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About johnmbowen

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    Laramie, WY and Edmond, OK
  1. Here is an interesting alternative for you: http://www.hennessyhammock.com/ I have one of these and found that it is the most comfortable sleep that I have, including at home. However, it requires trees, and/or poles and guys. Note that they have Scout ones too. I also have regular tents, and for backpacking demand aluminum poles, free-standing tents that for two weigh less than 4.5 pounds. JB
  2. All of the above are excellent suggestions, especially the Weminuche trip. If you hurry you could get reservations on the Durango to Silverton narrow guage railway and get off at Elk Park and hike around to Chicago Basin, a fantastic trip. 14ers in Colorado are lots of fun. If you wanted to knock off 14ers for your whole trip, here is a good website http://www.14ers.com/. I took my troop on 4-5 of these including Crestone Needle, and Gray's, which we did as a winter ski ascent. All are fun, though Crestone may require ropes, as it is a 5.1 or so. I would also suggest the Rawah Lakes Wilderness Area in the N Central part of the state. It is not as traveled, is an easy backpack and has lots of lakes to fish and play in. Another favorite is West Elk, and another one is Sangre de Cristo. See: http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fuse=NWPS&sec=stateView&state=co For a completely different trip, I teach a class in the fundamentals of whitewater river rafting where the youth learns all the things necessary to run their own rafts. I also teach the fundamentals of snow and ice climbing (early June) as well. You can catch me at johnmbowen@yahoo.com if you have an interest in those.
  3. I agree with all, but again all this is usually covered (at least in my course), medical releases, to scenarios, to legal topics to responses for stomach pains to insect stings to anaphalaxis to plain broken bones, to Expedition Behavior that hopefully keeps it all from happening in a good Wilderness First Aid course. Don't just talk about it on the webpage, actively get out and find a course! Several good organizations from NOLS, to WEA, to ARC and others provide this very valuable course. If you take kids into the wilderness without it, in my opinion you are not only unprepared, but irresponsible! JB
  4. Well, that remark resembles me too, I went into Scouts through the ICO program.
  5. Hey Folks All these questions and answers are addressed in a good Wilderness First Aid Class (or better a Wilderness First Responder course). FIND ONE AND ENROLL! The Sierra Club (y'know - the tree huggers that y'all look down on) require WFA as a MINIMUM for their outings leaders who take out primarily adults! What do we do? We require our leaders to take an hour long class on how not to abuse children - and then we take them into the wilderness! JB
  6. Actually, my definition of venturing that could include the more cerebral types (though not video gaming), would be an outing or similar that is Self Propelled, Self Supported, and one that promotes a kid's ability to make that kind of outing themselves for the rest of their lives. The best illustration is instead of hiring an outfitter to take you whitewater rafting, LEARN THE SKILL AND DO YOUR OWN TRIP AND HAVE THE SCOUTS THEMSELVES RUN THE BOATS AND TRIP (eventually - as this takes time and training). It has always worked for me (and yes I do teach this type of trip). It is extremely important to empower the youth to learn the techniques and skills necessary to run the trip, not to give them the impression that the only way to go on a trip is to pay money for someone to take you. This is the WRONG lesson to give a venture group. (See: for my own, and http://youtube.com/watch?v=YLJFHBsztTQ for last year's Kodiak (Joe Garrett's trip, which I am helping out on this summer). All these things can be taught, but we need a network of teachers to help out those who would like to learn them. We have a good group of teachers, but need a network. Though I just helped teach a Powderhorn course, I suggest learning trips for adult scout leaders. I have one type that I'm teaching this summer.
  7. Hi Folks It is not so much physical fitness that is required for a good high adventure program, but the experience of doing high adventure well, the expertise in at least one type of outdoor activity, planning expeditions, the willingness to learn more, and training the Scouts involved how to operate on the trip that count more. If you are slow, simply be sure that you are the "sweep" and have your well trained and experienced youth or assistants at the "lead". Wisdom and good training in mountaineering, is when the leaders know when to turn around and go down for the sake of the group or team. If you don't have expertise, find those who do have that expertise and experience and co-opt them into helping with your unit. Scouters who come exclusively from the Scouting experience may not realize that there are thousands of people that have far more outdoor experience and expertise than most Scouters have ever realized. Not only that, but many are enthusiastic about sharing their outdoor expertise for the love of their resource. Most Scouters after all are more often dedicated parents taking off time from jobs, and may not have done outdoor adventure since their own youth. I know a few of the resources that Scout leaders can find this experience in a few activities. Contact me directly if you are interested. PS, I'm 56, and my shoulders don't let me go really fast in sea kayaking, or climb as well as I used to either. Going to the Sea of Cortez next month anyway. PPS, Take Wilderness First Aid!
  8. Brent As a WFA instructor, and a professional outdoorsman for some 10 years, and with some 30 years outdoor leadership experience, and as one trying hard to promote outdoor skills to BSA and Venture, I have mixed feelings about it. I read through some of the old posts, especially one comparing safety records between BSA and Outward Bound....an apples vs oranges comparison. By far most of the outings run by BSA involve camping next to cars, in BSA summer camps, fewer backpacks, little rock climbing, very little caving, practically no mountaineering, practically no self supported (ie where the troop/crew did not hire an outfitter like me, and I know this as I think that there are maybe 5 BSA outfits in the West that do this - and I'm helping one of the venture kodiak classes this summer on it). And yes there is little organized training for Scouters. I'm helping teach Powderhorn this April, and they give me what - 20 minutes to cover a subject!!? A subject like WFA!!!! (I teach WFA, first class of the year next month OKC area) This is the merit badge philosophy that an exposure to a subject is all that is needed, like the one that I get from people that say - Naw, WFA is just a long version of the first aid merit badge. Frankly if you compare the really high adventure outings that BSA does, I think that is where they get into trouble, though a near second is not following the buddy rule. Saying that, yes, things are improving. From my standpoint though, the Council will charge people a bunch of bucks for say Powderhorn, but whine when I offer WFA to them for a discounted rate of $65, and also whine at the cost of my "learn to raft" course which I don't think is offered anywhere else and for the same price/day. They want it all for free - which to my mind says that they don't value that knowledge. I just found out, and got on as a helper on the Venture Kodiak whitewater raft trip this summer on the Middle Flathead in MT, where I will also teach WFA. This program really teaches the real stuff, but they are few and far between. I find that most scouters who came through the scouting without doing outings with adults in the greater world of outdoor adventure are woefully blinded by their narrow experience. Tell me if I'm wrong. However, I still try, as I enjoy working with kids. JB
  9. Well, this may be a few months late, but I feel I need to put in my 2 cents on this. Before you become all smug and self rightous in your armchairs, remember that for every high altitude climber that is injured and has to be rescued, there are thousands of fatalities of low risker non adreniline types that are killed and maimed every month on the nation's highways, including children. The cost of rescuing them is never thought of in forums like this. Also remember that of all the other people who are rescued or need help in the wilderness a good number are Scouts or Scouters who push their more limited envelopes too far. You don't think on how that money is wasted, and generally most all the incidents involving Scouts are preventable with proper planning, leadership and equipment. Yes, of course, this is in part due to the fact that we Scouters field more people than most other groups, but also due in part to the relative inexperience of the leadership. Scouts therefore get into trouble more often. This is one of the big reasons that the Scouters have the perception that most other wilderness travelers look down on them. It is because our people get into trouble more often. One proof is that the Sierra Club outings leaders are required to have current Wilderness First Aid to take adults into the wilderness while no such requirement is forced by BSA for adults taking other people's children into that same wilderness. Risk is a part of life. Those of us who do these activities have indeed weighed risks versus sometimes considerable skills in the outdoors. Yes there is the thrill of adrenaline, but I can tell you that while climbing above 15,000 feet, there is little adrenaline, and lots of drudgery, but the scenery makes up for it. I also buy the Colorado and Wyoming rescue lisences each year to help fund free rescues, and also in case I need to be rescued. How many Scouters even know about this? How many have even thought of the mechanics of self rescue, and under what conditions it can be managed? Few. I see them every Monday night. As a mountaineer and whitewater rafter as well as being a teacher and guide (and a high adventure scout leader, one of few who has taken my Scouts mountaineering and whitewater rafting - all without injury for the sixteen years that I have done it), I like many have taken or taught rescue, (I teach both high and low angle mountaineering rescue and have done my time on both ends, once being rescued (private trip) and four times going to rescue, once with my Scouts to help), as well as learning and instructing swiftwater rescue and teaching wilderness first aid. How many of you take someone else's kids even a mile down a trail and DO NOT have these skills. Do you know that if a child is injured beyond your capacity to self evacuate, and to treat (even if you knew how - and remember the first aid merit badge is only an 'introduction' to first aid) when only 10 miles down a dirt road and one mile down a trail that the rescue will likely take some twenty people nearly eight hours to get in and get the kid out, and with all the subsesquent cost and no mountain involved? All of these are adressed in a simple WFA course. How many of you have current cards? As an outdoorsman, I know how to be a responder for a rescue, as well as know how much envelope I can safely push, testing my skills against the trip and staying in my envelope. This is the thrill of the wilderness, not some adrenaliine rush. This is why the Scouts is not an indoor group, and that is what is valuable to train kids in. This is what builds them into responsible adults - if they are so taught by competant adults...as you well know. That is why you are part of this forum. Using good since and experience in the type of trip you do allows one to enjoy the aspects of the wilderness, whether it is on a simple backpack trail, a wild river or even a high mountain top, and why the most of the so called adrenaline junkies are actually killed in car wrecks, die of old age or disease than die on a trip. So my advice, get out of the armchair, learn the skills, teach these skills and allow none to be injured or lost on your trips. Isn't that "being prepared?" It is all worth doing, and kids ulcerate for these experiences. By the way, Krakauer is an amateur. For a far better and more professional view, read Anatoli Boukreev's book. He was a real professional, and unlike Krakauer, who sniveled in his tent, he actually ascended into the horrible storm and brought back two people above the death zone.
  10. If you are in the North Rockies, try High Plains Outdoor. They teach Scouts to run whitewater rafts, and have a course in climbing and mountaineering.
  11. I find this to be a very interesting subject, and with well thought out replys. However, being a mountaineer, among other things, myself, I have a somewhat different view. The use of these PLBs is something that people who are pushing the evelope on an adventure probably ought to have. If there is a significant risk of becoming the subject of a hazardous search and rescue, as in high altitude mountaineering, canyoning, sea kayaking on the sea (not a smaller lake), or to a far lesser extent, multi-day white water rafting, then take one along. For most Scout outings, training, well planned and organized trips, and leaders experienced in the type of trip, who know how to play the "What If" game and those who have trained their Scouts well, these devices should not be needed. Its not too many people that take Scouts on high altitude mountaineering trips, though its been done. It is far wiser to become more expert as an adult leader (more fun too), and take or teach Wilderness First Aid (another fascinating technical skill that young Scouts love to learn) than to rely on PLBs, cell phones or other "come help me please" gadgets. Do I wear a beacon when I ski backcountry, sure...but I do the rest too. Not getting in trouble, not exceeding your experience envelop on trips you lead, not letting your participants get out of hand by doing things inappropriate to the trip and its location, followed by skills at self rescue and WFA are more applicable. JB
  12. I think that the pros for climbing far outweigh the cons. Sure, climbing equipment is expensive. For the two Crews that I work with, we have a pool of Crew equipment, including helmets and harnesses, and as we have a few climbers to help also a pool of private equipment which we use when we go to real climbing areas. I feel these are superior to any indoor gym, and usually as they are state or federally owned - well that means it is YOUR land. Now before you book types get all excited, remember that the stringent rules BSA has apply to established climbing towers and generally for BSA camps. Individual outfits on outings to real rock climbing areas basically use industry standard (by no means less stringent, but more applicable) rules for climbing. For my Troop, we would introduce the new 11 yr olds directly to climbing. These kids had no problems with learning knots, and were enthralled with the practice and preperation with real gear. As they progressed through more difficult top roped climbs, they were completely hooked. Mountaineering, caving, and backpacking followed with not problems. Retention was never a problem. The big requirement is the experience of the adult leaders. What you really need are actual climbers, who climb for their own enjoyment. Though the BSA provides some instruction, including a climbing instructor course, these are nothing more than introductions to running a safe and successful climbing trip for your unit. I know, I teach them. After you cycle your adults through this, have them follow up by either helping to teach that course, or better to go climbing themselves (not with the kids) with more experienced climbers. Learning from a commercial or non-BSA course is also recommended, as the BSA courses in my view tend to lag behind the commercial ones. The bottom line is that kids this age love and treasure adventure. That is the reason they join the Scouts. This same technique of teaching technical trip oriented skills works with rafting, canoeing, backpacking and many other skills. Don't waste your time with car camping or Scout camps (except to advance through rank). Throw away your chuck boxes and do real adventure! But as adults - you learn it first, or get someone with real experience who can teach it for you.
  13. The easy answer is to simply bring along a good strainer, and strain out all the food particles from the dishwater, put them in the trash and dispose of the water on the ground surface. This is the industry standard on Western American Rivers, and will work fine for commisary type cooking and dishwashing. JB
  14. The real problem with the bad publicity in the press, and with most every outdoorsman against BSA outfits in the wilderness is that in general the Adult Leaders spend little time training the Scouts in appropriate behavior in the wilderness. This necessary subject is what we call "Expedition Behavior." The problem is with the Adult Scouters in that most are woefully unprepared themselves for the wilderness, so how can they teach the subject? Most even lack appropriate Wilderness First Aid skills, something that everyone who leads anyone into the outdoors should have. They also lack the most important outdoor leadership skill, experience. My best advice...go backpacking, rafting, climbing, caving etc with other adults who are into the recreation that you like. The Sierra Club is great for that. Its healthy, fun and then you can use the knowledge you gain on your Scouts. Cross pollinate your new skills to your Scouts - who will soak this technical information up like sponges. The more you give them the better they like it. We always started with technical rock climbing, practiced camping with no frills-leave-no-trace-backpacking and followed with mountaineering and teaching the boys to run their own whitewater rafts. Retention was not a problem. The Wilderness is the greatest teacher for boys and adults, but only if you approach it with respect, knowledge, and that "Expedition Behavior." When you do that, you gain the respect of the professional rangers and others that use the backcountry. JB JB
  15. Thanks for the responses! Scoutingagain!...well I havn't found but that one group, but my Troop/Crew does take on other groups. My "day job" keeps me in OK for the fall and spring, and I've tried to subvert (well, they wern't hard) a Crew there who are coming with us on Deso Gray (Green River 82 miles) at a relative cost with gas of about $300/person - cheaper from WY where my summer job is. Anyway, it is more common for us to work with other groups...so, you got an idea for a trip? Beavah - what is the L-list??? and Mike, where and when is the HA Ralley?? These all seem like fun. The HA Ralley sounds like the "International Climber's Festival" that they run in Lander WY each summer, and to which my Scouts are addicted. They get to see expedition climbers up close and even get to climb at Wild Iris with some of them. Quite an experience for the Scouts, and the climbers are always impressed that Scouts would be mostly competitant climbers! Today, I'm taking my 2 newest boys out on the mild Upper Colorado R to learn about rigging rafts to flip, running rapids, learning water and just camping out (they have only been out once) and need to get started. There is not enough time this summer for me here. I'm trying to recruit more adults to just run the Troop and Crew and that is hard. Got plenty of the outdoor types, but not enough organization types (their boys have aged out). JB
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