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Everything posted by mrkstvns

  1. Perhaps a cooking contest. Our troop's past scoutmaster liked challenging the boys with a Dutch oven cookoff, with a small prize awarded to the winning patrol and a photo of the winning patrol posted in the scout room. You could do others too: gourmet breakfast, no-pot dinner, best backpacking meal, etc. Could also do a "demo day" type event where the boys are given ingredients, recipes, etc. and work in small teams to put together a dish, then they try each others' dishes and vote on their favorite. Can't do too many contests though or the awards become meaningless...
  2. Down-home comfort food doesn't have to be complicated. Zesty and adaptable to infinite variations, a great Jambalaya is an easy way to feed a hungry patrol. INGREDIENTS 2 large boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces 1 pound sausage (I use andoille or another full-flavored variety) 3 bell peppers, diced 3 stalks celery, diced 1 jalapeno or serrano chili, seeded and diced 1 yellow onion, diced 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes 4 cups chicken stock (plus some extra on hand, if needed to adjust moisture) 1-1/2 cups uncooked rice (long grain is best, or short grain will work) 2 tablespoons cajun/creole seasoning (Tony Chachere's or Zatarains) 1 teaspoon thyme 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 bay leaf 1 cup okra (sliced) DIRECTIONS Prepare your ingredients a day or so before leaving. It makes for an easy meal time at camp. Chop the veggies and chicken and sausage. Put in freezer bags (1 big bag for veggies, 1 for meats, and even a small bag for spice mix --- then it's just dump and mix when you're cooking at camp). Heat some olive oil in a large pan. Saute chicken and sausage, then set aside. Saute celery, bell pepper, onion, and any other veggies (including garlic) until soft. Add rice, chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, cajun/creole seasoning, thyme, cayenne, and bay leaf. Cook 30 minutes. Stifr every few minutes. Add okra (and shrimp, crawfish, if used). Taste and add cajun/creole seasoning, salt, and pepper, to taste. VARIATIONS Bell peppers, onions, and celery are the "holy trinity" of cajun/creole cooking. Never skimp on these 3, but feel free to mix it up a bit. I like to use both green and red bell peppers. Yellow onions are a mainstay in my kitchen, but I also like adding chopped green onion to my Jambalaya (often near the end of cooking). Other veggies could be added to make it your own. I use chicken and sausage in this recipe, but it's only the beginning. I love fresh shrimp in my jambalaya and will sometimes add crawfish. I like to vary the sausage too. I often use a venison sausage, garlic jalapeno sausage, or andouille (though that might be hard to find in parts of the country). Smoked ham can be a nice addition, though I prefer tasso (easy to find in Louisiana and east Texas, probably not so easy elsewhere).
  3. That sounds like a good approach. The point isn't to have a car built to precision specs, it's to develop some pride in workmanship and to build a stronger relationship with a parent by working together. How good the car looks or how fast it runs is secondary to the experience of making something yourself. When my son was a Cub, the pack had a rule that whoever won the race --- that parent would be the PWD chair next year. It was a good rule.
  4. Hmm. That's not quite the way most people think of the "buddy system" in scouting. We've always used the term to mean 2 scouts doing something together. *NEVER* before have I seen it defined as "parent or legal guardian or another registered adult". That language introduces confusion and dilutes the simple power of the buddy system.
  5. Those kinds of issues don't usually come up in our troop. Patrols tent together and all the patrols have kids who are within a year or so of each other in age. The only time that kind of age difference might be okay is with siblings. I can see a younger scout wanting to tent with his big brother. Even then, I'd encourage the younger scout to stay with his patrol.
  6. I agree completely! Swimming and Lifesaving are very appropriate for a camp environment, but most of the other Eagle-required badges demand (and reward) time. Some camps do okay with E-Science, but it's not an easy badge and really should not be rushed. All other Eagle-required badges are best earned individually or in the troop environment back home.
  7. EXACTLY! Young scouts are excited and motivated. Scoutmasters need to recognize that and they need to understand that their role is to ENABLE a scout to succeed ---- not to put up obstacles to discourage the scout. What you read in the merit badge pamphlets is what you, and your son should expect. It's what your son needs to do to earn his badges, and it's what a good adult leader will expect the scout to do....NO MORE, NO LESS. A former Cubmaster taking on a Scoutmaster role is great --- but he definitely has a big, steep learning curve. Boy Scout advancement is nothing like Cub Scout advancement. I hope your troop's Advancement Chair is experienced at any rate, otherwise, the adult leaders should be taking their training, and seeking help from a Unit Commissioner or from experienced leaders in other nearby troops (via Roundtables, etc.) Since you have an interest in doing things the "right way", maybe you might consider stepping up and doing one of the adult roles (or at least serving as merit badge counselor so you can see how that aspect of the scouting program works). Good luck!
  8. The "Guide to Advancement" includes this... Even though I'm reading the 2019 version, I think the part about the "buddy" of point 6 should be revisited since I believe that the newest YPT guidelines call for a 2nd adult to be present when an MBC meets with a Scout (although I think in past years, a second scout was deemed sufficient to comply with the "no 1-on-1" rule).
  9. In most of the MBC position-specific training, it's emphasized that the published requirements will guide you. If the requirement says "Show", or "Demonstrate" then you (the counselor) needs to see them do it. The requirement specifies the "how to test". In many cases, the counselor will ask the scout about it and take his word (A scout is Trustworthy.) In either case, it is up to the COUNSELOR, not the Scoutmaster, to determine whether the scout did or did not complete the requirements as specified in the current (or applicable) requirements. The COUNSELOR tests the scout on merit badges, not the Scoutmaster. A Scoutmaster who thinks it's his job to 2nd guess the Counselor and the Scout is out of line. He's creating obstacles that shoiuldn't be there and ultimately, isn't the kind of "trained" leader that scouts deserve. In the case of Small Boat Sailing, a counselor will most likely want to be at the waterfront witnessing a scout handling his boat with a buddy. In the case of Citizenship in the Nation, the scout can simply come to me with notes and appropriate work showing he did what the requirements said to do (I promise not to ask for any more, or any less.)
  10. The normal process to earn merit badges is: The scout finds a merit badge he is interested in.... He asks the Scoutmaster for a "Blue Card"... The Scoutmaster *may* counsel the scout, but ultimately, any scout of any age can work on any merit badge at any time... The Scoutmaster should provide the name of an approved Counselor, however, the scout has the right to choose a different Counselor if he wishes... The Scout does the work required to satisfy the requirements ("No more, no less.")... The Scout meets with the Counselor to review and demonstrate that he has completed the requirements ("No more, no less.")... The Counselor tests the scout, initials each completed requirement, and signs the card in 2 places when he is satisfied that it is complete... The Scout returns the signed Blue Card to the Scoutmaster (or Advancement Chair, depending on your troop's process). If that is not your troop's process, they are putting obstacles in front of the scout that should not be there. Per the "Guide to Advancement": "Though it may not have been clearly stated in the past, units, districts, and local councils do not have the authority to implement a different system for merit badge approval and documentation." Also, the general rule of Advancement in scouting is "No more, no less." Any invented rule violates that principle and should not be tolerated. Talk to your Committee Chair, Chartered Org Rep, or District/Council Advancement Chair. (Or take the easier route and find a competent troop.)
  11. This is completely false on both counts. The actual rules for earning merit badges can be found in "Guide to Advancement", BSA publication 33088. (You can find the document here: https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33088.pdf ) Read section 7 (or have your Scoutmaster read it if he insists on giving you wrong information). He could be new at the job, untrained, etc., so give him a chance to educate himself about the scouting program. There are YPT rules that say a counselor can not meet one-on-one with a scout....but all that means is you might need to be in the room when your scout talks to his counselor. By the way, NO merit badge counselor is obligated to EVER teach a class.
  12. And several other merit badges. That's a big reason I tell scouts to do fun, outdoor-focused merit badges and leave all the boring, class-oriented merit badges to workshops or independent effort. In our council (maybe yours too), the spoon feeding has gotten so bad that council-run camps actually double-up merit badges *in a single session*. This lets them either: 1) lie about having done the merit badges, 2) deliver a horrible experience that inadequately covers the requirements, or 3) send kids home with huge numbers of partials. (This tends to be especially common with the classroom-oriented badges.) My disgust at our local council's program staff can not be understated.
  13. Times change. When I was a scout, we did Lifesaving (and Swimming) in a lake. All of the MB summer camps that I've seen in and around Texas have pools. While the kids still need to retrieve weights, they have it easier than us because they don't have the added challenge of murky water.
  14. Good points, Fred! Cycling might be fun, but it requires several trips, plus it's not a badge that's normally offered at summer camp, hence, no easy opportunity... I also find Em.Prep boring compared to Lifesaving, so am surprised that so many scouts prefer Em.Prep.
  15. Hiking is pretty fun too. Just doesn't lend itself well to a summer camp schedule because it requires one 5-mile hike, three 10-mile hikes and one 15-mile hikes. That's a lot of walking...
  16. Perhaps....though I think Lifesaving might be easier for a lot of scouts because it is usually offered at summer camp (though it requires good Swimming and First Aid skills). As a MBC for Sustainability, I don't find it to be a lot harder than E-Science, though it does require keeping logs for up to 4 weeks, so nobody is ever going to come out of a class without a partial. E-Science though can usually be completed at summer camp without partials (though typically as 2 class blocks), so from that perspective, yeah, I guess E-Science might be perceived as "easier" than Sustainability.
  17. Great post, Barry! You make some excellent points: Encourage complex cooking (opening a box of Pop Tarts presents no chance to learn, experience, grow...) Encourage competitions (stress and time are great motivators) SPLs and SMs could learn much by remembering at least those 2 basics for starters...
  18. A scout must earn at least 21 merit badges for the Eagle rank. 13 of these must be Eagle-required. Of those 13, 10 are specific badges and 3 have alternatives. It's interesting to note that in all 3 cases, the first listed merit badge is always chosen most often by the boys (according to the popularity lists published in Scouting magazine). Swimming is 9 times more popular than Hiking and 12 times more popular than Cycling (in 2017, Swimming was earned 62,057 times, Hiking 7,084 and Cycling 5,742) Environmental Science is 7 times more popular than Sustainability (55,703 vs. 7,295) Emergency Preparedness is twice as popular as Lifesaving (43,351 vs. 20,748) I wonder what conclusions we might draw from this...
  19. Yeah, summer camp can be a great opportunity for an adult to become a more experienced leader...a better ASM and a stronger asset to the troop. On the other hand, a boy does need space at some point to discover his own independence. Having the "safety net" of dad in camp denies him the chance to really feel a tinge of homesickness or to be forced to solve possible problems on his own (or to rely on SPL, SM, etc.) Either decision could be the right one...
  20. Quite right. It's not fair to the scout. On the other hand, most of us are wise enough to choose our battles because we know full well that if we manage to push our scoutmaster (or other leader) out of the troop, it just might be US that gets tapped to fill his shoes. Not all of us are ready to commit "one hour per week"...
  21. That sounds totally awesome! I wish our council would do something like that. The best I've seen locally is one (out of 27 districts) tacking on one of the Nova awards as an option in their district-sponsored Merit Badge Day program. On the other hand, BIG kudos to scouters in New York City. I wish them utter success on their upcoming Spring Break STEM Camp!! Info: https://www.bsa-gnyc.org/files/13316/Spring-Break-Stem-Camp-PDF
  22. Wow! Are those old fashioned dial-up connections?? I did YPT2 online and everything behaved well. Probably took about 40 minutes total for me to get into compliance with the new material. (And the material WAS an improvement...)
  23. Yes, and by using Facebook you ALSO get the bonus benefits of... Being profiled by FB's data harvesting algorithms so as much personal data as cyberly possible can be gathered about you Having your device privacy settings, internet privacy settings, and even Facebook's own data privacy settings absolutely ignored when it suits Facebook's purposes Having all your personal data sold to marketers, Cambridge Analytics, and Russian spies seeking to manipulate you for political purposes Having your user credentials stolen so that hackers can not only get into your Facebook account, but also into EVERY web site that uses a federated authentication process (i.e., all those sites that "conveniently" tell you you can log in with your Facebook ID) Having your kids exposed to unethical (and illegal in many jurisdictions) smart phone apps designed to profile them for purposes of marketing and political division And many, MANY more risks that are swept under the rug by 99% of Americans who would rather share funny cat memes than think about their family's privacy BTW: If you're going to reply to this, please take a few minutes to educate yourself about the facts of Facebook's MYRIAD privacy breaches from at least the past 12 months. If you don't know about any point I've briefly touched on, at least read the barest tip of the iceberg, here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/18/technology/facebook-privacy.html
  24. Sounds like you "get it", so I'm sure you'll make the right decision. The first year my scout joined his new troop, he told me straight up that he didn't need me around at summer camp nor on all his campouts. Cool. No need to use up a valuable week of vacation, and I only went on the weekend campouts (maybe 2 all year) where the SM invited me because he needed to provide adequate adult leadership (or he needed more drivers to transport scouts). I was there for the Scoutmaster, not for my kid. The SM was quite experienced and made it clear to all adults on every campout that their job was to enjoy lounging around in the adult campsite and not to supervise the boys' campsite because the SPL already had that covered.
  25. A long sleeve shirt or any shirt that requires dry cleaning can be very useful in scouting....as kindling. Of course, cotton would burn much better than rayon, nylon, or any other synthetic because burning plastics can emit noxious fumes.
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