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Posts posted by GKlose

  1. We do patrol cooking with dutch ovens and cast iron skillets. On backpacking trips, we do instant mashed potatoes/stovetop stuffing/ramen with foil pouches of spam/chicken/tuna/beef crumbles or summer sausage. The problem with mess kit cooking is the poor quality of most mess kits.


    We're in a similar situation. With an aging set of camp stoves, and the need to invest more money, I (as CC) proposed to our SM that we start approaching a set of 3 cooking methods: 1) cast iron dutch ovens, skillets (a few new purchases, less than $200 total), 2) cooking one-pot meals over open fires (using the old 10qt trail chef pots we have), and utensil-less cooking ("meat on a stick", one of our favorites, and foil-pack meals), and 3) start using portable stoves, in cooking groups of 4, with 4qt and 2qt trail chef pots (backpacking stoves, new purchases, less than $300 total)


    So far, so good. We could use another set of cast iron for a new patrol, and we'll eventually need some more stoves. But our guys are really starting to love cooking on cast iron. They've been reinforcing fire-building every chance they get (and are pretty good at it), and the expenses haven't been too heavy.


    Would lave to have some renegades, even a patrol, say "hey, let's try using our mess kits".



  2. We just returned from a trip (4/20-26, Coral Reef Sailing). Heard something interesting from another crew there -- in fact, there were four crews from MA there all at the same time (which includes us). One guy told me that they tried to get a summer slot (sailing, I think) and weren't able to. So they tried again on our (MA) spring break. Got right in.


    Since our arrival day (4/20) was Easter, we were wondering if some crews just opted not to go that day, which opened it up for some of us (like me) that forgot to check if that day was Easter (I just knew it was during our school break, so it was really our only choice).



  3. Hello all -- just got back from our trip yesterday. What a fantastic week! Everything went extremely well (except for one minor nutty I had: we had two crews -- the other one left shortly after dinner on Sunday; our boat stayed on the dock Sunday evening...it agitated me, so in the morning, I sought out the sailing director, didn't find him, so I unloaded on the program director -- his first response was "well, we don't guarantee that boats go out the first night". And I responded "I've been hear for 19 hours already and I'm still here". I could have handled that better -- but it really stems from the idea that I think they knew all day that we wouldn't be out that night, while the other four boats would get out, including our other crew, and they just didn't tell me. I don't like surprises, like at 8:30pm getting told "we'll be leaving in the morning").


    Anyway, it was great. Clear water, warm weather, no rain. Good wind most of the time, and I think FSB did well overall.


    Logistically, everything went well. We're from MA, and it shouldn't have surprised me that we met four other crews from MA down there at the same time. Flew from Manchester, NH to Fort Lauderdale, rented a 15-passenger van (which holds 12 people and some duffel bags, if everyone packs lightly!). We had one late-joiner to the group who arranged his own transport to FSB (frequent flyer miles, and relatives picking him up and delivering him) and we had two more who made their own flight arrangements (but joined us at the car rental place). We didn't really do much for ground tour -- just a stop at the Evergaldes Alligator Farm on the way down. Wasn't that expensive, and was mildly interesting. I kind of wished the airboat ride had been longer than about 15 minutes. Maybe if we do this again we'll check out Everglades N.P. instead.


    So -- one more thank you to everyone for helping me through this trip. On our flight back, we started discussing a 2016 Northern Tier trip :-). We already have a Philmont slot for 2015...

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  4. Hello all -- just another followup, seeing as how we are 4 months out from the trip. Just paid the final installment to Seabase, so we're really going! Airfare purchased -- much angst to get that going -- I kept watching fares climb up, realizing that I'd lost a window of great opportunity and thought we were going to have to blow the budget. But one adult leader kept his eye on Southwest.com (BOS-FLL). Caught it the morning they were opening up new routes. I signed on early, and got 8 seats for a really great price. He delayed by about 15 minutes, and all cheap seats were gone, so his seats were way up again. On average, though, we did well.


    We don't have a full crew yet -- two crews of six on two boats (Coral Reef Sailing). So we have room for four more, and while I am thinking of the prospects of dropping the overall cost for everyone by adding four more, we also will run into exorbitant airfare at this point.


    By the way, just this last month we entered into the lottery for Philmont, summer 2015. The good news is that our first-ever national high adventure base trip to Seabase will be followed up by a 2015 trip to Philmont :-). The plan gets sketchy for 2016 and beyond -- I'm not sure who will be our Scoutmaster at that point (I will probably still be CC, though).


    Thanks for everyone's input over the course of this thread. I've learned a lot from all of you.



  5. For years (through Cubs, and hiking on our own), I used what could best be described as "book bags" for day hiking. One by LLBean, one by Jansport. Those weren't comfortable day packs at all, and didn't carry loads well.


    So I splurged and bought a much higher-quality daypack. In particular, I got one of the larger Camelbak daypacks. Very comfortable, can carry larger loads. Not so inexpensive, but I'm awfully glad I got it. Day hiking has been much more comfortable ever since.

  6. One more thought -- the oral appliance is called a "PM Positioner" and was purchased and fitted through an oral surgeon. My dentist cautioned me by saying, "I'm glad you didn't get something through late night TV advertising."


    Here's the real bad news -- the cost was $1600, but was covered by insurance. My CPAP machine was about $1600, covered by insurance. Seems expensive for a couple of small hunks of plastic and some stainless steel.

  7. Well, my solution isn't perfect -- but soon after starting on a CPAP machine, I realized I couldn't go on a particular 5-day remote canoe trip with the troop. So I talked to my various doctors (Somnodoc, ENT and oral surgeon). The oral surgeon had a solution, that he admitted doesn't work well for everyone, and that (his words) "CPAP is the 'gold standard'."


    So through him, I got an oral appliance. I've used it on every troop outing since then. The oral appliance basically moves your mandible forward, creating more space in your throat. Less obstruction, less problems. But it isn't perfect. You need to heat it in very warm water for a couple of minutes and then pop it in. Sometimes in the middle of the night, it might pop off. In that case, it is near impossible to get back on. Strangely, I've only had those problems at home, not while on outings.


    It needs to be kept clean, obviously. Also -- you can't just wear it once a month. So I wear it at home every now and then, sometimes even with the CPAP mask on (I find the combination of the two means I can drop the pressure a little, and have fewer problems with aerophagia -- swallowing air -- which is worse, for me, at higher pressures).


    Overall, I've had few problems with TMJ pain, and even when I did, it didn't keep me awake. In the morning, after popping out the appliance, it takes a good 20 minutes or so, before your bite restores.

  8. For those of you that have experience at booking Scout air travel -- any recommendations? We have an April 2014 Seabase trip planned (likely BOS-MIA, or FLL) and I'm just now looking into air travel. I did contact one airline about group travel, and their quote was almost 70% higher than what an individual could get by booking via their website. I understand paying a premium for the service, but I think 70% is kind of overboard.


    Just thinking out loud -- I see three options:

    - talk to a travel agent about group travel

    - check group travel with other airlines, to see if I can get a lower cost

    - book multiple smaller groups (airline websites usually limit bookings to two adults and four kids -- our Seabase contingent is now four adults and eight Scouts) via the website


    To hold costs down, we're going to try to minimize checked bags, and travel with appropriately-sized carry-ons.


    Any other ideas, recommendations, cautions?




  9. It doesn't meet your criteria, but we go to a patrol-oriented camp in New Hampshire, and I love it. At this point, our Scouts don't even remember the old in-council "advancement-oriented" camp, loaded with all-day merit badge classes, that we are missing.


    I mentioned this to a D.E. once, and his reply was "our local camp has patrol cooking". I said, "the camp we're going to has way more to it than just patrol cooking -- activities are all patrol-based too" (and even though they don't have the same emphasis on advancement, a motivated patrol can earn several different merit badges). I asked the DE if he'd ever visited the camp, but he said no. I was left wondering why a guy in his position (he was staff adviser to the council's summer camp) wouldn't know what the competition in an adjacent council was offering.


    Last summer, a couple of DE's did decide to visit me at camp, and I took them on a tour. They were amazed at how different the camp is.


    I've talked about it on this forum: Camp Bell, Daniel Webster Council. Great place. So far, it's my favorite, out of the six or so council summer camps where I've spent a week.


    "it's way more than just patrol cooking"



  10. Had a very similar circumstance, which was chronicled on this forum, a little less than a year ago (under "Seems Like Skirting") -- but there were some major differences. We had a Life Scout who disappeared on us, just after his Life BoR. The only outing we can remember he attended was a 5-day canoe trip, about 4 months after his BoR. Didn't see him for a long time after that (Aug 2009 to Sept 2011). No POR or anything.


    The next we heard from him, was an email to me, asking about some dates. I thought the question sounded like he was prepping his Eagle Application. So I asked him about his POR -- he told me, via email, that the prior SPL had signed him off in his handbook (BTW, the prior SPL was pretty much a no-show during his SPL year). I suggested he contact the SM, and he asked why -- I told him because we have no record of him having had a POR during that time. Turned into a major event, with the Scout eventually telling us that he'd be checking out some other troops. Turns out we're on good terms with the other troop in town, and their SM contacted us about our side of the story. That troop suggested that the Scout resolve his differences with us, so the Scout came back to us.


    The Scout had a detailed discussion with our SM about rejoining the troop and "what do I need to do to finish Eagle?". The SM gave him some conditions...start coming to meetings, attend at least half the outings over a six-month period, and fulfill a made up POR that fit the Scout's schedule. He did that, except for the outings part. At the end of six months, just after his project was finished, the Scout asked for a signature. The SM asked about the agreement to come on half the outings (three)...the Scout said, paraphrased, "I couldn't make any of them, can't we come to some kind of compromise?" The SM responded, "that was the compromise."


    The end to that story was the Scout ended up filing his application under disputed circumstances, per the "Guide to Advancement". The council advancement committee met, and decided that the Scout had done enough in his prior tenure (which I think is a dubious claim, because really we only saw him once after his Life BOR) to warrant the granting of a EBOR, and the District Advancement Committee did one for the Scout. He's now an Eagle.


    So, the point: we had a Scout which really only participated 5 days or so after his Life BOR. After all of the discussions, email flying back and forth, hurt feelings, etc. Eagle was still granted to this Scout without SM and committee signatures. The council advancement committee determined that he met the requirements, and the Board of Review was scheduled.


    You have a Scout that did participate for six months after earning Life -- bottom line, he's met the requirements. You should sign, and move on.


    (there was a lot more to my story than the simplified version I posted above...check the prior thread if it interests you...there was lots of very interesting banter back and forth on that one)



  11. Oh my -- I just realized I should do a followup -- we were selected for two crews, Coral Reef Sailing. Just this last Monday, I got enough firm commitments that we can get the minimum for each crew. I'm pretty excited about this. Seabase opened up about the same time I aged out, and it's always been a dream of mine to go there.


    The only bad part -- they said I'd have three weeks once I received the letter -- not true -- the letter was sent out and I received it with just over two weeks to go. So I'm scrambling to collect deposits, and get an SE signature (why?) just so I can drop the form in the mail with a little over 7 days to go before the real deadline.


    I looked into Blue Sky Adventures, for ground transport, and some S. FL touring. At a little over $400 per person, estimated, I'm not sure that's going to make the final cut. I appreciate that businesses still need to make money, but I also think we have an obligation to manage the trip costs for our guys. Right now, I'm looking at somewhere between $1600 and $1900 each, depending on lots of factors. For example, I perfectly tickled (sarcasm implied) that we have to commit a deposit without knowing what the final Seabase cost will be, for 2014. They could have a 30% price increase, and I'd have no way to deal with that.



  12. While I've never done this myself, I have heard about Scouters buying "replacement patches" -- just a few, because if you have a stock to hand out, when you finally do go to file the advancement report with a patch purchase, you'll be picking up some patches (that you might have already awarded).

  13. There's one thing I really hate about Courts of Honor, and that is what I'll call the "baggie syndrome". That's a Court of Honor where a baggie full of cards/patches is held up and a list of stuff is read off for a Scout, he comes up, grabs the baggie, people applaud and then he sits back down again. Still haven't broken that cycle in our Courts, despite my pleas. If anything, maybe just start with calling up everyone that has earned Tenderfoot, recognize them, then go to Second Class, etc.


    But a couple of other quick thoughts -- one idea borrowed from my days as a Scout -- we had several Courts of Honor that were held outdoors. The indoor ones were pot luck dinners. So we've tried to do the same with our present troop. We've settled into an early summer "pool party" or "beach party" celebration. Then this last fall, I got the idea to so a Sunday afternoon "tailgate" at a local park. Troop members seemed to enjoy it so much, I think we'll probably keep the tradition. Now if we could just come up with good ideas for outdoor winter courts, and cold and rainy spring courts :-).


    We also had to try and shape thinking with new troop members -- families wouldn't come unless their sons had earned something. And even then, many didn't come. I've tried to re-educate that Courts are all about celebration, and that whole families are invited. So then the focus becomes having a fun time.


    One last note: my sons made arrangements to meet a merit badge counselor (a Scoutmaster) at their troop meeting location. We came a few minutes early, and stumbled onto what I thought was a Court of Honor. When he came free, I said to the SM "oh, I'm sorry -- I didn't know you were having a Court of Honor". He said, "we're not -- this was a 'parents night'" (even though they were handing out awards from summer camp). I said, "it's not a Court?" He said, "no, we save Courts of Honor for special occasions, like Eagles." Hmmm...


    Anyway, one thing I liked about his "parent's night" -- as he was going through summer camp awards, he managed to wedge in something nice to say about every Scout that came up for an award. Individual recogntion...not just a baggie.

  14. I have no idea if we are typical or atypical, but when we were were adult-led we had about 24 Scouts, roughly 18 active, and an average of 6-8 outings. Ever since we tried to actively expunge adult-led everything, our troop grew. Now we're up to about 38 Scouts, and the average outing has 22 to 24 Scouts. :-)


    One more set of data points -- in 2008, there were 18 Scouts at summer camp, the next year (my first year at camp) there were 14, and the next year, 8 (these were in all the adult-led years). Then in our first year of new leadership, we bottomed out at 6 Scouts at summer camp. The next year 8, but we went to another camp as well, and 18 total Scouts went to camp. Last year, 22 Scouts at two camps. This year, with only one camp on the schedule, we're pushing 20 early signups, not counting any crossovers we might have. Things are looking good in our patrol method world (we go to a patrol-oriented camp).

  15. Thanks -- I'm okay with the "upgrade" so far. Looks nice. Two comments so far, but one isn't a bug, just a preference:


    - suspected bug: I'm using Firefox. When I'm on the Scouter Forums main page, and click on a forum name, the page refreshes but still leaves me on the Scouter Forums main page (listing all the forum names). Doesn't seem like I can actually enter a forum by clicking on the forum name.


    - a preference: on the main forums page, there is a lot of white space between forum names, which means that you don't see as many forum names (most are scrolled off the page). Personally, I don't like to see a lot of white space spacing things out. I prefer to see as much info on a page that I can, so I can scan more information more quickly. For the users that want a bigger font, more space, etc, they can use their page controls to zoom in and out (that part seems to work nicely on this site).


    Haven't used many of the new features yet (messaging, subscriptions, etc) but I like the way this stuff is heading.


    Nice work, to all involved. Yes, there's going to be some complaints, but dont' worry -- I think things are better.

  16. C!C! -- I like that. Outside of even my "outside the box" :-).


    Here's another thought -- yes, the three aims are character, citizenship and fitness. Advancement is a method, just like Outdoors and Patrols are methods. But 7 or 8 out of 12 Eagle-required merit badges are, more or less, classroom merit badges and have little to do with the outdoors or patrols. A little incongruous? Room for improvement, no?


    Rick/Kudu has been saying it to us for years, continually referring to B-P's "parlor Scouts".


    Why would there be resistance to adding more Scoutcraft into Eagle? Aren't we Scouts and Scouters?



  17. Jay K -- please explain. At one time, I recall that Swimming MB was required for Lifesaving MB, and although that isn't the case now, there is a certain amount of swimming proficiency required (requirement 1) before continuing with the rest of Lifesaving MB. There is little overlap between the two merit badges, and there is no requirement that Swimming be done before Lifesaving, but I would guess that the average SM would suggest to a Scout that he attempt Swimming MB before attemtping Lifesaving MB (unless, of course, the Scout would have already demonstrated a good amount of swimming proficiency already).



  18. My older son was at the 2010 Jamboree, and loved it. Except that's not what he said at first. When I asked him what he did, he said he went to the ranges a lot. But over the course of time, he's opened up more and more about what he did while he was there. And to me, it sounds like he had a lot more fun than when I went, in 1973 (at the same age). He came home with a really interesting collection of patches...stumbled upon a sniper in a ghillie suit...traded shoulder loops with some South American Scouts...talked with some Swedish co-ed Scouts...all sorts of things. He loved it so much, he applied to be on staff this year. For the record, he's not so excited about Train and Carly Rae. :-)


    What I've taken away from him attending, and from me attending 40 years ago -- you get out of it what you want to get out of it. If you want to be miserable, you'll be miserable. If you want to have a good time, well the opportunity is there for the taking.



  19. Just because an "aim" exists -- does it really mean there should be multiple Eagle-required merit badges to address the aim? We still have rank requirements too -- in fact, I've always been impressed by the "vertical integration" of the Scout advancement hierarchy. For example, you have a Tiger Cub learning how to put a Band-Aid on a cut, to a Second Class Scout learning about blister prevention and treatment, all the way up to First Aid MB (and WFA).


    I like the idea of Citizenship in the Patrol (but not as yet another merit badge!). Like I said, I'd love to see a combination -- hey, why not change up the "merit badge" paradigm a little, and create a merit badge that might take multiple (and increasing) levels of maturity to (finally) achieve? Add to that the concept that we aren't necessarily talking just Community, Nation and World -- there are others:


    Citizenship in the Patrol

    Citizenship on the Trail (Leave No Trace)

    Citizenship in the Family (isn't this what Family Life is all about?)


    Yes, Citizenship is an Aim of Scouting. Like others have suggested, there are many ways to teach it, and to foster it. We already do that (across that full advancement spectrum too), don't we? Then why stick with a stale old paradigm?

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