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Mosquitos, finally

This morning, we've walked about 17 miles from Mishicot to Two Rivers via the Point Beach state forest. We found where all the mosquitos have been hiding!!! Our bug suits worked wonderfully and were a real fashion statement.
We have about 11 more miles today - it's a long one!
Check out my current location on the map.

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Posted: 13:06 08-06-2013 984
Ice Age Trail Hike

We've had 3 great days of hiking and met some winderful people along the trail. We camped in one guy's backyard forest, in an old camper a restaurant, and in a family's basement. Today, we're heading to Manitowoc where we hope to camp at a scouting family's property.
The trail has been nice - if you don't mind some traffic on rural roads. I figurd we've gone about 75 miles.

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Posted: 7:03 08-06-2013 982
Hike Prep
ice age trail permethrin treatment
Tomorrow starts the big adventure for my summer. I leave to start hiking the 1,100 mile Ice Age Trail across Wisconsin with my friend Papa Bear from Seattle. He arrived safely by train and we've walked a few miles here while doing last minute shopping and preparation. I'll be back in about 7 weeks, but there will be blog posts from the trail.

You can follow our progress at http://hikingdude.com with a tracking map and daily blog entries. Here on Boy Scout Trail, I'll let you know when I meet scouts on the trail or other (hopefully interesting) things happen. For example, I'll probably be staying a night at two or three different scout camps along the way. I also hope to meet a few troops in towns along the trail.

To prepare for the insects in the great north woods, I sprayed my BSA zip-off pants and my shirt with Sawyer's Permethrin product today. I'll let you know how that works. I expect no problem from bugs because I also have a bug mesh jacket with hood and pants sold by Coghlan's. I also sewed a pair of bug mittens out of tent screen from a worn-out scout tent.

Once we get a cold spell, hopefully in early September, the bugs will not be such a bother. But, these first few weeks will make the prevention measures worthwhile.

Scout On
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Posted: 23:22 08-01-2013 975
First Campout


We're on Troop 911's first campout. Just testing my remote blogging while dodging mosquitos and raindrops.

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Posted: 14:33 07-27-2013 969
Camp Stoves
fire practice
The founding scouts of Troop 911 learned about camp stove safety and operation at their troop meeting this week. There were demonstrations of gas stoves like the one in the picture, smaller backpacking stoves with the same mechanics, canister stoves, and alcohol 'popcan' stoves.

We discussed the BSA policies on liquid fuels, when each type of stove might be most useful, and let the scouts reach their decision on which they would prefer to use for their weekend campout coming up in two days. The concensus was that the stove pictured made the most sense since they could have two burners, control the heat, and refill fuel if needed.

One of the key safety items was to be sure and light the match (or lighter) before turning on the gas. I don't think they'll forget that one.

I also mentioned the Bar-X brand that many backpackers often get. They grab the top of their backpacking stove to put it away, thinking it is cold and burn their hand. So, we discussed and demonstrated how to check if a stove is cool enough to pick up.

They also got practice in refilling a fuel tank - away from any heat!

It takes two of them to light the stove right now, but in the spring they'll be showing the new scouts how to do it alone.

Scout On
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Posted: 8:27 07-25-2013 966
Merit Badge Thoughts
Clarke Green
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I expect if you are viewing this blog of mine you're involved in the Scouting world online and are already aware of Scoutmaster Clarke Green's blog. (That's him in the pic)
He posts much more than I do - both quantitatively and qualitatively. That just means he posts good stuff often. :-) You really should bookmark his site!

I have to share a link to his most recent post in case one of the three folks that read my blog don't know of him yet. His thoughts on ways to improve the merit badge system, especially the Eagle-required badges, is nearly identical to what I'd like to see done. Please give him a read at this page and let me know what you think.

Giving scouts more opportunity to choose their own merit badges from categories of badges, rather than a long list of required badges, makes sense to me. It gives them ownership, flexibility, alignment to interests, and self-direction. It helps them define their path to Eagle and reduces competition between scouts to complete badges, focusing the scout on completing his own path.

Scout On
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Posted: 13:49 07-22-2013 965
My Little Friend
One of the Leave No Trace principles to minimize impact is Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces. One of the ways to interpret this is to stay on trails when hiking.

As you can see, that is a good idea not only to minimize impact but also to keep safe. I found his little friend of mine along the trail this morning while doing my daily hike. With the three cute little leafs, all shiny and green, he looks harmless enough. No prickly needles or scratchy thorns, but he can cause plenty of trouble if you touch him.

It's the urushiol in the poison ivy that causes skin irritation, more on some people than on others. By staying on the trail, keeping your eyes open, and paying attention to your surroundings, avoiding poison ivy isn't too difficult. When you go off trail, chances of running into it go way up. Actually, just off the trail is one of the best places for poison ivy to grow since it likes wood edges just like the side of a trail, road, or meadow.

It takes only a few minutes after contact with poison ivy for the urushiol to absorb into the skin, but it may take many hours for the itching, rash, and blisters to develop. Immediately washing off the contact area with soap and water is your best bet. Clothes that have contacted poison ivy should also be washed.

Poison Oak and Poison Sumac are also urushiol-producers and cause similar problems as poison ivy.
Burning poison ivy is especially dangerous because inhaling the smoke can effect your lungs.

Scout On Safely
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Posted: 15:55 06-25-2013 962
Troop 911
Boy Scout Troop 911
There's a troop here that advertises itself as "The Oldest Troop In Eden Prairie". Well, as of June, Troop 911 can call itself "The NEWEST Troop In Eden Prairie" since our charter was just (finally) signed, accepted, authorized, officially endorsed, and all that.

We have 5 scouts and 5 adults registered and will have a kick-off gathering this coming Sunday. It has taken much longer than I anticipated, but we're now ready to start Scouting!

We have an awesome facility provided by our charter organization which is Grace church - a huge place with classrooms, gym, and lots of property outside on which the scouts can play, explore, and learn. It is in the exact part of town that is not closely served by the other 5 troops. The staff have been very welcoming. There are close neighborhoods that should provide plenty of future scouts. It's an exciting time!

A few people have asked why I'm helping with a new troop. I was scoutmaster of a troop for 7 years. During that time, it grew from about 30 to over 79 scouts, due to what I feel was a program that followed the BSA recommendations, guidelines, rules, training, and structure. If I didn't know how something should be done, I would find out how rather than making something up. Just because it was done a certain way in the past, I checked to be sure that was the appropriate way to do it according to the BSA. A very caring, involved, and trained scoutmaster staff kept the program on track and supported the scouts in developing and running their troop.

As we approached 70 scouts, I made it clear that I felt a troop of that size was too large. The committee agreed that cloning off a second troop would be a good idea, and that meant I could not be one of the scoutmasters or no one would want to split. Two new scoutmasters were found and I stepped down, becoming a unit commissioner and offering a hand to other troops in the district. At the same time, the decision to divide the troop was changed so the troop remained large (don't ask me about that).

Well, unit commissioning did not fulfill my need for scouting. When my friend whom I worked with in the troop earlier let me know he wanted his son to be in a small troop, we looked into the requirements. We found this great charter organization, got a few of his son's buddies and another couple boys and started paperwork. He'll start off as scoutmaster and my role will be the troop committee chair, until someone else can be convinced that s/he would be much better at it than myself. It doesn't match my skill and interest set, but is critical to get the troop moving forward. I'll also provide training and outdoor skills as needed.

Since the scouts are all 6th graders that have never been in any pack or troop, our goal is to help them reach First Class by next March. Management of the parents should be easy since there is no Cub Scout parent mentality in place - we should be able to teach them the Boy Scouting way directly.

We chose Troop 911 because our hope is to have an emphasis on the safety aspects of Boy Scouts, and have that become part of our reputation. There are merit badges and awards dealing with safety, survival, and first aid. Over time, I think it would be great if the scouts would start a Safety Day for Cub Scouts to learn first aid and safety skills. It could expand to include any youth in the community. The troop may even help out with Community Emergengy Response Team (CERT) drills, man first aid stations at community events, and provide other helpful service to the community once their reputation spreads. There is an amazing Scouting group in Texas called NBOSTT that does massive amounts of training for the scouting community there.

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Posted: 18:33 06-24-2013 961
Starting From Scratch
Boy Scout Membership Vote
The BSA membership resolution has passed today. See the BSA statement for details.

Over the next 6 months, I expect we'll see changes to logistics policies and training, especially Youth Protection. As those changes are being planned, designed, and implemented, all of us Scouting volunteers can continue the program we've promised boys in our communities.

For myself, my plan includes starting a new troop in town. We have 5 scouts and adults signed up and will start meeting in a couple weeks. Now that the membership policy is in place, I will be contacting families of scouts that have dropped after Webelos or first year in Boy Scouts to see if they'd like to give a small troop a try.

I'm excited to help a friend with a 6th grade son introduce him and his buddies to Scouting. I look forward to starting with a small group and helping the scouts grow into leaders able to run their own troop and add more boys that they want to hang out with. And, most of all, I'm ready to get back to silly skits, off-key singing, and nearly edible meals.

Starting from scratch will be a new experience for me. Helping boys with no scouting experience become a troop and understand that they really are in charge should be a lot of fun. I'll tell you more about the troop as we move ahead with open doors and high hopes.

Scout On
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Posted: 18:42 05-23-2013 960
Hundreds of Pen Pals
Scouting Pen Pals
Since the Scouting Pen Pals feature was added to Boy Scout Trail last summer, there have been 218 units sign up! Messages are flying back and forth from USA to UK, and Canada to Africa. There's lots of room for more scouts to find pen pals.

You can see the most recent units to sign up, and add your own unit. Dens around the country have been exchanging emails, letters, and packages with new friends around the world. It's an easy and safe way to get connected with other scouts, and learn more about scouting where they live.

Check out the Scouting Pen Pals area.

Scout On
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Posted: 13:19 03-19-2013 959
Double Prizes
Boy Scout Prizes
Hey, a funny thing happened to my on the way to celebrating the 1,000 Likes of Boy Scout Trail on Facebook.

I used random.org to select a number between 1 and 29 which is how many people commented on the 1,000 Likes blog post. The lucky winner was Cory W. so I checked over on Facebook.com to see if he liked Boy Scout Trail. Yep, looks good. So, I sent him an email letting him know he had a week to reply with his address. Wait, wait, wait,... no reply.

I sent him another email saying another winner would be chosen. Then I went through the random number, find winner, check Facebook, send email.
Bingo! Right away, Melissa B. replied - at the same time I got an email from Cory including a message he had sent me a week ago with his mailing address!

Sometimes I just hate the Internet. :-(

So, the double prize winners of the 1,000 Likes on Facebook celebration are Cory W. from Ohio and Mellisa B. from Kentucky. Their $25 Scout Shop gift cards went out in the mail today.
Thanks for playing, using Boy Scout Trail, and letting others know about this resource.

I think we should try again at 2,000 Likes. The more people that use the site, the more fun things we can do, so please consider telling your online friends.

Scout On

PS: If you run into a lost email message out there from Cory to me, please send it on its way. It's out there somewhere!
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Posted: 18:03 03-13-2013 958
Cub Scout Knife Use
Cub Scout Pocketknife
A revision to the BSA Guide to Safe Scouting is out this month, with one very important clarification for Cub Scout dens. Cubmasters and den leaders make note of this!

Tigers and Wolfs may not use knives during Scouting activities. Bear scouts and Webelos are allowed to use knives, but should be given proper and thorough training before receiving that privilege. The Whittling Chip is a good start for knife training.

So, if your Pack has been letting Tigers or Wolfs whittle away, it's time to stop. I'm sure many first and second grade boys you know can handle a knife just fine - I had my own when I was that age. But, while Scouting, follow the Scouting guidelines and keep everyone safe. Review Age-appropriate Activities on scouting.org for a chart of what's cool to do at each level of Scouting.

It's the unit leader's responsibility to know, understand, and follow the BSA safety guidelines. Give copies of the BSA Commitment to Safety to all your unit volunteers, get them trained, and enjoy Scouting.

Scout On
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Posted: 6:29 03-12-2013 957
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