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Advancement Isn't Everything
There's a scout in the troop that just finished eigth grade this spring. In the 3 years he's been involved in the troop, he has advanced only to Tenderfoot. On paper, some folks might say he's "failing", or at least not "getting" the scouting program. Far from it.

I just had a scoutmaster conference with him today to check in and see if I could help get him through some requirements. We chatted about our week we just completed at summer camp and I told him it was pretty cool that he earned the NRA Marksman First Class award. He also completed the Rifle and Shotgun merit badges. He had a great time at camp.

This scout actually has a great time at pretty much every scouting event he attends, and he attends a lot. So, you would think he'd be advancing more. When I asked him what his plans were for reaching the higher ranks, he told me he wasn't really interested in that - he just liked scouting. He wants to keep having fun with his patrol and doing the fun stuff that the troop plans.

And, I guess, that's hitting the nail on the head right there. A scout does what he enjoys doing and that's what keeps him involved. Some scouts thrive on badges, pins, and ribbons while others just like burning stuff and skipping rocks. As long as they are having a good time and getting what they need from their troop and patrol, it's all good. They will be learning good stuff without knowing it. Some enjoy being up front leading but there's room for those that mostly follow along too. Those followers may not demonstrate what's required to be an Eagle, but they can certainly contribute to their patrol.

We did discuss the fact that he will need to reach First Class to attend high adventure trips next year and he has created a plan to advance that far. He's actually done practically everything needed, but just doesn't ever get his book signed. He isn't lazy or forgetful, it just isn't a priority for him.

He told me directly that he is not interested in being an Eagle scout. All the work of a project and leadership roles and mandatory merit badges does not appeal to him. If he reaches Life, I'll be very surprised. But, I won't be surprised to show him out the door on his 18th birthday and right back in again as an Asst. Scoutmaster the next day.

I need to keep in mind that every boy that comes along to join Boy Scouts is unique but every one wants to have fun. Each one has potential to accomplish great things and I just need to follow him along his trail to see how it goes. There's nothing wrong with him stopping for a bit to rest or just to blow dandelion seeds for the heck of it, as long as we're enjoying the trail. As long as he and I understand where he wants the trail to take him, I can nudge him along if he wanders too far off. Not every scout's trail is headed towards Eagle.

Scout On

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Posted: 17:39 07-25-2008 346
All Things Emergency Response
Here is a news snippet about the All Things Emergencry Response that I helped with last week at Many Point. My role was to present the Wilderness First Aid Basics training so the 14 participating scouts could receive their certification.
The participants also earned their CPR certification and completed a few merit badges, but I didn't get to be part of that - I had our troop to enjoy for the week also.

This program was excellent. The scouts got to work through staged accidents for bicycles, automobiles, planes, burning buildings, water and ice, explosions, as well as general wilderness scenarios.

(Press PLAY button to start)
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Posted: 22:18 07-24-2008 345
Recovering from Philmont
Philmont TrekThere's nothing like a nice long bus or plane ride to start the recovery process after a Philmont Trek. I was expecting a lot of chatter and excitement, but as you can see it was a pretty quiet trip.

We had a 6 hour drive to Denver from Cimarron and then a 2 hour flight to Minnesota. For the most part, there was sleeping with some talk about where everyone would eat 'real food' as soon as they got to Denver airport or home to Minnesota.

One productive thing that did get taken care of on the way home was having each scout complete a High Adventure Feedback about their trek. This provided some great input for our future treks and areas for the crew leaders to consider working on their leadership skills. I'd highly recommend a similar review of any high adventure trip.

Now that the 17 scouts are rested up from Philmont, 15 of them are off to summer camp on Sunday. No rest for the weary. Hmmm, maybe we'll see another bear.

Scout On
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Posted: 16:43 07-11-2008 344
Philmont Food Tips
On our 84-mile Philmont trek this year (trek #32), we noticed that the food we received was quite skimpy. Our ranger mentioned that breakfasts were especially light this year and I noticed the same thing since my 2005 trek. I calculated calories from the packaging and it looked like breakfast was around 800-900 calories, lunch about 1100, and dinner was impossible to figure out since there was no calorie info on the packages. I figure dinner was around 1000-1300 calories.

A 150lb person requires around 2000 calories per day for normal activity. The activity level in camp at Philmont is much more than 'normal' with all the extra work to gather water, participate in programs, and walk to and from your campsite. Add on about 100 calories per mile hiked and you easily go over 3000 calories. The addition of a 40lb pack requires more calories. Whether doing a trek of 55 or 85 miles, crews receive the same amount of food for meals. That extra 2 miles per day costs more calories which is not replaced.

Our ranger had told us about the swap boxes at staffed camps. He said they were for exchanging food they did not want for food they did want. Trying to follow the rules, since they had consistently eaten all their food, scouts were passing by the swap boxes.

By the 4th day, we had some fairly hungry scouts. Hungry enough to figure out that walking past food instead of taking it and eating it did not make sense. From then on, they often did the swap box sift, checking for more to eat whenever possible. We were probably one of the few crews that pulled out and ate things like mashed potatos and corn rather than the normal gorp, pineapple, raisins, and other sweet stuff.

Don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed the Philmont food. I lost a few pounds, but had enough to eat. The scouts learned a bit about taking opportunities when they crop up and making due with what you have and not wasting anything.

I squirreled away some food items during the end of our trek and brought them back to the troop. At our Court of Honor the day after we got home, the younger scouts got to see what we ate and got to sample gorp, Santa Fe trail mix, jalapeno squeeze cheese, jerky, apricots, pineapple, and other assorted items. This was a really good way to start them thinking about their Philmont trek since we'll be starting that process in just a couple months.

For your Philmont trek, consider the size of your crew members. A 200lb scout gets the same meal as a 100lb scout so crews should be prepared to check that everyone is getting enough. Also consider the length and level of your trek. 10 miles a day burns more calories than 6 miles a day, but the meals are the same. One more thing, weather will play a part in calorie needs. Cold weather requires more calories to stay warm at night while hot weather requires more water but less calories.

Scout On
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Posted: 11:12 07-05-2008 343
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