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  • LATEST POSTS

    • This is a very simple and practical scout skill. If I'm transporting scouts who have hand-helds (and their parents will allow it), I always ask them to look up directions and help me navigate. I might even suggest they add a coffee shop I'd like to try as a waypoint!
    • Some good stuff here! We've found an Android smartphone app called "Backcountry Navigator" (free) does a nice job of allowing 7.5-minute quad topo downloads over wifi or cellular for use when there's no cell signal at all (smartphone GPS receiver still works without cell signal). Google Earth (free) is also great for selecting coordinates of features to be used in a GPS course. So, with a little prep it's pretty easy to set up a course in the local park, or even around a shopping mall or other large open space.  
    • I hear you and agree with your sentiment - not everything has to be geared around high adventure and skills are scaleable. I keep harping on the use of car-based GPS because Second Class scouts are almost always not yet driving and therefore couldn't independently apply the skills. That's why I'd lean towards teaching GPS skills at a local park or even the CO facility if it's reasonably large. A simple course could be set up with way points/coordinates to help scouts learn the device's input interface and understand the level of accuracy of different devices in different settings (tall buildings, tree cover, etc).
    • To me, the requirement is intended to teach that GPS navigation is valuable for certain situations, but is not quite superior to compass/map.   Smartphone GPS especially is reliant on satellite and cellular signal triangulation (and in most cases, internet signal to download the map).  If you are in a backcountry area with limited to no cellular signal, it can be pretty widely imprecise.  A dedicated GPS unit is  typically more reliable.  This requirement itself is just a basic learning experience, so I wouldn't ask a youth to use the GPS and locate a spot 5 miles away and walk the route.  I have used it within a scout camp and within a local park and had the scouts pick a spot that was perhaps a 15 minute walk, which gave them some perspective (much like with a compass/map) that as much as they need to give attention to the GPS, they also have to lift their head and watch where they are going.  I have a pretty high-end GPS unit, with topo maps for most of the Northeast loaded- I used to do geocaching, but haven't in a bit- but most basic GPS units don't have full topo maps included.  So, lesson learned that just because the GPS says to go directly north for 1,500 feet doesn't mean the GPS understands that there is a ravine ahead, or a river, or a building, or a jungle gym, etc.      I would, in your shoes, not sign that requirement, but offer to the scout we'll take some time on our next campout (or, even offer to meet them and their parent on a Saturday morning at a local park) to do this exercise to get them their sign-off.  Encourage them you are glad they had that experience, as they now understand the basics of how the GPS navigation works, so this will be an easy requirement for them to complete when you get together.   
    • Have you ever made grits?  You have to boil for at least 5 minutes for quick grits (15 minutes for regular grits). That and the cleanup make it impractical for backpacking.  
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