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Land of Adventure Contest
Boys Life Contest
Hey, Scouts!
Three days to enter this way cool Land of Adventure Boys Life contest. You could win it all, but at least get a free patch for entering!

Check out Boys Life Contests for a half dozen other contests going on at the BSA.

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Posted: 17:42 09-27-2011 678
My Walking Stick
boy scout walking stick
When it comes to hiking sticks, it seems there's three ways of thinking:

If you get out hiking much, I'm sure you've noticed most people now have hiking sticks or poles, especially on mountainous trails. The extra support, stability, and distribution of effort can make an arduous hike more enjoyable and safe.

Poles are more appropriate for long-distant treks, such as the Appalachian Trail, since they are very light and can compact for packing. But a wooden hiking stick has a lot more character and feeling.

I've used a hiking stick often and just received a new Brazos Sassafras walking stick last week. It's beautiful wood, sturdy, and comfortable - a great stick for long walks. Brazos sticks are manufactured in the USA in the Brazos River Valley of Texas. They make walking canes also and the hiking sticks make nice gifts for that hiker you know. They also offer a bamboo hiking stick which is very strong and lightweight.

Read more about Hiking Sticks.

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Posted: 8:12 09-27-2011 677
Training - IOLS and ILST
Boy Scout Training Saturday was a perfectly beautiful fall day, great for being outside.
The district had it's Camporee and I held Intro to Outdoor Leader Skills training at the same time and location so adult leaders could camp with their troops and spend their day getting trained while the scouts were doing 'stuff'. We've been doing it this way the past few years and it works out pretty well.

There were only 6 participants this time, and only 3 were from our district. The spring session was cancelled due to low enrollment, so I guess everyone's trained. This Training Update at talks about changing our training habits, but doesn't provide specifics about how districts should offer training. We certainly need to do something different, I think.

You can now review the ILST Course on
Our troop just used this for new troop leader training last week and it went well. Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops (ILST) is similar to Troop Leader Training (TLT) which replaced JLT, but I think it has been fleshed out better and gives a better structure. The idea is to have all newly elected and appointed scouts in troop positions of responsibility to complete this training so they can wear their Trained patch and know their roles.
Your troop should be presenting this training every time troop elections are held so the new scout leaders can be success ful in their jobs.

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Posted: 9:48 09-26-2011 676
Good Deed on the Trail
Scout Good Deed The last few mornings hiking have been pretty empty. There's normally quite a few people out getting some exercise, but with drizzle and wind, it seems everyone finds something better to do. Today I got a nice surprise.

As I was almost done with my 8-mile walk, I heard a bicycle coming up behind me on the gravel path so I inched over to the right edge giving all the room I could. Instead of flying by, the cyclist slowed and said, "Excuse me." Well, that's a first.

Beside me was a young lady with panniers full of gear and more strapped on her bike, not just the normal commuter. It turns out she wanted to know what town she was in because she was supposed to meet someone on the trail by Edgefield or Edgeland or something like that. I told her this was Eden Prairie and she said, "Yeah, that's it!"

Being of quick mind and sharp reasoning skills, I figured she wasn't from around here. I asked. She told me that today she came from the town just south of us but had started in Montana and needed to meet her friend along this trail. I explained where the trail went and where the most probable spots were to meet someone. I really wanted to hear more of her trek but she was off again, being in a bit of a hurry. At least I got to do my Good Deed for the day.

I hope she finds her friend and has a great trek, wherever it's taking her.

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Posted: 11:43 09-21-2011 675
Unit Flag Decorations
boy scout troop flag

Our troop flag is fairly bland. Red and white with the BSA emblem in the center. But, hereís a flag from Pennsylvania celebrating the troopís 75 year history. There are three flag decoration items that can be added to a flag, if desired. These items can be purchased from the BSA at or your local scout shop.

troop flag gold stars

Iíve not been able to find a picture of a troop flag that displays the veteran emblem and gold stars.
There are no images of the gold stars or fringes on so I'm in a bit of a quandry here.
If you send me a photo of your troop flag prominently and clearly showing gold stars, fringe, and veteran emblem so I can post it here, Iíll send your troop a thank you gift.

Scout On

Well, I've received pictures from Troop and Pack 33 in Takoma Park, MD showing their flags with gold stars and veteran unit emblem. They don't have gold fringe on the flag, but here's the image. (Click it for a larger version)

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Posted: 16:02 09-20-2011 674
Scout Alumni
scout alumni Summer's over, scouts are back in school, sports have started up, and families are getting back into the routine of work and school.
Scout meetings are taking place regularly - life is good. But, do you remember those few guys that aren't here this year? Those that graduated in the spring and are now off at college or work and no longer in the troop.
Well, those guys are also settling into their routine at a new school or job, possibly far from home and family support. An occasional contact from back home could provide them with enormous encouragement.

Why not take a few minutes and contact the parents of your recent graduates and get their addresses? Write them a short message of support and mail it - it takes just a few minutes and a few cents.

Better yet, print a scouting photo of each one and have all the scouts write a note on the back and send that. We did this with a troop photo for a scout that is at the Air Force Academy to boost his resolve.

You might make it a duty of the Troop Historian to keep a list of troop alumni addresses and emails. The troop could send them Christmas cards each year, or birthday cards, or any sort of contact to let them know they're still thought of.

The BSA has a Scouting Alumni site giving people an opportunity to reconnect with Scouting.

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Posted: 7:22 09-17-2011 672
IOLS Cooking
Woody dutch oven Intro to Outdoor Leadership Skills (IOLS) training will be held in conjunction with the district camporee next weekend. I've cajoled a handful of scouters to present the sessions and now just hope it fits the schedules of enough untrained scouters to make it work. In the spring, there was no demand so I did one-on-one mentoring with a single scoutmaster that really wanted it completed. Maybe this is a sign that everyone is trained! In our troop, all 16 Asst. Scoutmasters have their 'Trained' patch and one is helping with the training. One new dad is attending the training this fall.

This time, for the Cooking portion, I'm excited to try out my new Woody Dutch Oven. This is made in America (actually in Michigan) and is very cool. It is aluminum so it's pretty light and easy to clean. As you can see, it's square rather than round and that makes some foods fit nicely - such as my enchiladas which I made last week. I'm making monkey bread for dessert tonight by using the Woody dutch oven inside our conventional oven.

It also has removable legs that are just metal screws. You can put in legs as long or short as you want, and the four dimples on the lid are specifically for positioning the feet if you stack them - I thought that was excellent thinking.

Finally, the lid and bottom are about the same height. This means you can flip the lid and have two deep rectangular pans if you want to do some stewing or frying or making pancakes.

We try to cover a bunch of different ways to cook in IOLS - open fire, dutch oven, tinfoil, backpacking, even solar one time. It's a fun time to see the options for food on an outing and will hopefully get back to the scouts through modeling and training.

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Posted: 10:28 09-15-2011 671
Act Local
Scout On Locally A couple years ago, I built the North Country National Scenic Trail. Oh, it wasn't all me - I had some help. Actually, I helped build about 600 feet of the 4600 mile trail. Many sections of the trail still don't exist - but they will some day.

I acted. I did something. I put in some effort in my local community. And, I did it with the thought that it is a very small part of a much greater whole. Someone in New York and someone else in North Dakota also built a bit of trail. Their bits and pieces combine with mine to create something amazing. Now, one of my goals is to hike the entire trail in a couple years.

When we "Do a Good Turn Daily", we are making the world a bit more connected and a bit better. We are acting locally while we think globally. Good Turns are not heroic deeds. They are small things that, over time and repeated by many, can make a huge difference.

It's easy to think about what's wrong in the world and not do anything about the problems. The problems are so big, a single person can't change them. That is why each person needs to change his local world in whatever small way he can, while keeping in mind the good of the whole.

Walking or biking to work or the store, participating in a charity hike or run, volunteering for a CERT position, picking up trash along a trail - it doesn't matter so much what you do, as long as you do something.

Check this out about Making a Difference around you.

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Posted: 7:34 09-10-2011 669
Think Global
Scout On Globally Click this picture to see the whole thing. It is a sign describing what happens when someone drops litter - how long it takes to decompose. Someone designed and made that sign and it effects the decisions made by the people that visit the park where it is located.

How much impact does a single person really have on the world?
A few people become famous through athletic ability, acting, politics, or terrible acts of violence. But, the vast, vast majority of us are unknowns in a global sense. We exist, live, and die being known by a miniscule number of people. If there are 7 billion people on the planet and you interact with 7,000 of them, you've reached 1 out of a million. Even if you count all your Facebook friends, you probably don't really know or care about 7,000 people.

Since we have such small spheres of relationships, it can be difficult to think our actions have a global impact. But, every decision you make does ripple out to some extent, effecting people you don't even know and that have never heard of you. We DO need to think on a global scale when we live our lives.

Here's an example. I'm deciding if I should take an alcohol stove or a isobutane stove on the Arizona Trail next spring. The alcohol stove is just a couple pop cans, uses easy-to-find alcohol, but doesn't put out as much fast heat as the other. The isobutane uses canisters, took a lot of resources to manufacture, and does an excellent job.
Whichever I choose will consume resources and fuel and provide heat for my cooking. By choosing the alcohol stove, my environmental impact is much less because I'm recycling and creating less waste. By choosing the isobutane stove, I'm spreading my wealth to the companies that make the stove and the canisters and the stores that sell them in towns along the trail.

If we choose to walk or drive, leave the laptop on or turn it off, mow the yard every day or every week, keep the air conditioning at 72 or 78, we change our impact on the world. If we think globally, we try to minimize our negative impacts and maximize our positives. It's easy to convince ourselves that the decisions don't matter, but they do.

Ants are a good demonstration. In my yard, there is a little ant hill. If you look closely, an ant brings up one grain of sand at a time. One grain of sand is trivial, it doesn't make a difference. But over the course of a day or two, with everyone doing a small amount, there's a big pile of grains and a new community underground.

Thinking on a global scale helps me make better choices. A large group thinking globally and making their individual decisions with the good of others in mind, even people they don't know or possibly aren't even born yet, are bound to increase the overall good. I think that's what we should be about - trusting that others will do good and doing our best to do good and show others how it's done.

Scout On

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Posted: 14:20 09-09-2011 668
Chess Merit Badge
Chess merit badge The requirements for the chess merit badge are available on and HERE.

Scouts get to use EDGE to teach other scouts Chess skills. I especially like requirement #5c where the board is set up and the scout needs to demonstrate how to force checkmate.

There's not a lot of 'doing' in the requirements, just play three games or a tournament, but understanding strategy, rules, and terminology is prominent.

Great timing for the release, I think. How many of you are going to have winter Chess tournaments in your troops this year? :-)

Now, who moves first? Black or White?

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Posted: 12:42 09-07-2011 667
Fall Already?
Boy Scout Hiking The sumac is changing colors. The last few chilly mornings have convinced them it's time to start the show. The maples and oaks take a little more convincing, but they'll come around soon. It's been below freezing up North, but just 50 here. Is that snow I smell? :-)

A lot changes this time of year. School just started back up, the air is cooling off, the mosquitos have vanished, and it's the perfect time to hike and camp. It's also the perfect time to remind your scouts to look around their classroom and see who might want to join their Pack or Troop.

It's 11 miles to the end of the trail and back from my house. I'm doing that route each morning this week so I can see how my legs feel after 5 days in a row. So far, no problem.

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Posted: 9:45 09-07-2011 666
Hiking merit badge Met two scouts for a 10 mile hike this morning and pounded it out in 2 hours 50 minutes - that's 17 minute miles. It was a great hike and I didn't notice the pace or the time. The scout leading the hike kept us on route and moving along.

Both these guys are doing the Hiking merit badge and just started First Aid with me as counselor. Since there is a lot of ovelap in the first aid requirements of Hiking and some 'explain' requirements in First Aid, we just talked about those for about 90 minutes.
We also discussed Leave No Trace and hiking safety, finishing off the Hiking discussion requirements.

Doesn't make sense to me to have them repeat everything again, so they got twofers. It makes sense to me if a scout looks over requirements and notices that there is overlap and plans to cover requirements for two badges at the same time. I think that's different than coming up to a counselor and saying, "Hey, I did this requirement a few months ago for that other merit badge."

Tomorrow, they've corraled me into a First Aid session around noon, so I've got to clean off the CPR manikins and fake wounds and see what they can do.

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Posted: 12:43 09-01-2011 664
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