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Buffalo Skipper

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About Buffalo Skipper

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    Gulf Coast
  1. Buffalo Skipper

    I Blame the Boy Scouts

    SR540Beaver, thank you for the post. I used that as my Scoutmaster Minute last night. It acutally got a round of applause from some of our scouts. Life is Good!
  2. Buffalo Skipper

    Best sleeping pad for old geezers?

    Doing my part to spread the gospel of hammocking. Best night's sleep I have ever had. Discovering the hammock started my quest to lighten my backpack weight (or did my quest start with the hammock? Hum, not sure which came first, like the chicken and the egg...). Regardless, what was a 15 lbs of backpack, sleeping bag and pads and tent, is now down to just over 6 lbs, and I sleep soooo much better. Long live the trees! The original poster asked about pads. My son and I have been researching this for him. He has decided to go with the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite (small). It is 2.5" thick, insulated and weighs in at 8 oz. This is for Philmont (which does not allow hammocks--blasphemers!), and it looks like it will work out very well for him. The small only goes down to just below his knees, so he adds a cut section of WalMart blue foam pad for his feet. Outside of the tent, this 16" square pad makes a great insulated seat on a rock, log or ground. Add 1.8 oz for the foam pad.
  3. First I need to clarify that (in part, due to the following experience) I no longer sleep in a tent. For the last 19 months, I have spent nearly 60 nights hanging in a hammock, with not a single night on the ground. The worst night I have had in my hammock was better than the best sleep I ever experienced on the ground. With that said, I have only had two miserable nights in a tent. One was at Woodbadge and was health related (incredible heartburn caused by "walking tacos"). But my singular worst tent camping experience was while backpacking at FDR State Park in GA, on the Pine Mountain Trail; and it is quite a tale.  We are a (north) Florida troop, and the weather forecast was for snow! Not a lot of snow, but more than a dusting. We arrived at the base camp in advance of the front late on Friday night, just before midnight and set up. Older scouts slept in the open shelter, while the younger scouts and adults pitched tents. When we bedded down, the temperature was right around 38, and as the morning progressed, the weather conditions followed the forecast almost to the minute. At 2:30 am, it began to rain; at 9 am when everyone started to get up and prepare breakfast, it was 33 and the rain began to mix with ice, and soon snow. By 9:45 it had changed completely to snow as the temperature continued to slowly fall. Once the rain was gone (and it was fully snowing), we took down the tents and packed up to be ferried to the trailhead. We walked the trail for 2.5 hours as the snow continued to fall, with a total accumulation of 2-3. For us Florida boys, it was exciting. The section of trail where we were traversing is called Wet Bottom and there were several small stream crossings where we had to step across rocks for 8-12. The exposed rocks were covered with snow and were slippery, and several times I ended up with my (non-waterproof) boots in a few inches of water. But that was all right. I had spare socks and as long as I kept moving my feet were warm. By 1:30 pm, the snow stopped, and we continued to our designated campsite, as the temperatures continued to drop. We reached camp by about 4pm and quickly set up; as it was the middle of January, dusk was only about 90 minutes away. The temperature was somewhere around 23, which was the forecast low for the night. I changed into dry and put on my camp shoes (Crocs). The wet snow that had fallen that day had turned to a very crunchy ice with the temperature, and as I walked around camp, it fell into my Crocs and melted, making my feet (and my socks) quite wet. The group worked to make dinner, but our water never really came to a rolling boil (we were using propane and iso-butane stoves). Eventually it became warm enough to cook our rice/pasta, but it never completely cooked through, in spite of that, it was good to get some warm food in our bellies, and everyone went to bed quite early. I had one last pair of dry socks, which I put on as I climbed into my sleeping bag. I had a 1 self inflating pad and a 25 down bag; everything except my boots and 2 pair fo good hiking socks was dry, but I could never seem to get my feet (or the rest of me) to warm up. I spent the night in and out of sleep, needing to get up twice during the night, and I never could stop shivering; my feet were tingling painfully from the cold, keeping me awake much of the time. In the morning, we simply could not make the water boil for breakfast. One or two of the others had 0 bags and had done all right through the night, but the rest of us were miserable. It was a 3 day trek, and without access to any vehicles, we decided to break camp and move quickly to the next campsite. I struggled to put on my (driest) wet socks and frozen shoes. My feet were still painfully cold, but in the first 1/10 mile, the effort of hiking began to warm them up. We ended up unexpectedly meeting with the other group from the troop which was getting off the trail due to the SM having blown out his knee and being unable to continue. We ran into one of the park rangers who confirmed that the overnight temperatures in town had been in the sub teens, and he estimated temps on the mountain to be well into the single digits, around 7 or 8F. I will never forget that sleepless, shivering, painful night. Frankly, due to my wet feet, I believe I may have had a touch of hypothermia. No one really suffered any long term injuries (aside from the SM, who sadly has not gone on any long distance hikes since). Our troop was unprepared for these conditions, which were 15 colder than forecast. That may not seem like much, but it was the breaking point where our gear was no longer practical. I and others in the troop have learned a significant amount about cold weather camping, and we have even purchased 2 white gas stoves for just such conditions. FWIW, the troop went back 3 years later (15 months ago), and the first night we had temps around 20. We were better prepared, and in my hammock and down quilts, I was toasty warm!
  4. There is a training award for Roundtable staff. Details here: http://usscouts.org/awards/scoutertraining5.asp The Arrowhead Honor is ONLY worn as a commissioner, on a commissioner's uniform. I was on Roundtable Staff, and earned the Roundtable Training Award. I later "moved up" to CS RTC, where I completed the Arrowhead Honor; then I transitioned to Venturing Forum Commissioner, and I completed the Commissioner's Key. As a Scoutmaster, I am no longer a part of the commissioner or roundtable staff; I still have the training knot and keys on most of my uniforms, but I removed the Arrowhead Honor when I stepped down as a commissioner.
  5. Buffalo Skipper

    Sea Scouts on TV

    Any guess what network Comcast channel 30 is?
  6. Buffalo Skipper

    Rank quizing

    A couple of points on my approach to Scoutmaster Conferenc (SMC). The SMC is not a retest of skills (as stated my many here). The SMC is not a prep for the Board of Review. The SMC is not a lecture by the SM. I try to use it bring out the scout and have them do nearly all of the talking. This is more difficult with younger, shy scouts, but that is the point. The SMC is about finding out more about your scout. Sure we (should) all know our scouts pretty well, but this can be an opportunity to go into a depth not normally covered in day-to-day conversations or on campouts. If you do have the opportunity to know your scouts better outside of a SMC, then it becomes an opportunity to follow up on what you know, meaning you can ask more specific personal questions of your scout. Either is fine. I pretty much know where my scouts stand on skill levels. I pay attention at meetings and on campouts. I debrief with the SPL regularly and with PLs less frequently on how each of the scouts are doing. So by the time of the SMC, I know where a scout stands, and where they are weak. Because of this, I like to focus much of the SMC on Scout Spirit. We have a growing troop. I like to conduct SMCs for Tenderfoot, First Class (sometimes Star)and Eagle, while I will frequently defer the others to different ASMs. I make sure I mention certain concerns or issues with the ASM before and after the SMC. For Star, I (along with the ASMs) discuss goal setting. In fact, at the conclusion of the Star SMC, I ask the scout to come up with 3 specific goals in his scouting and personal life he can work on before life. A week after the SMC, I follow up with the scout and write down his goals. I this on to whomever does the Life SMC, where they are brought up and progress "checked." I use the goal setting as perparing a scout to work toward Eagle. BSA has a document which lists some appropriate things to discuss at SMCs. I sometimes review this before the SMC, but I do not view it as a checklist to cover at the SMC. Hope that adds some perspective for the whole.
  7. Buffalo Skipper

    Tent Camping- how many per year?

    We do 12 weekend campouts per year. Summer camp is tacked on to the end of a weekend campout. Holiday weekends, we will often take the extra day. One summer weekend campout is usually 4 or 5 nights. That comes out to roughly 33-35 nights of tent camping a year. Most years we also do 1 or occasionally 2 lock-ins. The PLC will do a weekend of cabin camping for our leadership training. A scout who participted in everything would have 35 nights of tenting, plus up to 4 nights of cabin camping. Active OA members will add 8 more nights a year. Philmont crews would add 12 more.
  8. Buffalo Skipper

    How many in your unit?

    In January 2010, after recharter, our troop was down to 11 scouts (minus 2 who inactive Eagles who were about to age out). By February 2010, after crossover, we were up to about 16 scouts (50% growth). The following year, again after crossover, were were up to about 25 scouts (50% growth). We have just received all our Webelos, some of which have brought along some friends, and we now stand at 39 scouts, the third concecutive year of 50% growth. Looking ahead to next years pospects, it is not inconceivable that we my approach that percentage again next year! These figures include scouts who have dropped out (4) and/or transfered to other troops (3). We have had no scouts age out during the past 2 years, and there is only one prospect to age out this October and only one more a year from April. As you may imagine, this kind of growth has had an incredible impact on our program. Luckily we have picked up over the past few years some excellent leaders who have some experience with larger troops. And though there have been growing pains, it has thus far taken place with suprisingly few bumps.
  9. Buffalo Skipper

    What to do with semi-uniformed ASM

    I wanted to state that at this weekend's campout, the aforementioned leader showed up in uniform pants. We spoke briefly and succinctly and this is now a non-issue. Thank you for all your advice, even the stuff I didn't want to hear. For what it is worth, a few gentle pushes the past 3 weeks or so seem to have things working the way they should be, in matters beyond just the uniforming. I am glad to have this behind us. We are bringing 12 new Webelos onboard (40% increase in troop size) and it is good that so many things are falling into place for us. Again, thanks.
  10. Buffalo Skipper

    Cross over

    The packs I work with cross over at the Blue and Gold. Ceremonies at the B&G start with Tigers and progress through Webelos and the Arrow of Light presentations. Following the AoL, there is a (tear jerker of a) slideshow with pictures of the Webelos den from Tigers up. Following this the OA does their ceremony for crossover with the Troops ready to receive on the other side (the parents follow the scouts as they cross). It is a moving ceremony and is the true climax of the Blue and Gold, leaving the remaining Webelos den(s) chomping at the bit to join a troop. Yet other local packs have their own ceremonies and traditions. I know one which has their Blue and Gold in February (with AoL presentations), but the scouts do not cross until the following month when, at a pack campout, the crossover takes place during the campfire. It is expected that, the receiving troop(s) camp with the pack and following the crossover, the new scouts actually camp with the troop, while the parents remain camped with the pack. This can sometimes be logistically challenging for the troops, especially if the troop does not usually receive scouts from the pack. There have been occasions when receiving troops were not invited to attend, and the webelos "crossed" to a different troop, but then "joined" a different unit. Each unit is going to have their own traditions. Working together with the receiving Boy Scout troops is paramount to making this a memorable experience for the scouts and those they leave behind in the pack.
  11. Buffalo Skipper

    Woodgas stoves

    I have not yet made one of these, but I am intersted in hearing the replies. I have seen a few designs, but haven't settled on what size/type cans.
  12. Buffalo Skipper

    Why does G2SS prohibit DIY alcohol stoves?

    I have looked at wood-gas stoves for some time. I have been very interested in using them, and working with scouts to make them. Great project! FWIW, when I was in scouts, we did all our cooking over a wood fire. No stoves, no charcoal. Every campout. Rain or shine. Car camping or backpack. That's just the way it was.
  13. Buffalo Skipper

    What to do with semi-uniformed ASM

    At summer camp last year, I went to evening flags without my neckerchief, arriving a few steps behind the rest of the troop. One of our patrol leaders called me out in front of the troop on where my neckerchief was. I replied (loud enough for everyone to hear) that I had loaned my neckerchief to Frank (the most senior scout on the campout) because he had lost his in his tent, and didn't want him to be late to flags. A quiet "Oh," was all that was heard in reply. After dinner, Frank (who I have know since he was a Webelos) returned the neckerchief to me (with his in his other hand), and thanked me. I never had to remind a scout to put on their neckerchief the rest of the week.
  14. Buffalo Skipper

    Why does G2SS prohibit DIY alcohol stoves?

    "First of all I do believe that alcohol has a lower BTU rating than that of white gas at about 50% which means one has to carry twice the alcohol to produce the same amount of heat as white gas. Maybe someone out there can confirm or refute that statement." ---That's roughly correct! (close enough for the sake of the discussion) It is also why alcohol is MORE efficient per weight up to about 4 day's worth. Because a simple alcohol stove (like a Pepsi can or Cat can) weighs only 1 oz. A typical white gas stove weights about 14 oz. So until you are going on a trip long enough to require more than roughly 13 oz of alcohol, an alcohol stove and fuel weighs less than a white gas stove and fuel (not counting the weight of the fuel storage containers). Alcohol can be stored in a clearly marked soda bottle (1 oz) whereas white gas should be stored in a metal container weighing more like 4-5 oz. The weight benefit threshold will depend upon how much fuel you use. For an example, if you only have 1 cooked meal a day, you will use less fuel, and the alcohol stove becomes more weight-efficient over a greater period of time.(This message has been edited by Buffalo Skipper)
  15. Buffalo Skipper

    What to do with semi-uniformed ASM

    Frankly, I have worked hard to return the idea of a uniform culture to the troop. He is a retired Marine officer, and I am concerned that his defiance undermines the leadership far beyond his appearance in blue jeans and a scout shirt. He has two sons in the troop one older and one younger. As for whether or not he can afford the pants himself? I belive he can. With either personal funds or via work associates, he has secured significant funds for summer camp and for uniforms (in an amount approaching $1000 over the past 18 months...) for those who really cannot afford it. As a 20 year military officer, I find it hard to swallow that he would be so willing to take such a defiant stance. I truly feel it sets a bad example.
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