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Everything posted by kenk

  1. Questions to those whose troop is camping backpacking style (not intending to hijack this thread): How do you handle dish/pot washing? Do you use three pots and use chlorine to sterilize? Do you sterilize with boiling water - as they do at Philmont?
  2. I wonder how many troops are providing lists of bearings & distances and have the Scouts just walk the course? The requirement calls for use of a map & compass. How does a map come in to play using a list of bearings & distances? If folks googled "orienteering" they'd find out that it is a popular sport that involves handing the participant a map on which a series of "control points" have been marked. The participant must find the control points IN ORDER (1, 2, 3, ...) using the map and a compass. Map reading skills tend to be more important than the use of the compass since they'll typically need to walk around stuff rather than walk in a straight bearing line. This is so much more like real life use of a map! In real use we aren't given bearings and distances, but rather we know we need to get from where we are to "there". We can use a compass to guide us, but we also rely on land features.
  3. It is a silly item on an annual medical form. Its better suited to a permission slip. Actually, it might be nice for a permission slip to allow the parent to specify who should NOT drive their children.
  4. I don't use flashlights anymore. My advice is to spend the money on a decent LED headlamp that will last many years. I prefer those that use the AAA batteries that mount inside the main head of the headlamp. Excellent models include Princeton Tech EOS (~$35) and Petzel Tikka XP ($55). My own preferece is the EOS. They pack small. The EOS has a perfect mix between flood and beam. You can hang them, hold them in your hand, and ... get this! ... if you put it on your head it automatically points in the direction you're looking. Cool technology, eh? Perfect for setting up tents or cooking at night. No more lanterns! For Scouts, you might try the lower cost LED headlamps sold at Walmart, Target, ..., but they simply don't come close to comparing to the EOS.
  5. I haven't posted in quite a while, but have some definite recommendations. I'm 52 and 6'5" tall. Tent camping has gone from something I loved to something I have to deal with the enjoy the day. My suggestion is to look at a simply designed 5-person or 6-person tent that has a 6' tall center. Though I have to lean my head a bit, it is very easy to stand to put on pants and get dressed. These are typically with a floor dimension something like a 8'x10' (5-person) or 10'x10' (6-person). The simplest design is one that has just two poles that from opposite corners and my preference is one that doesn't have pole sleeves, but rather has clips that fasten to the poles ... then there is a fly that covers the whole thing. Kelty makes a very nice tent like that - Trail Dome 6, but it is kind of pricey. What I would suggest you get is a tent from Alps Mountaineering since they make great tents, plus they give a large discount to Scouters (Boy & Girl). Their main website is http://www.alpsmountaineering.com , but their Scout discount site is http://www.scoutdirect.com. You register with them, they send you a price list, and then you call them and place the order. Very nice people. Models with aluminum poles are recommended. I have a Meramac 6 and a Taurus 5, but they have some newer models that look nice too. I think the vestibule tent is easier to set up, but the hooded entrance is easier to go in and out of. BTW, talk about getting old! In the last few years I found myself hating the getting up in the middle of the night to make the trip to the latrine. Eventually I tried using a pee-bottle (an old Nalgene bottle wrapped with friction tape so as not to mis-identify it in the night). I had an orange narrow-mouth (as opposed to wide-mouth) bottle so nobody knows what it is, and take it with me to the latrine each morning, and rinse it out with water. It was kind of embarrassing at first, but now its no big deal. Nobody knows. Do keep in mind that these days my kids don't tent with me, but are tenting with buddies.
  6. The claw on a hammer works very well, and can be used for other stuff too.
  7. Skeptic, Clearly you are referring to my posts, and I'll take that as a personal attack on my own ability to interpret and act on advancement requirements and national policies. I've spent too many years devoting too much time to Scouts and Scouting - as Den Leader, Cubmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, and Advancement Coordinator - to put up with that kind of crap. I thought that this forum was a place to ask questions and discuss opinions. If those on this forum feel that my comments and questions are silly, immature, or an indication of some lack of ability to make a decision, then this isn't the kind of forum that I thought it was, and I've got better things to do than to waste my time here.
  8. "My policy is if the Scout has begun work on the next rank before 1/1/10 as determined by a signed off a dated requirement for that rank then he works under the old rules for that rank only. The new rules apply to the next rank. " Eagle732, That is the assumption I'm working under too. That is what I'm telling our troop we need to do.(This message has been edited by kenk)
  9. I agree that he should have a uniform for each troop. Might I suggest rigging up some kind of Velcro system for his troop numerals? - like they use in the Army. Why is he an active member of two troops?
  10. I also just sent this to the same council advancement person: there is also a debate about the new Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class Scoutmaster conference requirements that Scouts discuss four examples of how they lived up to the points of the Scout Law. Here are the requirements as written in the new Boy Scout Handbook: TF 13: "Discuss four specific examples of how you have lived the points of the Scout Law in your daily life." SC 11: "Discuss four specific examples (different from those used for Tenderfoot requirement 13) of how you lived the points of the Scout Law in your daily life." FC 12: "Discuss four specific examples (different from those used for Tenderfoot requirements 13 and Second Class requirements 11) of how you have lived the points of the Scout Law in your daily life. Note that the second two requirements have the word "different" associated with the phrase "specific examples". Some people feel that these can be twelve different examples of living the very same point of the Scout Law. That is what it says. Others feel the intent was to use four Scout laws for Tenderfoot, four different Scout Laws for Second Class, and the remaining Scout Laws for First Class ... but that is not what it says. To add to the confusion, the web site http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards/2010RankUpdates.aspx lists these requirements using completely different phrases with very different meanings: TF: "He must also be able to discuss four specific examples of how he lived the points of the Scout Law in his daily life." SC: "He must again discuss four examples of how he lived four different points of the Scout Law in his daily life." FC: "He must discuss four more examples of how he lived the remaining four points of the Scout Law in his daily life." Note that the wording given at scouting.org has the word "different" associated with the four points of the Scout Law. This is VERY different meaning than what is given in the Boy Scout Handbook. They can't change the requirements' in scouting.org without is being an official revision of the requirements. This confusion needs to be resolved by National as soon as possible!!
  11. I just send this request for clarification from the national office to my council advancement person: While I'm sure you are aware that a series of changes in advancement requirements are effective as of January 1, 2010, you may or may not be aware that there is a fair amount of confusion and debate regarding how they are to be implemented. The details of the implementation are given on at the bottom of page 443 in the new Boy Scout Handbook: "The rank requirements in this book are official as of January 1, 2010." - simple enough "If a Scout has started work toward a rank before that date using requirements that were current before January 1, 2010, he may complete that rank only using the old requirements." Here is where the confusion begins ... it is not uncommon for boys to have begun work on Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class requirements when January 1st rolls around. I have interpreted this to mean that they can only use the old requirements to complete the NEXT rank, and any remaining ranks must be completed using the new requirements, but others feel that as long as they have even one requirement signed off, that they are then "grandfathered" for that rank. "Any progress toward a rank that is begun after January 1, 2010, must use the requirements in this Handbook or in the Boy Scout Requirements book." This actually seems to support the "grandfathered" interpretation - that a rank for which ANY progress was begun before January 1, 2010, can be completed using the old requirements. I hope the national office will address this confusion VERY soon.
  12. Is it comfortable for your son? If not, he won't wear it. The other thing to remember is that your son will grow all too quick in the next few years. Buy good gear, but watch the price. Compare the cost at local stores with prices for store-brand gear from sellers like Campmor, Cabelas, Lands End, ... (consider shipping costs too).
  13. Thanks OS! I just found this site: http://www.e-scoutcraft.com/activities/philmont_way.pdf It answered many of my questions too. Ken
  14. Last night I was looking at Troop 679's photos of a their 2008 Philmont trek. http://www.overthehills.com/Travel/Philmont-Scout-Ranch-Cimarron (I'm not associated with that troop, nor do I know them) First, though I'm an avid photographer, I am sooo impressed by Bruce's (one of the adult leaders) ongoing attention to take enough photos to tell the story of their trip and for adding caption to every pic. I felt like I was there. When I'm out with the troop (ASM) I often find I get caught up in the moment and forget to take pictures, but wish I had taken them. Second, while I was at Philmont's summer camp-like activity as a kid (under 14 visiting with my parents) I never have done the backpacking trip. My son's troop put in for a trip in 2010, but lost the lottery. Anyway, looking at the album brought up some silly questions: 1. Are there many bugs (mosquitos) at Philmont? I can't remember from my trip. 2. What are typical meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)? Is there cooking to be done for breakfast? I assume lunches are not cooked and that dinners are cooked. 3. How are dinners made? I assume they are primarily dehydrated, but I'm wondering if there is one pouch for the whole crew and you just add water to the pouch, or do you add the pouch contents into a pot and then add water? Hopefully you understand my question. 4. How do they wash dishes? I'm kind of looking for some details here. Their one picture of that activity shows them using what looks like one of the water pots to wash dishes. Is that what they do? How do they wash the pot first? How do they rinse soapy pots/dishes? 5. Do crews usually filter water, as opposed to using chemical sanitation (Aquamira ...)? Are specific brands of filters recommended by Philmont? It looks like some base camps have running water that I assume is potable. 6. The captions indicate that rainy days are kind of a pain. They said that during real heavy rains the water runs over the ground under the dining tarps - which are too low to stand up in. For those who have been there, what kind of rain gear is recommended? 7. Is there enough soil for tent stakes to hold? Thanks, Ken
  15. Last September my wonderful son and his best friend had their ECOHs. We asked them what THEY wanted to do. They weren't sure since they too were the first Eagles in their young troop (started in '03), so the Scoutmaster - who is an Eagle - briefed them on what he'd seen and heard about. They decided that they wanted their ECOHs together. They also decided they wanted them tacked on to the regular COH - their choice. We did the regular COH first, had dinner, and then did the ECOHs. The troop is small, so we didn't have much money to spend. We held it in the church gym, the troop bought fried chicken, had parents bring food, and the Eagle parents went together on dessert (two large cakes w/ ice cream). The Scoutmaster did a great job putting a script together - not too fancy, but it emphasized the meaning and uniqueness of the Eagle rank. Beav is correct, my son was kind of embarrassed, but afterward he said he enjoyed it. We had the Star & Life Scouts do the flag ceremony and did much of the presentations. The boys were presented with certificates of congratulations their parents had obtained for them, and then they were very surprised when a group of local US Marines (older real tough-looking men) presented them with certificates of congratulations and a KABAR Marine knives (you should have heard the "wows" from the Life Scouts still on the stage when the knives were presented). Ask your son what HE wants, and LISTEN to him. One last thing ... the SM gave me (an ASM) some excellent advice recently. My son's best friend (a new Eagle Scout) came to a campout but forgot to bring his water bottle. I asked him (with a smile) how an Eagle Scout could forget a water bottle ... the SM heard this and later - in private - warned me not to use his accomplishment "against him". It was a valid point - lesson learned.
  16. If you're using an MSR Whisperlite consider carrying one of the wire mesh heat spreaders that are used to protect glassware in labs: http://www.sciencelab.com/page/S/PVAR/20932/10-4000 The 4" version with the ceramic center works great. I store it in a quart freezer Ziploc bag inside a fry pan - to protect the ceramic and the fry pan surface. I've used it to successfully simmer spaghetti sauce with NO burning!! Amazing. Unfortunately the shipping will cost more than the item ... so you can buy a few for your friends. Ken
  17. A related article from a 2000 Scouter: http://www.scoutingmagazine.org/issues/0009/d-wwas.html One thing it points out is that back then they didn't have cars to help go camping ... they hiked where ever they went.
  18. The recent Scouter magazine has a nice history of Scouting. I enjoyed it. That prompted me to look for an on-line copy of the first handbook - "Handbook for Boys". If you go to http://books.google.com and search using "Handbook for Boys" you'll find a scanned copy. A very interesting read. The suggested gear - beyond clothing - included a hand axe, drinking cup (collapsing brass cup), folding knife (amazingly similar to the Camillus knife I had in the 1970s), mess kit (looked like Spam cans), poncho, telegraph instrument, and whistle. For cooking they only describe a griddle and a frying pan. That led me to wonder if these would have been cast iron or steel. I suspect cast iron is most likely. What do you think? It describes dish washing as follows: "First fill the frying-pan with water, place over the fire, and let it boil. Pour out the water and you will find the pan has practically cleaned itself. Clean the griddle with sand and water. Greasy knifes and forks may be cleaned by jabbing them into the ground. After all grease is gotten ride of, wash in hot water and dry with cloh. Don't use the cloth first and get it greasy." Boy are instructed to sleep under a lean-to covered in conifer branches (not so much leave no trace back then) or use a duck tarp set-up in one of several slick configurations. Bedding is made of conifer branches covered by the poncho, then the sleeping bag put on top of that. Ken
  19. Rather than hijack the troop gear thread I figured I'd start a new thread discussing ideas for lightweight patrol gear. To start, I'm wondering what the lightweight patrol would need/use for: Group water container - the collapsible containers seem to spring leaks way too fast, but the rigid blue ones are way too big - even the 2.5 gallon ones. Stove - Would you avoid Coleman fuel stoves? Are there tough and low cost options? Would you give each patrol two backpacking stoves? Cook Kit - What is low cost, reasonably light, and packs small, though big enough to feed 6-8 boys? Are the fry pans big enough? Lantern - Would you bother with lanterns? I personally prefer each Scout just bring headlamps. Saw - Your preferences for a compact sturdy saw? Are the folding the blade into the handle ones good enough, or would the patrol need something bigger? Dining Fly - What do they use at Philmont? What would you use for poles - assuming there aren't always enough trees to go pole-less. Sorry, but I have more questions than answers. Ken K.
  20. Huh, in the last few years our troop went from a mishmash of gear to a classic heavy patrol box, suitcase stove, 20# propane tanks, and a giant trailer mode. I suspect if you asked the boys how they like it they'd say that they LOVE having dedicated gear for their patrols, BUT they HATE those incredibly heavy awkward patrol boxes. I'm starting to think that the Beav has the right idea. I'm going to start a new thread to discuss a few details of lightweight patrol gear. Ken K.
  21. This requirement has caused some discussion in my troop as to exactly how Scouts should be expected to complete this. The requirement says: "Identify or show evidence of at least ten kinds of wild animals (birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, mollusks) found in your community." How does your troop expect Scouts to complete this requirement? In my son's troop there is an expectation that the Scout will point out the animals or evidence while an adult leader is present. I've been wondering if secondary evidence would be sufficient - pictures taken (not clipped out of a magazine or web site), detailed notes from a field log book, ... Also, the requirement does not list amphibians (frogs, salamanders) or arthropods (isopods - curly bugs, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, crabs, crayfish, insects). Do you not allow these animals to be included in the list of 10? I'm not so surprised that arthropods have been left off, as an observant boy could probably find 10 of them in very short time, but I'm kind of surprised that amphibians were left off the list.
  22. I'd like your input regarding the First Class requirement 2: "Using a compass, complete an orienteering course that covers at least one mile and requires measuring the height and/or width of designated items (tree, tower, canyon, ditch, etc.)" I'm mostly asking about the first part - the orienteering course. In my son's troop they usually setup a compass course in which the Scout is handed a list of compass bearings and distances, and their task is to complete the course by following each bearing in the order given. When I read the new Boy Scout Handbook it describes an orienteering course as a map marked with five or six destinations called control points. The participant is expected to orient the map and - without being given a bearing - determine the direction to the first control point. They use their map and compass to find the first control point, find the control point, gather some proof of being there, and then repeat for the next control point. The old Handbook gave a similar description. What do your troops do to fulfill this requirement? Being an ASM and the Advancement Coordinator, I'd like to persuade the SM/ASMs/PLC to complete this requirement using a true orienteering course rather than a compass bearing course. During the E & D steps of the EDGE process (yeah, that's right ... I'm getting with the program) I'd like them to teach Scouts how to adjust/compensate their compasses to magnetic declination, orient the map (2nd Class 1a) to north, to estimate the distance to the control point, to obtain a map bearing by laying the compass on the route from their current location to the control point, and then have them do their best to follow that bearing. Of course a good course would probably prevent them from walking directly to the control point, but that is part of the fun of it. I'd imagine that they could use landmarks to get them to the control points, rather than only use the map bearing. That would be OK with me so long as they did the map bearing at least once or twice - just to know how to do it. Would that be adding to or subtracting from the requirement?
  23. For teaching a high quality serrated plastic knife works quite well because it won't give bad cuts and if the blade slips the user gets feedback from the serrations. As to what knife a Scout should purchase, I too prefer a locking blade. It should be inexpensive enough to be lost without too much grief, since it will most likely be lost, but it should be decent enough quality not to break, to sharpen reasonably well, and to make sure the lock mechanism won't fail. For my own kids I purchased KaBar Dozier folding knives. They are very nice quality, but only cost about $20 plus shipping (purchased via the web). My preference is the Folding Spear. Amazingly my son almost lost his during his first summer camp, but I was there and later saw another Scout with a knife "just like his" and I asked to see it ... it turned out to be his (engraved name on it) and the Scout found it lying on a path. I thanked the Scout for finding it but reminded him that a Scout is trustworthy and helpful so next time he'd to better to turn a found knife into lost & found. That means next time he'll pocket it 'til he leaves camp (sigh). I don't like clip-point blades (they are pointy and that makes the blade tip less strong)... I prefer what are called drop-point blades where the top (the dull side) curves down to meet the sharp blade tip about half-way across the width of the blade.
  24. Unfortunately some of my son's troop's Scouts trying to do Eagle projects have learned that towns & cities tend to view the glass as something so fragile that young boys can't be entrusted with them - better to hire professionals who are ensured for damage/liabilities. Luckily, our local forest preserves, schools, and churches have much more open minds, and very much appreciate the help of young men to bring the glass from its current condition to the desired condition in a well-planned and well-implemented fashion.
  25. As the Advancement Coordinator for my son's troop my only concern with the new requirements is how we'll track exactly which Scout Laws are "used" when completing the Tenderfoot through First Class Scout Spirit requirements. Almost certainly I'll ask the SM to write the Laws used into the handbook (wish they'd have given dedicated spaces for it) in the sign-off boxes (there's a fair amount of room there). BUT, I wonder if there will be an expectation that I capture those in our TroopMaster database - just in case a Scout looses his Handbook. Ken K.
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