We're back from an awesome week out west! It was amazing how well everything worked out and we got to do every activity that the scouts had hoped for - even doing the Space Needle which I would have just as soon missed. :-)
18 scouts from the flatlands of Minnesota got to experience:
- Mount St. Helens - climbing and sitting on the rim of an active volcano
- Glissading - no way to describe how exciting it is to fly down a snowfield in a minute that took an hour to climb up!
- Ape Cave - clambering over rocks in an underground lava tube for a long 1.5 miles
- Fort Clatsop - Lewis and Clark's winter residence in Oregon
- Fort Stevens - built to defend the Columbia River and never fired its guns in anger
- Clamming - digging razor clams in the low tide sands
- Tidal Pools - crashing waves, crabs, and critters in the rocks
- Bonneville Dam - fish ladders, huge electricity generators, and Herman the Sturgeon
- Deschutes River - whitewater rafting through gorgeous high desert at Maupin, Oregon with High Desert River Outfitters - real good guys
- Mt. Hood - snow skiing with nothing but blue skies and bright sun at 8000 feet, in June!
- Space Needle - the most touristy thing to do in the Pacific Northwest
I'm still dumbfounded how we crammed so much into a week. There certainly were some long days and short nights. But, the two crew leaders did great work and we came in under budget. If you would like more details on our trip, send me an email and I'll get back to you.
Check out our SPOT Trek Route
- pictures mapped to our route recorded by our SPOT Messenger
. I've heard from quite a few parents that they really enjoyed watching us as we slowly climbed Mount St. Helens and rafted down the Deschutes.
I've blogged a few times about the way cool SPOT Messenger
that our troop uses when we go camping. It's a one-way communication device to let people know where you are and to call for help in emergencies. The unit costs around $150 and an annual subscription is $100 and up, depending on the services you choose. It also includes emergency rescue insurance (which we've not used yet so I can't tell you how good it is). But, the reassurance it gives parents back home is invaluable!
Well, the SPOT folks have two things going on that might help you decide to get a unit for your troop.SPOT Adventures
- if you go there soon, you'll see "troop479" in the Recent Activity list with the sample trip I entered. You can spy on trips others have posted and see the adventures people have taken their SPOT on. These are trips after the fact
with photos, story, and travel path to view. It's a replacement for what I did last year manually for our Philmont trek. When we get back from Sea2Sky, I'll make an adventure and let you know when it's ready.Free SPOT
- until the beginning of August, you can get a rebate to pay for your SPOT Messenger unit when you subscribe for two years of Basic and Tracking service. That's $300 for two years and a free unit - you save the initial $150 or so for the device. When our troop breaks down the cost, it is about $2.50/scout each year, or 25 cents per campout.
If you'd like to follow our Sea2Sky trek in real time, check out Our SPOT Page
and see how we're doing. The messages should start showing up on Wednesday evening.
A broken wrist, two flu victims, three scratchy throats, and less than 36 hours to go. But, I think we'll hobble along and make it ok.
We're finally ready for our cross-country, week-long adventure to the Pacific Northwest and now we're bombarded with small calamities. From the crew leader breaking his wrist in baseball to the SPL getting the flu, it's keeping me hopping. :-)
My job was just reservations as needed, but there were quite a few - for whitewater rafting, snow skiing, climbing permits, space needle tickets, airplane tickets, van rentals, and new online national tour permit (yeah!).
The crew leader put together the itinerary, menu, crews, tenting, practice hikes, and tons of other work. He did a great job of distributing jobs and checking on progress. Even with all that, there's a bit of last minute scrambling. I imagine there's no way to avoid that. But, a rash of sickness doesn't make things easier.
This will most likely be the trip to remember of these scouts. We have so much packed into a week that the four adults transporting the eighteen scouts around are going to be totally wiped out after seven days. It's not a strenuous high adventure like Philmont. We've got campgrounds with showers most days and we'll carry our gear in mini-vans rather than on our backs. But, the activities each day are pretty exciting and this will be the first ocean and high mountain experience for some of the scouts.
I'll take our SPOT Messenger with us and plan to post a URL so anyone that is interested can follow our progress online. It should be cool.
As long as I don't get any phone calls about more accidents tomorrow, we're good to go! Well, pretty good to go anyway.
I've been looking for some sort of fun memento for the troop. Something inexpensive that could be given away and might be held onto rather than tossed. I finally settled on creating a custom wooden nickel for the troop.
My plan is to use these to promote the troop in a fun way:
- We hold a Scout-o-rama each fall for local Webelos to meet the scouts and now each visitor will get a wooden nickel to remind them of which troop they visited.
- When we go geocaching, we can leave a few nickels in the cache.
- When we pay for campsites, we'll leave one.
- And who knows what else...
I've been trying to get scouts to have scoutmaster conferences at least every 6 months with little success. I'm not going to announce anything, but am just going to start giving a nickel at each conference. The word will spread that to get a nickel, you need to have a conference.
If the nickels become popular, and if the scouts want to do it, we can have a troop trading post where nickels can be exchanged for 'stuff'. With the risk of diluting the 'value' of the nickels, one could be received at every campout, service project, or troop activity. One could be 'earned' by rank advancement, leadership role, or special Good Turn. Scouts that participate the most have the most to trade. It would be important to keep it light and fun so the getting of nickels doesn't become the reason for participation.
You can design your own nickel, like I did, at Wooden-Nickel.com
- scroll to the very bottom of the page to view a cool video about making the nickels. They are printed in San Antonio, TX.
If you've used other devices to successfully promote your troop or motivate scouts, I'd love to hear about them.
We use SPOT Messenger when we go on campouts and high adventure treks.
There is now an embeddable SPOT widget so you can publish and share your adventures. It's pretty cool and makes tying pictures to trips much easier.
See my sample trip from this past week at Visit Wisconsin