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Everything posted by Hedgehog

  1. Hedgehog

    Positions of Responsibility

    Well, for two of our APLs they are pretty much doing all the work... the other two, well, I had to ask my son who they are. Additionally, your criticism could similarly be applied to the ASPL.
  2. Hedgehog

    Positions of Responsibility

    So if the Patrol is the basic operating structure of scouting, why is the Assistant Patrol Leader not a position of responsibility? As for that, why aren't any patrol leadership positions other that Patrol Leader positions of responsibility? This leads to the silliness of having our Assistant Patrol Leaders being designated as Troop Guides and our Patrol Quartermasters being designated as Troop Quartmasters. We should just get over the idea of the title ("serve" in a "position of responsibility") and reward scouts by changing the requirement to "Show leadership and/or responsibiity as a member of your Patrol."
  3. Hedgehog

    The Meaning of Eagle Scout

    Of course Stosh. I would love to see everyone in life folllow the Scout Oath and Law. I never had the opportunity to be a scout as a youth but I'm often asked if I was an Eagle. My parents raised me with values that are seemless with the Scout Oath and Law. Maybe it was because my parents were born in the late 1920s and the Scout Oath and Law reflects the beliefs of their generation or maybe it was because my Dad was an Eagle Scout. I'm trying to raise my son the same way. My comment wasn't meant to convey that only Eagles can live by the Oath and Law. It was to convey my wish that someone who has taken the time and effort to earn Eagle has learned something more than the requirements. Scouting is learning by doing and often what we learn (servant leadership, being helpful, being thrifty, etc.) is not what we are doing (cooking breakfast on a campout). Every major accomplishment and failure in our lives teaches us a lesson beyond the activities involved. Earning Eagle should be no different. Each scout will have learned different lessons and my hope is that those lessons make them a better person so much that others recognize the difference.
  4. Hedgehog

    Talking politics around the campfire

    I see any discussions at the campfire by the youth as a teaching moment. I have very strong political and religious views BUT I have the understanding of the values, motivation and beliefs of people who believe differently than me. Maybe it was the experience of being on the debate team in college, but I understand that there are two sides to every issue and that each side has valid points. I actually get along very will with people across the political spectrum - why? Because I understand the issues rather than just adopt the glib slogans that pass for political discourse. One of Robert Covey's Seven Habits was to "seek first to understand than to be understood." I tend to ask questions like "what is your opinion based on?" "where did you hear that?" "have you thought of the opposing viewpoint?" "would it change your opinion if I told you ______?" "what would happen to _______ if you did _________?" Despite my views, I tend to be neutral in questioning all viewpoints because I want the people to learn to think critically and to seek more knowledge in forming their opinions. I'd rather someone disagrees with me after examining an issue in depth and reaching an opinion based on their values than have someone agree with me based on a glib twenty second quip carried on the news. So I focus on the "why" rather than the "what?"
  5. Hedgehog

    The Meaning of Eagle Scout

    I often tell my son that earning Eagle is not about the title, but about what he learns along the way. As Adult Leaders we can influence what the boys learn on their path to Eagle. By learning, I'm not talking about requirements and merit badges, but I'm talking about what the Oath and Law mean. They truly are words to live by. Eagles are more than the accumulation of the requirements - it is how meeting those requirements changes who you are.
  6. Hedgehog

    The Meaning of Eagle Scout

    To paraphrase Forest Gump, "An Eagle is as an Eagle Does." My goal is that the Eagles from our troop will act in a way that people will know there is something different about them.
  7. Hedgehog

    Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back.

    I vote for a revolution. Not an open rebellion (those always fail) but a quite one done behind the scenes. You get a lot more traction with scouts than adults when it comes to boy-led. The idea is almost intoxicating to youth. Talk to the boys, train them about what boy-led means and what it means to be a leader. Then, go to the PLC meetings. Bring up your questions or ideas there or better yet, have scouts bring up your suggestions. It is a lot more difficult for an SM or ASM to overrule the PLC. All you need to say is "well, aren't we supposed to be boy-led, i don't see any harm in trying what the boys suggested. If it doesn't work we can always go back to the old way."
  8. Hedgehog

    Advice on how to handle this, please?

    From what I understand, our troop was a lot like that before I joined. The old guard did two backpacking trips and one cabin camping trip each year. Backpacking trips were every scout for themselves for cooking and the other trips were Troop (i.e. adult) cooking. As others have said, what your troop has is not the optimal BSA outdoor program. From reading the other posts, I can see that there are the old scouts and the new scouts and the old scouts control the agenda to the exclusion of the new scouts. Simply put, if the troop continues this way it will fold because the new boys will quit. There are two options that have been suggested that I agree with. The first option is to go to the SM, CC, etc. and talk to them about your concerns. There are ways to structure campouts so that there are a variety of activities for all skill levels (note, I didn't say age or rank). For example, we have a backpacking trek into summer camp. It will be around 21 miles, the bulk being on Friday and Saturday. Some scouts can join us 4 miles in on Friday and other can meet us at the campsite on Saturday night and do a 4 mile hike into camp. I'm in agreement with the idea of no limits on scouts -- we had a sixth grader and two seventh graders do our 50 miler with us last summer and it really was the first multiday backpacking trek for the sixth grader. The second option is the patrol campouts. You just need two adults and you are good to go. That probably makes sense because you won't change the culture of the older boys in the troop. Step up, slap on an ASM patch and build the troop the right way starting with the new guys.
  9. Hedgehog

    Just one thing...

    Let me channel Stosh with what has become my favorite phrase about leadership... "tell the PLs to make sure they take care of their boys."
  10. Hedgehog

    Apalachian trail anyone?

    We've done segments in PA, NJ and NY - great trail. The sections we do are pretty highly travelled -- especially on weekends. There are a lot of backpacking trails across the country -- we've done some short ones - Pinchot Trail in PA (around 20 miles) and some long ones like Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway (around 54 miles). This summer we are doing the West Rim Trail of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon (around 30 miles). I've challenged my son to do the Maine 100 Mile Wiilderness on the AT or the Tahoe Rim Trail in three years and then do Patagonia with me and his best friend before leaving for college. Maybe even fit Philmont in 2018.
  11. Hedgehog

    Preparing for IOLS

    I still prefer Potasium Permaginate and Glycerin. If you get the right Scouter, the conversation could turn into a long conversation where both of you demonstrate the different ways of tying different knots. If you really want to have fun, track down Karl Fulves book "Self-Working Rope Magic." Get the book and you can have hours of fun with a simple rope. As I always tell my scouts, if it is wet on the outside, it is still dry on the inside. Typically, I only get out the first part of the sentence before they complete it. In my humble opinion, that is why you should have a large sheath knife... to be able to get to the inside. I love my Ontario Ranger RD-7 bushcraft knife and my son loves his Becker BK-9. Also, we always carry petroleum jelly covered cotton balls and a sparker -- they have never failed the boys in starting a fire.
  12. Hedgehog

    Does the SPL Always Lead on a Campout?

    Our Troop functions similarly with ad hoc patrols for campouts. Typically, the patrol leaders or assistant patrol leaders end up leading the patrols, but their members are shuffled. We have around 50 guys but pull around 20 for campouts. Before I arrived, the troop was very much adult led and troop method. Started by having each patrol cook for itself. Then having them pack their own gear. Then having them decide on their own activities on outings. At the same time, we took the adults and put them in the next campsite. That's taken three years. What folks have said about the older scouts and parents is absolutely correct. Start change with the bottom up. Preach boy-led to the younger boys and their parents. In the three years I've been there, the SM and I have it so that there is pretty much no institutional reccolection of not being boy-led on campouts. The adults have been taught to just stand around when the boys are packing the gear. The SPL communicates with the PLs making sure everything is done. The APLs help the PLs thereby learning what needs to be done. My next goal is permanent patrols with the boys picking their patrols. It is like Galleo saying the earth revolves around the sun. The SMs have always assigned the patrols on an annual basis. Probably why the patrol names are always "A Patrol", "B Patrol" etc. I had a major victory when a second year scout asked if they could form their own patrols for a campout... as the ASM in charge of the outdoor program I said "give it a try!" They formed two perfect patrols. Trying to get that to happen for summer camp. Maybe I can sell it as, "let's give it a try... the adults can always rearrange the patrols if necessary..." As for the permanent patrols, I'm going to give it a shot next year, but it may not catch hold until I become SM the following year and have the help of a thoroughly indoctrinated SPL.
  13. Hedgehog

    Shoes or Sandals?

    I've hiked around 6 miles on the AT with some Teva sandals -https://www.rei.com/product/830289/teva-tanza-leather-sandals-mens. They were comfortable and I only stubbed my toe a couple of times and my feet really weren't that dirty at the end of the day. In all seriousness, they were really comfortable, but not practical. I tend to wear them everywhere except hiking.
  14. Hedgehog

    I need a backpack

    OK, I have no idea what the difference is since I've only tried the Gold. I like to drink Sumatra, French Roast and Starbucks' Verona coffees. I actually bring Starbucks coffee with me on campouts, use a French Press and serve it with raw sugar and half and half. This isn't quite as strong as a French Roast or Sumatra, but it is really good. Based on the information in the reviews, there seems to be a way to control the sugar (it seems to fall to the bottom of the packet, so if you don't pour it all out it would have less sugar). For me, the amount of cream and sugar is perfect. For price puproses,I use two packets for one cup of coffee vs. one packet for the Via. So if Starbucks brewed coffee is a 10, a Keurig is a 9.5, the Via is an 9 and this stuff is a 8.5. If given the choice of a Via packet, a couple of raw sugar packets and a couple of mini containers half and half or the Mocha Gold, I'd take the Via packet. Given the choice between the Via packet, Coffeemate powder and regular sugar, I'd take the Mocha Gold. For me, when it comes to coffee, I'm willing to spend more to get something better. For backpacking, this is the best choice balancing taste, convience and price.
  15. Hedgehog

    Interesting topic came up....

    1, Failing to use a dutch oven to cook at least once on a campout. 2. Asking "are we there yet?" on a hike. 3. Washing cast iron with soap. 4. Wearing anything cotton. 5. Leaving their hiking boots to close to where others are sleeping and having a scout pass out due to asphyxiation. 6. Visiting the adult campsite when it isn't an emergency. 7. Taking more than one match to light a campfire 8. Forgetting to flush the latrine or leaving the seat up. 9. Eating off a paper towel because they forgot their mess kit. 10. Using squirt guns instead of hydrostatic propulsion devices on a canoing trip.
  16. Hedgehog

    Bear Repellent Recommendation

    Our Troop follows the same bear safety protocols no matter where we are camping: 1) cooking and dishes are done away from our tents; 2) food is stored in bear safe containers and in a bear bag or bear can when in the back country; and 3) no food is permitted in tents. We encourage the boys to sleep in different clothes than they wore during the day but that rule isn't strongly enforced. They know that if you see a bear, the first thing you look for is cubs. If you see cubs, don't get between the momma and the cubs. I agree that there are more problems in state parks where others don't follow protocols. That is also why I'm typically reluctant to stay at shelters on well travelled trails. A lot of those are known fast food joints for bears and smaller critters. I also find that after being on the trail for a couple of days, I develop a scent that tends to repel most living creatures. As for snakes, the majority of snake bites are on legs and arms -- usually from someone "playing" with a snake. Watch where you are walking and don't play with snakes. Rattle snakes at least tell you they are there some of the time... it's the one's that don't rattle that could be more of a problem. Treat any snake as if it is poisonous.
  17. Hedgehog

    Adult-led troops

    I guess that explains why I don't stand out. I was never in Boy Scouts. Dad was an Eagle, older brothers had a bad experience, I never got the opportunity. Not sure where that puts me. Honestly I'll be too busy camping four of the next six weekends (WFA training, two troop campouts and OA ordeal) to care. I guess the dads who are Eagles in our units can figure it out for me in their free time when they are at home over all of those weekends.
  18. My loyalty is to the Program and to the boys. This situation is neither following the program or helping the boys. From one furry barrister to another, I think that asking that rules be applied to check the overreach of authority is not being defiant and that pursuing what is right to the highest arbitrer to get the correct answer is what we would expect of an Eagle.
  19. Yet, from the sounds of it, the adults in the unit are being (and has been) disloyal and NOT helpful to the scout. You don't add requirements at the last minute to screw someone who has done everything required and deny them something they have worked for over the last 6 to 7 years.
  20. A knife with a CAN OPENER? First off, the patrol cook boxes have can openers and nobody packs for a backcountry trip bringing cans of food. Secondly, knives that have can openers are usually non-locking folders which are more dangerous (IMHO) than sheath knives because they can fold back on the scout's fingers when they are using them. I regularly tell scouts and parents not to get the Swiss Army type knives because the blades aren't as sharp and you are carrying a lot more weight than you need to for all the gadgets. We recently went to a scout camp. After checking in, my son asked the Campmasters if there was any problem with the boys using sheath knives (I have a Ontario RD-7 and he has a Becker BK-9). They said if it's not prohibited by BSA it is allowed at camp. Son then asked if there was any problem with setting up a knife and tomahawk throwing station (we have sets of SOG throwing knives and tomahawks). They said if it's not prohibited by BSA than it is allowed in camp. Now I need to get a kuhkri to take to summer camp where sheath knives are banned.
  21. Hedgehog

    I need a backpack

    Nice. My base weight before food and water is 25 (but that includes a 2 pound medical kit). I've written up a couple page "article" on lightweight backpacking. If anyone is interested, send me a PM with your e-mail address and I'll send it along. How about a JetBoil and a Starbucks Via packet? Actually, I found a really good Korean instant coffee that has the cream and sugar in it already for a fraction of the price of Starbucks here: http://www.amazon.com/Maxim-Mocha-Gold-Korean-Instant/dp/B003VCULUS Check out the packs by Dueter and Granite Gear also. A 65 to 70 litre pack should weigh less than 4.5 pounds. I have a 15 degree Marmot Helium down bag that fits into a tiny stuff sack. My son has a Cats Eye Meow bag that has a waterproof compression bag. We use are the Sea to Summit E-Vent bags which work nice for our clothes and a couple of Outdoor Research Dry Ditty Bags. I cover the pack with a Sea to Summit Ultralight Pack Cover. We're doing 30 miles this summer in the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon... you're welcome to join us.
  22. Hedgehog

    Adult-led troops

    Despite what others said, you can make a difference. The first key is you have to start with the boys. The second key is you have to use the the programs view of itself to force the change. Let me explain. Find small areas where the boys can lead. Talk to them about "it would be great if you guys could do...." Attend the PLC meeting. Make suggestions. "Would one of the patrol leaders be able to do that?" When the boys ask you a question, tell them it is their decision because the troop is boy led -- and then let them make the deciision. Then talk the talk with the other leaders. "I'm so glad we are boy lead, but wouldn't it be great if the boys could do [insert idea] too?" The adults in adult led troops think they are boy led and have a very hard time responding negatively to suggestions that the boys should lead. After three years as an ASM, it warmed my heart tonight when the SPL said "we've really been working on functioning as patrols on campouts, so we should really try to have each patrol plan their own activities."
  23. Hedgehog

    a questionable Leader

    How about some one liners to use? "Some scouts need scouting more than scouting needs them." "I don't view any Cub Scout as being expendable." "Our character is judged best not by what we do when things are easy, but how we act when things are difficult." "A scout is kind." "Children learn most from our example, if we view learning and following the rules with contempt, we can expect no different from our scouts." "A scout is obedient.." "Every scout deserves a trained leader."
  24. Hedgehog

    Eligibility to be Elected

    Have the scouts who are interested in running come to you and ask to be on the ballot. Tell them that they need to make the case why they deserve this honor. That should limit I to those who value camping.
  25. As we approach tax season, I thought I'd share some information on charitable deductions. If you are a registered leader, you can deduct your mileage, tolls, food costs and lodging costs for Boy Scout trips as charitable contrbutions for outings where you function as a leader. For mileage, you can take a deduction for 14 cents per mile. For the other expenses, you can deduct what you actually paid. You most likely can't deduct fees paid for activities such as canoing, kayaking, horseback riding, etc. because participating in that activity isn't a necessary part of being a leader. Also, if you are reimbursed by the Troop, that amount would reduce your expenses. My favorite line in the IRS publication is that the travel expenses are deductible even if you enjoy yourself -- not that any of us enjoy a weekend camping in the woods and eating from Dutch Ovens. From IRS Publication 526 - https://www.irs.gov/uac/About-Publication-526 : Car expenses. You can deduct as a charitable contribution any unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses, such as the cost of gas and oil, directly related to the use of your car in giving services to a charitable organization. You can't deduct general repair and maintenance expenses, depreciation, registration fees, or the costs of tires or insurance. If you don't want to deduct your actual expenses, you can use a standard mileage rate of 14 cents a mile to figure your contribution. You can deduct parking fees and tolls whether you use your actual expenses or the standard mileage rate. You must keep reliable written records of your car expenses. For more information, see Car expenses under Records To Keep, later. Travel. Generally, you can claim a charitable contribution deduction for travel expenses necessarily incurred while you are away from home performing services for a charitable organization only if there is no significant element of personal pleasure, recreation, or vacation in the travel. This applies whether you pay the expenses directly or indirectly. You are paying the expenses indirectly if you make a payment to the charitable organization and the organization pays for your travel expenses. The deduction for travel expenses won't be denied simply because you enjoy providing services to the charitable organization. Even if you enjoy the trip, you can take a charitable contribution deduction for your travel expenses if you are on duty in a genuine and substantial sense throughout the trip. However, if you have only nominal duties, or if for significant parts of the trip you don't have any duties, you can't deduct your travel expenses. Example 1. You are a troop leader for a tax-exempt youth group and you take the group on a camping trip. You are responsible for overseeing the setup of the camp and for providing adult supervision for other activities during the entire trip. You participate in the activities of the group and enjoy your time with them. You oversee the breaking of camp and you transport the group home. You can deduct your travel expenses. *** Deductible travel expenses. These include: · Air, rail, and bus transportation, · Out of pocket expenses for your car, · Taxi fares or other costs of transportation between the airport or station and your hotel, · Lodging costs, and · The cost of meals. As I'm a praticing tax lawyer, I need to say that this post is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as tax advice regarding your specific situation. Consult your lawyer, accountant, tax preparer or Cousin Vinnie if necessary.