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Gotta Hike Now
Rats, the local newspaper printed a story so now I actually have to go hiking - Read It
I've got everything packed.
I've left an itinerary at home with all my expected camp spots and mileage, which will be outdated after the first day.
I have two food caches ready to be placed.
I've got extra batteries for my Spot Messenger.
The weather forecast looks ok. The leafs are supposed to be turning color. Should be great!
My wife drops me at the Canadian border on Saturday to walk south to Duluth. If you want to get my hiking blog entries while I'm on the trail, just 'Like' HikingDudeBlog
or for just scouting related posts, Like BoyScoutTrail
Remember, you could use this as a perfect time to get involved in the ScoutStrong Challenge
to improve active lifestyles and maybe win some prizes.
See you all in a couple weeks.
Posted: 15:54 09-13-2012 896
Producers and Consumers
Wherever you go, you will meet people that are either producers or consumers. Depending on the situation, we all play both roles at different times. For example, a farm produces food but also consumes petroleum. A person that works at the refinery produces petroleum but consumes food.
In Scouting, we mostly produce and consume knowledge, experience, and skills. Experienced scouts produce the skills education that is consumed by less skilled scouts. As they become more skilled scouts of fine character, they migrate from being consumers to being producers.
If you have only experienced scouts, you have too many chiefs and not enough indians
. If you have only new scouts, you have skills starvation. For the program to function, we need both producers and consumers. Each individual's scouting trail should take him from consuming more to producing more, with the hope he will continue to produce more than he consumes throughout his life
Being a producer rather than consumer pertains to all of life. That is the essence of leaving the place better than we found it. In general, we're not doing that great of a job these days. Our country consumes much more than our fair share, and more than we are producing. But, we can make steps to change things and I did just that this month.
Our house is now a solar power producer. Our two solar arrays went into production last week and we've produced 224kWh so far. We are producing more electricity than we consume - the surplus goes back into the grid and is consumed by our neighbors.
The system is quite expensive (by this thrifty person's standards), but there are currently rebates from the energy company and federal tax credits which cover almost 2/3 of the cost - so it's a good time to get started. I expect our cost to be recovered in 8 years and the panels have a 25 year warranty. They should produce power much longer than that.
You can view my power production on this page
- it's pretty cool. And, it feels good to think I'm a producer now - at least in this small bit.
Posted: 6:27 09-12-2012 895
MYOG Arm Warmers
I was at the local scout shop getting a replacement for my hat that sunk in the lake. I need it for my 300-mile trek that starts this weekend. While looking around, the friendly salesgirl asked if she could help. I told her that her job was to get me to buy something I didn't really need, so she stepped up to the challenge.
After reviewing all the new clothing, literature, trinkets, craft projects, and even a little camping stuff, I noticed she had green arm warmers on. Hey! It IS September and it may get cold over the next couple weeks while I'm on the trail. If I had arm warmers, they'd weigh less than a jacket and they'd cover just the parts that tend to get cold first. They looked like scout green, so I asked her where she got them. She showed me right there.
All she did was take a pair of knee-high scout socks and cut the feet off. They worked perfect! So, she made the sale and I took my pair of socks.
Simple arm warmers are a lightweight option for transitional seasons - not cold enough for a coat but chilly enough to be uncomfortable without one. You can wear them in the morning and roll them down or slip them off as the day warms up. They're useful for cool evenings in camp, too.
Rather than cutting off the entire foot, I wanted to also use them for mittens. I cut a slit across the ball of the foot and a hole in the heel. When I slide them on, my thumb goes through the hole and my fingers through the slit with the toe section folded inside on the back of my hand.
I can flip the toe section over my fingers for mittens if I want.
I'm counting this as MYOG (make your own gear) but I could have just bought a pair from Target if I didn't mind pokadots, stripes, frills, or flowers - I prefer the stealth green color. Men's cycling arm warmers seem to be too expensive for my needs.
Now I have my own officially un-official BSA arm warmers + mittens just in case it gets cold or rainy on my Superior Hiking Trail trek
over the next two weeks. You can start your ScoutStrong PALA
program while I'm on the trail and maybe win prizes.
Posted: 8:02 09-11-2012 894
A scouter from our troop earned his pilot's license this past year at the local community airport. Yesterday, he took me up for a ride on a beautiful, sunny early fall day. This was my first time in a tiny plane and has been something I've always thought would be a wonderful thing to do. It was!
The flight was exactly as I expected - a bit rough, loud, exciting, and fun! It was very interesting to be with someone that has only been flying a short time but was very comfortable with all the instruments, skills, and communications protocols. For me, it was a great reminder how much a scout can grow and learn when placed in a constructive environment where he is challenged and allowed to be self-sufficient. It doesn't take long to become an expert and share skills with others.
We flew from Flying Cloud airport in Eden Prairie to Red Wing airport - the town where they make Red Wing boots and shoes. We were going to land at a grass air strip in Stanton on the way home, but the air there was crowded with gliders so we skipped that. Actually, it reminded me of a WWI dogfight with planes flashing in the sun here and there. When one of them came right at us, that's when my ace pilot decided to head for home.
Here's a few pictures of my awesome day in the blue sky with a great friend...
|Pre-flight inspection. There's a lot more to getting ready than I thought. A good pilot doesn't leave anything unchecked. This flying club has a long checklist that the pilot completes before and after every flight. It's a good way to make sure nothing is skipped and the plane is ready for the next flight.|
|The instrument panel. I now know what most of these are for - altitude, direction, speed, ... there's a lot going on all the time when flying. It's also a bit like the wild west up in the air. You need to be constantly scanning for other aircraft because anyone can fly pretty much anyplace when away from airports.|
|Taking off from Flying Cloud. The take-offs and landings where smoother than I expected. I guess I had an exceptional pilot! One thing that was kind of freaky is how steep the landing is. It seemed to me like we were doing a nosedive into the ground, but it was perfect.|
It's also amazing how many tiny airports there are all over the place. A map of airports in Minnesota looks like someone blasted it with a shotgun. And, since many of these airports are unmanned, communications is directly between planes on a pre-defined frequency. So, there is a lot of data you need to have along in order to do things right.
|It's always cool to see your house from the sky. :-) A ride in a small plane is kind of like the take-off and landing of a commercial jet. You know, the part where you drop out of the clouds and get to see things for a few minutes as you circle for approach. But, in a small plane, you're at the perfect elevation to see things for the entire flight. It's very cool!|
I have a 30 second video of the take-off and approach to Red Wing if you want to see more - View Video
Thanks for a terrific flight, Bob!
Posted: 7:50 09-10-2012 893
Guys like me really try to get all they can out of a purchase. I like to think I'm thrifty, but some folks would just call it cheap. I drive a 24 year old car that gets 33mpg and refuses to die. I have a laptop that still works from 1994. My lawnmower is at least 15 years old. But, sometimes even guys like me have to break down and buy new stuff.
In this photo, you can see me at the end of my Arizona Trail Hike - my old favorite shirt is completely worn through and my old favorite BSA hat is fraying. I haven't thrown out the shirt - I use it in my Wilderness First Aid training scenarios. But, the hat is finally gone.
Now, I didn't throw it away. I kept wearing it this summer. While sailing a Sunfish on a lake up north, the wind ripped it off my head and PLOP! into the drink. I circled around and almost got it three times before it finally sunk away out of sight. Sigh!
So, today I visited the scout shop and bought a brand new, bright, crisp, green hat. I expect after 300 miles of wearing it on the Superior Hiking Trail this month, it will be my new old favorite. I also have a new, sweat-wicking shirt but I don't think it will ever be a favorite. It just doesn't have the right feel.
Do you have an old favorite that should probably be replaced but you keep on making it work?
Posted: 20:27 09-04-2012 892
I'm sure you've met one by now. He might just make a quiet comment to you that your new square knot is sewn upside down. Or, he might point out paragraph 4 on page 5 of his Insignia Guide where it says that patch hanging from your right pocket button is 1/4 inch too wide. Or, he might complain to others when you're not around about how your 5 medals and all those knots are excessive. He's the Patch Police.
Recognition of efforts by volunteers is important. And, of course, we should follow the guidelines when displaying recognition. But, those people with experience and knowledge about the guidelines should use empathy and tact in a helpful manner when a discrepency is noticed. If you find it important enough to correct others, please do it respectfully and off to the side.
Many new volunteers receive recognition items but no immediate guidance regarding proper display. If your role includes distributing recognition, make it a point to also provide instruction about placement of the recognition item. Even if you don't present the items, you can always ask "Do you know where that goes?" when you congratulate the recognized volunteer. This will solve nearly all patch police cases before they occur.
Did you know the BSA actually does have a Patch Police program? Well, it's actually Patch Patrol, but close enough. The program is intended to promote BSA licensed patches rather than unauthorized knock-offs. And, it's a simple way to get another patch to add to your collection.
Officially endorsed BSA patches have a special backing so you just "Flip It" to see if its official. If you send the BSA an email telling them what you're doing to teach others to "Flip It", they'll send you a free "Real Deal" patch. See scoutstuff page
for the address and details. The program has been going since last year, but they still had patches left last month.
Let me know if the patch you get has the official backing on it. :-)
Posted: 9:17 09-03-2012 891
AZT Hike 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.
Posted: 13:07 08-24-2012 890
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.
Posted: 7:57 08-23-2012 889
WRFA and SAR
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.
Posted: 8:26 08-20-2012 887
Chief Scout and Technology
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
: 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 itís a multi-year project. Scouting
: Is technology the BSAís biggest competitor for gaining kidsí interest?Wayne
: Our national president, Wayne Perry, said in his introductory speech at the National Annual Meeting that he believes itís electronics. Itís kids staying inside and playing video games. Other people are going to tell you that itís sports. I think itís a combination of these things and others. Scouting
: Whatís the main argument from Scout leaders against technology?Wayne
: Some leaders donít think thereís 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. Thatís the cultural war weíre 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.
Posted: 8:33 08-17-2012 885
Scout Pen Pals
The last couple weeks here have been spent creating a Pen Pal Connection feature on Boy Scout Trail - see Pen Pals
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.
Posted: 13:15 08-14-2012 884
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:
- Goblin Insurance - scouts clean up reported messes after Halloween.
- Flag Retirement - collect and dispose of old flags.
- Hydrant Clearing - shovel out neighborhood fire hydrants after big snows.
- School Care - clean the grounds and streets around neighborhood schools.
- School Carnival - some elementary schools have carnivals, scouts could man activities.
- Teacher Help - before the school year starts, help elementary teachers prepare their rooms. (chance to visit with past teachers, too)
- Patriotic Ceremonies - ask town government if they need help on Independence Day, Memorial Day, Patriot Day, Veterans Day, Flag Day, or other patriotic days observed in your community. Scouts can carry flags, be ushers, direct traffic, and other useful jobs.
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?
Posted: 9:46 08-10-2012 883
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