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Everything posted by kenk

  1. I suppose the very same question should be asked in the SM conference too.
  2. kenk

    Canoe Packs

    Cooke Custom Sewing makes some fantastic gear aimed at canoe trippers. Designed locally and sewn locally. http://www.cookecustomsewing.com/ I personally HIGHLY recommend their Tundra Tarp, and their packs receive lots of praise.
  3. The "pre-filled Eagle application" is an Adobe Acrobat (pdf) file generated by the Council using their ScoutNet records. It auto-fills in the Scouts name, address, unit, key dates, merit badges, ... All the Scout has to do is to check to make sure info is correct, and provide some information not specifically tracked by ScoutNet - or new information, such as the Eagle project title, date of sign-off, and date of Scoutmaster conference. The Scout prints out the document once all requirements are completed, fills in the names/addresses/telephone for Requirement 2 (recomendations), and then the form is signed by the Scout, Unit Leader, Unit Committee Chair, .... After I submitted the question I called my District Advancement Chair (I should have done that first). She said that since the Advancement Report for ranks don't list the specific merit badges "used" for the ranks, it doesn't really matter so long as the right number/type of MBs have been earned. She said that the Council advancement person who checks the Advancement Reports will check to make sure enough MBs have been earned for the respective rank (Eagle & non-Eagle), but they don't focus on which MBs they are beyond that. I guess it is no big deal after all. Sigh.
  4. kenk

    Eagle Question in terms of $

    My son is working on his project right now - making bat houses for a local park, so I've learned some things recently. You are exactly correct. The goal is to fund the project through some means other than getting money from relatives. My son's district advancement chair - who signed off on his project - told him that one source of money could be from his Scout account - money earned during troop fund-raisers. My son has been collecting aluminum cans and plans to turn them in and use the money as a source of funding his project. In the last few days he went to Home Depot and Menards asking for donations. HD said they had to talk to "corporate" first and would get back to him. Menards gave him a form to fill out and send to corporate. My son was not happy - thinking it would be easier to get donations from them. On Monday I'll take him to local lumber yards (smaller - non-corporate) to see if they'll help. My wife found a candy sale fundraiser that looked promising, but it would certainly take time. Good luck!!
  5. My son is about to start the process of planning his Eagle project. He knows what he wants to do and agreed on a project with our local forest preserve district. My question is regarding the new Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook 512-927. I see that there is a PDF version of it on-line (from nesa.org) that has editable fields, but the nature of that form severely limits the kind of information that can be entered. There is no way to insert photos, tables, or anything beyond hand-typed lines of text. Even then, there is no auto-line return on longer areas of text. Each line is separate field. Can anyone provide advice on how my son should insert diagrams, photos, tables, etc... into his workbook? I'll have him ask district Eagle advisor, but I'm hoping people in this forum have experience with the 512-927 pdf workbook. If find older versions of the workbook in word format - which provide a lot of flexibility for inserting items - but I fear it won't be accepted after August 1, 2009 ... and his project will likely go past that date.
  6. Thanks for the Advice!! Eagle92 - this summer has the young troop's first Eagle projects. So it sounds like the workbook in its final form is a paper item, so I can have them just print out the respective pages and then insert appropriate items after the official form pages. Before giving the final workbook to the district/council it would seem to be a smart thing to take it to a copy place and get a backup copy of the whole thing made.
  7. kenk

    Essential Troop Equipment

    Wow, the folks in this forum are REALLY big into lightweight camping! It makes this old ASM feel kind of wimpy for bringing a Thermarest pad to sleep on. I certainly am embarrassed to mention that I sleep on a cot at summer camp. When lightweight gear troops camp, what cookware do you use? What kind of pots/pans do you use? Do you bring along any foods that need to be kept cold (milk, eggs, cheese, meats)? Do lightweight troops still use the 3-bucket washing/sanitizing method? Do the lightweight troops use gas lanterns? Probably not. Do you bring along an axe? I suspect you need to in order for boys complete Second Class requirement 2c & 2d? Do you build campfires? If there is such a concern about the scars left by a patrol box, I would suspect campfires would be completely out of the question. Then again, how do the boys complete Second Class requirement 2f & 2g? Do lightweight troops ever use dutch ovens? I would suspect not. That's kind of a shame. Our boys really enjoy using dutch ovens.
  8. kenk

    Essential Troop Equipment

    My son's troop went from operating as one giant patrol (maybe 15 boys) to using real patrols with 6-8 boys in each patrol and each patrol owning their own gear. They each have a big heavy plywood patrol box with: -Brinkman two-burner propane stove (I think they were purchased at Target) -Open Country 6-person Deluxe Camp Cookset -Coleman 2-mantle propane lantern in clamshell case -Texsport Propane Distribution Tree - don't fit inside patrol boxes -Texsport Propane hose (for tree) -20 lb Propane tank -3 Rubbermaid dishwashing tubs -Open Country nonstick Griddle -Lodge 10" (maybe 11") cast iron skillet (we found they were burning teflon skillets in cook kit, so added a cast iron skillet which do much better) -Plastic spoon, slotted spoon, tongs, flipper -Can opener -Flexible plastic cutting boards (2 per patrol) from Target -12" dutch oven - from Harbor Freight Each patrol also has a 10'x10' EZup that we got on sale. They aren't holding up all that well. Eventually we may move toward more traditional rain flies. The patrol boxes are WAY heavy, but they really help keep gear together. I can't disagree with idea to use lightweight gear and stow them in Rubbermaid tubs instead of using the heavy patrol boxes. Several of the adult leaders in my son's troop are worried that lightweight gear wouldn't withstand the abuse boys give the gear. I don't know about that.
  9. That's about as clear a set of lightning safety instructions as I've ever found ... and I think it is dead nuts correct. Before my son's troop went on their river trip I did a LOT of searching and reading and it really did boil down to Beavah's list. I might add: If you're on a body of water (river/lake/...) get off. Then there is the "stay put until 30 minutes after the last thunder is heard".
  10. I wholeheartedly agree that a compass can be a great thing to bring along while on vacation. I bring a little Brunton 9020G when I go to places like Disney World and Sea World (and most other 'Worlds' such as zoos and museums). That model of compass is very 'pocketable'. I'm not sure why, but I find such places very confusing, and by combining the compass with the little maps the 'Worlds' provide I do sooo much better. As for the Shout Wipes ... sometimes I think I'd be better off with an adult-sized bib.
  11. It can and does happen even with the very BEST quality compasses. I had a Silva type 15 compass - that is the long time favorite and famous 'ranger' mirror-sighting compass - whose magnetism went bad. It was actually a Brunton-labeled compass, but it was designed/built by Silva of Sweden. I haven't a clue what cause it. The compass was stored with some other compasses, but well away from any other magnetic fields. I sent it back to Brunton and they replaced it with a beautiful shiny new compass. The lesson learned is to check your compass before heading into the field. If you're really headed out into wilderness each person in your group should have a compass - they won't all go bad simultaneously. If you're still concerned, you could also carry a small button-style backup compass - just to be safe.
  12. kenk

    swim requirements for 2nd class

    What they said. The actual sign-off is per the SM's policy so long as it does not add to the requirements. It does not need to be signed by a lifeguard or a swim coach - unless the SM demands it for some reason - though I personally think that would be overkill. Did the Scout demonstrate swimming requirement 7b or not? Don't add to the requirement by judging the Scout's swimming ability or speed - doing this using the dog paddle and splashing a lot is OK. They'll need those skills for the First Class requirement though. Did the Scout demonstrate the prescribed water rescue methods in 7c or not? Again, don't add to the requirement by adding a distance requirement to the throws. For First Class it is recommended that the victims be 30 feet away, but that isn't needed for Second Class. If not done at summer camp, my son's troop tends to do swim testing at a local park district pool with a trained life guard on duty and making sure we have the other planning/supervision/health forms/safe area to meet the Safe Swim Defense requirements. Don't forget that you need to have a health history (the BSA health form is suggested). A full doctor's physical isn't required - just a health history from a parent/guardian is sufficient. By the way, I don't usually think of a troop committee member signing off on rank requirements. Their job is to support the troop's program through their particular jobs (chair, treasurer, activity coordinator, advancement coordinator, ...). Because of some problems with poor ASM skills, I think my son's SM is starting to lean toward allowing only 'Trained' ASMs to sign off on requirements. Regardless, if the SM says its OK for a particular person (youth or adult leader) to do the sign-off on rank requirement ... its OK.
  13. kenk

    A Troop full of Misfits

    That sounds like my son's troop. For that matter, it sounds like my daughter. I'm an ASM in my son's troop. The troop recently changed SM's. He is doing a FANTASTIC job of working to follow the Scout program. My hat is really off to him. He is really focused on several key things: -The patrol method - having patrols develop menus, buy food, camp, sleep, eat, clean as a patrol. Every patrol has some boys who want to do nothing, want to get into trouble, or are the "Scouty Scouts". They work it out themselves with a bit of coaching from an ASM. -Youth leaders - The troop always had positions of responsibility, but in the past many of them didn't really do much - if anything. Now the SM expects them to do at least something. The PLC really makes decision. The SM listens to them. The SM is working on stopping the Troop Committee from trying to run the program. The SPL has some struggles, but the SM really backs him up, helps the SPL stay organized, but still tries to do it quietly - letting the SPL shine. -Training - we quickly realized that the boys (and parents ... and some untrained adult leaders) didn't know how Scouting was supposed to work, and if they didn't know that, they couldn't be expected to know how to do it. We hold elections 2X per year and now have youth leader training as soon as possible after the elections. We also have a parent's night to train parents - though they don't know its training. We are also starting to really pester the untrained adult leaders to get training - the ASM's are the hardest to get into training. -Yearly planning - for the very first time the Scouts themselves are allowed to plan the year's activities. This is not easy for them. When asked what to do - well, they really don't know. They tend to want to do what they did last year - probably because they don't know what else they can do. For next year's planning the SM is encouraging them to think outside of the box. Right now its a bit like pulling teeth, but I honestly think it will get better as time goes on. -Scout Skills - the troop keeps focusing on the basic Scout skills (T-FC) and tries to repeatedly give opportunities for the Scouts (old & new) to use those skills in real life or near-real life - rather than just troop meetings. The troop is getting better at that as time goes on. If the program is there and the boys are actively involved, then misfits or not, they are going to have fun and learn lots of stuff (planning, buying food, Scout skills, leadership, ...).
  14. My son's troop has found all too often that the places they go to camp either have no picnic tables or not enough for all the patrols, so ... Does anyone have advice on buying/making collapsible tables for use by the patrols? The plastic ones look nice, but we're worried Scouts will place hot pots/dutch ovens on them and trash them. Also not sure how a propane two-burner stove (typically set on the end of a picnic table) will be with the plastic. I've searched for plans for making a table out of plywood and something like saw horses or the like, but all I find is the one-sheet plan for a slot-together picnic table.
  15. Borrowing from the Judgment Call thread ... Suppose you're an ASM at a Scout activity with some potential level of risk (weather, paddling, climbing, ...). The decision has been made to continue with the activity, BUT you disagree - what would you do? I see a few scenarios worthy of discussion: (1) You are still at home (or work) and the troop is departing for the activity you deem unsafe later that day, but you think it is unsafe to depart at that time. They DO NOT have the needed leadership or transportation without you. What would you do? (2a) You are at the location of the activity with the other adult leaders and Scouts. You honestly feel it is unsafe to continue with the planned activity. They DO NOT have the needed leadership or transportation without you. What would you do? (2b) What would you do if they DID have the needed leadership without you, but still needed you for transportation?
  16. kenk

    Always something new!

    Agreed! We've worked really hard in the last year or two to improve our boy led emphasis and to really use the patrol method, but as you say, some youth leaders need more help than others - depending on the boy, the age, ... The Scoutmaster works with the SPL & ASPL to help them run the programs (meetings/campouts). During campouts we have a mix of Scout skills, fun Scoutish stuff (games, activities,...), and some free time - usually to explore/enjoy the new area we're visiting. The ASM's help with the skills and Scoutish stuff, as needed. Mostly during campouts, specific ASM's are assigned to each regular patrol to keep an eye on them and help them as needed. We had tried using mostly youth Troop Guides to help the younger patrols out, but have been finding that the ASM's really need to be nearby/watching/helping too. So far so good. Every activity brings new challenges (back to the main thread theme). We're learning.
  17. kenk

    Always something new!

    Huh ... I thought most adults ate separate from the Scouts - except for dining hall type meals. I like that idea of youth patrols inviting adults ... depending on what/how they're cooking. In my son's troop the adults are in their own patrol. We do our best to camp well away from the the youth patrols to further encourage/support the boy lead troop. We try to cook fun/cool/really tasty stuff and share the leftovers (we actually try to make leftovers) to share with the youth - to encourage them to try to make fun/cool/really tasty foods. It works VERY well ... so well that we're thinking of making a troop cook book - to capture successful recipes.
  18. kenk

    Always something new!

    No offense intended, but ... Why were you, an adult, eating with a youth? Does your troop not separate adults into their own patrol?
  19. kenk

    Scouts rescued from James River....

    Well, I can honestly say that I was in the same position just last weekend. My son's troop has been training and prepping all spring for a canoe trip down the Rock River (Illinois) last Saturday. They had Safety Afloat training for the entire troop, swimming tests for those who hadn't gone to summer camp, and last month camped locally for a full day of in-water canoeing training, starting with paddles on the shore and then into the canoes for instruction. A lot of effort invested in last weekend's trip. We were supposed to head out on Friday night, setup camp, have the river trip on Saturday, return to camp for dinner, and then head back home on Sunday. Friday morning the weather forecast called for severe thunderstorms and high winds Friday night starting around 7PM and going through midnight. The Scoutmaster and I (SM couldn't attend the trip - I'm an ASM) made the decision to postpone departure until early Saturday morning. We left at 6AM Saturday morning and arrived at 8:30AM. We were going to rent canoes from the local Boy Scout camp that we were staying at. When we checked in the camp master said the river was too high for canoeing and that he strongly recommended we not try to canoe the river. I asked if the local outfitters had the same recommendations - he said yes - that there wasn't anyone on the river. I tried to assemble the adult leaders (three other adult leaders and two fathers) and the SPL and ASPL to discuss the matter. I told them what the camp master had said. Several of the leaders said that the river was only 4 feet over normal (flood stage = 9 feet) and that it should be OK. I told them that now that we've been warned not to canoe we were under a high liability risk situation if we went ahead and something happened. One of the other adult leaders agreed, one said he was still disappointed, and the other still wanted to go. I finally pushed the decision to cancel the canoe trip and let the Scouts spend the day exploring the Scout camp area (we'd never been there before). They setup camp, went out exploring (using buddy system) and had a great weekend. Upon returning from seeing the river (from the camp) several adults and Scouts said that it looked OK and that we should have gone. The adult leader who was disappointed did point out that they didn't see any boats on the river the whole time they were on the shore. At last Sunday night's troop meeting - during a leader's meting - we got scolded by an adult leader for postponing the departure. He felt we would have survived the storms and done what we needed to do. I also got scolded by the same adult leader saying that thought we should have gone canoeing. He felt that the SPL & ASPL shouldn't have been involved in the decision, and that without risk there is no fun. He thinks the camp master just didn't want to pull the canoes from the far corner of the camp. I reminded him that we were talking about other people's kids. My own advice was that we should have spent the money to hire a professional outfitter that knows the river best. Question: When you have four adult leaders (ASM's), two of them want to go and two want to cancel, how would you decide? If somehow the decision was made to go, but you don't think it is safe, what would you do - take your son and stay in camp?
  20. kenk


    Per the subject line I thought this might be about treating male pattern baldness. Can someone help me understand the difference between Rogaining and Orienteering? BTW, I found this article through scouting.org: http://www.jacksonville.com/news/metro/2009-03-17/story/boy_scouts_today_work_with_ipods_and_twitter ...and the article says "Mazzuca believes Scouts should learn to use both a compass and a global positioning system, known as a GPS." I agree, though I suspect some won't.
  21. kenk

    MyTroop Web Sites from SOAR are the BOMB!

    Oh, one more silly questions ... Do troop members need to re-enter their passwords everytime they log into the website? or does it provide the ability for the PC to remember the password? Also, the EBlast feature - does that automatically send out e-mail reminders for selected e-mail events? Does the SOAR calendar have any linkage to the TroopMaster calendar? (not a big deal ... TM's calendar is kind of archaic) Also (sorry), for the activity registration, if for whatever a family (scout or leader) can't use the on-line site, can a leader (or administrator) add them to the list? OK, so I'm full of questions ... As I said, I'm a little confused about maintaining the home page items. Can any adult leader add/edit those? Or is that only an administrator task? Also, do Scouts and Parents get different accounts? Or is it per family? Per e-mail address? Again, sorry for lots of questions, but its a nice product and I'm really interested in its possibilities for my son's troop (I'm an ASM and the advancement coordinator).
  22. kenk

    MyTroop Web Sites from SOAR are the BOMB!

    I just stumbled upon the SOAR site yesterday (5/7/09) and have to say that I'm impressed. My son's troop is currently using a combination of TroopMaster for advancement and ScoutTrack mostly for its calendar (w/ e-mail reminders) and address book. ScoutTrack seems to have fading support lately as it still doesn't support imports from TroopMaster 2008 (its stuck at TM ME). We use TroopMaster DotNet. I wish the SOAR site had a way to automatically stay in sync with TroopMaster, rather than requiring ongoing importing of data. Still, it is nice that it can import that data. The formatting of the home page messages seems archaic - I'm not HTML savy, but I assume it is using HTML. In other parts of the web site creation they provide rich text-like input. It just seems odd. Our troop wants to create a web site. The problems I see is that whatever is created is usually "owned" by a particular person, and as many of us know roles change in a troop. That is one of the things I liked about ScoutTrack - it was centralized and not owned by a particular person. I'll have to show the SOAR site to the Troop Committee and SM. I actually suggested use of PayPal to the SM, but he said that the problem was that it has to be connected to a particular individual - that it can't be a general troop account just associated with the troop's bank account, AND that it is not really transferable to another individual as roles in the troop change. Any details and advice on use of PayPal by a troop would be GREATLY appreciated!!!!
  23. kenk

    two man backpacking tents

    I have the Eureka Spitfire 2 tent and it is a very nice tent with quality and features beyond its low price. The two people inside the Spitfire 2 will need to be very close friends, as they will most likely be 'touching' each other while sleeping. I also have Alps Mountaineering Meramac and Taurus tents (not backpacking tents) and I find their quality to be completely the equal of Eureka tents (that is a good thing). My choice might be to go with the Alps Mountaineering Zephyr AL 3-person tent, and then distribute tent components between the two occupants for each to have roughly equivalent weights.
  24. kenk

    The scoutmaster and merit badges...

    Actually, the Scout could probably go to any MB couselor registered for that particular MB, regardless of which council they are registered with (in the U.S.).
  25. kenk

    The scoutmaster and merit badges...

    Only a counselor registered through the council for that particular merit badge can sign off on MB completion.