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Did you have a family reunion this summer? What about your Scouting family?
When a scout finishes his time with a troop, that is all too often the end of his Scouting experience. He's off to college or work, and no longer has time for Scouting. And, no one ever tells him he's still welcome to come back and visit.
Troops usually put effort into recruiting boys, and then effort into keeping them involved until they turn 18. After a scout ages out
, or makes the earlier decision to stop participating, that is often the end of the troop's effort with that person, but maintaining a relationship with past scouts has many benefits for both the troop and scout.
The past scout has contact from home, support when he may feel alone out in the world, and reminders of the values presented in Scouting.
The current scouts learn more about life after high school, see that Scouting values will stay with them, and are shown that their troop cares about them, even outside Scouting.
So, how might your troop better maintain relationships with past scouts?
- Contact Info - maintain email and postal address information of past scouts and their parents.
- Newsletters - troop scribe can maintain a list of alumni emails and include them on newsletters and other communications of interest.
- Christmas Cards - a recap of the troop's year and plans of adventures to come.
- Annual Troop Photo - include scout names, patrol names, and adult changes that happened since last year.
- Winter Break Party - college students are often home on break from Christmas to mid-January. That's a perfect time to invite alumni to a winter party so they can catch up with old patrolmates and see how the troop is getting on.
- Family Picnic - Early June can be open for many young people finishing a year of school and not yet starting a summer job. Perfect time for a reunion party.
- Birthday Wishes - historian duties could include sending a birthday card to past scouts, signed by the current patrol leader of his old patrol, the senior patrol leader, and the scoutmaster.
- What Else? - leave a comment below with ways your troop stays in touch with past scouts.
The BSA is working on improving long-term relationships with past scouts and keeping them involved as adults.
The BSA Scouting Alumni Association
offers a patch to new alumni, along with a bunch of other tidbits and quarterly newsletter. There is a cost to be a member.
If you're interested in acquiring another square knot, there is an Alumni Award Knot
for scouters that identify, engage, and participate with BSA alumni.
Posted: 14:45 09-18-2014 1116
It's been 6 years since Heather Dorniden won this 600m collegiate race, but her demonstration of perseverance will never fade.
It might be a bit long for a Scoutmaster Minute, at 2.5 minutes, but I think the message of never giving up no matter what happens is worth it.
At least having this video stored on your phone to share with a scout when he's frustrated with some challenge would be a good bit of encouragement.
To fall from first to last in the blink of an eye and then have the strength to get back up and keep racing - and win - is just inspiring!
Some people quit the race, others get up with a goal of just finishing, but a few push on doing the very best they can until the finish line is crossed.
Or, if you prefer a hollywood version...
Posted: 10:33 09-15-2014 1115
What Weighs Us Down?
My Philmont pack started out at 45 pounds in 2005. My long-distance hiking pack now weighs under 25 pounds. You can see the difference in this image.
My time on trail is much more enjoyable and there is nothing I used to carry that I'd still like to have along but don't. Besides picking an interesting location, reducing our burden in the wilds is about the best way to make backpacking more fun - making the experience fun is a key element to a successful scouting program.
What is it that was so heavy and weighed down my pack so much? Well, it was mostly inexperience and obediently following a Philmont checklist.
So, here's a handful of advice to help you move your troop to lighter, more enjoyable, trek adventures.
Since Christmas is looming on the far horizon, and summer is pretty much over, now is a good time for scouts to review their gear and consider what to replace for next year.
- The Big 3 - shelter, sleeping system, and pack comprise a large part of the total weight a backpacker carries, sometimes more than 16 pounds. A person can drop the combined weight of those items to under 9 pounds without a lot of effort.
- too much clothing - On a 3-day or 3-week trek, the clothing needs are identical.
Just 2 or 3 pairs of socks and underwear, 2 shirts, 1 pair of zip-off pants and 1 pair of shorts - not a fresh one for every day. You can wash items on the trail and dry them as you hike or rest in camp. Additional items for warmth and rain, depending on the season and location, and you're set.
- too much water - We stop at a stream to get water. Everyone fills their 3 water bottles and we're off hiking again. Two hours later, we pass another stream and fill bottles, even though everyone has 1 empty, 1 partially used, and 1 untouched. That's an extra 2 or 3 pounds of water carried by each person.
Using your route map, figure out where water stops will happen. Take on just enough water, plus a bit extra, to reach the next stop.
Fill your stomach with water first, then your water bottles. If you drink your fill right at the water source while filtering, you need to carry much less in bottles on your pack.
- Nalgene water bottles - These are the silliest, most common, constantly perpetuated myth in Scout Camping. You have to have a Nalgene - they are indestructible! But, they also weigh 6 or 7 ounces each, empty! A disposable plastic water bottle weighs less than 1 ounce and holds about 60% as much water. A scout told to bring 3 Nalgenes is carrying over a pound of plastic when he could be carrying just 5 lightweight bottles and saving over 13 ounces. Also, having 5 smaller bottles means one destroyed bottle is a minor impact. And, the bottles are free rather than $10 or so for each Nalgene.
- too much food - I can cut 2 pounds off my pack by eating a big meal just before starting a trek and as soon as I finish. This can be food left in a vehicle, or a restaurant or store stop. For the days on the trail, people talk about 6000 calories a day and more - that is totally overboard. Scouts rarely hike more than 10 miles in a day, and that takes only about 1500 calories. Add to that the base need of 1500 calories a day and you've got 3000 calories per day. Nearly everyone these days already has a calorie surplus in stored fat, so even a daily deficit of 500 calories is just fine for a few days.
With a well-planned food supply providing about 125 calories per ounce, a person needs about 1.5 pounds of food per day. If you packed for 6000 calorie days, that's an extra 1.5 pounds you're packing for every day of your trek - a 4-day trip has 6 extra pounds.
Don't forget the food packaging! You can cut 10-20% of the weight by repackaging into zip-locs.
- too much fat - Most of us, especially adults but scouts too, have more fat than we need on our bodies. Taking a couple months before your trek to whittle away at that extra weight means less to carry, and fewer calories needed each day. Losing 10 pounds of body fat is 10 pounds you don't have to carry over the mountains.
- too much stuff - A deck of cards, cribbage board, MP3 player, scout handbook, and other items to fill every pocket, crevice, and gap in your pack. They all add weight and are rarely needed. Just leave it at home.
- Fear - We carry too much of all these different things because we fear. Fear being hungry, so we carry too much food. Fear being cold or dirty, so we carry too much clothing. Fear being bored, so we carry toys, games, and books. Fear is Heavy.
We overcome our fear of things going wrong by preparing physically and mentally, and by honing our skills and planning our trek. When we're confident in our tested abilities, we put our faith in ourselves rather than in our equipment.
A final note - Scouting is an outdoor classroom. We're not here to create super-skilled wilderness experts, but to help boys grow into self-sufficient citizens of strong character. The challenge of becoming an experienced backpacker is just another opportunity for a scout to work on his character, physical abilities, and teamwork. It's ok to carry 40+ pound packs, but a lighter pack opens up many more opportunities and expands the classroom.
Posted: 9:25 09-10-2014 1114
Scouts in the News
Here's a few news blips about Scouts this week. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
- Most Pathetic - troop treasurer embezzles $16K from scouts.
This is a way too common occurrence. A few tips to help prevent this sort of thing:
- Use checks rather than credit cards.
- Require monthly financial statements, verified by a second person checking the bank statements.
- Require multiple signatures on transactions.
- Require receipts for reimbursements.
- Most Inattentive - someone steals $3.5K from scouts in a cigar box left unattended.
The story says it was full of donations which should be a mistake since scouts do not solicit donations.
- Best Eagle Project - Eagle service project to create book-exchange free libraries.
When I hiked the Ice Age Trail last year, I saw a few tiny book-swap libraries in front of people's homes right on the street. This might be a cool idea for an Eagle candidate in your troop!
- Best Memorial - scouts and friends finish Eagle service project for deceased scout.
When a youth dies, there's not much we can do, but this troop paid their respects by completing his project for him.
- Silliest - scout leader hottest husband in country?
Silly, just silly. :-) Not so much the story, because he sounds like a great guy, but the whole idea of hottest husband contest.
- Best Campout - assisted living seniors.
This troop found a great way to interact with older community members in a meaningful way.
If you'd like to see your scouts "In the News" locally, check out these tips
. We could all use a little good press out there.
Posted: 16:08 09-09-2014 1113
Hiking 4 miles just as the sun came up today offered me a cool, crisp, clean, clear hour outside. I was reminded that fall is just around the corner and summer is fading quickly as schools are open and wearing white is now a no-no.
As I was sitting outside at lunch, writing my latest story and noticing this little guy soaking in the sun's warmth on a flower stem, I also thought of all those scouts that have put off their 2nd Class and 1st Class nature requirements over the summer. Depending on where they live, they will soon be in for a difficult time completing them. Identifying 10 wild animals and 10 native plants is still easy to do around here now, but with leafs dropping, birds migrating, animals hibernating, and snow covering the ground, it will be nearly impossible in two months or less.
If you've got scouts hoping to reach 2nd or 1st class before spring, some encouragement to look for animals and plants might be just what they need.
Posted: 15:24 09-02-2014 1111
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