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John D

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Everything posted by John D

  1. John D

    Deaths at Jamboree

    A terrible tragedy but so easily avoided. Hadn't any of these guys worked with aluminum ladders, TV antennas or aluminum masted sailboats? Seems to me all units should junk this type of massive dining structure, clearly they are unsafe. Don't give it away or sell it, cut up the fabric, break the poles, put it in a dumpster.
  2. Bob that's a good story but doesn't have much to do with folks trying to run traditional scout units. The way I would describe the situation is "fewer and fewer scouts are really COMPETENT". Scouts do not learn the constellations anymore, not required. Scouts cant cut up an onion or follow a recepie, not required. Map and compass skills are almost gone from the basic requirements. The bums rush to 1st class then to Eagle strips out most traditional scout skills which are only learned by repetition. They do it once, check the form, forget it. I hear the lame chorous of leaders who chant "if they want to be experts at these things, let them earn the merit badge" . In the old days you did not need Orienteering MB to plot a course on a map, or Astronomy to point out the big dipper.
  3. Perhaps it is beyond the scope of the current topic but seems to me a lot of Troops need to update their menus a bit. The thread on obese scouters touched on this a few months ago. Do people cook anything other than grilled meats (suspected of causing cancer), Dutch Oven (tasty but essentially an iron pot of fat) and freeze dried glop (full of salt and preservatives)? No wonder the scouters and scouts are overweight. Have we forgotten about vegetables? I got so frustrated over this a few years back I wrote my own cookbook. Anybody read "One Pan Gourmet" by Don Jacobson? Lots of good iseas for hikers & bikers who want to eat well.
  4. What about my example of Ramen noodles and a snickers bar (a time honored Appalachian trail meal), does that satisfy the requirement? What is the point, check off boxes on a form and rush guys thru or teach a useful and enjoyable skill? Reminds me of my trip across Mt Kenya a few years ago. I hired a local farmer to haul my pack with a small pressure cooker, we had beef stew, red beans and rice, corn meal mush for breakfast. A British school group we encountered had labelled packets of British glop for each day, each meal, pots for water boiling and propane stoves. I would argue these kids knew nothing of cooking at the beginning and learned nothing on the trip. Just like a lot of scouts I meet.
  5. A key question here seems to be, what is cooking? Have our standards fallen so low that boiling water and adding it to a packet of freeze dried powder is cooking? Not in my book. A kid might as well make ramen noodles with a snickers bar on the side and call that cooking. IMHO cooking should involve preparation of fresh ingredients , using simple tools, and following a recepie. It teaches an important life skill. I would never accept the "freeze dried glop" preparation as a cooking requirement. Now if you are 5 days into the 100 mile wilderness of Maine with no supplies you have no choice. Most scout camping is not like this and "glop cooking" is just another watered down requirement, greasing the path to Eagle while teaching the kid nothing useful. Bob, how is the lad expected to make french toast for mom on Mother's day if all he know is the glop method?
  6. Sounds like a bit of creativity is needed here. And Bob, no offense, but the meal you describe sounds horrible. When we have a small turnout, 6-8 boys, we take the MSR and a 12 quart aluminum pressure cooker pot without the lid. Set up the pot, brown some meat, add water and instant veg soup mix, cut up fresh veggies for a nice beef stew. Chili is also easy. Spanish rice, even chicken and dumplins. My family (5 of us) rode bikes thru France for a month and hiked in the Italian alps for a month with just this setup, large aluminum pot, MSR, creativity. The setup for high altitudes is the same, just take the lid. Makes rice or taters in 10 minutes, beans in half hour. Toss the cheap little mess kit pans, they're junk.
  7. John D

    Preferred Types of Compasses For Scouting

    Good post, Seattle. I like your style, bicycling with the lads, hiking etc. We try to do similar things here in the MEast within the linits of a brutal climate, already over 100F here every day. Another problem we have is detailed topos are considered military secrets , a rebel group could use them to hide in the desert and start a revolution, so they are banned. On the plus side there is no private ownership of land, (the king owns everthing), so you can strike out in any direction without worrying about some landowner coming after you with a shotgun (also banned!). So as long as you carry plenty water and keep your bootleg map tucked inside your shirt it ain't bad. Keep posting, maybe I'll live in a cool place like Seattle someday, Allah willing.
  8. John D

    Preferred Types of Compasses For Scouting

    Great story, Korea Scouter, very funny. On the subject of declination seems to me the majority of scout leaders neither understand it nor teach it. I used to give a little seminar on it to advanced scouts but their eyes glazed over when there was no declination box to check for First Class. Same with the basics of GPS, it's amazing technology, very interesting, but no box to check. Kids don't want to be bothered with too much gratuitous info in their mad rush to 1st class. And after 1st class, who cares? INHO declination has gone the way of learning the constellations, tracking animals and building a bow-drill fire. "Which requirement is this for?" seems all they care about.
  9. John D

    Cooking in Camp...expectations

    Good examples, Eagledad. As a SM who loves to cook I always worried about meal disasters. Our campouts are tiny, maybe 8 guys and 2 adults, and we all eat from one pot. I "hovered " over the cooking at campouts , double checking everything, being too involved. Then I sat down and wrote a 20 page cookbook of my favorite recepies, with some from Betty Crocker adapted for camp. The boys prepare a menu, cook the food at camp and I don't have to "hover", they follow the book. Much better.
  10. John D

    Cooking in Camp...expectations

    Agree with the above posters on banned stuff like ramen and hot dogs. Problem is to find alternative recepies that don't involve lugging a dutch oven around. The DO is great but most DO cooking is fat-laden, not healthy, and the boys are not prepared for backpacking. Very nice healthy meals can be prepared quickly without a DO or resorting to instant junk. As an example, anybody out there ever use a small pressure cooker? Easy to backpack, works at all altitudes and conserves fuel. I have a 1 liter model that has been from Mt Kilmanjaro to Indian Kashmir to a sailboat in the South Atlantic. Makes rice in 10 minutes, beef stew in 20, it's a jewel. Another example is a thick aluminum 10 liter pot from an old pressure cooker, about the size of a 12 inch DO, with a plastic handle. Cooks a mean stew or soup, ideal patrol cookware, and it's portable.
  11. John D

    Obese Scouters

    Kudos to you, Seattle, for bringing this up, it's not an easy topic. Seems to me many volunteers tend to suffer from "self neglect". My wife gained 20 lbs and ran up a huge cell phone bill when she served as Committee chair, too busy to eat well, exercise etc. Years later she still hauls around the 20 lbs. People who serve others need to look after themselves.
  12. John D

    Obese Scouters

    Here are some suggestions: 1) Counsel all the merit badges that involve exercise, like cycling and swimming. As SM I even joined the Lifesaving MB session as a student because it was interesting and good exercise. 2) Avoid the drive thru lane. If you are too busy with scouts and other stuff to eat a proper meal, let some stuff slide. 3) Look at the parents. If they take time for tennis or golf after work, what are you doing discussing the welfare of their darn kids at some silly meeting? You should be out on the links breathing fresh air. 4) Plan a high adventure trip and train for it. We are going to climb Mt Kenya in Africa ( 5000 meters) next year and have a rule that only people that can run a 9 minute mile can come. At meetings before the trip we run a mile just after opening. Fat kids, adults, everyone. 5) If you have a kid in scouts, do the active MBs with him. 6) Avoid the cluster of chubby parents at camp who poke the fire all day cooking chili or fried potatoes or such. Just some ideas from a 50 yr old who struggles with a bit of extra weight.
  13. John D

    Obese Scouters

    This thread reminds me of brief visits to Sam Houston council events in Houston, Americas fattest city. The Council and unit people were massive, some to an unhealthy extent. I think scouting can make you fat. Serious scouters do not allow time for exercise or proper meals, they spend too much time in the Chevy Suburban at the fast food window, on the way to some scout event! You need balance, folks. Be selfish sometimes, take care of yourself, avoid junk food, don't over commit. Stay home and make a salad. Go for a jog. Give up soft drinks. Don't let scouting and other volunteer stuff ruin your health.
  14. John D

    baseball/scouts conflicts

    "Since practices are Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday and games are on Tuesday and Friday." Are you kidding? Is this a joke? Baseball has some sort of activity 4 days a week? Amazing. What about studying? What about everything else? IMHO this baseball program has taken over kids lives, it sounds like the East German gymnastic camps of the '80s or baseball camp in Castro's Cuba. Are parents too timid to raise an objection? We had a crazy swim coach here a few years ago, former Olympian, gradually increased the number and length of practices until it became a sort of cult. Screamed at kids who missed practice or gained weight. She was nuts. I think many of these coaches and band directors are frustrated people acting out childhood fantasies of glory thru kids. The average SM has a job unrelated to scouts, but with these people sports, drama or band are their profession and hobby, their whole life. It is actually rather sad.
  15. John D

    Hiking boots on a budget?

    Eagledad: Good comments, it's amazing that quality boots can be had for such prices. Most of my hiking is in Nepal, Kenya or Europe and these cheap boots are not available. Possibly I'm out of date. Still love the look and feel of European leather, call me sentimental. Reminds me of a trekking shop in Nepal that had a bunch of used boots, great ones; nearly bought a pair but I was told some came from climbers who did not "return alive from the mountain" and their stuff was sold by their porters. Sobering. You mention breaking in boots with a 100 miles of walking. How do you get scouts to do this? I can't get anyone interested in Hiking MB, swimming and biking are easier, and forget Backpacking MB, too hard. Ditto for Philmont. You must have some outstanding motivational techniques. Far as I can tell you can get to Eagle with only the 5 mile second class hike, you can even substitute a bike ride for that, so how do you get kids to hike so much? All this discussion about boots is moot if kids won't hike.
  16. Ditto the above poster, Timberline Outfitters rule. We have the 4 man with the annex, a large tarp that provides ideal cooking and storage space. Our family of 5, three teenagers, spent a month in France biking and a month in northern Italy hiking with this tent, it was cosy but we have great family memories. Like when we pitched it in Versailles outside Paris at a campground, rode to town on the train, saw gay Paree for around $50 a day. Camped in Pisa, Italy, saw the historic stuff, came back to camp to find a bus load of Dutch girls at the clothing-optional pool, ouch, ouch,.... But I digress. Hard to do these things with aircraft-hangar size tents, I say stick with small, go farther, see more.
  17. John D

    Hiking boots on a budget?

    Lynda J you're a machine, no doubt about it. Anyone who can hike like you after working in a garage all day could probably run a marathon in flipflops. My point is , the average scout should economise somewhere else, not your feet. Skip the water purifying gizmos (bleach is just as good), the freeze dried food (a rip off) and invest in good boots. And more Troops should try my boot buy-back plan. Our Troop pays half price for any good quality boots a kid outgrows, then sells them to younger kids. Now some folks are snobs and wont touch yucky used boots, rather have new Chinese ones from Rip Mart than 2 year old Italian boots. That's fine, just don't walk too far from the parking lot.
  18. John D

    Hiking boots on a budget?

    You get what you pay for, like anything else. Like the people who park their Lincoln Navigator at the trailhead and stroll off in WalMart boots. What do the above posters do when their cheap boots fall apart 10 miles from camp? We had a scout lose both soles from cheap($75) boots last year, he was nearly crippled when he got to the car. Another kid broke an ankle because the cheap steel-toed (imagine!) boots his mom bought him at a discount store didn't fit so he hiked in tennies. Our Troop keeps an inventory of good used boots donated by former scouts (Vasque, Montrail etc) that kids can borrow, use and return when they outgrow them. Some boots have had 3-4 owners, still working, and better than new junk. Also Ebay seems to have a lot of good used boots cheap cheap. Give yourself a break and don't buy junk.
  19. John D

    watchout, we are here

    Seems to me the main reason the BOR consists of adults is to give boys the experience of explaining himself to adults he does not know , the same sort of thing you go thru in college admission and job interviews. We try to have one or two non parents on the board as "friendly strangers". It is am important growth experience. When the time comes for asking for that summer job or explaining your high school record to the admissions officer a scout is ready.
  20. John D

    Propane vs. white gas

    IMHO propane is part of an "idiot proofing" trend seen in a lot of scout activities. Reminds me of a British scout group I met in Kenya. They had propane stoves, packets of freeze dried food, each day in a labelled zip lock bag, plastic spoons and forks, aluminum pot to prepare this "glop" in. That was it. It was "safe" and absolutely fool proof, no oportunity for error or accident. Is this the direction we should go? One evening I bought a nice beef roast, veggies from very attractive village ladies, prepared a fine stew on my MSR and 1 liter pressure cooker. It smelled great, tortured them a bit.
  21. This reminds me of an incident on a large lake in the midwest when I was a scout, we paddled out of a protected cove into the body of the lake and were slammed by waves, swamped in minutes. Had to be rescued by a passing skier. Canoeing on large lakes and the sea is not for amateurs. A 20 mph wind blowing over a mile of open water can build a 3 foot wave in 30 minutes, the wave height is proportional to the wind speed, fetch(open area) and time the wind blows. Most non experts cannot move a canoe against such a wind. Very sobering incident.
  22. John D

    Propane vs. white gas

    ....I should mention white gas is $10 a gallon here, no lead is 80 cents, propane cans are expensive, kerosene is almost free and the MSR stoves save us a bundle.
  23. John D

    Propane vs. white gas

    We use a mix of stoves depending on the Scout's skill level. Beginners use propane backpacking stoves because they're idiot proof. More advanced scouts get to use MSR gasoline stoves filled with no lead after some instruction, they also learn to convert the MSR to kerosene and try it.
  24. Too bad it's not available. The scout committee here is thinking about paying his airfare and if he could get some training it would be easier to sell the idea. One of the many problems of overseas Troops is lack of this sort of training.
  25. Our SPL is going to the Jamboree. Will any Junior Leader Training be available there? He is interested in JLTC, not available in our overseas location. Thanks.
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