are electronic traps and ultrasonic repellents, both more humane, effective, and clean than old style traps.
The Victor electronic trap uses a couple AA batteries and instead of squishing the mice, it quickly shocks them. It has an LED letting you know if it caught a mouse or not. Two of these in your troop trailer or shed or other place you store your gear that has no electricity will do the job. To empty and reset, you just turn it upside down over the garbage can and set it back down - pretty simple.
The Victor ultrasonic repellents, called PestChasers, are great for your garage or room with an electric plug. These Pest Chasers are safer than poison, cleaner and kinder than traps, and prevent rather than correct problems. A sound is produced that repels the rodents but is inaudible to humans and non-rodent pets. Just plug it in and that's it - mice stay clear of the area.
Now that winter is winding down, new scouts are joining the troop, and patrols are gearing up for summer camping, you and the quartermaster are probably evaluating equipment and cleaning the storage area. This is a perfect time to ensure the equipment is safe from rodents for the year ahead with just a little effort. Victor has a special promotion going on now that could fit a troop's needs well. It's called the "Protect Your Space Combo Kit" and includes:
1 Sonic PestChaser Heavy Duty
2 Sonic Mini PestChasers
2 Electronic Mouse Traps
For $99.99, you could provide six years of rodent control for your troop trailer, garage, and two other storage areas.
Day 31: Showing up for the first scoutmaster conference, not sure what to expect, or how mean the old guy will be, or how hard it will be to remember everything, or if this is the right troop to be in. And, that's just the mom's thoughts! When a new scout shows up for his first scoutmaster conference, he's kind of in limbo. His blue shoulder loops were replaced with green ones and he was given a Scout Handbook. But until he completes the Joining requirements, he doesn't have a troop neckerchief and slide or troop numerals to wear. He really, really, really wants that neckerchief and to belong to the gang.
I ask if he has any pets. Oh, he does! That's always a great place to start, sharing stories of pets. Then, I coax a bit about his family out of him. See how he likes school - or not. Finally, we work our way around to the joining requirements.
I just go down the list on page 17... How old are you? Check Did you find a troop to join? Check Let's say the Pledge of Allegiance. Check See how easy these requirements are? Nothing to it when you know your stuff. How about that Scout Sign? Check Salute? Check Handshake? Check - by the way, when you shake with those older scouts in the troop, make sure you have a good, strong grip. Yeah, that's it! See this cool scout badge - what do you see on it? What does that Eagle remind you of? What is a shield used for? Does this scroll look kind of like a smile? Have you ever heard of someone tying a string around their finger to remind them of something? Do you have the Scout Law or Scout Promise memorized yet? No, that's ok, you don't need them memorized until Tenderfoot. Have you seen the movie "UP"?
I've found that pretty much every kid has seen "UP" by now - if you haven't I think you should. The scout, Russell, exemplifies pretty much every point of the Scout Law. So, I ask about a scene from the movie, for example when Russell was hanging from the hose, or when he was all covered in dirt, or when he first met the old man. And, we figure out if he was being brave, or clean, or courteous.
On this day, I got to have a great chat with a new scout. He's a great little kid with messed up hair, glasses, and a lot of something they used to call "spunk". I can hardly wait to see what sort of man he becomes. Let's get started...
Day 29: Had a conference with a scout for second class. Loaded info for the last new scout into TroopKit.com for events. Had a scout volunteer to plan a 50-Miler trek for July - now he and I can start the fun of figuring out what all is needed. I'm looking forward to working with him on this little project.
Day 28: The SPL led his last PLC meeting tonight. At the end, he stood up and took out a piece of notebook paper. He asked if anyone had ever run in a relay race. Then, he asked if they knew what a baton was. He drew a racetrack on the paper and marked off an area where the baton could be exchanged from one runner to the next. He explained that if the runner just stood there, there would be a collision. If he took off without the baton, he'd be running for no reason. So, the old and new runners need to work together to optimize the transition and to accomplish it inside the boundaries of the exchange zone. He then told all the patrol leaders that they needed to pass off the baton to their replacements. They needed to help them start running and make the pass as smooth as possible and within a certain time. I thought it was great guidance and a super way for him to wrap up his time with this team of his. And, I'm pretty sure I'm going to use his words for my scoutmaster minute next week. :-)
Day 27: Presented Red Cross Wilderness and Remote First Aid training to a bunch of scouters all day yesterday and this afternoon. With the snow and cold, we did it all indoors except the hypothermia scenario. Pretty good way to spend the weekend since the troop wasn't doing anything interesting.
Day 22: When a scout comes prepared, it sure makes life easier for me. A scout stopped by to demonstrate fire making and backpacking stoves. He brought his own box of wood and his dad's stove - way cool! And, he had obviously practiced a bunch because he got right to work and zip, zam, zowie demonstrated the skills and was done. We even had time to do some first aid and he saved me from bleeding to death and from a rabid rabbit bite I got on my ankle. He did learn that he just doesn't have enough body weight yet to compress the chest on an adult when doing CPR - he's only 11. Reminds me I need to do the Flea Training scoutmaster minute at the next troop meeting.
Helped get a campsite for next month's outing. A different patrol with assistance from an adult plans each monthly outing. The patrol leader and adult had run out of ideas so they asked me for help. Since I know a guy that knows a guy I arranged a spot that will be great, and the first time the troop has ever camped there.
I also gave away a $25 scouting gift card, Class B $50 coupon, and a fire piston yesterday. If you didn't enter this month's contest yet, you're missing out.
Day 21: I Love Mondays! It's troop meeting night! The SPL, along with some other high schoolers, was gone to a ski club dinner tonight so the ASPL ran the show. A first year patrol led the skills time and game time since their patrol is planning the campout coming up. It was all about knots - I'm not sure exactly WHAT knots, but I did recognize a couple bowlines and some half hitches. :-) The campout will be 'Pioneering' so they wanted to brush up on those skills.
I also met with a Tenderfoot this afternoon and an Eagle candidate.
This Eagle has 26 days until his 18th, but he's down to just signatures and turning in paperwork now.
I wonder what you thought when you read that last sentence? Maybe, "oh, another one waiting to the last minute." Or, "huh, somebody must have pushed him and he didn't want it." There's usually some reason a scout barely finishes his Eagle requirements in time, or sometimes not quite in time. In this case, it's the best of reasons as far as I can tell - Scouting is just one part of his well-rounded life.
This guy is the perfect example of what my personal vision is of an Eagle Scout. Fitness: His sports training kept him from many scouting opportunities, enabling him to play varsity football and getting a college scholarship. He demonstrated his fitness in scouting on high adventure treks from Florida to Washington, swimming in oceans, climbing mountains, and backpacking hundreds of miles. Citizenship: When he graduates in a couple months, he'll be serving his country in the military. Character: In seven years with the troop, serving as SPL and other positions, he has consistently supported his fellow scouts. He never learned how to play "the Blame Game" - always taking responsibility for any failings of his team.
As I mentioned to my wife, "If every guy was like him, there'd be no need for Scouting." :-) I often wonder how much impact Scouting has - for example, is this scout the way he is because he was in Scouts or is he just that way?
Scout On Challenge your Scouts If any other scouting bloggers want to use these numerals, they are at http://boyscouttrail.com/i/nums/[xx].jpg - replace [xx] with 01, 02, 03, ..., 98, 99 If you know HTML, you'd put something like: <img src="http://boyscouttrail.com/i/nums/21.jpg">