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AZT Hike Video
Arizona Trail video Click the picture if you'd like to see a video recap of my Arizona Trail hike. It's about 10 minutes. It won't win any awards, but you can see some of the terrain I covered.
I hiked the trail from March 17 to April 28, 2012. The trail is divided into 43 segments and it coincidentally took me 43 days to hike the trail.
This trek was an awesome adventure and a great first long hike. I learned a lot about extended hiking, met some interesting people, and survived desert hiking. I also helped get a few people involved in the BSA ScoutStrong program.

I'm doing the 300-mile Superior Hiking Trail in about three weeks and will be promoting ScoutStrong during that hike also.

Scout On
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Posted: 13:07 08-24-2012 890
Volunteer Recognition
Adult awards Adult BSA volunteers can't earn merit badges and ranks, but their participation in scouting activities with the scouts can be recognized. Some adults greatly enjoy the recognition, while others prefer to be inconspicuous. Either way, being aware of the awards and ensuring adult volunteers have the opportunity to receive them is important.

Besides the plethora of square knots volunteers can earn, there are many other awards available. Here's a bunch which you can find in the Awards section of this site. Any others you know about?
50-miler, BSA Family, BSA Lifeguard, BSA Physical Fitness, Emergency Preparedness, Founder's Bar, Triple Crown, Historic Trails, International Activity, Interpreter strip, James Stewart Good Citizenship, Medal of Heroism, Honor, or Merit, Mile Swim, Ready and Prepared, Trained strip, Hornaday

In addition to these official BSA awards, it's often more fun and meaningful for a unit to create and present its own awards. These are usually silly, but intended to recognize contributions by members. For example, the Golden Steering Wheel for driving scouts to camp every summer; the Citizen Ship (small boat model) for counseling the three citizen merit badges for umpteen years; the Golden Boot for taking scouts on treks.
Any service that folks provide can be recognized. It all depends on how much effort you want to put in and if that effort will result in more motivated volunteers offering up a better program and having fun. If you have extra adult resources in your unit, you might appoint an "Adult Recognition Chair" responsible for coming up with humorous ways to thank volunteers for their efforts. Keep it Fun.

Scout on
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Posted: 7:57 08-23-2012 889
Search and Rescue merit badge requirements Presented my 12th, and hopefully last for the year, Red Cross Wilderness First Aid (WRFA) session this weekend. Between my long hikes, most of my weekends have been consumed by this training. I've presented to 160 people this year with most of them being Scouting folks. It feels good to have helped a bunch of crews get ready for safer high adventure outings this summer. The Red Cross is always looking for more good instructors, so you might contact your local chapter to find out more.

Also, the Search and Rescue merit badge requirements are up now. It's a lot of 'book learning' with only requirement #9 actually being an 'active' requirement, but the organizational knowledge gained from earning the badge could be valuable if you ever have a lost scout. One requirement is to complete ICS 100 training and there's an online training for it Here.
Pamphlets and patches should be at your scout shop now, or very soon, so scouts can get started as soon as your district/council has merit badge counselors signed up.

Scout On
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Posted: 8:26 08-20-2012 887
Chief Scout and Technology
Wayne Brock Chief Scout Wayne Brock is the new Chief Scout of the BSA. He has an interview in the Sept-Oct issue of Scouting magazine. In it, he mentions technology a few times, and I'm happy to see that he realizes technology is here and is a tool to be used. It also needs to be managed correctly.

The BSA is embracing and managing technology. Cellphones, digital cameras, GPSs, the Internet, gaming systems, and on and on - electronics are engraded in the lifestyles of youth and need to be addressed rathered than just banned in Scouting. There are many BSA social media channels - Patrol Z for example. I bet your council, and maybe district, and possibly even unit have a Facebook page, Twitter page, and website.

I pulled out these parts about technology from the Scouting magazine interview:

Scouting: What else do you plan to do in this role?
Wayne: Introduce technology to enhance the experience for youth as well as remove administrative burdens from leaders and councils so they can spend more of their time delivering the program. There is a high demand for this, and we have a very dedicated team working on it, although it’s a multi-year project.

Scouting: Is technology the BSA’s biggest competitor for gaining kids’ interest?
Wayne: Our national president, Wayne Perry, said in his introductory speech at the National Annual Meeting that he believes it’s electronics. It’s kids staying inside and playing video games. Other people are going to tell you that it’s sports. I think it’s a combination of these things and others.

Scouting: What’s the main argument from Scout leaders against technology?
Wayne: Some leaders don’t think there’s any place for technology within Scouting. They say Scouting is a place where youth should go to experience nature and should not have their devices around. Others think technology is necessary to be relevant. That’s the cultural war we’re in today.

Scouting: What are some examples of ways the BSA plans to use technology?
Wayne: If you come to the jamboree in 2013, technology will be very integrated into the program. There will be an app for your phone that will show you all about the jamboree and where you are, what your schedule is, where to find the different activities. To take full advantage of all this, Scouts will have to bring their mobile devices with them.

Scout On

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Posted: 8:33 08-17-2012 885
Scout Pen Pals
Scouting Pen Pals The last couple weeks here have been spent creating a Pen Pal Connection feature on Boy Scout Trail - see Pen Pals page.
It's a simple way to get your den, pack, patrol, colony, unit, ... listed and find other groups that want to connect. After you're connected, you decide if you want to exchange messages through the Boy Scout Trail system or use email, text messages, or paper mail.

There's nobody in the database yet, so it will take awhile to start seeing contacts listed. Den leaders that get started now might have some potential contacts ready when school starts and your den meetings get rolling along.

Scout On
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Posted: 13:15 08-14-2012 884
Visible Scouting
Scout Popcorn When does your community see Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturers?
They don't see them when the pack, troop, or crew goes camping.
They don't see them at pack, troop, or crew meetings.
They might see them at an occasional parade.
They probably see them every year selling popcorn, or other fundraising. Next month, lots of units will be sitting in front of stores and knocking on doors, selling popcorn. The community will see scouts in uniform all over the place, with their hand out.
It's a bit sad if that's the only time the scouts are seen.

You and I know that scouts contribute much to communities. They perform millions of hours of community service across the country, but much of it is isolated and under the radar. The local community's perception of Scouting's involvement in the community is important.

Here are a few service ideas that might provide more exposure to Scouting in your community:

When members of the community see scouts in uniform, performing acts of service, they get a glimpse of what Scouting is really about. Since most people don't attend unit functions, we need to make an effort to represent Scouting well whenever an opportunity comes up.

Too many people only see scouts when they come knocking on the door, wanting something. Even many helpful drives (such as blood, food, clothing) to help others are asking people to give. Scouts performing service that looks like service makes a powerful impression on others.

There's nothing wrong with making the local media aware of the service. Providing service because it's needed is the important thing. Most service projects are just like that - something is built or fixed and then the hundreds of people that use it have no idea it was done by scouts. That's ok, but it's also ok to make the community aware of what Scouting does.

So, how do you make people aware of goblin insurance, hydrant cleaning, leaf raking, and other assistance you're willing to provide to needy individuals? You might make up troop business cards that scouts hand out to their neighbors when going door-to-door doing fundraising. They could be given only to older residents, or only those with hydrants in their yard, or whatever criteria was required. The card (or just slip of paper) has a list of free services and unit contact info. Of course, you need to have commitment from your scouts that any offered service will be fulfilled. Also, providing free work normally done by local businesses would not be appropriate.

How does your unit get noticed in your community for more than just asking for money? Do you have any ideas to share that are not fundraising and that get scouts noticed?

Scout On
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Posted: 9:46 08-10-2012 883
Eagle Project $$$ Help
Eagle Project Grant Do you know of any Life Scouts needing building materials and equipment for their Eagle projects this year? There's help available to pay for it and it would be a shame to let the resource go unused.

Lowe's has a grant program this year that allows councils to distribute $100 prepaid gift cards to Life Scouts to use on their Eagle projects. The cards may be accepted at other building material stores than just Lowe's, so don't let that stop a scout from applying.

Scouts need to plan their project, complete and submit an application to their council, and hope there are grants left. Maybe contacting the council service center first to ensure the council is participating and has grants left would be a good idea.

It all wraps up on December 31, 2012, to here's yet another reason to get that project done now rather than later.

There's a page on the BSA site with More Info, including an application form.

Scout On.
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Posted: 13:29 08-07-2012 882
Wanna Hike?
superior hiking trail My son just got back from a week backpacking trip without me. The troop leaves tomorrow for a week backpacking trip without me. I need to get out on another trek!

I've been hiking about 8 miles each morning and looking around for a long, but not too long, trail to do.
The Superior Hiking Trail is perfect. It's almost 300 miles, close to home, and I've not hiked it yet.

I plan to start walking south from the Canadian border to Jay Cooke State Park in Duluth, MN on Sept. 15 and would love to have some scouts or scouters join me for all or part of the trek. I figure it will take about 2 weeks, give or take a couple days. There's a 10 mile or so section not yet completed just north of Duluth, but the North Shore Trail runs through there and I plan to follow it as a connecting route.
There are about 90 established campsites along the trail, most with latrines, tent pads, firepits, and water source so the camping part should be quite easy. I expect to carry no more than 4 days of food and very little water since there is such easy access to water and resupply points.

September seems to me like a great time to hike this trail:
Besides, my youngest son will be off to college and my wife will be very busy with her first few weeks of teaching. It's a good time for me to be out of the way. :-)

I already have my food purchased and left over from my Arizona hike. I already have all the gear I need. I'm in shape to start. This should be an inexpensive, relaxing trek and a great time exploring part of my own backyard that I've not made time to visit yet.

Interested in joining me? If you are, just send me an email and maybe we can work something out. If you'd just like to join me for a few days, or a weekend, or a day hike, that would be cool. I'll be tracking my progress and blogging along the way so you can just stop and say HI as I walk by if you're in the area.
If your troop wants to plan a hike for a day or overnight on Sept. 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, or 30, just contact me and we can plan something. I'll have a Scout Shop gift card along for any troop that hikes with me - it does get lonely out there. :-)

Scout On
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Posted: 9:30 08-03-2012 881
Monthly Drawing
Boy Scout Contest Last chance to get an entry in for July's random Boy Scout Trail drawing for three prizes. Go to Scout Contest page to enter.


If you're just too busy to enter, don't worry - there's a drawing in August and every month you can enter.

Scout On

PS: A few folks have asked why they never win even though they entered every month for the past year. All the winners are posted on the contest page, but I'll try to explain.
It's all LUCK! :-)
Every month that you enter, it's like getting another ticket in the pot. If you entered 47 months, you have 47 chances to win. So, entering each month helps, but does not mean you'll win.
Each month, there are around 6,000 tickets in the pot so you have about a 1 in 2000 chance of winning some prize if you entered once. If you enter every month for a year, that's about a 1 in 500 chance.
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Posted: 13:59 07-31-2012 879
Easy Scoutmaster Minute
scout water jug Last month, the Scouting magazine blogger, Bryan, asked for slgans to help folks remember to hydrate outside. I think the top 10 entries would be a great, easy, short scoutmaster minute - especially during this hot time of summer.
Maybe have the scouts vote on their favorite. There were over 150 entries and here are the top 10:
Read more at Bryan on Scouting.

Scout On
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Posted: 6:47 07-24-2012 877
Scouting Pen Pals
Scout Pen Pals Volunteer Pen Pals Needed!

About six weeks ago, I blogged about English Beaver Scouts wanting to communicate with some American Cub Scouts. This wasn't the first time someone has asked about this, so I figure there might be some demand to connect with scouts electronically around the globe.

The last couple weeks here have been spent creating a Pen Pal Connection feature on Boy Scout Trail. It's a simple way to get your den, pack, patrol, colony, unit, ... listed and find other groups that want to connect. After you're connected, you decide if you want to exchange messages through the Boy Scout Trail system or use email, text messages, or paper mail.

It's currently at the point of needing a handful of folks to give it a spin and let me know what they think. If you can commit to setting up a test unit and connecting with a few other test groups over the next week or so, please Contact Me and I'll tell you what to do.

Once it looks good enough for the masses, all the test units will be removed and it will be opened to the world.

Scout On
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Posted: 15:42 07-20-2012 875
NZ Socks
possum socks "Hey, see my hiking socks? They're POSSUM!"

Before you get all creeped out about wearing possum clothing, you're missing a very important letter O - that's the difference between opossum and possum.

The possum of New Zealand are native to Australia but were introduced and are now overrunning NZ. They are furry little critters that eat tons of vegetation and protected bird eggs, and are considered a nuisance pest. But their hollow hairs make very good, soft, insulating material. By exterminating the possums and combining their hairs with merino wool, the basis for a unique clothing line of warm, light articles is created.

I think it's pretty cool to turn the problem of an invasive species into a successful business that helps keep the invasion at bay. And that's exactly what a New Zealand clothing company is doing by making possum clothing.

Brian at New Zealand Possum Merino sent me a pair of possum hiking socks to try out. My first impression was "Wow! They're soft and light!" Softer and warmer feeling than heavier socks, I wore them inside for a day and my feet were very happy. They will be great for normal wear during the winter.

Right now, it's quite hot here and I figured they'd be too warm for hiking. But, I've been wearing them on my hikes around town and even a few miles of jogging. They weren't hot and they didn't absorb sweat like cotton socks. The extra softness has been pleasant and they've held up well.

There's been only a tiny bit of piling and they've been washed a few times now. The combination of merino wool with possum hairs makes a sturdy, comfortable, warm cloth. The socks aren't inexpensive, but a couple extra dollars for such a unique conversation starter might be worth it for the hiking scout looking for a nice pair of socks for fall/winter/spring outings.

Scout On
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Posted: 11:29 07-17-2012 874
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