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Posts posted by oldbuzzard

  1. 7 hours ago, qwazse said:

    Um, @oldbuzzard, most backpacking is not back-country. The stuff that sells magazines, sure. But the majority of trails are within a couple hours of emergency extraction. Some of them are entirely country roads or railroad beds with a decent homestead every mile or so.

    Fair enough... but none of that matches my anecdotal experience as a scout, adult, or scouter.

    As a Scout in the 80s we did backpacking trips on the Uwharrie Trail and at Grayson Highlands in VA. Uwharrie is definitely not magazine cover material but was under an hour away. Mt Rogers and the wild horses were on the AT and closer to 2 1/2hrs away; along with Roan mountain, it is one of my favorite spots on the AT outside of New England. Both were backcountry.

    As an adult, I have never seen scouts backpacking in the type of areas you describe. I've seen and talked to scouts on the PCT, Superior Hiking Trail, and in  the Porkies but all of them were backpacking for the experience not training. Most of those groups had smaller/younger scouts along. I've read plenty of trail registers of scout groups in the White and Green Mtns. The only scout groups I've seen doing "backpacking" training hikes in Seattle, NC, and MN were groups training for Philmont.

    As a scouter, our scouts have done less backpacking than some of the adults would prefer but they seem to mirror my view that backpacking is a method to do things you couldn't do otherwise, not a goal in and of its self. We run our own 2 week summer camp with a 3 day 2 night out of camp trip. The trip rotates between a river canoe trip, a 100 miles bike trip, and a backpacking/hiking trip. All the scouts regardless of age do the trip. This year is backpacking, due to LNT we will probably need 3 crews. The newly crossed over scouts may base camp hike. The other 2 crews will be backpacking. So far I've loaned the PLC my SHT maps, we'll see what the plan is after the CoH on Monday. I'm curious since I'm "leading" one of the groups.

    As to backcountry and extraction...I think that "majority of trails are within a couple hours of extraction" statement is *very* questionable. My wife has done medical support for trail races on the SHT, which while more rugged has more roads/logging roads/4WD driveable snowmobile trails than either the AT or probably many portions of the Laurel Highlands Trail.In a medical emergency it took six hours to evacuate someone 2 miles.Running in a local county park it took 2 hours to evacuate someone under a mile with a broken arm. I think that the most useful element of a good WFA/WFR course is the field experience to show how slow and difficult rescues are. This realization helps folks grasp why the front/backcountry lines are so close together.


  2. Well the 2nd(gold) document lists multi night backpacking as an approved activity for younger Scouts while the GTSS explicitly lacks a "backcountry/wilderness" check for younger Scouts. Everywhere except outpost camping at council camps, backpacking is a backcountry activity. Hence the tendency to ignore gtss and go with the other doc.


  3. Here, I think there are three models

    1) Specialty crews like the SCUBA crews are chartered by subject experts and only do that activity.

    2) We have a crew chartered by an outdoor store that is nominally a climbing crew. They also backpack and canoe depending on scout interest. I would call this and similar crews high adventure crews.

    3) We have standard CO chartered crew who do whatever that cohort of scouts wants.

  4. On 5/23/2019 at 11:40 AM, RichardB said:

    Do parents today (your future leader pool) have the ability to teach these skills?    Asking for a friend.  

    Sadly yes. The vast majority of families in our troop are either outdoorsy or scouting heritage families. So camping, knots, and cooking are a given. Map skills, first aid, and LNT are more uneven. Pioneering and lashing  are weak.

    Among our under 16 scouts everyone has at least one BSA, GS, Scout Association, or Scouts Canada parent.


  5. Our main local Ship tries to sail at most weekly meetings between May and October and work on advancement and certifications the rest of the year. They sail on a local park lake in optis and 420s. They also have access to a larger boat for trips on the Great Lakes.

  6. 2 hours ago, qwazse said:

    Most of us would agree that providing the scouts opportunity for responsibility, service, and conferences with caring adults is a linchpin of the program. Other groups have outdoor components, high-minded ideals, uniforms, awards, teams, etc ... But few really strive for leadership and personal growth in the rounded fashion that troop life offers.

    Locally, looking at programs with a large outdoors component, I see two separate differences in outcomes.

    For our local Loppet program, they have XC skiing, trail running, orienteering, and MTB as focuses. They vastly outperform the Scouts on skill development but are weak on leadership. Though Jesse Diggins' work with the XC ski folks on climate change is positive sign. Scouts is clearly better at leadership. Personal growth will depend.

    On the other hand our 2 local high adventure Y camps, Menogyn and Widji,  both do a great job on leadership and growth. They are on par with NOLS and Outward Bound. The Widji progression exceeds anything Northern Tier offers( https://www.ymcamn.org/camps/camp_widjiwagan/parents/the_widji_progression ). This a huge personal growth and leadership opportunity.

    The huge benefit Scouts offers is the patrol method. I truly believe that our kids planning their own trips and working the details is more worthwhile regardless of any lesser scope. This same philosophy is why I prefer troop trips to BSA packaged HA. You can get the forming/storming/norming/performing on either type of trip but the patrol method "laboratory of democracy" benefits only in patrols.

    • Upvote 2
  7. 16 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

    To be more precise, a small troop only large enough for one patrol (say, 6 to 10 Scouts) versus a larger troop with multiple patrols of that same size (6 to 10 Scouts).  If each troop is executing the patrol method, does a larger patrol method troop have any advantages over the smaller patrol method troop in giving the youth an effective Scouting program?

    All things being equal in terms of patrol method and relative resources, competition/inspiration is a multi-patrol troop's key advantage. GBB and others talk about using occasional inter-patrol competitions to drive both patrol identity and excellence. Even more important, for me, is the role of inspiration. Seeing another patrol eating an excellent meal, dealing with the weather,  pulling off a cool activity should give you something to aspire to. If your patrols are balanced, each patrol should be able to regularly find inspiration from the others. 

    • Upvote 1
  8. 7 hours ago, PACAN said:

    Wow...amazing how fast the councils are trying to separate themselves from National.  All the notices are almost identical as if "someone" had prepared a boilerplate for each council.  We hope National can get out of their mess but it's not our problem.

    The boilerplate is clearly damage control, but I disagree about separating from National. All the boilerplate releases say the local council is financially strong and "stands ready to help" National.

    Compare that to our councils statement.


    As has been widely reported, the National Council, BSA is considering options regarding financial reorganization if future circumstances should require it.

    No such decisions have been made, and no actions have been taken. These considerations are merely due diligence and part of good governance.

    The National Council, BSA is a separate and distinct corporation from any local BSA Council. Northern Star Scouting is incorporated in Minnesota and our assets are not affected should the National Council restructure and reorganize its own assets. Our funds and properties are under our board’s ownership and governance.

    Children count on us for fun and adventure, for character-building life skills, for a safe haven, and for their preparation as our future community leaders. We’re keeping our focus on them. Northern Star Scouting is strong and vital, and we will find the services and resources we need, locally as well as in concert with other Scout Councils, to serve our families for decades to come.

      Clearly off the same boilerplate document. But the last sentence I bolded is less open ended in its support for National.

  9. I wouldn't count your example. Our scouts usually get snow on our November campout and at least some camp in the snow in Dec/Jan. I wouldn't count those either since  it is incidental and not really any different than other camping trips(no planning windbreaks/snow structures/what have you) However, it is easy for us since we do an out of camp trip at Summer camp that rotates between a canoe trip/100 mile bike trip/backpacking so meeting that requirement is never really an issue.

    Here in MN, 9b1, hike up a mountain and gain 1000ft from where you started is impossible. Like snow camping is impossible for you. If you go to a council camp the rappeling  should be a gimme... Anyway, having the long list to pick 2 from should balance this all out. It is all about having a variety of camping experiences, not doing any particular one.

  10. We camped last weekend,Nov 9-11, in WI on our troop's camp property .It was 10 degrees with 2-3 inches of snow on Friday night. We got another inch or so on Saturday night. The scouts really liked hanging out in the falling snow around a roaring fire. All the scouts were outside in tents. The Webelos slept in a storage building with a wood stove.

    Our December campout is always a joint campout with 3-4 other troops at another troop's cabin. All our scouts will camp out side and there should be sledding and the creek will be frozen and maybe the river. 

    January is uncertain. Our camp has unmaintained sand and grass roads. If we can get in, in cars, we will camp there, otherwise we'll camp at a council camp.

    We do Eagle Cave every other year, so no February campout for us this year.

    March isn't planned yet. Last year we camped at a council camp and the scouts and webelos camped in the snow.

    The past 2-3 winters have been frustrating for us. We have older scouts who want to do hard core winter camping, quinzees and such, but the weather is fickle. It will be too warm or 0 degrees without much snow on our scheduled weekends and then later dump a foot of snow when we can't use it. *I* would love to send a couple of scout(er)s to CWLT at Northern Tier and then do a regular January trip to the North Shore or Boundary Waters, but thats a long term plan.

    In terms of planning, we don't do much. Scouts know how to layer already. The 2 main things we do are 1) unlike warmer campouts where scouts use their own tents, in the winter all the younger scouts have to tent together, having 2 or 3 scouts in a tent keeps every one warmer and provides a safety margin if anyone gets too cold 2) we make sure folks have an extra sleeping bag, most of our scouts have 20/30 degree bags but we have extra huge uncompressable 80's era sleeping bags that scouts can use a a quilt or as a ground cloth or as an over bag; Its big and bulky and heavy but warm and cheap. If we ever move to more extreme back country camping we'll have to up our game but it works for now.

    • Upvote 1
  11. 16 hours ago, WisconsinMomma said:

      I think it's interesting that this CO said, "push the boundaries".  I wonder what kind of CO would do that? 

    Our chartering church has experience fighting with National. Our home family church is the same denomination. We have had gay/trans leaders and scouts forever. We opted out of the gay ban and were a major force pushing our council to also opt out of the gay ban. For that I am grateful. My wife's church in NH just dropped their BSA charter. Our early 2000's outdoorsy church in Seattle had no scouts since 2 of our 4 ministers would be banned from contact with scouts for being gay. I am glad some liberal churches pushed through that culture war to allow a more inclusive movement..


    I guessed this was in California, but it's in Minnesota, which is too close to home for me!  

    But none of the CA or PNW councils chose to defy national, while Northern Star did.


    If I had daughters, I think I would want my daughters in a troop that follows the program.  Because if a CO is winging it, do they lack discipline across the entire program?  Do they follow YPT and the guide to safe scouting?  How do you know what program you are getting if the organization is making stuff up as they go? 

    I suppose that could be a concern. But being a Scouting family, I can feel qualified to judge these things. I'm not making any troop decisions but I can recognize traditional scouting when I see it. Would I have made the same decisions...maybe... probably. But I can see YPT is being followed. We have emeritus SMs being written up in Scouting mag. We have camp volunteers in their 50th year at camp. When our younger 11-13yo scouts were planning their BWCA trip this year, we had another emeritus spry fit looking SM come in to talk about  canoe trips and he started his talk out talking to the the younger scouts and the Webelos who we  visiting by saying "I was sitting right where you were, I joined this troop as a Cub Scout in 1947..." While he went on to talk about staffing the Region X canoe base based solely on his troop canoeing experience, you could see the kids slowly doing the math and having their jaws drop. 

    Maybe our troop is pushing things too much, but in 6 months it won't matter, and the question was what is your troop doing to prepare for coed Scouts BSA. That's what we're doing.

    • Upvote 2
    • Downvote 1
  12. On 8/7/2018 at 2:28 PM, Treflienne said:

    It's only six months till girls in Scouts BSA.  Will you be ready to start up a girls' troop in February?

    Our troop has a "patrol" of girls at summer camp for the past 2 weeks. We run our own camp with usually one other troop. We've regularly had 1 or 2 associated Venture crews that are majority female doing all camp activities . Our girl patrol sent in registrations as Scouts which were rejected. We refused to take the apps back. I *think* council converted them to Venture apps and we refused to take the cards. Anyway, all the females are over 14 but we invited younger girls and would have allowed them if they wanted to attend. This is the female scouts' first troop activity, some of them did a entirely mom/daughter BWCA trip this summer at the same time the troop was sending 3 crews to the BWCA. The biggest issue has been how we are going to recognize them at the closing campfire since we can't give them merit badges. I'll see what they've come up with tomorrow night.

    So yes. We have a committee. We have female scouters. Half the girls at camp will age out before girls are "allowed" in February, so we also have a younger group of female ASMs or ad hoc volunteers from our venture crew, which has been defunct but is spinning back up for an existing group of senior scouts who will age out during their senior year and want to do some more high adventure. Our CO has encouraged us to push the boundaries as much as possible.  We are planning to run linked troops which will look like a single troop with single sex patrols. We're just hoping to get enough new girls to have viable patrols.

    ETA: Our Cub Scout troop is planning to run coed dens.. Council knows this. We are a designated referral pack for girls who can't form a viable den in other packs. When we told council they gritted their teeth and said they'd *strongly* prefer we not do that. We told them we were doing it anyway and they ignored it.

    • Upvote 2
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  13. Looking at this incident and g2ss is interesting. In this case the scout fell behind and then went off the trail. The buddy system should help with this but bikers get strung out so even with better buddy system you might not notice for a few minutes, certainly not the 45 minutes in the article. However, the big safety issue I would cite here was that there was no one riding sweep. That seems to me to be the way to quickly catch lagging, lost, equipment failure, etc. Interestingly, I see no mention of best group riding practices in the cycling section and no mention of sweepers anywhere in g2ss.

    I don't think needs to be an adult role, but some language like, "When hiking or riding in a group patrol size or larger, it is recommended that each group have a designated responsible scout(er) in the rear in a sweep role to quickly identify any problem with lagging participants." Maybe this is somewhere in BSA docs but it wasn't easily findable. If g2ss is going to be a prescriptive as the current versions are, it would be nice if the activity sections actually included the useful info. 

    • Upvote 2
  14. 4 hours ago, NJCubScouter said:

    I am curious, how would you answer your own question?

    I'll take a stab at it...

    On 7/26/2018 at 10:01 PM, qwazse said:

    Why should a youth bother with O/A if they can't get a deeper understanding about what we admire the most from the native American mystique?

    Looking at antecedents OA borrowed from, why would an adult join a service organization without the Masons'  "mystical" mumbo jumbo? And yet, Rotary and Kiwanis and Jaycees etc seem to do OK. Ignoring solely adult concerns like the grail and networking and business opportunities, the 2 factors youth and adults are looking for in a group are the chance to do meaningful stuff and the opportunity to associate with others they find admirable.

    So for OA... The ceremony teams are one opportunity to do both meaningful stuff and be admired. But is that really the best example of either OA's or Scouts' mission. I'm not sure. The uniform method is about being a visible force for good in the community not impressing folks for its own sake. Despite its tradition as a quasi-religious secret society, I don't see much about that aspect of the OA in either the aims or the methods.

    On the other hand the new formulation of OA as a camping/service honor society has lots of untapped potential. Why hide your light under a bushel, only displaying it for ceremonies and helping out at camporees and camp maintenance. These are Scouting's best, let them help more widely. I happen to think the quintessential OA experience isn't ceremony team but rather trail crew. That seems to be a more public facing role for Scouting's best. Let OA take that ethos of service and bring it to the wider scouting community and the general public. For instance have OA lead a Scout's wide conservation service day, on say Teddy Roosevelt;s birthday in October. Scouts want to emulate older role models. Let OA members demonstrate this in a very public way.If Cubs see these Scouts leading on a yearly basis, they will be suitably impressed if these Scouts come in a regular uniform to give them a  charge at Crossing Over.

    My wife and 9yo son are going up to volunteer at a trail race tomorrow. I'm getting 11yo son off to camp. We volunteer with various trail crews on the SHT. We have plenty of friends who do similar work. The combination of supporting something you love and working with people you like is way more powerful than some borrowed mythology.

    • Upvote 1
  15. 2 hours ago, RememberSchiff said:

    I wonder if the 17yr American, upon his return to our shores, will have a separate meeting with US Custom Officers etc, while his parents and SM wait their turn.

    I can't rule anything out at the Constitution-free zone that is our modern border, but this shouldn't be any different than someone who smokes dope in Amsterdam, has a beer at Oktoberfest, or eats some raw milk cheese in France. Besides taxation the US doesn't typically try to enforce laws outside their jurisdiction for US citizens.

    • Upvote 3
  16. 3 minutes ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

    I'm a former lifeguard and lifeguard instructor. I cannot tell you enough how dangerous ANY type of GO rescue is. And I was an instructor back when they taught you how to make rescues without equipment, something they no longer do today.  EVERY TIME YOU GO YOU PUT YOUR LIFE AT RISK. 

    I assume many of us got the Lifesaving merit badge back when this was the case and usually the teenage camp counselor tried to kick, punch, and drown you on the rescues. Unfortunately this didn't typically highlight the threats of GO rescues, rather it tended to instill a dangerous "illusion of competence".

  17. 31 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

    I was wondering, I have a friend who was talking about hunting moose with a handgun. I thought he said Maine, but I might be remembering wrong. 

    22 caliber can be more dangerous than larger calibers because they tend to bounce and ricochet, especially when shooting near body’s of water.



    11 minutes ago, MattR said:

    I thought that's what an F150 was for. Bu-bump.

    Much like with 22s, the "bounce and ricochet" is why they recommend against hunting moose with a F150. Brake for Moose, it will save your life.

    • Haha 1
  18. On 7/10/2018 at 5:06 AM, RememberSchiff said:

    Good points.

    Another annoyance is when activity X is prohibited except at a BSA facility, as if safe, quality programs cannot possibly be offered elsewhere.

    Which brings me to a recent announcement of, exclusive  to Summit,  the National Hunters Education course. We do hunter education locally, outside of scouting, with instructors from Mass Wildlife and the host sportsmen club. Hunting rules and regulations, and licensing are state specific, plus scouts can bring their own firearm/bow to training.

    Maybe our council just isn't good at following directions, regardless of the liberal/conservative bias, but it has had hunter education programs running on council camp sites for at least 15 years. In previous years it has been pitched as a semi-official collaborative effort between them and the Deer Hunter Assoc., https://scoutingevent.com/?forkhorn2015  More recently it hasn't been mentioned on the council site but is still running at council camps, as well as Y camps and others. https://www.mndeerhunters.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Deer-Hunters-FH-Brochure-1.9.18.pdf

    ETA: I agree hunter ed probably shouldn't be a troop activity... but council or run with DNR or  other groups with certs seems fine to me.

    • Like 1
  19. For us Cub day camp is $185 + $35 for busing from a single site 30 minutes away + aftercare. The Y is $240 for camp with free busing from a dozen sites, one of which is 2 blocks from our house..

    Traditional week long camp for BS age is $615 for the Y vs  $302 for council camp vs <$400 for our troop 2 week camp. So BSA is a huge win here... depending on how you amortize out troop dues.

    High Adventure  trips. Y BWCA trips for 6th graders $550; BSA unavailable

    High Adventure trips. Y BWCA trips  7-8th grader $890; BSA unavialable

    High Adventure. Y BWCA 12 day $1470; BSA NTier 12 day  (760 / 8 ) * 12 = $1140 -or - with 2 deep (760 /6 ) *12=$1520

    High Adventure Y Quetico 19 day $2410;BSA NTier Atikokan (810/8) * 12 = $1923 -or- with 2 deep (810/6) * 19=  $2562

    High Adventure Y Arctic Rivers 29-52 days customs prices; BS Bisset equivalent-ish for early trrips. No equivalent for later trips.

    Now going as a patrol/crew has advantages over tripping with the Y. But for Cub day camp and HA the Y is quality and cost competetive. For traditional Summer Camp, Scouts is a steal compared to the Y or most other groups.(Though my niece is going to a $400 a week overnight camping climbing camp at Acadia).

  20. 2 hours ago, Eagledad said:

    You’re missing the point CP, a warning of the danger would have been a reasonable explanation, National chose to insult and demean their volunteers into submission by basically saying the adults have intentions.

    I agree this is the problem. The G2SS has become a club to beat well meaning Scouters on issues orthogonal to safety.

    On 7/3/2018 at 2:40 PM, RichardB said:

    Et al, it's 2018, the 90's were a long time ago.    Lots of other ways to bond found in the actual literature, no need to make it up as you go and put kids and yourself at risk.  

    No where is this more apparent than on the gun related issues. The first parts of the guns restrictions are entirely reasonable but unrelated to safety. The ban on shooting at silhouettes isn't primarily a safety ban it is mostly philosophical. Now *I* strongly support this. I think having folks in the liberal church be willing to learn gun safety under the guise of marksmanship is a huge win. Having more Americans familiar with guns and gun safety as a tools, independent of the political debates is worthwhile. But the latter sections of the ban on pointing *"guns"* at humanoid targets is a natural philosophical follow on not safety driven. Claiming otherwise is disingenuous.,

    Likewise with the ban on fighting/boxing/martial arts. This is clearly a terrible idea. Scouts shouldn't fight one another. This is a huge vector for hazing. Lots of badness here. But is the issue fundamentally safety or philosophical... You could argue it either way; a ban is clearly in order.

    This becomes even more clear when considering allowed activities. ATVs are a prime example of suspected pay2play. Here is a activity that is whitewashed based on industry money and kid interest. American Academy of Pediatrics and others recommends a ban on <16kids sinces ATVs are unsafe. My wife has never done autopsies on kids shooting nerf/water guns or even more problematic paintball guns but has done several autopsies on ATV riders. 

    I think National needs to explain which restrictions are philosophically driven and which are data driven safety concerns and that would at least  focus these arguments properly.

    • Upvote 2
  21. My 9 yo has been at Y Day camp in MN and a family reunion at a Y camp colocated with a Y resident camp in MO this summer. In comparison to Cub camp, for  age limited activities he has sailed and canoed on rivers, zip lined, and done a high ropes course. Among banned activities he has zorb balled and had sanctioned water fights with water cannons. The Y camp limited him to crappy air rifles instead of 22s just like Scouts. Overall the Y camps have been cheaper and better than the Scout offerings.

  22. 1 hour ago, TMSM said:

    Thanks - We do the Porkies with our 11 year olds, its a great place. Smokies might be a little hot for us in July. A message was sent to Maine HA thanks for the input. 

    I think Lake Superior is North America's secret inland ocean. The Superior Hiking Trail is a gem ad could support longer treks. The Porkies are great since you can camp right on Gitchi Gami. We went there last fall with my 9yo and 11yo. It would be hard to create a 12 day trek there. The SHT and the Porkies have plenty of rocks, waterfalls, and bluff side hiking.

    1 hour ago, Troop185 said:

    I always suggest Ontario; you will not be sorry.  Beautiful country and a lot cooler than Illinois.  Check out Pukaskwa National Park or Lake Superior Provincial Park.  Both have a Coastal Trail along Lake Superior, at least as demanding as Philmont.  At Pukaskwa, I would suggest you rent a boat to take you down the coast, and backpack back (takes about a week).  You might not see anyone else the first 3 - 4 days. 

    Lake Superior Provincial Park is 3 hours closer to you.  A lot of boulder beaches, and hills to climb.  The most difficult trail I have backpacked in my 70 plus years, was from Orphan Lake Trail to Gargantua Bay, on the Coastal Trail.  The later in the summer you go, the best for the bugs.

    Those Ontario parks, and Sleeping Giant, are intriguing to me since they seem to resemble the West Coast Trail up Vancouver Island, without the ladders, cable cars, and "crowds".  However from Minneapolis they are a similar distance to Denver. The West Coast Trail is an unforgettable experience. These Ontario trails look similar. The only other options outside on Alaska I know about are a trail up the North Coast of California. and Gros Morne in New Foundland.

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