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Everything posted by mrkstvns

  1. Scouters have all heard the oft-repeated quote that in scouting, "the patrol method isn't a method, it's THE method". Okay. So what is a "patrol"? Well, it's a group of scouts. Ideally, a group that can learn to work together and to develop and follow it's own leaders. So, if a group is "good" for helping youth develop their own leadership dynamics via "the patrol method", why are groups of friends viewed as a "bad thing" in other contexts? There was a story today on NPR about a school that is battling "cliques". That made me wonder how those "groups of friends" differed from the "groups of friends" we promote in scouting... Any thoughts? Story: https://www.npr.org/2019/10/23/772560418/wisconsin-school-breaks-up-lunchtime-cliques-with-assigned-seating
  2. mrkstvns

    "Good" Groups vs. "Bad" Groups

    I think I'd call that a "gang". Unless the gang was shunning the new kid because his had a pink ski mask....then the gang could be a "clique" because some people just do NOT belong! While the word "gang" has negative connotations today, it has historically been used by Baden Powell and Green Bar Bill as a term to describe the patrol method. For example, Green Bar Bill was once quoted as saying, "Patrols are gangs of boys led by boys." I guess it really pays not to get too hung up on language, especially language used in earlier, perhaps gentler, times.
  3. mrkstvns

    15 Essentials for a Forest Hike

    Yep. A lunch would be better than packing only trail snacks. Maybe lunch and a smaller amount of trails snacks is the smarter way to go.... I'm not sure what kind of "communication device" other than a cell phone would be practical and useful. As an adult leader, I'd have my cell phone with me, but certainly every scout doesn't need the tempting distraction of having one so they can play Fortnight as they march down the trail. Hence, it has no place on the packing list. For emergency purposes, I think one or two cell phones (held by adults) is good. It gives you some measure of communication if service exists, otherwise, the tried and true method of sending a buddy pair to call for help works just fine.
  4. mrkstvns

    15 Essentials for a Forest Hike

    The BSA lists are "starting points". They're exhaustive and cover a lot of situations that may be irrelevant to your activity. For example, I'm in Texas and most of my hikes take place in warm weather....why on EARTH would I waste space and weight on things like hand warmers or insulated jackets? Things like that may be great for hikes in northern climates, but they're as useful to me as carrying a load of bricks. Your point about the flashlight is well taken. Small maglights and LED headlamps weigh so little that they deserve a place on the list along with the other "just in case" items. Thanks!
  5. mrkstvns

    Haunted House

    Video of a New Jersey troop's haunted house is here: https://www.northjersey.com/media/cinematic/video/4083070002/north-haledon-haunted-house/
  6. mrkstvns

    Haunted House

    Halloween is a great holiday for troops to leverage in their fundraising efforts. Why not create a Haunted House, Spooky Cemetery, or even Ghosts and Goblins in the Churchyard? Scouts love exercising their creative talents and the chance to put on some costumes and entertain friends and neighbors just shouldn't be missed! Here's an example of 2 troops in Los Angeles teaming up to scare some funds into their troops' coffins...errr...coffers! https://antelopevalley.bsa-la.org/haunted-house-fundraiser/
  7. 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.
  8. mrkstvns

    Haunted House

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

    What are the BSA priorities??

    I'm a pirate. I want to know what the priorities Arrrrggghh!
  10. 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!!)
  11. 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/
  12. 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.
  13. 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/
  14. 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/
  15. 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.
  16. 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?
  17. 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!
  18. 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
  19. 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...
  20. 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.
  21. 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??
  22. 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!
  23. ...where's the adventure in staying on the trail???
  24. 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!
  25. 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?