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The Value of Planning
On Saturday, we have a crew of 8 scouts and 4 adults heading to the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming for the troop's first ever self-guided high adventure.
We have been planning this trek since March with practice hikes every week, crew meetings every few weeks, and distribution of tasks.
There is a ton of work that goes into making a trip happen and the scouts going on this one now have a better appreciation of that. The SPL is going and he has been the primary planner, defining what needs to happen and handing out jobs. The scouts have done an excellent job of defining tasks and getting them done. I believe they have already learned more valuable skills on this one trip, even before departing, than all the campouts we've done before this.

Tonight, I went shopping for food for 12 people for 5 days with the two scouts tasked with food planning. I had gone out earlier to do research and to make sure we stayed on the right track. We had a fun time purchasing all we'd need. Then, at a scout's home we repackaged everything into meals that will be distributed to individuals to carry on Friday. At least these two scouts have now seen the value of repackaging - we saved a few pounds of excess weight, have less garbage, and each meal is complete. They've also seen first hand how much food a group consumes in a week.
Another scout got crew T-shirts made and they got here last week. He did online research and ordered the shirts from a web site.
Another scout created an elevation map of our route based on a topo map we have and Google Earth images. He gave a short presentation about it at our crew meeting on Monday. His map is really a graph of our elevation at every 1/2 mile increment of our 34 mile trek. This gives us a very good idea about which days will be more difficult, how far we go and how high we go. We were impressed!
Another scout found campgrounds for us to stay at in Rapid City on the way there and back. I made the reservations, but he got all the information to me.

Since this is our first try at something this big, my job was to make sure the bases were covered and to teach some scouts what they needed to do for their tasks. I also presented Leave No Trace guidelines to the group so we are fresh on that. After this trip, I'm sure that Leave No Trace ethics will be important to this group and they will begin to spread it to their patrols.

Well, since we have our approved National Trip Permit back, I guess we're ready to head out. I'll miss posting anything until next weekend, so ...

Scout On!

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Posted: 1:35 07-20-2006 74
Too Busy to Write
This month I have been too busy to find time to jot down my thoughts. I guess that happens from time to time.
We had an excellent week at Many Point Scout Camp last week. Most of my time was spent keeping track of all that was scheduled and checking on progress. We had 101 merit badges taken this year and about 2/3 or those were completed at camp. I expect next year there will be a huge rush on the Astronomy merit badge - the handful of scouts that took it this year had a blast. They put on a Star Party for the rest of the troop and explained what they had learned about constellations and cellestial bodies.
Thursday afternoon gave up our only storm of the week with hail almost as big as golfballs. Very hectic for 5 minutes and then it was pretty much over.
This year is the 60th anniversary of the camp so they have some special activities going on such as a medallion hunt and old time scout skills.
The past 3 years, we have cooked all our own meals at camp but the troop elected to move to a different campsite next summer and have our meals in the dining hall. That will be a new experience for everyone and should make life easier for me! :-)

I'm already looking forward to what it will be like. Nothing like camp!

Scout On!
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Posted: 1:18 07-20-2006 73
Short Notice Service
A local youth camp had some oak trees taken down this spring and cut to firewood lengths. At our troop committee meeting on Monday, a request to have the wood split and stacked before their first week of camp was presented. First week of camp starts this coming Monday - not a lot of time to organize and do the task.
I volunteered to find out what scouts would help and then determine if we could help out or not. Before I tell you what I did, how do you think this 'should have' been done? How should I have found out which scouts were available and then contact the camp to let them know if we could do the work?

Well, I was in a very tight time crunch. I had to get this done in two days so we could do the work on Thursday. I thought I would use the patrols like a phone tree. I sent an email to all patrol leaders telling them about the work to be done and asking them to get a list of available scouts in their patrol back to me. I then called each patrol leader to let them know the email was in their mailbox. I wound up leaving messages for most scouts.

It worked great. By Wednesday noon, I had gotten word back from all eight patrols and we had nine scouts and two adults that would be doing the job.

But, I overstepped my role in the troop. I should have contacted the Senior Patrol Leader directly and discussed the project with him. If he felt the troop should and could do it, then he should have contacted the patrol leaders. The results would have been the same, but their would have been more more scout leadership going on instead of an adult running the show.

I'm still learning. In a crunch, I have to take extra time in deciding what scouts can do instead of me or other adults. Adults are needed to drive and ensure safety - pretty much everything else can be done by scouts, sometimes with adult guidance. Next time, I plan to do a better job.

The wood splitting went great. The two adults split and the scouts stacked about 3/4 cord of wood. We didn't finish the job in our available time, but we worked hard and made a good dent in the task. More scouts would not have helped since the wood splitter was the bottleneck.

Scout On
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Posted: 7:51 06-24-2006 72
Thunder and Lightning
Last weekend, I got to see my first actual lightning strike. On our way to camping, we had to pull over because it was raining so hard.
While waiting for the rain to let up, lightning was crashing all over the place. About 50 yards away, a bolt hit a tree and we could see the sparks dropping off the tree. That was about enough to convince the scouts in my vehicle to head back home for the weekend. :-) But, once the rain let up, things went great for our trip.
We did canoeing and fishing (no fish) and for the most part the weather was just fine. Lots of mosquitoes and a train passing through somewhere in the distance about every hour did make the campout not quite perfect.

This trip had a noticably smaller turn-out with about 12 scouts instead of 35. But, I tend to agree with the couple scouts in our reflection that mentioned it seemed like we got more done and got along better with a smaller group. Something to think about.

Scout On!

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Posted: 22:40 06-23-2006 71
Youth Leader Training
On Sunday, I took my son and another Life scout to our council's Youth Leader Training. It's a week long camp that just got a face-lift and new name this year. It was called Pine Tree but is now called Grey Wolf - Info Page.

One of them is in the Rhino patrol and the other is a Python. When I left, their Troop Guides were leading them in making Turk's Head Knots.

This camp is yet another opportunity for leadership development in scouting. It's so encouraging to see a scout looking forward to a chance to use some leadership tool he just learned. And, to see him try it out, hone it, and then look for another tool to learn. Of course, not every scout has a drive for leadership, but every scout can't help but learn some skills just by being imersed in the program.

When they return from Grey Wolf, these two scouts will give a report to the Troop Committee and I'm really looking forward to hearing what they picked up for use in improving the troop.

Scout On

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Posted: 11:55 06-13-2006 70
Oops, make that 3,197 spots
I filled out the forms for two more scouts in our troop to attend the World Jamboree next summer. So, our little troop has 3 scouts going now!
These two guys will probably be the youngest BSA attendees since their birthdays are right at the cut-off. We spent about 45 minutes talking about the jamboree and their expectations - lots of excitement, that's for sure! They are both first class scouts but will be Star before they leave.
I let them know the troop would appreciate and expect a presentation about their experiences when they get back. We talked about how they would be representing not only their troop but also their country since they'd meet some scouts that have never met USA Boy Scouts before. And, we discussed ways they could raise funds over the next year.
It will be a fun year watching these 3 scouts as the date gets closer and then hearing about the Jamboree when they get home. I can hardly wait. :-)

Scout On!
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Posted: 7:39 06-11-2006 69
Only 3,199 Spots Left
Well, one of the Eagle Scouts in our troop is planning on attending the 2007 World Scout Jamboree next summer. We're very excited for him! He went to the National Scout Jamboree in 2005 and had a great time. The patches, photos, and stories he brought back to share with the troop were super.
He'll be working at a council scout camp all this summer, his older brother is an Eagle scout, and his dad has been a great support to the troop - so you can see scouting is a big part of that family's life.
So, those of you interested in going to England next year had better get busy - only 3,199 spots left for BSA participants! :-)

Scout On
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Posted: 7:06 06-08-2006 68
World Jamboree Anyone?
The 21st World Scout Jamboree happens in July, 2007 in Chelmsford, England. This will be the celebration of the 100th birthday of the World Scout Movement.

The theme for the 21st Jamboree is, "One World, One Promise", and is being held at nearly the same location as the very first World Jamboree in 1920. 301 BSA members attended that first jamboree and 3,200 are invited to the 21st jamboree.

More information for BSA scouts interested in attending can be found at BSA Jamboree Page. If you can raise the $3,975 fee plus travel expenses, it will be a 'once in a century' experience. About 40,000 participants are expected from over 150 countries.

Me? Well, 40,000 people is a bit much for me. I'll be rooting for you all from here at home. :-)

Scout On!
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Posted: 17:45 06-02-2006 67
Free Prizes
Did you notice there's a Monthly Contest on Boy Scout Trail? Each month, you can win a $25 gift card for www.ScoutStuff.org

Besides that, there are some contests running by Boys' Life and Scouting magazines...

Scouting Magazine's Cartoon Caption Contest has scouters come up with captions for 4 cartoons and maybe win gift cards.

Boys' Life's Summer Fun Photo Contest has savings bonds as prizes for scouts.
Boys' Life is also running their 19th Annual Reading Contest where scouts write a report, send it in, and maybe win a gift card.

Good Luck and Scout On!


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Posted: 17:20 05-31-2006 66
Hiking for Food
We have a crew of 8 scouts and 4 adults going on a week-long backpacking trip in Wyoming in July. It is a big undertaking to plan your own high adventure instead of just participating in the canned Philmont or Sea Base programs, but it sure does give the scouts a lot of leadership opportunity. One scout chose a campground for the trip there and back. Two more are working on the menu. Another is designing shirts and finding a vendor. Lots of other duties distributed by the crew leader so everyone has something to accomplish before the trek begins.

Tonight, our crew hiked 3 miles to a local burger joint, had dinner, then hiked back. What a great hike! We even had 3 tag-alongs that aren't going on our trek but are getting in shape for a different backpacking trip. It was fun to see the looks when we all tromped in with our backpacks on. Luckily, this place is run by super people with great attitudes and they serve really good hamburgers. I guess I should give them a plug - it's called Lion's Tap and I'm sure they'd love to have you stop in. One guy eating there said he was an Eagle scout and was looking forward to having his 9 month old son join Scouts. I told him the 6 years would fly be and he'd be a Tiger in no time. :-)

Scout On!
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Posted: 22:16 05-30-2006 65
Hornaday Award
The William T. Hornaday award is a BSA award started in 1917 for service in conservation. There are a bunch of increasingly difficult levels to the award. A troop can earn a certificate by completing a meaningful conservation project. A scout can earn a (very cool) metal badge by completing some merit badges and leading a meaningful conservation project. This could be great practice for an Eagle project. A medal can be earned by completing multiple projects. A Scouter can earn a certificate or medal, but only after a very significant long-term contribution to promoting conservation in Scouting.

For anyone in Minnesota, I found out that MN DNR has over $300,000 funding available for grant proposals for restoring native shoreline vegetation. Possibly other state Natural Resources Departments offer similar funding. If you can think of a shoreline that needs work, you might be able to receive funding to help restore it. If you are looking for a challenge, are interested in conservation, and would like to try for a pretty rare BSA award, consider the Hornaday award.

To learn more about the Hornaday awards: Award Page

To learn more about the DNR funding: MN DNR Page

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Posted: 8:41 05-25-2006 64
Bugs of Summer
Last evening, we went on a conditioning hike for a trip this summer to the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. I got my first mosquito bite of the year - actually 4 of them!

I'm sure mosquitos must do some good in the world, but I'm at a lose to understand just what that is other than be a food source for bats, birds, and fish.

Last summer, I wore a Buzz-Off shirt and pants on most of my camping trips and they worked great. They are impregnated with Permethrin.

But, this year I have something new to try. I just bought some new bug repellent made with Picaridin instead of DEET. DEET in about a 20% mixture works well for me, but I'm anxious to see how well this Picaridin works.

You can buy Buzz-Off clothing online directly from ExOfficio
Buzz Off Insect Repellent Clothing by ExOfficio

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Posted: 10:08 05-10-2006 63
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