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Everything posted by mrkstvns

  1. mrkstvns

    What are the BSA priorities??

    Right. IOLS is oriented toward basic outdoor skills. Basically, everything a scout is asked to do as they progress from Scout to Tenderfoot to Second Class to First Class. It includes First Aid, Knots, Map & Compass, Cooking along with values like Citizenship, Outdoor Ethics etc.
  2. mrkstvns

    Haunted House

    Oh. I was only thinking of keeping the haunted house open for a week or two...
  3. mrkstvns

    What are the BSA priorities??

    I'm a pirate. I want to know what the priorities Arrrrggghh!
  4. mrkstvns

    The Lost Art of the Tarp....

    Love this idea! Sure does beat the cost of an EZ-Up (and it's really not that hard to add a couple guy lines with some taut line hitches and have the dining fly up quick as a lick! (Love the re-created Rockwell moment! Awesome!!)
  5. mrkstvns

    Haunted House

    Clicking around on different websites, I see lots of troops doing this. Wonder why I don't hear about it being done by packs or troops around here though (or even hearing buzz about it on this forum). I found a haunted barnyard, and even a haunted greenhouse being put together by scouts in Superior Wisconsin. There's a 14-year old article in Scouting magazine about some of this stuff, along with some good tips if your unit decides to do it....like plan FAR in advance (they say that some units are doing their brainstorming a year before their Halloween event). Here;s the article: https://scoutingmagazine.org/2005/10/a-halloween-tradition/
  6. I think I'd prefer the tick key. It's small, lightweight, and effective. When I'm on a hike, I carry a *SMALL* first aid kit, there is no room for bottles of dishwashing liquid or even fingernail polish, etc. The best approach to ticks, IMHO, is to... 1) stay on the trail as much as possible, 2) keep those pant legs tucked inside socks, 3) use insect repellant, and 4) have a tick key in the event that prevention alone doesn't do the trick.
  7. Generations of scouters have included tweezers in their first aid kits. It's a good general purpose gadget, and at this time of year, is often put to use removing ticks from scout or scouter alike. The only problem with the tweezers is that it's easy to oversqueeze or to pull too quickly, leaving the tick's head embedded under the skin. Small, inexpensive gadgets are available to make tick extraction easier and less prone to leaving head parts behind. See: https://www.amazon.com/Tick-Twister-Remover-Small-Large/dp/B00X7072HY/
  8. This past weekend was BSA's annual Jamboree on the Air (JOTA). Did any of y'all participate? Story about this year's JOTA: https://www.ksby.com/news/local-news/northern-slo-county-boy-scouts-connect-with-scouts-overseas-via-radio-for-jota-joti-jamboree
  9. mrkstvns

    Jamboree on the Air

    Doing the JOTA could be a great opportunity to also work on Radio merit badge. Sounds like that was what was going on last weekend in northeastern Ohio where 3 local radio clubs helped scouts earn their merit badge. The story doesn't specifically mention JOTA, but it does say the boys communicated with scouts in other states who were "attending a jamboree". Sounds like quite the event! https://www.vindy.com/news/community-news/2019/10/boy-scouts-earn-radio-merit-badges-rapidly/
  10. We hear about sustainability in almost every aspect of our lives, but I still get surprised when it comes up in an unexpected context. I was out shopping for some comfy new shoes for light (non-mountainous) hiking trips, and came across a label on a shoe box proclaiming the product to be "vegan". I was mighty glad to see that because I like knowing that if I get lost in the woods, I can eat my shoes without feeling guilty.
  11. mrkstvns

    EEE reported at Scout Camp (RI)

    Just to put this in perspective, although EEE is a serious disease, it is NOT "rampant" or common in any way --- even in Massachusetts, which has more cases than other states. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Massachusetts is 6,902,149. According to the Massachusetts Department of Health, there have been 9 confirmed cases of EEE, resulting in 1 death. (There were also 7 cases of EEE infecting horses, and 1 case confirmed in a goat.) Obviously, this means your chance of dying of EEE in Massachusetts is 1 in 6,902,149. Your chance of contracting the disease in Massachusetts is just under a in 766,905. That is close to your odds of being struck by lightning while in Wyoming (about 1 in 1 million). Do those kinds of numbers actually justify cancelling activities and creating a whole lot of hoopla?
  12. mrkstvns

    Team Up!

    A wise old scoutmaster used to love saying, "Team work makes the dream work." I have no idea whether he made up that quote or borrowed it, but the truth behind it is apparent in myriad situations (including fundraising). If you've got an idea for a fundraising activity, but you think that your unit might be too small to support it, a good solution is to simply team up with another similarly sized unit and work together, then split the proceeds. As I was reading some news articles about scouting, I came across this story about 2 BSA troops that were working together to host a Spaghetti Dinner. Sounds like a win-win fundraiser all the way around!
  13. mrkstvns

    Team Up!

    ...and for some reason, I had a brain fart and forgot to include the link so you could see the source...this was 2 troops in Connecticut... https://patch.com/connecticut/woodbury-middlebury/middlebury-boy-scout-pasta-dinner-coming
  14. mrkstvns

    Jamboree on the Air

    This is really cool! I imagine most councils and districts could find a local radio club willing to come out to a scout activity with a load of radios the scouts could use to "talk to the world". Thanks for sharing! I loved the picture too! BTW: You can find amateur radio clubs in your area here: http://www.arrl.org/find-a-club Might be a handy thing to keep in mind for next fall...
  15. mrkstvns


    I found a very nice "Scoutmaster Minute" on the Kansas City Star website. It's a little long for my tastes, but it incorporates a story of an Olympic athlete inside a story of a young scout. I like it! https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/community/joco-913/joco-diversions/article235999268.html My older son’s Scout leader was telling some of the other parents that he couldn’t make it to the upcoming meeting. Another one of those obligations had chased him down for that night, so he was looking for a fill-in to give the “Scoutmaster’s minute,” a story at the end of the meeting with a moral for the boys and girls to leave with. I love a good short story, and no sooner had I started thinking about where I might look for some good prospects than I found myself down on the schedule to tell one the next night. The past few weeks have been especially busy for me, to the point where I’ve been thinking of dropping some of my less essential obligations — projects outside work that other people will probably step up for, or at least things that won’t stop the world from spinning if they’re left undone. So I was relieved to find something interesting to tell the kids about after just a few minutes of poking around the internet. It was John-Stephen Akhwari’s marathon run at the 1968 Olympics. You might already know his story, but bear with me while I get everyone else caught up. Akhwari didn’t clock a great time. In fact, he crossed the finish line more than an hour after the medalists, finishing last, in 57th place. Even the 56th-place runner had 19 minutes on him. That wasn’t entirely his fault. See, Akhwari and a few other runners had collided on the track and down went Tanzania’s only competitor in the race. The fall dislocated his right knee. They say observers expected him to limp off the track and into obscurity once he was bandaged up. But Akhwari stood up on that knee and pushed through the pain until he’d put every inch of those 26.2 miles behind him. When someone asked him later why he didn’t give up — as 18 other runners did that day — he gave a simple answer: His compatriots hadn’t sent him 9,500 miles to Mexico City to start the marathon. They sent him 9,500 miles to finish it. That, I told my son’s troop, is how to handle the obligations you agree to take on for people: Once you commit to putting something on your list, do everything you can to check it off. Then one of the young faces in the group snagged my attention. It belonged to a kid who’d hiked a couple of miles into town from camp with the rest of the troop last summer. It was no marathon, but anyone could see that the loop back to camp seemed like one to this boy as he forced one aching leg in front of the other in utter exhaustion. Three adults slowed the pace to his while the rest of the troop disappeared down the trail. The boy knew that if he really wanted to quit, all he had to do was refuse to move and we’d call a car to take him back to camp. But he trudged through the muggy afternoon and into dusk until he finally reached his cot on his own steam. Miserable as he looked that evening, he told us later how proud he was that he hadn’t given up. And when his mom asked what he did at the camp she’d saved to send him to, he surely had a story for her. That boy didn’t need to hear the lesson of John-Stephen Akhwari. He already had it by heart. But I needed a reminder of that boy’s story. It’s one thing for a trained marathoner to persevere as the world watches. It’s another thing entirely for a boy who doesn’t like hiking to burn through his meager reserves so he doesn’t let his mom down. Facing him the other night, it seemed like I can carry those extra obligations I signed up for at least a little further down the trail.
  16. Do y'all participate in BSA's Summertime Activity awards program? With or without the incentive of an extra pin to tack onto your cub's uniform, getting out and doing things together as a den or a pack can be a heck of a lot of fun! I know some units consider summer to be an "off" season, but a strong unit won't sit idle for 3 months. That's just too long to not hang out with your friends! The highlight of my summers growing up in Northern Virginia was our annual pack picnics in Bull Run Park. Just curious about what kinds of summer pack memories you are creating for your kids.... Ideas??
  17. mrkstvns

    Oktoberfest Meal

    Das sieht lecker aus! You are a more ambitious camp chef than me. I'd probably just grill a few bratwursts and serve 'em up with sauerkraut and some good German mustard. Never tried serving them on a scout campout though....mostly because I'd have to leave the beer at home, and Oktoberfest without beer is like a night without moonshine!
  18. ...where's the adventure in staying on the trail???
  19. mrkstvns

    Habitats for Wild Bees

    A group of Girl Scouts is building habitats for wild bees (i.e., not "honey bees"). https://grist.org/science/these-girl-scouts-are-saving-wild-bees-one-hotel-at-a-time/ This is a very interesting project because it addresses a significant, but often overlooked, aspect of the declining pollinator problem: we often focus on honey bee populations, but forget that there are a lot of bee species, and many of these species are declining in lock-step with the domesticated honey bee populations. I think that many Boy Scouts could look into this as a possible Hornaday project or Eagle project...a good project idea is a good project idea!
  20. BSA is asking scouts to wear their scout uniform to school tomorrow (October 16) in an effort to stand up to bullying by showing other students that they have a friend in their midst. What do you think? Is this effective? Will scouts and parents buy in and participate?
  21. mrkstvns

    Signing Scout Phrases (ASL)

    Interesting question! I can't imagine that such things don't exist since ASL is one of the "languages" in which you can earn an Interpreter strip.
  22. mrkstvns

    Where would you go?

    aka, "servant leadership".
  23. What do you really need to bring with you when you're hiking in a populated area? I'm working with a small group of scouts on the Hiking merit badge. For each of the hikes that the scouts do, they're supposed to prepare a hike plan that includes, among other details, a list of things to carry on the hike. All of the hikes will be day hikes. The group plans to start off fairly easy with a couple of urban hikes, then on to more "rugged" hikes in area forests, rocky hills, etc. We're in Texas, and a very popular urban hike is to go around Lake Lady Bird in downtown Austin. It is a VERY easy trail that's 10.15 miles, making it ideal as the first of the 10-mile hikes. The only real hazard is too many Austinites out walking and biking along the trail.. As our group discussed the hike plan for the day, a couple of scouts trotted out the equipment lists that they downloaded from various hiking and BSA sources. These were good for a few laughs as many were chock full of completely unnecessary and utterly useless items that would do nothing but weigh down the scout. We discussed how backpackers discard things that are unnecessary, how LNT tells us to plan and prepare, and how "being prepared" means that we assess our situation and bring only what might be useful because everything else is simply excess weight that makes us overly exhausted by the end of the trip. We discussed how, 1) we are in the city, 2) our route is a well maintained, wide, flat path, 3) there are multiple public restrooms along the way and multiple water sources --- the longest distance between 2 water fountains is 2.0 miles. Therefore, any "hiking essentials list" that was compiled for backcountry hikes in the frozen tundra will be about as useful to us as a pack of soggy matches. Here's what we came up with as our "urban hike essentials" list: Bring: Very small, light, comfortable day pack Map Cell phone Sunblock Light First Aid kit (be prepared for blisters, scrapes, beyond that is luxury) 1 Lire of water (leave extra bottles and hydration packs at home....we have water sources all along the route) 8 ounces of trail mix or other snacks Cash (it's an urban route, we might rest near stores, food trucks, etc.) Sunglasses Hat Leave at home... Flashlight or Headlamp (except for night hikes) Compass (We're in the city...the year is 2019...) Knife (useful in the woods, not so much downtown) Matches/lighter (Might be helpful if somebody asks us for a light.) Extra clothes for layering (we're in Texas. We're hiking in the day. We take layers off, not put them on.) Poncho (unless the weather forecast is for greater than 30% chance of rain) Tarp or space blanket (What are we going to use that for? To camp under the bridge like a hobo?) Walking stick or pole (Flat. Paved with pea gravel. Groomed by city. What's the purpose?) Signaling mirror (We're in the city...the year is 2019....we have cell phones...) Bottom Line... Be realistic. Consider your location, the weather conditions, etc. Pack for your hike, not somebody else's.
  24. mrkstvns

    Cleaning and Drying a Sleeping Bag

    Good advice! I've seen "sleeping bag liners" for sale in outdoor stores, but I'm not sure I really see the point since I have a lot more choices in fabrics and weights if I just go to a department store and buy some sheets off the shelf. Another advantage to doing that is it can provide more warmth in winter months, probably adding an extra 5 degrees or so to the temperature rating of a typical bag.
  25. mrkstvns

    Join Scouts, get a free uniform via Goodwill and Council

    Just thought I'd point out that many councils already have a program in place to help get scout uniforms into the hands of kids whose families might struggle to provide them. In the Houston area, this is called the "Uniform Exchange". Info about how it works is here: https://shac.org/uniform-exchange Our troop does something similar. We have a bin where scouts who outgrow their uniforms, or scouts who age out of the program, can toss their uniforms in a bin and they are made available to scouts bridging into the troop. I applaud the efforts of Latin Scot, Momleader, and anyone else who grabs the bull by the horns and helps rescue uniforms for re-use by those who need them.