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Everything posted by Hedgehog

  1. I run a Cooking Merit Badge program for our toop. We start off with an hour meeting where the boys plan the menus that they will be cooking in the outdoors. I do the shopping for them based on their food lists (this saves money because I can combine the lists (so you don't have 4 pounds of butter when each group only needs a 1/4 pound) and can use spices and other ingredents from my pantry at home). The class is 8 boys where they are paired up into 4 groups. Then we meet in my backyard on a weekend day at 8:00. The start out by washing their hands. Then we prepare a dutch oven full of
  2. My first reaction is that delivering the bags sounds boring. It also sounds like a project that is easy for a parent or scout to skip because they think that you probably don't need a lot of people. We have a great turnout for service projects and our boys typically triple the service hours required for advancement. The guys love it when they get to really do something as part of the older scouts' Eagle projects. They enjoy working as a team and seeing the end result. We do service projects on campouts where the boys work as a team with the older boys leading and where they get to see
  3. As I was thinking about this topic, I realized that I didn't include my most important piece of advice that I have given my son. I tell him that the rank of Eagle is not as important as the path he takes to get there. On the path so far, he has learned to kayak, sail and ride a horse. He has developed a love of archery and bicycling. He looks forward to our troop's camping and backpacking adventures and looks back on the amazing things he has already done. I see him sometimes help and teach the younger scouts about cooking on campouts. That is just the beginning of his story. To b
  4. Enjoy the trail. I always love it when I catch up with the 16 year olds and ask them, "Did you see that view a couple of miles back?" and they respond, "What view?" The best rest stop I had was while backpacking the AT with my son in New Jersey -- stopped to have coffee and Cliff bars at the Sunrise Mountain overlook on a clear, crisp November morning. He turned to me and said, "I can't imagine a better place to have breakfast in the world." I would love that. Right now, I'm working on section hiking the whole AT... in New Jersey. Have a couple of sections left between High
  5. @@packsaddle I think I've got two more years where I can out pace him. I can probably stretch it for a couple of more years by putting more and more gear in his backpack instead of mine. I'm hoping that after doing this for 5 more years, I'll be in good enough shape to at least keep it respectable. If not, all I've got is my charming personality to make them want to backpack with me. But there is hope. I met a 60 year old thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail a couple of weeks ago. He said that when he was a scout at age 12 he met a thru-hiker and promised himself that he would d
  6. Just a question as to what "did" means. At our summer camp, there is an Order of the Arrow campfire that all scouts are invited to attend. I don't think that elections can be held at camp but the campfire is the "call out" honoring the boys that have been elected. The initiation is called an "ordeal" and is not done at summer camp but over a weekend. As others said, to get into OA you need to be voted in by a majority of your troop at an election held by the OA after meeting the requirements (which includes the camping). I would be surprised if any 12 year old could be elected to OA.
  7. @@christineka Let me give you a point of comparison. My son is turning 13 at the end of August. I remember that my wife took him to his first Cub Scouts meeting because I was on a business trip. A couple of years later, i ended up as the Cubmaster. My wife also took him to visit the Troop when he was a Webelo. He decided to continue which was not a surprise -- he earned the Webelos High Achiver award and truly enjoyed Cubs Scouts. He asked me to become an Assistant Scoutmaster and I did. My son made First Class within a year. It took a little prodding from me and his mom to get
  8. Awesome. I can say that I'm hoping that my son and his buddies will still invite me to come along backpacking after they age out. I'm trying to make the last week of the summer trek a tradition.
  9. So let me understand, if these are bad values then the idea must be to promote the opposite: dependence, self censorship, lack of autonomy, having others tell you what to think and failure? That sounds like slavery to me. The $100K would have been better spent taking one thousand economically disadvantaged students on a week long backpacking trip and teaching them the most important thing that my parents (children of immigrants who never went to college) taught me: you can do anything you set your mind to.
  10. Every Scout has their challenges. I like to think of it in terms of what that Scout needs to suceed. Some need encouragement, some need physical fitness, some need knowledge, some need guidance, some need reassurance, some need to be pushed, others need to be redirected. As Stosh says, it all is about teaching the boys to take care of the boys in their patrol. The problem seems to be that these ASMs can't teach what they don't know.
  11. And yet I spent last weekend with 21 Boy Scouts camping, doing a service project and hiking and cooking. We've got 30 guys going to summer camp. Our Troop is at its largest size ever and there are three other strong troops in the same school district. Our guys are excited about the trips coming up over the summer and next year. They are excited about tackling the hard merit badges like cycling and backpacking. They are excited to come to our weekly meeting. Build a Boy-Lead Troop that takes on adventures and they will come. We don't have to. Our boys are covered in the local pa
  12. OK, so I could have gotten half of those correct. I like the game idea. May have to suggest it to the boys for use with and outdoor or skills theme.
  13. I think part of the three bucket method is to reinforce the Patrol Method. What opportuinity is there for boys to work together if they all just rinse their plates? The three bucket method is an exercise in team work. One guy boils water, one guy takes out the buckets and drops in the soap and sanitizing tablet, one guy half fills the first two buckets with cold water and third bucket with entirely with cold water. One guy in charge of scraping, one guy in charge of washing, one guy in charge of sanitizing, one guy in charge of drying. Two guys in charge of filtering the water as they dum
  14. Stosh: Those aren't mutually exclusive categories. The scouts in our troop do sports, science competitions, play video games, play musical instuments, sing in choir and like to think they are Bear Grylis on weekends. I just look at the ASMs in our troop - computer programmers, engineeers, scientists, lawyers, architects who ski, ride bikes, hike, kayak, backpack with their kids outside scouts. I suspect that everyone here feels the same way about their troop. So where is the problem? It is in our perception of what everyone else is doing or what national is doing. My sense
  15. Stosh: We did a shakedown hike with old scouts and new crossovers on a reallly nice day in March. It had rained a lot the night before. Our boots and pant legs were covered in mud. As we got to the trailhead, I told the new guys, "Scouting is the one activity that you can come home covered in mud and your parents have to say 'good job.'" Had a crossover on his first campout. Mom was worried -- it was the first time he had ever been away from home overnight. At pick-up, Mom asked her son how it was. His face lit up as he said "awesome." Next weekend we are going hiking near som
  16. When I do a lightweight backpacking class for new scouts and adults (even those that backpacked as kids) I tell the adults that in addition to lightening the weight in their backpack they need to try to lose weight in the front pack. Even though I'm at a relatively healthy weight, my office chair is trying to kill me. I've started walking a mile and a half each morning just to keep the my back, knees and legs in shape. I did over 50 miles of hiking and backpacking with the boys last summer and have another 50 miles planned for the end of this summer. I can't keep up with the 16 year ol
  17. The Patrol Leader's Council (PLC) decides on a theme for the month. Each patrol is responsible for planning the troop portion of the meeting for one week during the month. Opening - Scouts do Flag Ceremony wiht Pledge, Oath and Law Announcements - Senior Patrol Leader makes announcements regarding outings, service activities, merit badge opportunities and other administrative issues. Patrol Breakouts - Patrols go to separate rooms. Patrols are mixed age based on the boys decision. The patrol breakouts usually start with a game (silent ball is pretty much the default), brainsto
  18. Our monthly themes and outings are selected by the PLC in September and January. We have four patrols and each patrol is responsible for running the Troop portion of the meeting each month in conjunction with the selected theme. I think that the planning meetings take longer and it makes sense to have those at a time and place where you aren't rushed. PLC meetings are the first Tuesday of the month before the regular troop meetings. PLC meetings are mostly evaluation of how things went in the past month and idea sharing for the next month so there isn't any overlap in the weekly program
  19. Honestly, it is called Scouting. Spending a weekend sleeping out in the wilderness, cooking over a propane stove, seeing boys of all ages get along because they live the Scout Law, observing what happens when there are no electronic devices to play with, watching boys do things they never thought they would do, sitting around a campfire exploring the lost arts of conversation and story telling, noticing the joy of kids playing with fire and knives, seeing how kids with helecopter parents function perfectly fine without them and truly enjoying letting boys be boys.
  20. Now my prior post really begs the question... how do the older guys learn how to do things right? The answer should be that another older scout taught them, but that isn't always the case. My thinking on this is a lot like Stosh's -- curriosity. For fires, I have a bag of different tinders and ignition sources. Toss it to the older scouts and they want to try all the different methods. Take those guys out in the winter and they want to have a fire starting contest in the snow. I also carry a bushcraft knife. They see me batoning wood, they all want to try. As a result, every scout
  21. What is missing here is what happened before... My sense is that there should be a discussion with the PL early on about what tasks need to be done and who is going to do them. My line to the PLs is that they are not supposed to do everything, but to help their guys to do everything. They help the boys do what they need to do by coaching and advising and the boys help the PL by getting the job done. So the discussion would go like this. Hedgehog: So what is the patrol doing after dinner? PL: We're having a big campfire. Hedgehog: Who is going to set up the fire? PL: I can
  22. Indoctrination. Anytime I get the chance, I give the pitch about how great a boy-led troop is. We tell the Cubs when they visit that we are boy led and they are responsible. The SPL takes the visiting Cub Scout parents aside and explains boy-led. Every parent that hangs around meetings watching, I tell them how a boy-led troop works. Every time a parent comes on a campout, I tell them why boy-led is important. Every parent who becomes a leader gets trained in the "coffee cup and chair" management method. Every decision that the adults want to make, I tell them that we should have the PL
  23. On every campout, my guys do baked Dutch Oven penne pasta. Very simple. Put in a liner. Pour in a pound of uncooked penne pasta (the new guys are always amazed that you don't have to cook the pasta first). Add a jar of sauce and a jar of water. Cover and cook around 30 minutes. Stir the pasta, add motzarella cheese on top and cook for 5 to 10 minutes more. The guys serve it with meatballs (frozen meatballs in sauce in a pot or a dutch oven) or italian sausages (grilled over coals or a fire or cooked in a cast iron frying pan. OK, now I'm really hungry.
  24. The key is the foil and using the right method for folding. If you have cheap foil, you have to use two layers. The folding starts on the long side and you fold down around a quarter inch and then fold the fold over itself several sides. Then you take the ends and bring them to the middle and fold down where they meet the same way. The packet can be turned half-way through without it leaking. Last weekend, I taught the patrol grubmaster how to do the folding. He taught his patrol how to do it as they cooked dinner. Included canned potatoes (lots of moisture) and carrots with some sa
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