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The troop heads for summer camp in 19 days for a new experience - We'll be sharing a campsite with another troop for the first time ever. For another troop's experience on campsite sharing, check out this entertaining post
We've got 39 scouts going and the other troop has only 3 so it will be a lopsided 'integration' and we're probably going to be the 'troublesome' troop. But, we've done what we can to smooth the road.
- I met with the other SM at lunch last week to discuss how she'd like to have camp run. They sound like they're doing a good job, so I don't think we'll have any "Yellow Shirt Day" scenes. :-)
- We reviewed the campsite map and she showed where they usually have adults tent and then scouts tent by patrols the rest of the place. Good.
- They have a different patrol plan campfire each evening. Good.
- I'm sending her the merit badges our guys are taking so the scouts can use that connection to get to know each other. We'll probably do troop activities together as well.
- Both SPLs will be at camp. Our SPL is at NYLT this week and I'll talk with him when he gets home about how he'd like to integrate troops. We've already talked and he's excited to run camp. Us two scoutmasters felt having the two SPLs tenting close would be good so they could talk as needed, but we'll see.
We'll do our best to be good neighbors and campers! :-)
If you're wondering why we're sharing a site, it's because of the reservation policy in our council and blunders. A troop has first dibs on a campsite every year F O R E V E R as long as they reserve it in the spring. The other troop has used the site F O R E V E R so they get it, even though it holds 70 people and is the largest site in camp.
Last summer, our SPL saw the site was open and reserved it but the reservation folks had made a mistake so the site was double-booked. By the time we found out, there were no other sites available to hold our troop and the other troop was expecting a small turn-out so they decided to share with us. It will be a fun week and a good opportunity to be good neighbors.
Posted: 8:57 06-29-2011 639
Pinewood for Boy Scouts
Xtreme Challenge Racing is a new program for Boy Scouts. Rather than gravity, the cars are powered by CO2 canisters for high-octane speed. It's kind of a Pinewood Derby for big boys.
The BSA needs 100 scouts to sign up and design cars to help promote this new racing program.
Xtreme car kits are being given away to scouts this week at ScoutStuff.org
Scroll down and click the blue "Giveaway" image. The lucky 100 scouts are asked to design, create, and photograph their cars for a contest to win a $100 ScoutStuff gift card.
Since the contest entry window is so short, tell your scouts about it and there's a pretty good chance one of them will get randomly selected. If nothing else, they'll get a free car kit to check out if they're selected.
Posted: 9:43 06-23-2011 638
First Aid Fun
I presented Wilderness First Aid and CPR/AED again last weekend - one more time this coming weekend and I'll be done until the fall. I've presented to over 100 people this year, so I'm ready for a break.
To make the first aid scenarios a bit more fun, I've created fake wounds that are reusable. Putting moulage on a person looks cool, but has to be redone every time and gets messy. These wounds simply velcro on and off and still look pretty good.
I also use these when scouts are doing their T-2-1 first aid advancment or the First Aid merit badge. I've noticed a much more focused effort from the scouts and better retention of the skill - besides they like to teach others because then they get to wear the wounds.
It's really easy to make your own, and you might have this as a project for some artistic scouts. See Fake Wounds
for examples, instructions, and printable images that you can just tape on for a super-simple solution.
Scout OnScouts CAN run their troop
Posted: 8:15 06-22-2011 637
Past Trail's End
Have you every taken a trail and followed it to the end? Man-made and maintained trails are usually loops or have specific destinations. But, wild trails will often meander and finally fade out at some point. Then, you either go on your own, forging your way through the wild or turn back.
Earlier this month, I got to present Wilderness First Aid to the summer staff at Camp Birchwood for Boys
. It is at the end, the very end, of the famous Gunflint Trail in Minnesota, only a stone's throw from Canada. When I reached the end of the trail, there was nothing but a mailbox with 'Camp Birchwood' on it indicating the camp, and a lake.
Fortunately, there was a small outfitter's building there so I asked if they knew where the camp might be. "Well, you've got to take a boat to get there," was the reply.
Fortunately again, the outfitter was a helpful sort and gave Birchwood a call letting them know I was waiting. Remember, I'm one of the five people left in the country that doesn't have a cell phone.
About ten minutes later a motorboat buzzed up, I dumped my training gear in, and we headed to camp - a bit further than the end of the trail. And, what a wonderful place it is! Boys that attend the camp go on canoe trips, or bike trips, or hiking trips, or rock climbing trips, or stay at camp. They have archery, shooting, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, a river swing, and an enormous waterslide that dumps into the river. Most importantly, the directors and staff are great people running a super program. I got to meet some young guys from England, Ireland, and Scotland as well as around the USA. A few of them were scouts.
If you've got some scouts looking for a challenging job in 2012 a bit past the end of the beaten trail, you might point them towards Camp Birchwood. It's a leadership challenge in one of those beautiful, wild places left in the country.
Posted: 15:59 06-20-2011 636
Little Brown Box
At the Scouting magazine blog
, Bryan asked about the uniform policy in troops. You can read the dozens of responses to see the multitude of rules, regulations, guidelines, policies, and requirements folks have made around this one issue.
It seems similar to the 'Electronics' policies and 'Active' policies that get created. Somewhere along the line, people get the idea that making a rule and enforcing it is the way to get compliance. That goes against my understanding of the BSA program, which is more along the lines of explaining the expected behavior to the scouts, demonstrating the proper behavior, guiding others towards that behavior, and enabling them to explain, demonstrate, guide, and enable others.
As a scoutmaster, I discuss the methods of scouting at each Troop Leader Training session - twice a year. The new troop leaders hear that the uniform is part of scouting and everyone is expected to wear it. They see me in uniform all the time. They get encouragement to wear their uniform. The only policy is that there is a BSA uniform which BSA members should wear.
At PLC meetings, troop meetings, and scoutmaster conferences, I recognize scouts for wearing their uniform.
Individually at scoutmaster conferences, if he is wearing his uniform completely, I let him know that he really looks like a scout and I'm impressed that he is taking it to heart. If he is just in his shirt, I'll let him know it looks good and find out why he didn't wear the rest. If he doesn't own the pants or socks, or outgrew them, I make sure he and his parent know what they cost and inexpensive options, like eBay. If he has pants and socks and just didn't wear them, then we have more to chat about.
At meetings, I have a top secret Little Brown Box
with me. The only way to see what's in it is to be wearing the complete uniform. Any scout in his complete uniform can choose an item from the box. I just started this about a month ago to raise interest in wearing the uniform.
There is no punishment to a scout for not being in uniform, but there is a reward for doing it completely.
Scouts show up at meetings in football pants, baseball pants, shorts, sweats, and t-shirts. When a scout shows up sweaty and dirty, ducks in the bathroom and comes out with his uniform shirt on and half tucked-in, he's participating in the Scouting program and he just demonstrated it's a priority to him to be there. Kind of reminds me of the motley crew in 'Follow Me, Boys' - over the generations, they became more uniformed, but being there was the key thing.
The one time I asked a non-uniformed scout to leave was to go outside and remove his football cleats and join the troop barefoot.
Posted: 7:07 06-18-2011 635
It's been a few weeks away from the blogdesk for me and I'm ready to peck away at the keys again. Just took a break to do some 'real work'.
A big chunk of my time this past month has been spent in preparing the new Scoutmaster to take over next month. The new guy is an Eagle Scout, a very caring person, full of energy, and has a son finishing his first year with the troop. I think he'll be a great fit with the troop.
He has started doing the scoutmaster conferences now and did a scoutmaster minute at Monday's meeting which I did not attend. I can see his way of doing things will be different and he has some good new ideas. Fresh ideas are extremely important for the health of a unit. Just because something has worked for 5 or 10 years doesn't mean we should keep doing it. Something different and just as fun would be a good change.
Fresh ideas help to keep things interesting. Trying different ways to present the flags, close a meeting, set up camp, present a skill, or arrange patrol seating can all keep scouting a little more fresh. If an idea doesn't work as well as we hoped, that's why we have reflections - tweak it and try again or scrap it altogether.
Challenging the scouts to come up with fresh ideas has been a consistent goal of mine. It's easier for them to just plan the same old, fun campouts each year, but when asked to think of something new, they've come up with great outings. Just last weekend was their Wild West outing with horseback riding, gold panning, a chuckwagon dinner, and roping contests. They'll do their first Cave Camping in October and their first lock-in at the new BSA Base Camp facility in November. Keep it fresh!
- a scout-run troop
Posted: 8:06 06-16-2011 634
Northern Star Council had a facebook app created where you can take an image and recreate it with merit badges.
See the promo video at YouTube
Make your own image at Badgetize Yourself
on Facebook. I tried a few pictures, but didn't have much luck - please holler back here if you try it and like the results.
Posted: 12:48 05-19-2011 633
On this last day of the 100 Days of Scouting,
- I learned we have a new Eagle in the troop
- I learned a terrific scout is moving away
- I hiked 10 miles
- I gave advice to a scout planning next month's campout
- I finished carving an Eagle giftI helped the next scoutmaster with Troopmaster
I guess scouts leave a troop in one of three ways: age out, move away, or decide Scouting is not for them.
I can remember the names of all the scouts that moved away in the past six years - Chris, Jack, Justin, Jack, Bill, and Adit. There aren't many of them. Three of them joined another troop. Two I never heard from again. And, we'll have to see what happens with the last one.
Posted: 22:29 05-18-2011 632
Day 98: I'm a Tenderfoot
Patrol meetings and boards of review this evening.
Waiting outside with a scout's father, he came out of his board of review and said, "I'm a Tenderfoot!" with a huge grin on his face. It will be quite awhile before I forget that smile and the hug his dad gave him. It was a good reminder that every step on the trail is a new one for the person taking it.
Chatted with a scout about his eagle project idea.
Helped a patrol figure out their merit badges to take at summer camp.
Talked with another patrol about possibly merging so they could pursue the National Honor Patrol award they want.
Spent some time whittling yet another Eagle gift this afternoon, after I took our lawnmower apart, fixed a part, re-assembled it, and got it running just in time for my son to get home from school and test it on the yard.
Scout OnChallenge your Scouts
Posted: 22:41 05-16-2011 631
Day 97: Olympics and Cobblers
Dutch ovens are cleaned and oiled, tensts put away, ropes dried and stored, and its back to normal life.
Mondays can be a real downer after a fun weekend of camping. The patrol that planned the outing laid out a day of competitive games. They kept score and had an awards ceremony on Sunday morning.
Even though it was a wet, muddy day, everyone said they enjoyed it completely. I didn't get to see the games because I was leading Scoutmaster Specific training, but I got to camp just in time for a wonderful jambalaya dinner with the adults on Saturday evening.
The campsite was wonderful! It was all woods with small open areas about 70-100 feet apart connected by trails. Each patrol had its own area so the scouts were spread out a lot more than most of the BSA camp sites we've used. It makes it much easier to see which patrols are performing well and which are struggling with cooking, sanitation, tenting, and anything else that can be a challenge.
Saturday's campfire went well. I was asked to bring ingredients for three simple cobblers. I brought chocolate, yellow, and lemon cake mixes, Coke, Squirt, and Mountain Dew soda, and cherry, apple, and pineapple pie filling. The scouts chose how to combine them and then one scout did all the cooking. This was his first time using dutch ovens but he dug the coals, stacked the ovens, rotated them, and kept the fire going.
The desserts were awesome! I was very surprised at how nice the pineapple/lemon/squirt one smelled and tasted - my favorite.
At the next troop meeting, I've got this spoof merit badge to present to the scout for his extra effort in making the dessert for the troop. Hopefully, it will be a little incentive for others to step up to help when opportunities arise.
Scout OnChallenge your Scouts
Posted: 7:28 05-16-2011 630
An ASM stopped by this afternoon and grabbed the adult patrol box, tents, dutch ovens, ropes, and other gear from my garage for this weekend's campout.
Since I'm presenting Scoutmaster Specific training tomorrow, I can't be two places at once so I'm missing camp tonight and tomorrow. I hope they aren't getting too wet. :-) This is the first campout I've missed in over a year, so it feels weird.
But, after training tomorrow an ASM and I are driving to camp for dinner, campfire, and one night in tents and rain.
Spent some time this afternoon reviewing the training materials and making the world's smallest candelabra for the 'Ceremony' part of the training.
Got a handful of last minute phone calls from scouts asking about fuel, dutch ovens, pop-up shelters, and other easy stuff to pass them on to their patrol leader or quartermaster.
Scout OnChallenge your Scouts
Posted: 20:36 05-13-2011 629
Stopped in to help with an Eagle Service Project for just a little while. The scout is running the show just fine and in fact ahead of schedule. It wraps up on Saturday.
This guy worked with the local library to redesign how they collect, categorize, store, and sell used books for their bi-annual book sale. I talked with the Friends of the Library ladies and they seem to be very excited about the new system, so we'll see how well it all works at the sale starting tomorrow.
Attended the annual District meeting tonight. Just another meeting, not much to say.
Updated my Red Cross CPR and AED instructor credentials today so I can present the new 2011 curriculum. Shorter classes, less expensive, simpler skills, and no written exams. It's a great change for me since it makes it easier to offer along with the Wilderness & Remote First Aid training.
Hey, here's a free tip - if you're going to any BSA high adventure base next year, don't wait until May to start thinking about getting your MANDATORY
Wilderness First Aid certification! Start lining up your training NOW or you may very well find yourself shelling out $$$$$$$$$$$ to get into a last minute session in a far-away location.
And, make sure you understand what the requirements are for your crew attending a high adventure - "I didn't know" doesn't work very well at Philmont, Northern Tier, or SeaBase.
Posted: 20:51 05-11-2011 628
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