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Everything posted by mrkstvns

  1. mrkstvns

    Keeping Older Scouts

    I keep a list of cool camps that I can occasionally mention to my son and his friends and let their minds wander and dream. There's cool programs at the 4 established BSA High Adventure camps (like Dog Sledding at Northern Tier, Scuba treks at Sea Base, and Cavalcade horse treks at Philmont), and there are cool, unique high adventure activities offered by various councils. A few of the coolest sounding council-run high adventure activities include.... Sea Kayaking through the Apostle Islands in northern Wisconsin (Northern Star Council), see: http://camptomahawk.org/apostles) Canoe or kayak treks through the swamps of the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge (Evangeline Council), see https://www.bsaswampbase.org/ Sailing a keelboat on the Great Lakes (Michigan Crossroads Council), see https://michiganscouting.org/outdooradventures/great-lakes-sailing-adventure/ Mountaineering with U.S. Army Rangers at Camp Frank Merrill (Northeast Georgia Council), see https://www.nega-bsa.org/Ranger There are also some camps that are open to all ages (not just older scouts), but that have cool locations and a lot of programs other camps might not offer. A couple "dream summer camps" are: Camp Emerald Bay, Catalina Island California (Western Los Angeles Council), see http://www.campemeraldbay.org/ Camp Howard Wall, St.Croix Virgin Islands (National Capital Area Council), see https://www.ncacbsa.org/outdoors/camp-howard-m-wall/
  2. Those look suspiciously like requirements I sign off for first-year scouts working on their Scout, Tenderfoot, and Second Class ranks...
  3. Elvis is not dead, he's just left the building. Pity the poor youth of today, never having the opportunity to rock out with the KING of rock n roll... Wellllll, evidently they still CAN. I've recently learned that Elvis Presley's Graceland estate hosts an annual event where they welcome scouts and scouters to visit Graceland and earn some advancement while they do it. Details are here: https://www.graceland.com/scouts-rock-at-graceland
  4. Not really arguing....just discussing. Of course there are camps that have restrictions on certain merit badges for varying reasons. Thankfully, these are generally the exception, not the rule. Just as there might be "better alternatives" for certain scouts and certain merit badges, so too there are often better alternatives than camps that put up too many obstacles for too many scouts (REGARDLESS of the reason/excuse). I'm really looking for general advice that holds true for most scouts/troops/camps --- not hiccups due to exceptions.
  5. mrkstvns

    Sea Base 2019

    In keeping with the Outdoor Code, "...be conservation minded." Many of the eco-systems in the Keys and nearby Caribbean islands are very fragile. Particularly coral reefs. One thing we do as scouters is tell kids to use plenty of sunblock when they're out on the water. Yet most of the sunscreen brands we buy at Wal-Mart contain coral-killing chemicals that aren't appropriate for places like Sea Base (or Hawaii, or Cozumel, or the Virgin Islands, or etc. etc.) Sea Base staff know this and can advise you on acceptable (or unacceptable) brands, or you can find them online. Short article from NPR that explains the problem: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/20/450276158/chemicals-in-sunscreen-are-harming-coral-reefs-says-new-study Some less damaging sunscreen brands (from Travel + Leisure magazine): https://www.travelandleisure.com/style/beauty/reef-safe-sunscreen
  6. mrkstvns

    Texas Chili

    Winter campouts call for food that warms the mouth, the stomach, and the heart. I can't think of any more warming and satisfying winter meal than a big steaming bowl of genuine Texas chili! It's easy to make on campouts too! Texas Two-Step Chili Ingredients for the pot: 2 pounds ground chuck (or finely cut chunks of steak or roast) 8-ounce can tomato sauce 16-ounce can beef broth 16-ounce can chicken broth Ingredients of spice bag 1: 4 Tablespoons dark or hot chili powder blend (include 2-3 chili powders, such as Mexene or Mild Bill's Dixon Med Hot, avoid brands that contain salt) 1 Tablespoon dry minced onion flakes 1 Tablespoon dry minced garlic (not garlic salt) 1 teaspoon cumin 1/2 teaspoon paprika Ingredients of spice bag 2: 4 Tablespoons of a lighter chili powder (such as Mild Bill's San Antonio Red, include 1 Tablespoon of Mexene, avoid brands that contain salt) 1 teaspoon cumin 1 Tablespoon dry parsley Night before the campout: 1. Chop beef, if using steak or roast. 2. Mix together Spice Bag 1 in a Ziploc bag. 3. Mix together Spice Bag 2 in another Ziploc bag. 4. Make sure you have a can opener in the patrol box. Cooking Directions: Brown the meat in a large pot. Drain off excess fat. Add tomato sauce, beef broth, chicken broth, and Spice Bag #1. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer one hour. Add Spice Bag #2. Simmer another 30 30 minutes. Watch consistency --- if chili becomes too thick, add more beef broth (bullion and hot water can be used as well). Taste and add salt, chili powder, and Louisiana Hot Sauce (or Tabasco, as you prefer). Avoid asking advice from anyone from Cincinnati --- or anywhere in the Midwest for that matter. Those folks don't know beans about chili because they think there's beans in chili. Worse yet, the Cincinnati crowd tries to throw in cinnamon, chocolate, dirty underwear, and other such flavorings, then they serve it on top of spaghetti and pile on mountains of cheese so orange it must be radioactive. It's enough to make a Texan cry! So we won't ruin our perfectly good chili that way....stick to the recipe and you'll have genuinely tasty Texas chili.
  7. mrkstvns

    Texas Chili

    Just because you're not lucky enough to live in the Lone Star State doesn't mean you can't cook and eat like a Texan. In this age of Internet of Everything, you can buy quality spices online even if your local stores don't stock anything spicier than granulated sugar. A couple good sources of different chili powders and blends: * Mild Bill's: https://www.mildbillsspices.com/ * Penzeys: https://www.penzeys.com/ A lot of chili contest winners swear by Mild Bill. My mom was a great cook and always swore by Penzeys. Even though Penzeys is based in Wisconsin, they manage to surreptitiously smuggle good flavor in and out of state. I like Penzey's Chili 9000 blend and have also had good luck spicing things up with their ground Chipotle and ground Ancho chilis. Dig in!
  8. mrkstvns

    Scouting as a path to Independence

    Confidence. Communication. Independence. Leadership. All very fundamental characteristics that a youth can develop via scouting. It's no coincidence that more often than not, America's leaders were former scouts.
  9. Yes. Parents (and scouts) often assume that just because they take a class, they will earn a badge. (This is also true of scouts attending Merit Badge Universities, Midways, Camps, etc.) In an ideal world, parents (and scouts) would read the requirements of a badge and see what can and can not be reasonably done in a camp (or class) setting. Most of the Eagle-required badges, in particular, have requirements for keeping logs or records over a period of weeks or months. Badges like Citizenship in the Community and Communication have requirements to attend public meetings (City Council, School Board, etc.) How can any parent be surprised when a scout comes home with a partial in those subjects. It's inevitable (unless the counselor is unethical and simply rubber-stamps the blue cards). This is why I don't recommend that first-year scouts take Eagle-required badges other than Swimming.
  10. I disagree. I've seen camps that restrict shooting activities, but when I've asked about the reasoning behind it, it's usually that the class is too popular and they don't have the resources to accommodate every kid who wants to do it. So an age restriction might be effective. There's certainly no valid excuse otherwise for restricting Rifle Shooting. Also, the general rule of thumb in BSA is that any registered scout is eligible to earn any merit badge. Rifle Shooting is not something that requires exceptional strength, agility or skills beyond what an 11-year old typically has. A .22 caliber rifle has virtually no kick and is easily handled by even the smallest Tenderfoot. On the other hand, a 20-gauge shotgun does have some kick, so a conservative instructor might want kids to put off doing Shotgun Shooting for a year or two.
  11. I'm getting a little tired of breakfast burritos on each and every campout. There are a lot of other good breakfast options, some of which are faster and require less cleanup. Here's one that can be ready in a flash, can be cooked on either a stove or a campfire, and that requires no pots or pans. Ham and Swiss Breakfast Croissant Ingredients: large fresh croissants (at least 1 per person) thick sliced ham or Canadian bacon swiss cheese Directions: Slice croissants lengthwise. Put one or 2 slices of ham in each croissant. Put a slice of cheese in each. Wrap in aluminum foil. Heat no more than 5 minutes over low to medium flame (just enough to get it hot and melt the cheese).
  12. mrkstvns

    Ham and Swiss Breakfast Croissants

    Okay. I'll try using a bagel instead of a slice of tomato... 😀
  13. I doubt this is news to the more avid members of this forum, but the "Bryan on Scouting" blog is simply indispensible. It's got a great variety of themes and issues, its timely and consistently updated, and it is presented with charm and authority. See https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/
  14. mrkstvns

    OA Camping Qualifications

    That is really the crux of embracing LNT. (Along with TMSM's comment that "All scouting is local...") LNT has some basic guidelines that we try to teach younger scouts. But that isn't the whole story. It's just the prologue... LNT is really about building a deep understanding of the interconnected natural world and building respect for the natural world so there can be a natural world for tomorrow's boys. The article you pointed to had some good points. There certainly ARE situations when building a traditional fire might create a lesser impact on the planet than using a propane stove. There are similar situations where deviating from any of the other guidelines might yield better results. However, MOST people don't make those tradeoffs very well. Hence, we need BSA's Outdoor Ethics program more than ever and we need leaders and scouts to better understand how to make better decisions in the outdoors.
  15. mrkstvns

    Best Webelos Camp?

    One of my favorite campouts as a kid was to Camp Rock Enon in Gore, Virginia. What I liked best about that trip was that we didn't sleep in tents --- they had these log-cabin lean-to shelters called Adirondacks and a whole patrol could sleep together in one. Wonder if they still have those Adirondacks....
  16. mrkstvns

    Updated uniforms?

    In our local council's scout shop they do. They also always have an American flag on the sleeve. (You can also get them with or without the council patch already sewn on...)
  17. mrkstvns

    OA Camping Qualifications

    I agree that scouts (and especially scouters) need training, but most troops don't have any leaders or adult scouters who really understand LNT in the first place. Although "Outdoor Ethics Guide" (formerly known as "Leave No Trace Trainer") is a troop position of responsibility, very few troops actually have such a position. I'd bet that fewer than 5% of troops in the U.S. have an adult scouter who has taken the LNT Trainer course. In our troop, we have a vocal and gung-ho ASM who has zero clue about LNT telling the boys that LNT means we police the grounds to pick up our trash. Uhhhh, not exactly.... LNT is really a mindset and a skill set that can take years of discipline to develop. It comes from having a deep-seated love of the outdoors. It's no one thing... And downed, dead wood isn't really "ok" to use for building fires. While it might seem okay, it actually contributes to species reduction in an area because that downed wood can be a food source for some insects, who in turn are food sources for birds and small animals, who in turn are food sources for carnivores, etc., etc. Downed wood (even little twigs) are also used by lots of species to build dens, nests or other habitat. So when you have an over-used outdoor area (like most state parks), you quickly find that campers use all the downed wood and there's not much left for fire building, let alone for the forest critters who might have been able to survive there if only campers would have used stoves instead of wasting resources on cooking fires... On the other hand, if it is truly necessary to build a fire, then yes, a small fire built of downed dead wood is preferable to chopping down trees or other practices that were once pretty common, but that are completely unsustainable in today's world.
  18. mrkstvns

    OA Camping Qualifications

    Yeah, those are some of the ways we start easing into Leave No Trace....but John-in-KC is right. As you delve in deeper, you start exploring more ways to further reduce your impact on the land, and the things he mentioned are definitely issues that an LNT practitioner worries about. If you're interested in doing a deep dive into LNT, a good way to understand the mindset is to take the LNT Trainer course (16 hours) or the LNT Master Educator course (50 hours). BSA usually offers the LNT Master Educator course at Philmont and Northern Tier... There's also some good books about LNT that gets well beyond the basic guidelines that you find in the Scout Handbook. The BSA Field Book has a better intro to LNT, and you'll find some independently authored books here: https://lnt.org/shop/catalog/books
  19. mrkstvns

    Earning Money after Trailer Stolen

    That's a brilliant idea! Kudos to the police sergeant who came up with that idea....service plus a fundraiser....total win-win situation! It occurs to me that troops in states that have a container deposit law could also make money by cleaning up a local stream, or beach, or roadside. Save all those plastic bottles, aluminum cans, etc. and trade 'em in for the deposit. Wouldn't be much of a money maker here...our state doesn't have a deposit law, but we could still turn in some materials to recycling companies for a small amount of cash.
  20. mrkstvns

    Updated uniforms?

    Wellllll, I don't see the World Scout crest on this....
  21. mrkstvns

    Patrol Method - Best Practices

    Good point. National Forests are a GREAT place to camp, hike and paddle. They're generally rustic, so you don't get crowds of people "camping" in their mobile tin cans and killing the ambience of nature with their racket of generators and A/C compressors. By the way, the US Forest Service does generally require campers to practice Leave No Trace principles... If you don't have a National Forest near you, you might still be able to find good, large parcels of open land: In western states, the Bureau of Land Management has public lands that are open to free, dispersed camping. (See https://www.blm.gov/) In many states, so does the US Army Corps of Engineers. Here in Texas, the Corps of Engineers have several camping areas near reservoirs, which might also offer opportunities for canoeing, fishing, etc. (See https://www.usace.army.mil/Locations/) Now might not be the best time to go to public lands though... Due to President Trump's government shutdown, permits and services might be unavailable, roads might be closed, etc. Check before you go...
  22. mrkstvns

    OA Camping Qualifications

    The ever-shrinking open spaces means that what forests we have left simply can't sustain groups foraging for firewood and cooking over a fire. As John-in-KC mentioned, practices like fire rings and clearing earth leave permanent scars in a camp area. I've been to scout reservations where some sites would have more than 10 obviously visible fire scars, despite the presence of an iron fire ring or even a stone fire pit in the site. These were made by scouts who were never properly trained in Leave No Trace (or who never really internalized the wisdom). Today, it's becoming environmentally insensitive to even build campfires using wood that you brought with you. Invasive species is the big problem with doing that. When you bring the wood, you bring bugs (or eggs) with it. More info about that issue is at www.dontmovefirewood.org
  23. mrkstvns

    Best comfort items & traditions for summer camp

    A small battery-operated fan can make hot sticky nights bearable. I like the idea of a deck of cards --- that was a favorite when I was a scout and my son's friends still never tire of a card game in the evening. Small and easy to pack. Timeless fun!
  24. mrkstvns

    Howdy, y'all.

    I've lurked here for several years but just recently decided to actually engage. I'm an ASM in a troop in Texas. Personal interests in conservation and STEM fields lead me to encourage boys to look at BSA's Hornaday program and Nova program. Few do. I still try... I'm MBC for several merit badges and a Supernova mentor. Also a LNT trainer.
  25. mrkstvns

    Philmont 2020 slots

    I wonder if some units might be worried about how much of the scout ranch was damaged by the Ute fire last summer. I'd heard that 26,000 acres of Philmont burned in the fire, but with 140,000 acres there, it seems like they should still be able to find lots of open space for treks to explore. Anybody heard whether the fires caused any lasting impacts to the areas used for their program ??