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Everything posted by mrkstvns

  1. mrkstvns

    on the trail to ... Scout?

    One would hope. Over the past several years, I've been the ASM who was tagged as the "First Class Emphasis" guy, so I work with the incoming scouts for the first year or so. With about 10 scouts per year, I guess that makes about 50 scouts I've helped on their initial ranks. I always ask if they did Cyber Chip in their Webelos den. So far, I'm all the way up to about 3 scouts who had done so and knew what it was. I keep dreaming that one year, we'll get a whole new scout patrol where everybody has a Cyber Chip card....it remains a dream. We run a Cyber Chip class for the new scouts because of this.
  2. mrkstvns

    on the trail to ... Scout?

    It takes about a month. Most of Scout rank is for the scout to learn basic scouting things like the Law, the Motto, the Outdoor Code, the Patrol Method, etc., and to be able to explain these things. Scouts who are gung-ho can read the Scout Handbook and knock these things out in an evening (assuming they can get the attention of someone to sign him off). Two requirements seem to be speed bumps for a scout working on Scout rank: * 3b. For a new scout patrol, the patrol members need to get together and talk about who they want to be. They need to pick a patrol name, decide on an emblem (patch), come up with a yell, and make a flag. This generally does not happen immediately, though we'll try to set aside time for the boys to do it within their first month or so. * 6: There's 2 parts to this:1) the "Protecting from Abuse" pamphlet and 2) the Cyber Chip. As a troop, we do a Cyber Chip class in which we watch the NetSmartz videos, have roundtable discussions, and do a learning activitiy, so Cyber Chip isn't the speed bump in our troop. But we expect parents to help the boys complete the requirement, parents and scouts together need to look at that pamphlet, discuss how it applies in their family, mom and dad should help the scout work through the exercises, etc. As an ASM, I'll ask the boys if they looked at the pamphlet, talked to their parents, and did the activities. I will raise a couple of light questions about bullying or neighborhood safety, but just to make sure the boys do look at it and/or talk to their parents about it. It surprises me how many scouts drag their feet on getting this signed off because they haven't read the pamphlet and their parents haven't discussed the personal safety issues with them. Other troops might do it faster if they are proactive about discussing the abuse pamphlet. I'd be interested to hear experiences from others who have helped young scouts earn their Scout rank.
  3. mrkstvns

    Troop t-shirts for summer camp

    If I were feeling especially masochistic, I'd put up my hand in the next committee meeting and offer to make the T-shirts happen....sounds like fun! What I might do is... Ask the scouts if they wanted to design it themselves, then have a contest to pick the best design Let the scouts vote on colors Check the BSA branding guide to be sure I was using logos, wording, colors, etc. in a manner that didn't run afoul of official rules (the guide is here: https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/310-0231.pdf) Compare apples to apples. Shop the job around to see if I could get a good shirt at a good price ---- be aware that "$5 shirts" might mean: a) lightweight material and flimsy construction, b) pre-canned design only, c) limited shirt and/or ink colors, d) 1-side printing (do you want printing on both sides? on sleeves?), e) extremely large quantities, f) very long lead times
  4. mrkstvns

    15 Essentials for a Forest Hike

    Hmmm.... That seems like more water than I'd want to carry. I use a rule of thumb of 1 liter per 5 miles (which equates to 1 liter per 2 hours). For a 10-mile hike, 2 liters would be what I'd carry, unless I knew there were potable sources en route, in which case I might go lower. A hike should be more like a walk than a backpacking trek: the more you carry, the less casual and fun it is. (3 liters is 6.6 pounds of weight that you're adding)
  5. Are you getting to NT by flying? If you are, then carrying ANY tent is "duplication" because NT has tents available that you can use. Yours might be lighter, but it's unnecessary added weight when you check in for your flight. I would be most worried about weight in order to avoid charges for excess baggage. NT might suggest a chair....but is ANY chair really that necessary? I've canoed BWCA area before and, believe it or not, lived to tell the tail even though I didn't pack a chair. There is not one single piece of electronic paraphernalia that I consider necessary for a canoe trek. All of it creates headaches. You can justify it in your own mind as much as you want, but the fact remains that any electronic is subject to problems like dead batteries, getting wet, screen breakage, etc.,, etc., etc. IMHO, "getting away from it all" definitely includes getting away from everything tech. BTW: NT is not Philmont. Weight matters less on canoe treks than backpacking. Obsession over weight isn't really warranted. Yes, it matters a little bit. A heavier canoe might be a bit harder to paddle, and yes, you will likely have a couple portages to deal with, but the weight doesn't have to be all on your back all the time, and it can be distributed across multiple Duluth packs (which often get tossed --- another reason not to pack fragile stuff like a Kindle).
  6. I hate to be critical, but I can't help but laugh at the irony of this statement given the rest of your post. You claim to want to "save some weight and bulk" and then follow it up with a wash list of practically every unnecessary piece of overpriced outdoor techno-trash that an imaginitive huckster could dream up to sell you. To really make a NT trip enjoyable, I'd suggest 2 things: Simplify. Most of your "extras" are nowhere close to be necessary. Do you really need a Kindle on a backwoods trip? Aside from inviting problems caused by lack of charging, WiFi, etc., why on earth would you risk losing an overpriced piece of fragile technology when a used paperback will serve you just as well (plus you won't cry if a paperback goes overboard). Ditto with the fancy-schmancy Helinox chair. When I camp in the backwoods, I sit on a log. Don't duplicate. If NT already has tents you could use, why on earth would you bother lugging a personal tent all the way there? One of the best places to be thrifty is in the weight of your luggage if you're flying to Northern Tier. I already paid too much for my personal tent....why should I add to the financial pain by lugging it with me to a place that already has tents available? My advice is to leave home EVERYTHING that you mentioned and use the kit provided by NT staff (though if you really have delicate hands, a simple pair of cotton gloves from the Dollar Tree might not be too wasteful).
  7. mrkstvns

    Camps Where SCOUTS Cook Meals

    Thanks, le Voyageur! I'm always grateful for any info about GOOD camps that let scouts cook their own meals. I'm not sure I'd recommend these for folks emphasizing patrol method though. Both seem to be high adventure programs, and the vast bulk of these have scouts cook meals on treks. Maine High Adventure's says their program has scouts cooking on fires or on stoves. IMHO, it would better meet their promise of "adventure" if the stoves were left back in a storage unit someplace... The Blue Ridge program seems to be an afterthought program (and their council web site is terrible --- it just doesn't promote anything that really makes their council stand out --- that BRSR is a BIG facility at over 17,000 acres ---- yet their "Camping" tab doesn't even link to it....nor to their Mountain Man program. Lame web site!
  8. How else would a Dragon Slayer get to the dragon if he didn't have a Dragon Boat to get him there? Seriously though, I had to go Google "Dragon Boat" to figure out what the heck this was. Found out it's essentially a large canoe with lots of paddlers... A look at the requirements for the Dragon Boating activity badge say that you can also use a "bell boat" to meet requirements. A bell boat is a bit different in that it's like 2 canoes strapped together to form a twin-hull vessel (like a catamaran without sails). BSA may not have a Dragon Boating badge like British scouts do, but it sure does look like it would be a heckuva lotta FUN!
  9. Just taking the troop to a place like Tanzania is far more "high adventure" than most scouts ever experience, but one troop from Connecticut has not only done it once, but twice, and they also climbed to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro --- 19,341 feet. Now that's what I call a troop with an appetite for "high adventure"!!! Story: https://www.courant.com/community/simsbury/hc-va-simsbury-boy-scouts-mount-kilimanjaro-20191031-20191029-3t4wrtft5bfjlcrxvi2qzdrd3a-story.html
  10. The 160-acre camp was evidently popular with troops in the Duluth-Superior area, but not popular enough to make money, so it is up for sale. Anyone have a spare $300K to drop on a Boy Scout camp that includes its own private lake?? Story: https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/community/nonprofits/4742419-Sale-pending-on-Boy-Scout-camp-in-Superior
  11. mrkstvns

    Troop Trailer Stolen

    Here's a story about a troop that had their trailer broken into. The tents and other troop equipment were stolen, flags were thrown on the ground and stomped on, but the trailer was left behind... https://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/thief-steals-boy-scout-equipment-stomps-on-american-flags/article_8584a443-dd03-5f21-8aeb-3c6fd12c9628.html
  12. Browing around on the Scouting Magazine website (scoutingmagazine.org), I came across a post about how to set up a dining fly. Very simple: if you've got a tarp and some rope, you've got the makings of a group shelter. Nothing to it. For some of us old timers, it's simply the way we setup our camps on each and every campout. But as I was reading the article, it occurred to me, never once in the past 10 years have I seen my son or his friends set up a patrol dining fly that way. The troop has several of these EZ-Up canopy shelters, and the boys just pop those up when we're at a campsite taht doesn't already have a permanent pavilion on site (as too many over-developed "camping sites" seem to do). The tarp is an amazingly simple thing, so it can be used in myriad ways to adapt to whatever conditions you find yourself camping in... 1. Bring some poles (or find appropriate length sticks) and you can set it up free standing. - 2 poles is good, 6 poles is even better (2 8' high poles and 4 6' high poles), but 1 is possible too... 2. If you're in dense woods, just find a few stout and heart trees, and tie a ridgeline between the trees, then tie some lines to stakes to keep it taut. (remember that the ridgeline should also be tied with taut line hitches inside so you can tighten it up if it starts to go slack. Here's a few pictures of how the tarps can be set up to make a patrol dining shelter: 6 POLES, FREE STANDING: 1 POLE IN FRONT, TREE IN BACK: NO POLES - JUST TREES:
  13. A hearty handshake and profound congratulations on joining the BEST troop in the whole darn council!
  14. A lot of people still catch fish and eat them. Scouts who learn to clean and eat what they catch fulfill requirement 10 for Fishing MB (and possibly requirement 7c of Fish and Wildlife Management MB if they take the time to study the contents of the fish's stomach to learn what they eat in the wild. Yeah, I know what you mean. I heard a news report recently about protests against an Orthodox Jewish community that was planning a Kaporos ceremony as part of their Rosh Hashanah celebration. Evidently, the idea is that they transfer sins to live chickens, then kill the chickens. The meat is donated to the poor.
  15. mrkstvns


    Are Venturers allowed to skydive? I thought this was a prohibited activity for every level of scouting, but I see a very interesting article about the 10 best places to skydive in the online Venturing Magazine: http://www.venturingmag.org/
  16. mrkstvns


    The new NOVA award for Scouts BSA that incorporates the iFly indoor skydiving is called "Up and Away". You can see requirements for the award here: https://i9peu1ikn3a16vg4e45rqi17-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/STEMNovaUPANDAWAYscoutsbsa_final.pdf
  17. A long time ago, that was also a required skill here in the USA. I think it was one of the requirements for First Class....skin and cook the rabbit or pluck and cook a chicken.
  18. I don't know how I overlooked a great badge like Circus Skills! Somehow, I can't imagine BSA telling kids it's okay to practice their skills as a trapeze artist.
  19. There are 3 elements to recruiting in any organization: attraction, conversion, and retention. Attraction is the realm of marketing: get the word out and pull people in. Retention is about delivering on your promise and giving value to the members. But conversion....that's where things get interesting because it's all about the vibe in the unit and showing people your energy and passion so they want to be part of the fun. Make newcomers feel welcome and show them the value that can be theirs to share, and you'll have 'em hooked! That's why I was so impressed by Bryan on Scouting's story of a Michigan pack that created "welcome bags". Great way to involve the cubs in their pack's recruitment campaign! Story: https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2019/10/23/the-ingenious-way-this-cub-scout-pack-welcomes-new-members/
  20. mrkstvns

    Hard Merit Badges

    You would hope that would be the case. Some camps that are inhospitable to an activity go ahead and find workarounds. I classify these as "El Lame-O" merit badge programs... For example, Camp Hale in Oklahoma lets kids earn a "Winter Sports" merit badge during summer camp. Never mind that Oklahoma isn't exactly ski country even in the midst of the coldest winter.... How do they do it? Well, they put plastic sheets on a hill and pretend its snow. Here's a photo:
  21. mrkstvns

    Hard Merit Badges

    My son played trumpet, but he still never earned Bugling MB. After all, how many people have ever heard a bugler call "Swimming" ? The number, worldwide, is probably not too terribly much higher than 0... The only 2 calls I've every heard a Boy Scout sound on a bugle are "Taps" and "Reveille". Of course, your mileage may vary...
  22. mrkstvns

    Peace hike to local places of worship.

    The Sam Houston Area Council used to run an annual "Ten Commandments Hike" that would visit various houses of worship along the route. Sadly, the last "good" hike was done around 2015 and it's since been discontinued...I wonder if this is yet another case of 1 or 2 enthusiastic volunteers making past events a success, but when a motivated successor can't be found, the event dies. Stepping up matters....and it's often just 1 person who makes the difference.
  23. mrkstvns

    15 Essentials for a Forest Hike

    Point well taken. I don't think there's a time of year in this corner of the world when bug bites aren't likely to happen. Repellent goes on the list!
  24. mrkstvns

    Boy Scout Service Projects

    In an older neighborhood where many homes lacked smoke alarms or had inoperative alarms, an Eagle scout saw an opportunity for a service project that could save lives... https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/local-boy-scout-installs-smoke-alarms-for-eagle-scout-project/ar-AAJpwTf
  25. Different councils run their Scouting for Food drives at different times of the year. National Capital Area Council usually does theirs in the fall. Ditto Last Frontier Council, which will be passing out flyers Nov 2 and collecting cans Nov 9. Sam Houston Area Council passes out flyers last weekend in January and collects cans first weekend in February. I wonder what month is the MOST effective time to do it....do you rake in more donations early in the fall? Or more in the middle of winter, after the holidays are over and done with? I wonder which council has the BIGGEST Scouting for Food drive....