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Posts posted by Hedgehog

  1. The boys decided this year to do a couple of merit badges as monthly themes.  This month is Pioneering.  Our (the adults) requiirement is that the boys teach all the skills and do all the instruction.  The Merit Badge Counselor is there just to sign off on the requirements for those that want to pursue the badge.  I'll let you know how it goes.

  2. My Chartered Organization very definitely chooses the leadership.   I think it is better this way, because it stops all of this petty bickering and political in-fighting.



    For the Pack and Troop, the future leaders are selected by the current leaders.  As Cubmaster, I had to recruit my successor.  The Committee Chair in our Pack was a ceremonial position.  The Cubmaster ran the program, recruited the Den Leaders and was the face of the Pack in front of the boys.  For the Troop, I've been active as an ASM for three and a half years and asked by the current SM and CC to step up and be SM at the end of this school year.  The CC of the Troop is more involved than at the Pack but very much works in coordination with the SM.  The three of us have been engaged in filling the other positions necessary for the Troop over the past couple of years as people's children aged out.  For the Crew, the COR asked if I'd be the Advisor early on in the process of forming the crew and I accepted.  I worked with the COR to put the other adults into assistant advisor and committee positions based on which positions those people wanted.


    In the 9 years I've been involved, there hasn't been any petty bickering or political in-fighting.  There has always been a core group of adults who "get it" and want to put the needs of the boys (and girls!) first.

  3. I perceive Varsity Scouting as a separate program often focused on sports.  The way to keep your Troop intact is to make if fun for the younger boys and the older boys.  That doesn't necessarily mean the same things.  Develop an outdoor program that is both a learning experience for the younger guys and includes challenges for the older guys but make it fun for both.  Nobody abandons something fun and exciting for the unknown.

    • Upvote 1
  4. I find it interesting that you would describe my Chartered Organization's decision to not participate in cultural appropriation as adult bias and prejudices.


    So the youth made the decision after researching and understanding the issue?


    I really don't see the difference between saying "I am the best of the best" and saying "I am better than all of you."  It sounds pretty much the same to me.


    Most of the youth OA members I meet are the "sash and dash" types who only join the order so they can wear the pocket patch.  Are they really a small minority of the youth membership of the OA?  I don't think so.


    Even with the boys who stay active in the OA, I think the numbers would drop off dramatically if they couldn't wear a pocket patch.  


    I do think OA is basically a mutual admiration society.


    You obviously haven't met people who are itruly nvolved in the OA.  Yeah, the pocket patch is cool (our Lodge designed the first one), but to say people who are involved are there only for the pocket patch is absurd.  You can keep the pocket patch on if you just pay your dues and I doubt anyone will forcibly make you take it off if you stop paying your dues.  More than anything else, the lodge flap serves as a conversation starter -- hey, your in OA too?  


    So, if the OA group is not really all that impressive, is it worth seeing if the Troop wants to present some Scouts for membership?  Or not worth bothering with?  The OA reps (Scouts) have been telling us for ten months or so that they'd be sending reps to our Troop meeting to introduce OA to our Scouts, but never happened.  Instead they presented to the Scouters in a RT mtg.



    My son loves OA for one reason - the guys in OA take scouting seriously.  They love it just like he does.  The first OA event after his ordeal that he went to was a Conclave.  He came back so energized and excited and made a bunch of new friends.  We're going to help out for a couple of hours at a Council Camporee tonight (our Troop isn't attending the Camporee) and going to our Lodge's Fall Fellowship next weekend.  That event has been on his calendar since he did his ordeal in May. To my son, OA is about fellowship.


    As our Troop's OA Representative, he is working to make OA much more visible by announcing nominations, Ordeal members and Brotherhood members at the Troop's Court of Honor.  That being said, we've got a couple of guys from our Troop who didn't do the Ordeal and who are likely to be Sash and Dash, but there are two older guys who stouck around to become Brotherhood members in the past couple of years.  My son will be the third from our Troop to recently get Brotherhood and I suspect he will run for an OA Chapter level office next year. To my son,  OA is about being truly boy-led and bringing that back to your Troop.


    My son is one of the guys that is always there to help when there is an Eagle Project or Service Project.  As a Life Scout, he doesn't need service hours for rank advancement but he does it anyway.  Since joining OA, he has really started to live the motto of Cheerful Service.  


    Although I've heard it be called "Scouting's Honor Society", I can tell you my son sees it as a call to action rather than an honor.  There is a call out ceremony, where your name is called and you step forward.  At the Ordeal, you are asked to commit to fellowship, leadership and cheerful service both through your Lodge but also back in your Troop.  


    Are they the "Best of the Best" -- I've never heard that expression, but knowing the way our Lodge works - that wouldn't be a recognition of what you have done but a challenge to guide what you should do.

  5. We did a best in Den Award decided by the scouts,, parents and siblings voting by using different types of beans for each Den and placing them in Dixie Cups that were placed in front of each car.  The Boy Scouts helping with the event decided among the top cars in each Den which car got 1st, 2nd and 3rd overall.  In those Dens, the 2nd place car got Best in Den.  

  6. Troop:


    September - Leadership Training Campout

    September - Canoeing and Camping on Lake (Canoe across, pitch tents, canoe some more)

    October - Beach Campout

    November - Hawk Mountain Camping and Hike in Sanctuary

    December - Urban Hike in Philadelphia




    September - 10 Mile Bike Ride

    October - AT Hike (postponed due to conflicts)

    November - COPE Weekend

    December- ??????

    • Upvote 1
  7. Technically mine crossed in 4th grade, May. This year he is a full Boy Scout in 5th grade. I'm encouraged by your son's success story. But did he like Scouts? Did he ask to quit? That's my scenario right now. I'm trying to gauge how hard to push. Scouting just doesn't seem fun for him anymore. I understand the value of the program. But if the boy isn't having fun, where is the motivation to stay?



    Grade level does matter.  I can see a huge difference between even 10th and 11th graders.


    My son did like scouts, because it was a chance to hang out with his buddies.  Six guys from his Cub Scout Den crossed over with him.  His best friend was there with him and that made a huge difference (they are still best friends, still go on the same campouts and both were founders of our Venturing Crew).  


    Ask your son what he likes about scouting and what he doesn't like.  My impression was that he felt excluded from the Troop because of the outings.  If that is the case, talk to the Scoutmaster and offer to help plan outings that the whole Troop can enjoy.  I find that Troops need a variety of Assistant Scoutmasters, including one who worries about the transition for the new scouts.  Many Troops are so focused on the older scouts, they forget the younger ones.


    There was a moment of change in our troop around 10 years ago.  The older scouts remembered what it was like to be the new scout, to be ordered around, to be sent to camp in the other side of the campsite away from the older boys  The boys decided to change the culture and have mixed-age patrols where the older guys looked out for and mentored the younger guys.  The troop has tripled in size since then.  If you son does stick with it, maybe one day he will be the one to change the troop.


    Good luck.

  8. Rob:


    For clarification, "under the auspices of the Boy Scouts of America" includes activites done as part of a merit badge even if those activities are not done as part of a unit's program.  For example, backpacking trips, bike rides and hikes that my son and I have done outside of scouting were credited toward merit badges and therefore were "under the auspices of the Boy Scouts of America" and thefore count toward the National Outdoor Award.


    For requirement #2, the additional 100 miles of riding doesn't need to be under "the auspices of the Boy Scouts of America" because the requirement doesn't have that condition.  So I agree with your reading.


    For requirement #3, the miles done for requirement #2 explicity count, so you have more than 200 miles and the scout has met requirement #3.


    As for the devices, I've read those requirements to be additional nights, miles, etc. done after the base award was earned.  So, I wouldn't count the additional 50 miles done for Requirement #2 toward a device even if it was done under the auspices of the Boy Scouts of America.  For our Troop, we have "Troop bike rides" where the boys earning the cycling merit badge are joined by others in the Troop.  Those rides are "under the auscpices, so they count."  Accompaning a couple of other scouts on a 50 miler gets the gold device quickly.


    As for record keeping, have the boys keep track of their accomplishments.  It makes your life easier.

  9. Jumping back in to answer a few questions. My son was 10 and 7 months when he crossed, they did Webelos and Arrow of Light in one year, so technically he was eligible. Also, there are no hard age restrictions for the events, but many of the physical activities (similar to those described by Hedgehog) are out of his capability or interest. If it wasn't for his friend in the patrol, I'd consider quitting and trying again when he's 13 or so.


    To those of you out there with agressive, physical, athletic boys, it's not the same for the less mature, quiet, non-athletic boys. I'm sure some may be tempted to chalk this up to parenting but that's just not the case. I've put him in sports since he was 3 and the other kids just run circles around him. He technically doesn't have a disability, but he's been in physical therapy in school to help build his muscle tone. I don't see him doing a 50-mile anything for a couple years at least. We loved Cub Scouts, like I said before, but the transition has been sudden and hard, and it's just not working right now. And yeah, I'd really like to see a separate transition program for kids between Cubs and Scouts, or at least for the BSA to stop the early crossovers.




    My son was the same age - August Birthday, 5th Grade and March crossover.  I wouldn't have put him down then as the atheletic type.  He did summer camp and struggled through the 5 mile hike.  That summer we did some hiking and kayaking while on vacation in Maine.  The one trail was a 1,000 foot assent over less than a mile, including rock scrambles.  Going up was hard, going back down was worse.  We did a 7 mile (each way) backpacking trek with his best friend.  He was on the verge of tears several time on the way in.  I told him that Scouts couldn't be more difficult than what we did that summer.  I was wrong - at least for one 6 mile hike across boulder fields, up steep mountains, across ridges where you had to scramble from boulder to boulder and up rock walls that you had to climb carefully.  I could see the exhaustion, the fear and the challenge taking its toll.  I was there with him (and the other guys in from his den).  When he finished the hike and reached the top, I was able to see the sense of accomplishment and to hear it in his three words, "I did it."  Fast forward three years, at 14 he is the most accomplished hiker, camper, backpacker, etc. in the troop.  He had to push his limits to realize what he can accomplish.


    Would the transition have been easier if his Webelos 2 experience included more hiking and camping -- yes.  However, I think the solution is that the boys and the adults in the Troop need to design the program to accomodate the new guys.  Last year, our first three outings after the guys crossed over were an orienteering camp out (with an afternoon hike or mountain bike ride), a horseback riding campout (with a 1 hour guided trail ride followed by a hike)) and a day trip boating on a lake.  We had our new guys join us on those activities.  We do short hikes on every campout ad sometimes just hike on weekends.  Even our backpacking trips usually have a second option to join the group on Saturday and do a shorter hike.  


    It is about Troop culture.


    At summer camp, I got reports from the PLs about who was homesick or having problems.  I asked them if I needed to do anything and their answer was, "no, I think they were OK after I talked to them and helped them...."  @@Stosh 's rule #1 - Take Care of Your Boys


    So on a hike at the end of the last school year, one of the new guys was lagging behind.  My son and I noticed at the same time.  He turned to me and said, "I got this, Dad."  Three minutes later, the new guy is holding my son's hiking staff, talking to my son and unknowingly picking up his pace to catch up to the group.  A servant leader's job is to make sure the group succeeds, every member of the group.

  10. @@Hedgehog, you're reading into the text! Both troops are his. (He has the membership cards to prove it, no doubt.) So time served in either counts.


    I agree.   I was intentionally being overly "lawyerly" with my reading for @@NJCubScouter 's amusement.  


    The Eagle Project Workbook is a nightmare.  It needs to be streamlined and simplifed to reflect "Lean" project management goals of removing unnecessary steps.  It also fails to recognize that the best leadership doesn't fit into a linear form.  The best leaders that I know find bureaucratic processes cumbersome and circumvent them to accompish their goal.  That would be a great spin-off thread -- how to fix the Eagle Project Workbook.


    My frustration with BSA advancement and other guidance (e.g. G2SS, Rank Advancement, MB Requirements) is the ability to interpret it any way you want to justify what you are doing.  It seems to me that there should be the simple guidelines but also a more detailed reference guide that explains everything in detail.  Again, another good spinoff -- why I should be the BSA's "Writer-in-Chief."


    Ultimately, this thread is about how @@zuzy's son has turned a nightmare scenaro into a happy ending.  Congratulations to him.

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  11. Sounds good.  I suppose that if I were cursed with thinking like a lawyer 24 hours a day (oh wait, I am) I couldn't help but notice that the new SM is probably "adding to the requirements" a little, but he's doing it in an understandable and constructive way, so if your son is ok with it, that's fine.



    I saw that he "asked" the son if he could get to know him for a couple of months before haiving a Scoutmaster's conference.  Asking isn't requiring.  And unless the old SM will sign off on Scout Spirit (yeah, not likely), three months is a reasonable time to get to know a scout.  


    Also, being blessed to think like a laywer 24x7, you could interpret the word "your" troop in the six month active requirement and six month POR requirement to mean the troop from which the scout is seeking to become an Eagle.  If they meant the requirement otherwise it would be "a" troop.  :p

  12. @@qwazse is correct.  It is a matter of developing at Pack culture or faking that there is one until everyone believes the myth.  With our Pack, Troop and now Crew, the expectation is that EVERY adult helps out in some way.  In Lions and Tigers, the adults are supposed to be experiencing Scouting along with their kids.  They are the "adult partners" not going off into a corner and chatting.  


    Last weekend we had our leadership retreat for our Troop and in my e-mail to the boys I told them, "Scouting is as fun as you make it.  You are in charge.  Lead."  The same applies to parents in Cub Scouts - the program is as good as they make it -- take the lead.  The key is to explain that many hands make light work.  The Den leader is the coordinator in chief.  He or she assigns each meeting theme to a parent or parents.  The Den leader leads the meeting (starting out with the pledge, oath and law, and then turns it over to the parents.  He or she then thanks the parents with a round of applause (or a cheer), previews the next meeting, wraps up the meeting (we always used the Scoutmaster's Benediction and then a cheer.  In a den of 10 kids, each parent takes one requirement or elective and runs one meeting and you have a year.  This also get the parents to behave -- they don't want the other parents in the back being a distraction when they are running a meeting and therefore should show the same respect that they would like.  Parents are expected to follow the Scout Law - helpful, courteous, kind...   Sell it to them by telling them that the best way for their children to learn those values is for their parents to lead by example.


    My advice is for you to break the Tiger den in half.  Twelve is the maximum for a den.  Have everyone find a buddy.  Then have the pairs of buddies find another pair.  Then have the quadruplets each find two other quadruplets.  This way, everyone is guaranteed a buddy in their Den.  Then have a movie for the kids to watch OR plan an activity that the boys can do en mass (and get other adults that don't have kids in the Dens to help you).  Send the adults for each Den off into another room with instructions to pick a Den Leader and an Assistant Den Leader and then to plan out the year with each parent taking one requirement or elective per meeting.  The Den Leader and Assistant Den Leader don't have to take a meeting (asuming you don't have meetings during July and August).  A group of disorganized parents go into a room and a well oiled and planned Den comes out.  This is similar to what I would do for the new Tiger Dens in our Pack.  I would run the first meeting for them, teaching the Pledge, Oath, Law and Motto, playing games and having fun while the adults would figure things out.  Actually, one of the Dens asked me to keep doing that each year to allow the parents to plan -- so I would teach one of the requirements (my son was a year ahead of that Den, so I just used the materials I had developed for my son's Den).


    Fill the front line leadership positions and then worry about the Committee.  In our Cub Scout pack, the Committee roles (other than the Treasurer) didn't do much.  We had the program down and the Cubmasters knew what they were doing.  When I took over as Cubmaster, we actually started having Committee Meetings because I wanted a group of involved parents to buy into some changes I was making so that they would continue after I crossed over.  Again, get the program running well and then get some folks on the Committee -- that realy isn't a big commitment.  We sold it as attending two one-hour meetings during the year.


    My last piece of advice is to ask specific people to do specific jobs.  Don't ask the group if anyone wants to be Den Leader.  Ask one person who you think will do a good job.  It is easy to ignore a request made to a group, hard to ignore a request made just to you.


    Thank you for what you are doing for scouting.  Being the Cubmaster is the most fufilling job there is.  Nobody can thank you enough -- but the kids smiles are more than enough payback.

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  13. We had our second meeting on Sunday. We had six youth (3 male / 3 female) turn in their forms with two more (1 male and 1 female) expected to turn them in next month. Before the meeting had started they had already completely organized a 10 mile bike ride for September. We have an Advisor (me) and 4 Associate Advisors and a 3 member Committee. Paperwork was submitted on Monday.


    We were supposed to have elections but the youth all wanted different positions. After running the nonexistent election, I turned it over to the Crew President. She ran with my agenda - having the crew decide on the October (backpacking) and November (COPE and rock climbing on a real rock face) outings. After 2 hours, nobody wanted it to end.


    The best part was going around the table and hearing the level of experience of the youth and adults. The adults are 4 or 5 deep in hiking, backpacking, camping, kayaking, canoeing and other skills. The 14 and 15 year old Venturers all had impressive outdoor skills. Four crew members have done backpacking treks longer than 50 miles. This is a pretty awesome group.


    It's been a flurry of emails and activity among advisors to get the adult protocols in place (permission slips, medical forms, training, etc. ). We are fortunate because we have access to the gear and equipment from 2 Troops because their Scoutmasters are also serving as Crew Associate advisors.


    We are also fortunate that all of the advisors are VERY committed to youth-led.


    This is going to be a lot of fun.

    • Upvote 1
  14. We camped last year outside D.C. in December.  It was in the 70s during the day and the 50s at night.  Sigh.


    We did camp in adirondacks in February.  The ranger told us his thermometer registered 18 degrees F in the morning.  The Adirondacks had fireplaces right in front of them that we could fire up at night to keep us warm as we fell asleep.  We had the benefit of a cabin with a wood stove for cooking and hanging out in.  Check out Camp Tuscora.


    Also, check out the Patriot's Path Operation Zero.  I'm trying to convince the guys in our Troop or guys and gals in the Crew to do that.

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  15. @@Hedgehog, you're doing a little bit of apples-to-oranges. What was the youngest age (not grade) of your participants? I couldn't imagine throwing any of my kids into most those activities while they were 10 years old.



    For the 50 miler, the youngest was 12 and a half.  His onlyprior  backpacking experience was camporee where we hiked in 4 miles.  He did as well as anyone else on the trip.   My son was a couple of weeks short of turning 13.  The summer between 5th and 6th grade, my son (who was just turning 11) did a 14 mile round trip bakpacking trek (7 miles out, one day of camping and then 7 miles back) with 1400 of assent each way with one of his buddies.  We've had recently crossed over Webelos do 6 mile hikes, two day canoe trips, sea kayaking and backpacking shakedown hikes.  It typically takes them about a year to do a three day backpacking trek or camp out in really cold weather.  For the less adventurous or experienced boys, we have other adventures.


    I was trying to make two points.  The first is that there shouldn't be Troop imposed age restrictions on outings.  If a boy wants to go and thinks they can do it, the Troop should let them.  The second is that the outdoor program should be varied to allow for different skill levels and interests.  Servant leadership means the boy leaders design an outdoor program that is inclusive and that balances adventures.

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  16. The problem seems to be having boy-led without servant leadership.  Servant leadership means that the leader is responsible for taking care of the boys he leads so that the boys succeed.  Our guys know when the Webelos are crossing over and they tend to plan the first campout after they cross over to be something that would be fun for them.  The PLs know that there is a transition and they watch over the guys as if they are little brothers.  At summer camp, the crossovers go to the First Class Adventure together and bond both with the other crossovers and with the Troop.  By September, the new guys are part of the Troop.  


    Our outdoor program is pretty varied and it is designed to accomodate all ages.  Last year we did sea kayaking (which was kayaking in a relatively calm bay), a camporee, a backpacking trek (starting with some night backpacking for the older guys with a shorter option where inexperienced backpackers could join in), a camping trip to Washington, DC, camping in adirondak shelters in February, cabin camping with a cast iron chef competiton,  camping with orienteering, mountain biking and hiking, camping and horseback riding, a one day boating trip in June, a 3 day 21 mile backpacking trek and then summer camp.  There is something for everyone and a lot of different adventures for those that go on every trip.  There are no age limits on any trips - the boys are only limited by their ability and their desire.  We had a 6th (going into 7th) and two 7th (going into 8th) graders do a 50 mile backpacking trek last summer.

  17. Interesting.  I think the requirements are for the adults.  I tend to like the more detailed requirements because they make sure the boys at least cover those topics.  If those were removed and the requirements were just to cook three meals in the outdoors and at home, then I'm sure everyone would be complaining how easy the merit badge has become.


    I use the requirements as the basis for discussions with a group of around 8 to 10 scouts.  The discussions are usually mixed with some of the doing requirements.  The kids are usualy interested in hearing about the topics and really participate in the discussions.


    in my opinion, the key is to work with the kids so they learn MORE than the requirements.  The first thing I go over in cooking is knife safety and the right way to cut, slice and dice.  For camping, I have a discussion about the different tents you would use for backpacking, climbing, winter camping, car camping and summer camp after we talk about the BSA's archaic "types of tents" list.  For backpacking, I talk about how much your pack, sleeping gear, clothing and food should weigh.  Kids like learning, but they tend to resist the idea of learning to fulfill requirements.  They want to learn so that they have enough knowledge to do the activity.

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  18. How about sitting down the scouts going on the Trek and asking them to come up with something?  Tell the boys that they are responsible for figuring out the gear requirements, they are responsible for figuring out how far they are hiking each day on the trek, they are responsible for figuring how much training they need, they are responsible for planning several backpacking treks between now and Philmont.  They might just surprise you.

    • Upvote 2
  19. were there harps playing in the background, and a nice white clouded fog surrounding but not in your yard?



    Our dog was howling and there was smoke from the charcoal from the Dutch ovens... does that work?


    My mantra has been "start as you intend to continue."  As the Advisor, I'm asking myself at every point is that something a youth could do?  The answer usually is yes.

  20. The issue is the recognition of the Summit award by the Armed Forces, colleges, employers, ad infinitum.


    Eagle Scout is a recognized and secure brand.


    Other top ranks ... not so much



    This might be an issue for some, but I'm not hearing it.

    • Girl scouts are more concerned about being denied programs that common sense should dictate their organization provide. I have an great niece adopted from a 3rd world orphanage who simply does not get why American girls her age aren't "allowed" to light campfires (which she does with flint and steel). Like my daughter, she envies all the camp-outs her brothers go on.
    • Female venturers just want respect. For example, I've known advisors and scoutmasters who've dealt with boy scouts telling a girl that any award they could possibly earn would never compare to Eagle. (For any of my scouts reading this, thank you for being bigger than that.)  The ones who are mastering wilderness adventure or sea scouting know they are "all that." If the boys around them give them their due, that's award enough.

    What it means to youth (both in scouting, and considering to be in scouting) is what matters.



    On Sunday night we had the organizational meeting for our Venturing Crew.  The four young woman in attendance (and the three young men) all said the reason they were there was for the adventure.  I got the sense that everyone there was there because they thought Venturing was going to be FUN and not something to put on their resume.  


    The answer that one of our 18 year old scouts who is off to college gave at his Eagle Scoutmaster conference is telling.  The question was "How would you feel if for some reason you were denied Eagle?"  Answer, "I'd be really disappointed after all the work I've put in, but I'd still have the knowledge and skills I"ve learned getting to Eagle and that can't be taken away from me."  


    At the Venturing meeting, one of the few things I talked about was Baden-Powell's quote about Scouting being a game with a purpose.  What I tell all of the Boy Scouts in our Troop is that the Eagle Scout award isn't as important about the path you take to get there and what you learn along the way.

  21. UPDATE:


    We had our Crew's organizational meeting on Sunday night in my backyard.  We had 4 young woman and 3 young men at the meeting.  Each of them talked about part of the Venturing program - Adventure, Leadership, Personal Growth and Service. They also covered introductions, recognition, officer positions, the Scout Oath and Law, etc. 


    We also had 10 adults at the meeting to help in various capacities (including the COR and DE).  It was neat to see the adults sit back as the youths explained the program.  


    There are two other young women and two other young men that expressed interest in joining the crew but couldn't make the meeting. Additionally, everyone there had ideas of other friends that they though would be interested.  My sense is that we will end up with a crew of around 12.


    As the youths did their introduction, they stated the main reason they were interested in Venturing - the two reasons cited were having adventures and being with friends.


    The meeting ended with a fire in the fire pit, marshmallows and two dump cakes.

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