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NCT Hiking Patch
Check out my North Country Trail 100 Miles patch! Any scout can receive this patch and certificate by hiking at least 100 miles on the North Country National Scenic Trail by the end of 2016. So, you've got a month remaining to get out on the trail and rack up some miles.
You can walk the same mile of trail back and forth, or start hiking and keep it up until you've gone at least 100 miles. That's not hard for a lot of scouts in the northern part of the country since the NCT is 4,600 miles long from the New York/Vermont border to the middle of North Dakota. I did my 100 miles on the Superior Hiking Trail, completing 85 miles with a friend on a 5-day backpacking trip and then the other 15 miles on pieces of the trail through Duluth. The Superior Hiking Trail, Border Route Trail, and Kekekabic Trail are all part of the NCT in Minnesota.
Snowshoeing, running, and walking are all legal ways to do your 100 miles. Weekend hikes in December or a longer trip after Christmas will get you through the challenge. You can read more details about the NCT Challenge.
If you've already hiked some miles on the NCT route, push it to finish it! A couple weekends could do it.
Scouts working on the Hiking, Camping, or Backpacking merit badges, or the National Outdoor Badges for Hiking, Camping, or Adventure can get even more out of miles on the NCT.
You might even win some very cool gear for your camping adventures next year.
Posted: 15:36 11-28-2016 1316
Camping Night Light
Everyone I know that camps has been at least a bit scared by something going bump in the night. My scare was one night on the Arizona Trail, all alone, when I heard coyotes howling - not from one direction, but all around me. My tiny little silnylon tent didn't feel like much protection that night.
New campers can feel a lot more comfortable with just a slight bit of illumination to fight back the utter darkness in a forest with no city light pollution in the sky. Whether it's his first year at scout camp or first wilderness backpacking trip, the UV PaqLite can help a scout relax and get some rest out in the wilds.
The PaqLite is a vacuum sealed, flexible package of glow-in-the-dark crystals (strontium aluminate) that absorb light and then slowly release it as a green glow for hours. Shining a flashlight on this and then hanging it in a tent gives off a reassuring light until everyone is asleep, and it will still be glowing if someone wakes in the middle of the night.
The UV PaqLite provides comfort without wasting hours of flashlight batteries. A bright, overpowering light really isn't helpful at night, but a soft glow is perfect. This night light is a very thin 6x7 inches, weighs just about 1 ounce, can be rolled, folded, or crunched into any small spot in your pack, and illuminates a 3 person tent nicely.
Enough glow is thrown out so you can actually read by it for about an hour or so, but it does fade over time. A quick shot from a flashlight under a cover (to not bother tentmates) and hang it back up will give more time.
As you can see in the image, the crystals come in various packaging. The PaqLite is the large rectangular item. You can also get small amounts of crystal embedded in clear, poured epoxy so they are indesctructable, solid, and reusable indefinitely. These are good to hang on pieces of gear you might want to find in the dark. These hard packages come in various sizes and shapes, and you can cut and drill them to make smaller zipper pulls or whatever.
It's a night light for camping without the disposable waste from snap glow sticks - maybe a good little stocking stuffer?
Posted: 12:44 11-27-2016 1315
Looking for a fun winter activity for a Webelos den? The US Forest Service has a Junior Snow Ranger program that you can use in a den meeting. This PDF file is a great activity book with an application form at the end. It covers science, animals, safety, and a lot more.
Scouts can receive a card, badge, and bandanna upon completing the program.
Posted: 11:19 11-23-2016 1314
It's that time of year when all good scouts take on the extra challenge of camping in cold weather. Whether 'cold' to you is 30 degrees or -30 degrees, preparing and educating scouts is a big part of a successful outing. Here's a few ways to help remember important information...
WWWW - Wicking, Warmth, Wind, and Water are the Ws of dressing for cold weather camping. When dressing for cold weather, LAYERS are key to warmth and safety. The goal is to stay warm and dry.
A wicking layer against your skin pulls moisture away so it can evaporate and your body stays dry. This layer is polypropylene long underwear.
A warmth layer is a fluffy insulation around your body to keep the heat you generate trapped. This can be wool, down, fleece, or other light, fluffy jacket or vest.
The wicking and warmth layers need protection from wind and water. Wind can blow the trapped warmth away from you, and water can negate the insulation properties of your jacket. So, the outer layer is a waterproof barrier that also stops wind. This can be a raincoat, poncho, snow jacket and pants, or similar.
COLD - Clean, Overheat, Layers, Dry are four words to remember so you don't get cold when winter camping. Clothes that get dirty insulate less which makes you colder, so keep them clean. Overheating causes you to sweat which leads to getting colder, so minimize exertion and activity. Dressing in layers allows you to adjust your insulation as your exertion varies, adding or removing layers as needed or opening and closing zippers to vent heat. Dry clothes insulate, wet clothes don't. Remember COLD so you don't get cold.
Cotton Kills - The thing about cotton clothing is that it absorbs water and stays wet a long time. This is great sometimes, like wetting a cotton bandanna around your neck to cool off in hot weather, but is dangerous in cold weather. Clothing can get wet from rain, stepping in water, melting snow, or sweat from overexertion. Synthetic fabrics tend to absorb less moisture, retain insulation ability, and dry faster than cotton.
UMBLES - Mumbles, Fumbles, Grumbles, and Stumbles.
The signs of hypothermia can be remembered with the UMBLES. A person experiencing hypothermia will have reduced fine motor skills (fumbles), gross motor skills (stumbles), difficulty speaking (mumbles), and changes in mental aptitude (grumbles).
A quick way to check a scout's state is to ask him to make the scout sign and repeat the scout law. Watching how he accomplishes this simple task gives feedback in the four areas.
See more cold weather camping tips
Posted: 12:01 11-22-2016 1313
1200 Pen Pals
Wow! It's been a busy year with new groups signing up to do pen pal exchanges. Over 400 new groups have signed up this year and there are now over 1200 groups in the database. As far as I know, this is the largest, active scouting pen pal database - please let me know if you are aware of another.
A bunch of Cub Scout and Boy Scout advancement requirements and awards include communicating and Pen Pals are a fun way to accomplish those requirements.
In the USA, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are separate, but most other countries have them combined. All are accepted in my Pen Pal program. There are lots of Girls Scout groups listed, and many international co-ed groups.
You can set up a relationship with another group and then exchange secure messages, emails, or paper mail - whatever you both decide.
If you don't see a group you'd like to meet, then there's also links to the international pen pal programs for Australia, Canada, Netherlands, and UK.
Scout On, and meet a scout around the world!
Posted: 9:47 11-01-2016 1312Previous Posts
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