When teaching Outdoor Leadership Skills for new scoutmasters, I try to drive home the Buddy System. I often say that I've not heard of TWO scout getting lost, it's always ONE that gets in trouble.
Now, I can't say that any more. Here are reports of two scouts, an adult leader, and even an entire crew of scouts getting lost in the past few days.
As you prepare to enjoy the outdoors this summer, please take time to really prepare
Some important reminders:
- Stay together - don't split a crew to take separate routes.
- Navigation - everyone has and knows how to use a compass. Everyone can tell direction without a compass.
- Buddy System - no one, not even leaders, go off on their own.
- Be Observant - continually notice weather, terrain, and crew members.
- Experience - know the area and have experienced adults before taking scouts on an adventure.
- 10 Essentials - everyone needs a small pack with important gear, just in case.
In the News:
- Two Scouts Lost - WA, adults let two scouts take a separate route from the rest of the group and they got lost.
- Two Scouts Missing - CA, scouts wander from camp.
- 23 Scouts Lost - WA, an entire group of scouts and adults take a wrong turn and are lost overnight.
- Leader Gets Lost - WA, scout leader from MN spends night alone on Mt. St. Helens.
I'll be taking two crews into the Cloud Peak wilderness of Wyoming this summer to experience some changes in attitude brought on by changes in altitude.
To prepare, the scouts have made a schedule of practice hikes and the two crew leaders have agreed on a minimum participation expected of each scout. Since we're hiking so much anyway, five scouts have started the Hiking merit badge. I love this badge! It's a great way to get guys out and moving for at least 70 miles over the summer.
We've got nine 10-mile hikes planned and we just completed one this morning. It's up to each scout to decide which hikes he'll go on and make his Trip Plan for each one and a Trip Report after each. Our 20-miler will be done after our trek to WY.
The scouts are using a great little tool at GMap Pedometer
to lay out, save, and distribute their hike route. I get to see that it is safe and we all know right where we're going.
On our next hike, I'm going to take our SPOT Messenger so parents can monitor our progress and see when we're close to 'home'. I'll also send out an "OK" message about 20 minutes from the end so parents are at the pick-up spot on time. It's just practice for when we go on our real trek, and a fun use of technology.
See Hiking merit badge
page for requirements and Trip Plan template.
In our troop, we've recently had one patrol earn the National Honor Patrol
award. The small star patch stands out nicely next to their patrol emblem and I get the impression they are quite proud of their accomplishment.
Since they earned it, a few other patrols have been motivated and started on their 3-month effort but none have completed the requirements. The dedication to completing the few requirements has just not come around. I really encourage them to track their progress using this page
, but the service and patrol meeting requirements usually fall short.
A scouter just asked me about the prevalence of this award, so I'd like to ask you all about it's popularity in your troop. If you would, please leave a comment about patrols in your troop:
- patrol(s) earned this award
- started but did not complete the requirements
- no interest in it
Minimizing our impact in the wilds should be a goal of each scout whether at scout camp, on a high adventure, or a short hike.
The Leave No Trace outdoor ethics are seven principles by which we can help direct our actions. An LNT Awareness Workshop is the most basic level of LNT training and everyone
involved in scouting really should complete a workshop - contact your council "Outdoor Ethics Advocate". See Advocate Description
(Word doc) or BSA LNT Program Enhancements
for details on LNT in the Scouting program.
Now, there is an online training course available for you to learn or review the basic LNT principles. Once you complete the course, you can print a certificate. Take the course at LNT.org Course
. Participating in a workshop is much more fun, interactive, and interesting, but using the online course to get the basic knowledge is a good start.