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Posts posted by resqman

  1. I started scouts as a cub.  Earned Life by age 14.  Completed the last bit of stuff 4 months before my 18th.  I enjoyed the program.   I got a lot out of the program and it very strongly influenced who I became as an adult.  For the intervening years between 14 and 18, I always thought it would be nice to be an Eagle scout, but I didnt really care enough.  Too much like school work for me.  Parents put their foot down and strongly encouraged me to wrap things up the last six months.  Glad they did because I needed the encouragement.

    I have two sons.  One didnt join scouts until couples months before 15th birthday.  He joined with the explicit purpose of earning Eagle to put on his college resume.  He worked events to get as many requirements as quickly as possible.  He was able to earn the rank of Eagle.  He did not require any outside prodding at all.   He is very proud of his accomplishment.

    Other son started as a Wolf cub.  He has attended three National HA bases as a participant.  Very active and missed virtually no events the troop offered.  He had most everything done by age 16.  Couple of the "paperwork mb" waited until the last year.  He completed it with some reminders every couple of months the last year so he would understand the he needed to start by date X to finish by date Y.   He is the type of kid who earned his Eagle.  Stayed with the troop and gave back to the program.  High outdoor skill level, good leader, type of eagle candidate people often refer to as a real Eagle scout.  Wouldnt really matter if he had all the requirements signed or not, he is an Eagle.  Nice that he did get everything signed and completed.  If people ask him, confirm but he does not go around telling people he is an Eagle scout.  

    Some lads need more prodding.  Some need shome guidance to see how obatinable it is.  Others are self motivated.  Last I checked, all the requirements can be completed in 21 months.  Scouts are allowed 7 years to complete.  If a scout wants to become an Eagle, it is not that difficult for active scouts.  At that age, something that takes more than two weeks, seems like a lifetime.  Some of the required merit badges are way too much like school work and not having fun with buddies in the outdoors.   

    I agree that I doubt anyone ever regrets earning Eagle but there are very many that regret not finishing the last few items.  If the scout has been active in the program up till age 18, the program has influenced them for their lifetime.  Not having a patch in the drawer or Eagle on the resume will be a hard lesson but may motivate them to complete other tasks in their life.  

    I recommend that someone take interest in the Life scouts at age 17 and encourgage them to sit down with a calendar and show them it is possible but only if they start taking charge of their own life now.  

    • Like 1
  2. They sell pocket sleeve pages at the office supply store to store baseball trading cards.  Got every boy in my cub scout den a 1 inch ring binder and 3 or 4 pages of baseball trading card sleeves.  Told them to put their advancement cards in the binder.  That way they have a designated spot, they stay clean and orderly, and can be maintained as a keepsake all their lifes.  


    My son has two binders. One is all his Cub scout stuff and the other all his Boy Scout stuff.  When a rank came off the uniform, it went in the sleeve with the card and the new rank sewed on.  It was easy at EBOR time.  Hand the book the book over.  All blue cards, rank cards, mile swim, etc.  

    • Upvote 2
  3. Philmont Difficulty

    • Distance (affects body, mind and spirit if too difficult)
    • Trek is chosen months before arriving at Philmont.  Philmont has flater treks, mountainous treks, long treks, short treks.  But once chosen, no deviation.  Some crews will revel in the more difficult chalenge.  Others want to spend time fishing.  
    • Elevation (terrain) profile of trek (elevation gained and lost daily)
    • Elevation change is the more difficult part of backpacking.  Less change the easier the trek.  Again chosen and locked before you go. 
    • Distance between restocking and watering points (means more weight to carry longer)
    • Typically only 3 days food is carried.  So pack weight is constantly changing.  There are "dry camps" so extra water has to be carried once or twice turing a trek. 
    • Altitude (higher up, tougher it can get)
    • Altitude cannot really be trained for before hand.  The higher the terrain, the more difficult.   Philmont has several famous peaks that everyone who has ever been asks if you completed.  It is nice to be able to say Yes, I climbed some or all of Baldy, Mt Phillips or the Tooth of Time.
    • Program events (So required physical exertion which takes energy away from the trail)
    • Progam events are offered almost daily.  Assuming the crew gets on the trail by 8am and hikes at 2 mph, the programs can usually be attended in the afternoon and are a welcome change from backpacking.  Late sleepers and dawdling along the trail can make the crew arrive too late in the day to participate.  Crews decide how they want to work their days. 
    • Weather
    • Weather happens all day every day.  Unless active lighting, keep moving.  Hiking in the rain is better than huddled in a tent.
    • Training
    • It takes a couple of shakedown hikes to learn to leave extra stuff at home and pare down pack weight.  It takes a few hikes to learn how to cook as a crew using mostly boil in bag meals.   The more shakedown hikes that have significant elevation change, the better the crew will do at Philmont.  Smaller lads will have a more difficult time because packs should ideally be no more than 30% of body weight.   Larger lads can carry a larger pack weight with less strain. 
    • Upvote 1
  4. Went to NT in 2010 with 2 adults and four 14 year olds.  First High Adventure trip for the boys and the other adult.  Boys were a bit hesitant and were thinking low milage before we arrived.  The Guide assigned to our crew was great with the lads.  The lads were thinking 45 miles max over 7 days.  Guide said 45 miles as a mimimum.  He laid out a loop trek.  I believe they settled on about 65 miles initially.  Part way throught the week, the guide wanted to know if the lads would agree to changing the route so the Guide could complete a task/challenge to earn an award.  The task would take us off the original course and add 15 miles of paddling to the final day.  The boys had built confidence by this point.  It also meant they would paddle 100 miles total over the trip.  The combination of 100 miles and being able to help their beloved Guide earn an award swayed them.  3 of the 4 boys weighed at or less than 100 lbs each.  The 4th was a bit stockier.  85 lb canoes for 100 lb lad are a challenge.  Week of provisions make for heavy packs to portage as well.  In total they paddled 100 miles and portaged 4 miles in 7 days.  Portages as short as 30 feet and as long as 110 yards.  One morning we had 10 portages before noon. 


    Anyway, Yes, young small inexpierenced scouts can certainly challenge themselves and build confidence at NT.  While it is a physcial and mental challenge, there are lots of opportunity for personal growth and building confidence.  Barring physical injury, as long as they meet the physical requirements for HA, they should be able to complete with little problem. 


    NT Difficulty

    • Distance (affects body, mind and spirit if too difficult) 
    • Easy to design a shorter trek at the beginning.  Distance is a number that most people can't relate to until they have paddled for several days.  See above regarding distances.  "Big Numbers" are easily accomplished. 
    • Number of portages, distance of portages
    • Portages happen, all day, every day.  Frequently and come in all lengths and difficulty.  Plan you so only need to make one pass at portages.  Doubling will kill your spirit.
    • Type of terrain for portages
    • Portages vary greatly in distance, difficulty and frequency.  So much it is virtually impossible to control.  
    • Distance between restocking and watering points (means more weight to paddle longer)
    • Water is scooped out of the lakes while paddling so quantity and weight is not a problem.  Food is all packed at beginning.  No restocking.  Packs get lighter as trek continues.
    • Program events (So required physical exertion which takes energy away from the trail)
    • Unlike Philmont, no planned events/camps to participate.  We did turn our dining fly and paddles into a sail one day and sailed for an hour or so and did not have to paddle.  We did do a night paddle.  In bed by 3-4pm, get up at 3am, paddle until 6 am to watch sun rise over open lake, paddle rest of day.  We paddled about 12 hours that day.  No complaints from the lads.  We did visit a few sights along the way of old cabins etc.  Side treks off the original course added to total miles over the week. 
    • Weather
    • You will paddle in rain and sun.  Similarly you will hike in all weather at Philmont.  Gotta make the miles to get home on time.
    • Training
    • The lads will adjust quicker than the adults at either location.  Canoe weight is fixed.  Carrying it only seems heavier the farther you carry it.  It may take several lads to lift and place the canoe on the person carrying but all the small lads were able to carry the canoe.  Provision packs get lighter over the time as you eat the food. Personal Gear packs stay same weight.  Both Philmont and NT are endurance challenges, not speed events.  The adults need to improve cardio prior to going.  After a day of paddling for 8 hours, either the lads will figure it out or just flounder.  The lads could not paddle a straight line even after a week of 8 hr days of paddling.  They didnt care.   All 4 had swimming merit badge but only 3 had completed the canoeing merit badge prior to going.  The 4th completed all the tasks one afternoon and earned the MB during the trek.  They did one afternoon paddling on a flat lake at home prior to going.  No real issues with lack of training. 
    • Upvote 1
  5. I carry a pocket knife in my pocket and a fire starter on my keyring in my pocket. If going anywhere outside of camp I have a small daypack with water, first aid kit, trail mix, bandana, and whistle. There is just enough room to stuff my rain jacket and hat.  


    I like the look but not sure how many pouches or what you would carry in the various pouches. 

  6. We don't label who is in each tent.  Micro management.  We use a marker to label the tent for inventory purposes so the quartermaster knows which patrol withdrew which tent from inventory that weekend.  White board on inside door of trailer has all the tent inventory numbers.  When PL sends patrol member to withdraw tents, QM marks on whiteboard Tent X went to Patrol Y.   At end of weekend, Patrol Y takes tent home to clean and dry.  Next troop meeting, QM checks clean tents back into inventory.  

  7. We use the patrol method.  The SM is the PL of the ASM.  There is an unofficial APL among the ASM.  The APL/ASM is announced as the Acting SM for events where the SM cannot attend.  Each ASM is allocated a patrol to monitor for a year.  During annual SM/ASM meeting, roles are redistributed as needed.


    New ASMs are assigned a mentor ASM, so often patrols will have two ASMs assigned to them.  During events, the SM will request various ASMs to take on specific tasks: oversee this hike, collect paperwork, etc.  Some ASMs are clearly the go-to person for certain stuff.  One fella is an EMT so first aid issues get run by him.  One fella works with the troop quartermaster so fields questions about equipment, troop trailer, etc.  Some ASMs are knots, some are orientation, etc.   Fortunate to have a core of about 5 ASM with good depth and breath of all T-1st skills.  


    ASMs eat as a patrol with a designated person to select menus, buy food and lead the cooking.  All others members pitch as needed.  All ASM help with dishwashing, general cleanup, etc. 

  8. " but over all It really strikes me that the AT scene really is more of a "beatnik" social fest.  Fun and making friends and all... "


    It is social if you wanna, solitary if you wanna.  Meeting folks on the trail during day is mostly, Hi, Where is the last place you saw water?  How far to the next mtn top/road crossing/landmark?  


    Most of the social aspect comes at night in the shelters.  Hikers backgrounds vary widely.  I met grandfather and two grandsons carrying couple gallons of Kentucky bourbon.  Met 4 firefighters who were taking their annual buddy trip.  Met four 55+ guys all from same small town taking their annual buddy trip.  Met lots of individuals hiking to prove something to themselves or get some time away from something in their life.  Most AT hikers are NOT thru hikers but rather day, weekend or week hikers.  Section hikers.  Mostly out to get away from their daily life and enjoy a little stroll.  Students, professionals, ladies, buddies, outdoorsman, people from all sorts of walk of life.  Very few Beatniks.  


    Even in the shelters, you can be less social.  I solo hiked for 30 days.  Did hike along with one fella for 2 days.  Sprinted down the trail with a thru hiker for about 4 hours.  Most of the social time is between 6pm and around 9pm at the shelter.  People fixing meals, relaxing around a fire or table, and them most people jump in sleeping bag shortly after dark.  Most discussions are not about peoples life off the trail.  It usually centers around their experiences on the trail.

  9. You can also make your own "char cloth".   Get a new quart paint can from the hardware store.  Punch a small hole in the lid with a nail.  Loosely fill the can with 100% cotton cloth.  Seal lid on can.  Place can on fire.  I use my propane grill.  Heat can.  Smoke will leave the pin hole.  Once the smoke is clear, remove can from fire and let cool COMPLETELY.   You have turned the cotton into charcoal.  You have removed all the chemicals that cause visible flame.  If you open can to soon, the charcoal will ignite when oxygen is presented to the material.


    Once cool, the cloth is durable and will not crumble.  But it is charcoal and will easily catch a spark and start a fire.  Useful tinder for magnesium strikers and flint/steel tools. 

  10. Cotton ball burns about 3 seconds.  Apply about a green pea amount of Vaseline and now it burns for 3 minutes!  If you rub the Vaseline on the outside of the cotton ball, it waterproofs the inside of the ball.  Turn the ball inside out to expose the clean dry cotton fibers and will start with a single spark.  The cotton ball is basically a wick and the Vaseline becomes the wax of the candle. 


    Guess what, the cotton gauze pad in first aid kit is cotton ball in flat format. The Neosporin is mostly Vaseline with a bit of antibiotic.  Chapstick is mostly wax which can also turn your pocket lint, first aid gauze pad or other dry stuff into a candle.  


    If you have natural fiber rope like sisal, untwist the rope till it becomes individual fibers.  Wad it up to make a "bird nest"  will catch a spark and burn. 

    • Upvote 1
  11. ASM with two sons in the program.  As mentioned, first to arrive and last to leave.  Sometimes they were ready to go and I had to listen to them.  There were enough adults in the troop that I could leave and things would get done.  Troop rule was you never disciplined your own kid.  If you saw something, you asked another ASM to handle the situation.  


    I was available to my boys if they wanted me, but tried to stay out of their way during scout events as much as possible.  I made sure they had all the gear and equipment they needed available to them at home.  It was up to them to choose to use or leave behind. 


    Attended the first high adventure with my son.  I did not attend the next two.  He was chosen as crew chief and from all accounts did well.  I am glad he was able to have time to develop on his own without me looking over his shoulder. 


    My dad was an ASM in my troop.  I remember seeing him around, knew I always had a ride to scouts, but basically the only interaction we would have is a quick hug and smile during a camp out.  I tried to be the same way around mine. 

  12. Camp Bodie/Bonner in North Carolina offers a Mini Summer Camp experience one weekend a month in the non-summer months.  Instead of staffing all the MB centers, they pick one area, lets say Scoutcraft in Jan, Nature Center March, Handicraft April, etc.  They bring in staff just like during summer camp and run MB classes for the weekend.   


    Arrive Fri night, attend class all day Sat, half day Sun and then leave Sun afternoon.  Scouts can complete most or all of 2 MBs during the weekend. Dining hall is open and staffed.  Gives troops a reason to use the camp.  Helps keep staff trained and involved year round.  Crossovers and new scouts get a chance to experience a bit of camp before spending a week away.  Summer camp seems less scary even if it at a different camp. 


    During MLK three day weekend they open several centers.  Aquatics is not open due to weather.  Rifle/Shotgun range is open one weekend.  Since Rifle shotgun is always popular but has limited access, one more chance to work those badges.  


    There are about 12-15 camps statewide.  Our Troop rotates through 4-6 of the camps.  So a typical scout will attend 4 different summer camps before they start attending the High Adventures.  Usually the 14+ yr old skip summer camp and attend Philmont, Northern Tier, Seabase, or Betchel. Troop sends a crew to one of the 4 bases and rotate each year.  

    • Upvote 2
  13. I guess the question is what is the role of adults as summer camp?   


    Troop should have couple adults to represent the troop.  SM or designee attends the SM meetings held daily by the camp.  SM or designee handles communication between the camp and scouts when situations arise of failure on either party.  Adults "audit" MB classes for quality control to ensure classes are providing necessary training/education.  


    Otherwise our troop presumes the adults will be napping in camp.  We do have one adult who runs to town to buy watermelon for midweek evening snack.  


    Many camps now have WiFi in the Scoutmaster lounge area.  Just because an adult is at camp, doesn't mean it is a vacation.  Many people "work from home" meaning they have a cell phone, laptop, and internet connection.  I'm self employed.  If I don't answer phone & electronic communication in a timely manner, I lose business.  That means no pay for the week at camp and no pay for the next week due to lost jobs.  Sitting in a chair in the middle of camp does nothing for the scouts or me.

  14. Oldest son played on high school sports team and travel sports team at same time.  During one season, he would leave one practice early to arrive at the other practice late with 7 practices scheduled over 5 days.  Just before his 15th birthday, decided he needed to earn Eagle so would have something on his resume to get into college.  Never been a scout until then.   He had to work very hard at scheduling to attend events that offered the activities he needed to complete requirements.  Attended district and council wide activities without his troop to complete requirements. Missed a few sports practices and a few games.  Also had to forego some school dances and parties.   He had to make scouting a priority.  Tough choice at that age.  Certainly doable.  


    Boy joining at age 11 has 7 years.  The minimum amount of time required based on adding up required time in rank and holding required POR is only 17 months.  3-4 years from start to completing all requirements for rank of Eagle is reasonable with regular attendance and participation.   The problem usually hits around age 14 with the fumes, perfume and car fumes.  The lads tend to get a bit distracted and not as focused on Scouting.   A lad who is involved in lots of other activities will have to learn to schedule his time wisely and will likely need to take 4+ years to complete all the requirements.  Some of the activities you listed will actually meet some of the requirements. 

    • Upvote 1
  15. Pack ALL clothing in Ziploc bags inside their pack/bag.  I like to put a complete days set of clothes (undies, t-shirts, socks, pants, shirt) all in one Ziploc bag.  Put on clean clothes, put dirty back into Ziploc.  No cross contamination between clean and dry vs dirty and wet.  Plan on getting wet and pack at least one extra complete outfit.  Everyone needs a hat.  Helps keep rain off you and holds in body heat.  Synthetics dry quicker but still are wet.  Avoid cotton and bring all synthetics if possible.  All clothing from the skin out.  


    $1 disposable ponchos are useless.  Get real rain jackets.  Change into dry clothes just prior to getting in sleeping bag.  


    Dont set up tent in low areas.  First year scouts arrived to camp site after sunset.  Set up tent in only flat spot at bottom of hill.  That is where all the silt washing down the hill collected.  Rained that night. River ran thru their tent.  They still talk about that weekend years later.  You dont remember the good weather, your remember the challenges. 

  16. Your request seems a bit overwhelming. 


    If you look at the National High adventure bases, they limit the number of scouts on a single trek to usually not more than about 12.  That usually also includes 2 adults so only about 10 boys.   Moving 15-20 people is much more challenging and hard on the environment.  


    National Bases have a minimum age limit of 14.  That has to do with a number of issues but simple things like the lads need to be physically large enough and durable enough to handle the pack or canoe weight and still be able to cover 5-10 miles a day for week to 10 days.  As a troop, you can impose other limits like minimum rank, earned specific merit badges, etc. 


    Costs vary considerably depending on where you start and where you go.  Living in Minnesota and traveling to the Boundary Waters is much less travel complication and costs than say if you lived in Texas.   


    Size of group also effects travel costs.  Moving a group of 12 by renting a large passenger van is easier than moving 20.  You split up the group so ideally it would be nice to have 4 adults, 2 to each vehicle.  But 20 might be able to rent a small bus.  Trade offs in cost and convenience.  


    Food costs during travel are different than food costs while treking.  Food costs while traveling is going to typically be restaurants while treking is likely to be more store bought food and cooking fuels.  


    Equipment costs can be broken down in to group gear and personal gear.  Some group gear can be rented near the HA location while some should probably be aquired prior to leaving.  A group first aid kit makes sense to buy/build prior to leaving.  Renting canoes at the trek location makes more sense.  Stoves might make sense to buy ahead but purchase fuel locally to make travel easier.  


    Alaska and Grand Canyon are very diverse locations.  Winter camping is very different from dessert travel.  I would think that a location relatively close to your local would be an easier trip to plan as your first.   Here on the East coast, a week on the Appalachian trail would be a good trial trip.  2 day drive to trail head, week on the trail, bus/rental van back to cars and drive home.  Backpacking is a common enough activity that food costs can be closely figured.  


    Your post does not state where you are located.  

  17. Why is the committee paying for the gas?  The cost of summer camp is the camp fee plus the cost of travel.   Adding $5 per scout should provide plenty of money for gas.  


    Three adults is all that should be needed for a week at summer camp.  If adults can only stay 2-3 days, rotate out various adults so week is covered.  If adults are too whiny to spend the night, then they are the real problem.  Fire the adults.  


    As already mentioned, the boys can just pay and go to any camp they choose,  Get a few parents to drive, drop off and pick up an end of week.  Most camps run a provisional troop which is really just a "pick up" game of scouts.  


    Our troop rotates through 4-5 different summer camps.  Far one is about 5 hours drive.  Council camp is about 1.5 hrs.   Others are in the 3 hr zone. Troop regularly drives 3 hours for weekend camp outs.   Scouts would revolt if troop committee said anything less than 30 minutes away is too far.  


    Troop sends a crew to one of the four national bases Philmont, Seabase, Northern Tier or Betchel each year in addition to the "normal" summer camp.  That means at least 2 adults are gone for 10 days to national base plus 3-5 adults to summer camp.  Troop size of about 50 scouts with 35 on average camp out. 

  18. Local council can provide you with a list of other troops in your area.  They should have a contact person for each troop.  You can contact them to find out what night they meet.  Visit several troops, talk with the scouts, talk with the SM.  Each troop has its own culture and feel.  After visiting a few, you will likely find a troop that feels right to you. 

  19. The Chairs.  During a patrol meeting, an ASM entered and chastised a scout or scouts for rocking back in a standard chair.   Explained the legs will break, the scout could fall over and hurt themselves, etc.  The patrol took it as a personal affront and renamed their patrol The Chairs as a snub back at the ASM.  The patrol and the ASM knew the story but no one else in the troop knew or cared the about the backstory.  My son was in the patrol so I learned the backstory.  


    Troop had a loose tradition of renaming patrols about once a year so no great questions about a name change. 

  20. There is no requirement by national to have a mentor.  If the troop wants to assign you a mentor, that is a troop decision.  


    As mentioned earlier, you can still have a social meeting with an acquaintance.  If the acquaintance happens to give you advice about scouting, that is nobodies business but the two sharing a social event.  


    The potential issue is when the troop mentor gives specific advice that conflicts with your acquaintance.   Keep in mind, earning Eagle is the scouts job, not the mentors job.  The Eagle candidate can accept or reject the mentors advice.  Advice is technically just a suggestion and not a requirement to do something in a specific manner.  If the troop is "requiring" eagle candidates to dogmatically follow all advice from the mentor, the troop is adding to the requirements for Eagle and that is going too far. 


    Mentors should be guiding and giving helpful suggestions.  Hopefully the eagle candidate will learn how to find their own way through what sounds like a very political issue. 

  21. The only ID needed is a statement I have first aid training.  Most EMTs are Certified, not licensed.  Semantics, I understand but it it is a legal difference.   I have been a certified EMT in two states, taken an EMT training course three times.  Let my certification lapse so had to go thru course again to get certified.  I have certificates that hang on the wall but don't remember ever having a wallet card.  


    Just like in any other field, those with actual knowledge can usually very quickly identify someone who is not knowledgeable.  Whats to say the bystanders should believe a Scout has adequate training? 

  22. so two good patrols then.... one scouts and one old goats :)


    I'd be interested in details about how they are sharing the load and keeping weight down..... ie. is each carrying their own hammock, splitting tent components, etc....

    how many stoves, water filters, etc.... split among the group....


    I'll have to look at the philmont diet you mention... I'm not familiar....  Is it all freeze dried stuff?


    Keep in mind that Philmont does not allow hammock camping.  What and how you sleep on troop outings is different.   Basic hammock with rain fly, ropes, etc. is about 3 lbs.  Decent backpacking tent is about 3 lbs.   Tent & fly can be shared by two and split between two packs.  Hammocks are individual gear so 3 lbs per person vs. 1.5 lbs per.  


    Water filter, food, cooking gear and dining fly can be shared.  Split up common gear along with food among crew members.   Number of stoves and type gonna vary depending on how and what you plan on cooking.   I carried a Jetboil because all my food was dehydrated and all I needed was boiling water.   If you plan on cooking, you will need something different.  


    Lots of existing topics regarding how to backpack, what gear to take, what to share, etc.  

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