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Everything posted by mrkstvns

  1. mrkstvns

    Winter Camping Quick Tip

    Here's another quick tip for winter camping.... Take care of your batteries for lights or emergency cell phones. Just like there's frosty cold days when your car battery won't have enough juice to get you going, if your flashlight batteries get too cold, or your cell phone batteries get to cold, they can lose their pizazz. Charge batteries before you go Lithium batteries hold their charge better than carbon batteries Keeping the flashlight in your sleeping bag with you means you'll have light when nature calls in the middle of the night Don't trust the time on electronic devices when you wake up ---- they have a tendency to lose time as the battery gets cold
  2. mrkstvns

    Scouter.com Slogan Contest

    When you want a thing done, "Don't do it yourself" is a good motto for Scoutmasters. - Robert Baden-Powell
  3. mrkstvns

    Winter Camping Quick Tip

    Now THAT's what I call "Winter Camping"!! Think snow...
  4. mrkstvns

    Information Booth

    Regardless of whether you're putting together a flier, a web site, a video, a pamphlet....whatever, remember the first commandment of effective graphic design: LESS IS MORE If it's hard to just choose a few pictures, ask your son to pick out the *ONE* most exciting picture. Then pick ONE word (or at most a short phrase). Now you've got your whole poster:...Your poster is the really cool picture of a kid rapelling down a cliff --- blown up to fill all the available space, and just the word "ADVENTURE" laid over the top of it, set in 300 point type, bolded, and made red. Now stick a small QR code in the bottom corner (the code can jump to your landing page....but I'll save that discussion for another day). Let the collage of photos and the 2,000 word text bore somebody else....not the new kid you want to attract.
  5. Florida police arrested a 23-year old staff member of BSA's Florida Sea Base. They said he had marijuana and LSD in his car. Story... https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/florida-keys/article235891442.html
  6. I like hearing about troops that provide in-house opportunities to help their youth --- after all, we're taught the importance of "servant leadership" so we need to do what the boys need. I like that you're not participating in more than one MB weekend per year, but I would be cautious about going overboard by making such a thing a "rule" or a "policy". Scout leaders should always remember to "remove barriers and open doors". If you implement a rule, you're doing a disservice to the scout who has a right to expect that you are following the "Guide to Advancement" and not just making up unnecessary rules that treat your own scouts differently from scouts in other troops.
  7. Quite right. The core outdoor-focused merit badges being offered at summer camp are great. They give scouts access to resources (rifle ranges, canoes, etc.) and to trained, certified people (lifeguards, rifle instructors, etc.) that few troops have. Summer camp is the time-honored way for scouts to do the outdoor activities they've been promised but that troops back in town just can't be expected to provide. On the other hand, why on earth should summer camps offer classroom-focused classes like Citizenship in the Community or Family Life which are FAR better done back home in the troop or in the community. Having those classes at camp just gives scouts a poor merit badge experience and discourages scouts from getting outdoors and having fun at camp.
  8. mrkstvns

    Don't Widen The Plate

    Thanks SSScout! This story will make for a memorable Scoutmaster minute!
  9. mrkstvns

    Scouter.com Slogan Contest

    Many trails lead to common values.
  10. mrkstvns

    Have to find a new Pack... again. :(

    As always though....your mileage may vary. My son was also in a den with over 12 scouts. It's a lot, but the boys were already friends since all were in the same grade in the same elementary school. The den hung together all the way through AoL. The den had a very strong Den Leader (Eagle scout) who had committed to stay with the boy for the 4-5 years it would take to get to AoL ---- and he did. He also had a good Den Chief and supportive parents to back him up. 12+ may not be ideal in most packs, but it worked great in this case.
  11. mrkstvns

    Camps Where SCOUTS Cook Meals

    Mess halls proliferate at BSA summer camps...but that wasn't always the case. At one point, BSA summer camps fostered scouting goals like independence, self-reliance. They trusted scouts to do things for themselves and they let scouts learn by doing. One of the ways they did that was by letting scouts cook their own meals: a practice referred to as "patrol cooking". You can read a bit more about patrol cooking here (https://www.summitbsa.org/patrol-style-cooking-not-your-typical-summer-camp-meal/). Fortunately, there do still exist a handful of outposts where scouts are allowed to have meaningful camp experiences that help them grow into competent, confident young men. An example of this type of outpost is the summer camp where genuine patrol cooking can be done.... Camps that allow patrol cooking include.... Camp Liberty, Heritage Scout Reservation (PA) Rickenbacker Side, Bear Creek Scout Reservation (TX) Camp Dietler, Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch (CO) Camp Waubeeka, Curtis Read Scout Reservation (NY) Camp Freeland Leslie (WI) Soaring Eagle Boy Scout Camp, Ben Delatour Scout Ranch (CO) Camp Marriott, Goshen Scout Reservation (VA) Do you know of another summer camp where patrol cooking lives? Please tell me about it!
  12. mrkstvns

    Iron Chef Food

    That Stuffing with chicken and cranberries sounds like a real winner! You wouldn't happen to have a recipe you could share?
  13. mrkstvns

    Camps Where SCOUTS Cook Meals

    Well, maybe the BRMC needs to hire somebody a bit more creative about promoting their camps and programs. Sounds to me like they've put a lot of work into creating a strong Mountain Man program but are just shooting themselves in the foot with a poor web site and poor videos.
  14. mrkstvns

    Scouter.com Slogan Contest

    Scouting matters.
  15. mrkstvns

    Appropriate Insignia UNDER Right Pocket?

    I like the idea that a uniform tells a scouting story. Quite true... In the Bryan on Scouting post about Congressman Elijah Cummings, there's a bit about how he grew up in a working poor family that could ill-afford to pay for "official" BSA uniforms. The article says... None of the Cub Scouts in Elijah Cummings’ pack could afford a full uniform. So, in true Scouting fashion, they improvised — cobbling together uniform pieces at bargain shops and the local Salvation Army. Some boys bought unofficial iron-on patches and cut out the numbers to iron onto their left sleeves. The picture above “shows the only thing I was able to find, which was a belt,” Cummings told the BET in 2014. “As a matter of fact, that’s a Boy Scout belt, and even though I was in the Cub Scouts then, I was so proud of that belt. As you can see, I wasn’t a fashion guru, but we did the best we could with what we had.” IMHO, many of us can learn a lesson in humility from this.
  16. mrkstvns

    Fee increase - observations

    Ahhhh...now I understand why my el-cheap-o brother had his kids in 4H!
  17. Scouter.com has been cheerfully sharing wisdom about scouting for almost 2 decades. That's a lot of wisdom to sift through when you're looking for "take aways". Luckily for y'all, I was curious about some of the different ways a scout unit might make money, or maybe ways a scout can fund his Eagle project. Here are 50 useful and interesting approaches that have been discussed here through the years, along with links you can click on to see the pros and cons that scouters have talked about. In my quest to be maximully helpful, I left off Captain Obvious's favorite choices like Trails End popcorn sales or Camp Cards. Have no fears, Council will tell you about these (and tell you, and tell you....) Fair Warning! Ideas always come in 2 flavors: good ideas and bad ideas. Not all of these are good ideas. Read the posts to find out what "gotchas" were discovered by intrepid scouters who went before you. Some are not practical. Some might end up being money losers instead of money earners. Some will not meet BSA fundraising guidelines. Some will incur the wrath of your charter org or your local scout executive. Some might not work in your part of the country. But some of them will work for you and some of them will make money for you. It's up to you to separate the "good" from the "bad" ideas... 50 Ways to Make Some Troop Bucks Spaghetti Dinner https://www.scouter.com/topic/21571-spagetti-diner/ https://www.scouter.com/topic/21617-spaghetti-dinners/ https://www.scouter.com/topic/21713-conducting-a-successful-spaghetti-dinner/ Pancake Breakfast https://www.scouter.com/topic/24749-pancakes-versus-spaghetti/ https://www.scouter.com/topic/31226-breakfast-is-served/ Troop Cookbook https://www.scouter.com/topic/21565-cookbook-fundraiser/ Bottled Water (at community events) https://www.scouter.com/topic/21570-bottled-water/ Pictures with Santa https://www.scouter.com/topic/21560-we-are-trying-something-new/ Hanging Flower Baskets https://www.scouter.com/topic/21559-consignment-how-to/ Sno Cone Stand https://www.scouter.com/topic/21581-sno-cones/ 5K/10K Race https://www.scouter.com/topic/21596-510k-race-as-a-fundraiser/ https://www.scouter.com/topic/21758-has-anyone-tried-a-race/ Pro Wrestling https://www.scouter.com/topic/21590-pro-wrestling-fundraisers/ Bake Sale https://www.scouter.com/topic/21583-question-about-a-pack-bake-sale/ https://www.scouter.com/topic/21791-any-bake-sales-done/ Dessert Raffle https://www.scouter.com/topic/21604-desert-raffle-at-the-court-of-honor/ Cake Auction https://www.scouter.com/topic/26100-last-nights-cake-auction/ Candles https://www.scouter.com/topic/21631-candle-fundraiser/ Drive-In Movie Night https://www.scouter.com/topic/21638-drive-in-movie-nights/ Rent a Scout https://www.scouter.com/topic/21665-rent-a-scout/ Calendar / Dish Cloth https://www.scouter.com/topic/21679-calendar-dish-cloth/ Flag Service https://www.scouter.com/topic/21592-flag-fundraisers/ https://www.scouter.com/topic/21704-want-an-american-flag-delivered-to-your-door/ Hamburgers https://www.scouter.com/topic/21694-hamburgers-at-the-home-depot/ Used Book Sale https://www.scouter.com/topic/21685-has-anyone-tried-a-used-book-sale/ Hoagies https://www.scouter.com/topic/21698-successful-fundraiser-this-past-weekend/ Park Cars https://www.scouter.com/topic/21728-parking-cars-for-a-fundraiser/ https://www.scouter.com/topic/21802-fundraiserparking-cars/ Yard Sale https://www.scouter.com/topic/21721-yardrummage-sale/ https://www.scouter.com/topic/21740-successful-yard-sale/ https://www.scouter.com/topic/31549-community-yard-sale/ Candy Bars https://www.scouter.com/topic/21716-so-the-scouts-want-to-sell-candy-bars-yippee/ https://www.scouter.com/topic/21800-candybar-funraisers-in-leu-of-popcorn/ https://www.scouter.com/topic/26266-candy-bars/ Craft Fair https://www.scouter.com/topic/21754-hosting-a-craft-fair/ Motorcycle Rides https://www.scouter.com/topic/21752-motorcycle-fund-raising-ride/ Raffle https://www.scouter.com/topic/21749-raffle-work-around/ Pizza https://www.scouter.com/topic/21763-joe-corbi-pizza-fundraiser/ Pizza Cards https://www.scouter.com/topic/21792-anyone-ever-sell-pizza-cards/ Parents Night Out https://www.scouter.com/topic/21760-parents-night-out/ Pie In the Face https://www.scouter.com/topic/21784-another-fundraising-idea/ Christmas Gift Wrapping https://www.scouter.com/topic/21779-saw-a-good-funraiser-before-christmas/ Christmas Trees https://www.scouter.com/topic/25578-christmas-trees/ Christmas Wreaths https://www.scouter.com/topic/21839-debating-selling-wreaths-recommendations-other-fundraisers/ https://www.scouter.com/topic/31446-wreath-company-recommendations/ Poinsettias https://www.scouter.com/topic/26658-poinsettias/ Fireworks https://www.scouter.com/topic/21776-fundraising-with-a-fireworks-tent/ Citrus Fruit https://www.scouter.com/topic/21790-anyone-ever-sell-fl-citrus-fruit/ Silent Auction https://www.scouter.com/topic/21720-fundraisers-silent-auction/ Batteries https://www.scouter.com/topic/21807-interstate-battery-sale-anyone-done-this/ First Aid Kits https://www.scouter.com/topic/26435-reputable-first-aid-kit-companies-for-fundraising/ Car Wash https://www.scouter.com/topic/21805-carwash-season-is-almost-here/ https://www.scouter.com/topic/21832-car-wash-fundraiser-issue/ Percent of Sales Night at Restaurant (Red Robin, Pizza Hut) https://www.scouter.com/topic/21816-redrobin-fundraiser/ https://www.scouter.com/topic/27893-pizza-hut-night/ Kickball Tournament https://www.scouter.com/topic/24846-kickball-tournament/ Recycling https://www.scouter.com/topic/27341-is-recycling-as-a-fundraiser-sustainable/ Gofundme https://www.scouter.com/topic/27535-gofundme-accounts/ Eat Ghost Peppers https://www.scouter.com/topic/28724-texas-asm-eats-23-ghost-peppers-for-troop-fundraiser/ Drink Machine https://www.scouter.com/topic/31258-automatic-drink-machine-fund-raiser/ Pick Blueberries https://www.scouter.com/topic/30398-blueberry-project-nh/ Haunted House https://www.scouter.com/topic/31670-haunted-house/ Meat Sticks / Jerky https://www.scouter.com/topic/31626-country-meats/ Donuts https://www.scouter.com/topic/31363-donuts/ BONUS GRAB BAG: Various Ideas for More Fundraisers... https://www.scouter.com/topic/21772-non-selling-fundraisers/ https://www.scouter.com/topic/29339-fundraising-ideas-for-troops-easy/
  18. I had a lot of fun doing a short urban hike a few weeks ago, and now we're planning our next great hike. This one will be a little longer (a bit over 10 miles) and will be in a forest (Davy Crockett National Forest). Step one in planning is to have an idea what we're doing, where, when, and what kind of conditions we expect. Davy Crockett National Forest is in East Texas and it's typical of low-land southeastern forests (i.e., fairly flat with only moderate elevation changes, lots of pine trees with a smattering of sweetgum, white oak, and a few other hardwoods, unimproved dirt trails that are not particularly rocky.) I'm continuing to stress that we plan for OUR activity, not somebody else's, so we take canonical packing lists with a grain of salt. We look at the items on the list and we THINK about them. Does the weight of each and every item justify carrying them? A forest hike has more variables than an urban hike, so my "essential" list is expanded to 15 items instead of 10. What do you guys think? Bring: Very small, light, comfortable day pack Map Compass Light first aid kit (be prepared for blisters, cuts, scrapes and possible twisted ankles / fall injuries) 2 Liters of water (assuming no potable sources en route) Lifestraw or other compact filter (backup use only...could be a "Leave at Home" item...) 12 ounces of trail mix or other snacks Poncho (bring a good one if over 30% chance of rain, else the el cheap-o emergency poncho is okay) Knife (not the jumbo multi-tool) Lighter and/or matches Wad of toilet paper (not a whole roll...when ya gotta go, ya gotta go!) Small lightweight trowel (for cat holes, cuz when ya gotta go, ya gotta go) Walking stick (unimproved woodland trails have rocks, tree roots, gullies, be prepared!) Tick remover (we're in the woods, ticks abound) Spare clothing if weather/season justify it Leave at Home: Sunblock (we're in the woods, it's shady) Sunglasses (we're in the woods, it's shady) Cash (we're in the woods, deer don't run 7-11s) Flashlight (10 miles should take us 4 hours, we're starting at 8am, it's unlikely we'll be out in the dark, but if you have an overabundance of caution, pack the lightest light you own) Bottom Line... Be realistic. Consider your location, the weather conditions, etc. Pack for your hike, not somebody else's.
  19. mrkstvns

    on the trail to ... Scout?

    What I like about this is that it shows you are enabling your scouts to succeed. You aren't just saying, "OK, these kinds of scouts can sign off." You're giving them some guidance on HOW to do it and what to consider. That's what mentoring is all about.
  20. mrkstvns

    15 Essentials for a Forest Hike

    Sigh. It never ceases to amaze me how many excuses a scouter can make for turning "Be Prepared" into "Pack So Freakin' Heavy You Need a Semi to Carry Everything". OMIGOSH! Somebody might spill their water. OMIGOSH! What if I need to use the water to wash a car out there on the trail? OMIGOSH! What if Global Warming suddenly hits us right in the middle of our hike? OMIGOSH! OMIGOSH! IMHO, overpacking is not "Be Prepared". It's more like "Poor Planning".
  21. mrkstvns

    Community Event

    That's a good idea! Building bird houses is fun, and it can be cheaper and easier than you might think. Last summer, I did an all-day Nature merit badge workshop. For requirement 4a, we built birdhouses. The materials cost me about $1 per birdhouse. I used the following design, based around a fence picket. I could make 2 birdhouses out of a single 6-foot high picket.
  22. mrkstvns

    Scouter.com Slogan Contest

    Make Scouting Great Again
  23. mrkstvns

    on the trail to ... Scout?

    The key here is really to match up the people in the troop who have the most knowledge of an area with the requirements they know the most about so that you can bootstrap your way up to developing a reasonable level of competency among the future "older" scouts (i.e., your leadership corps). Since you have a younger troop with nobody who is yet up to First Class, that might take a while....but it will happen. Meanwhile... Could the scout who did the Pioneering Merit Badge be approved to sign off on the knots? That sounds like a reasonable match. I might also enlist his help in actually teaching the knots and lashings. Could the scout who did the Lifesaving Merit Badge be approved to sign off on the swimming? Hmm. I don't know about that one, chief. I think I'd do something like go down to the YMCA and ask if one of their lifeguards can administer the BSA Swim Test, then I'd have the SM or ASM sign off on SC-5b and FC-6a. The scout who did Lifesaving could then sign off on SC 5a, 5c, 5d. Could the scout who completed the LNT trainer course be approved to sign off the LNT-related requriments? You have one of those scouts? That's pretty astounding since it's usually older, higher-rank scouts who get the training...most councils have a minimum age for LNT Trainer courses (formerly 16, now its often open to 14 year olds). If you have a scout with LNT Trainer certification, definitely use him. I would have him teach LNT Awareness course to the adults, to your troop leadership corps, and to offer it to all interested scouts (perhaps together with the Outdoor Ethics Awareness Award and/or Outdoor Ethics Action Award. I would also have him sign off on ALL Outdoor Ethics requirements because he knows more about TREAD and other BSA OE initiatives than all your adults combined, more about conservation, etc. Have him teach skills to others and let him sign off on: Scout-1e, TF-1c, SC-1b, FC-1b, FC-9b and 9c. Could scouts who have done the First Aid Merit Badge (or WRFA) be approved to sign off on the first aid requirements? Sounds reasonable. Could the patrol leader sign off on Scout Rank steps 1-5? Well, as SM, you can make that judgment call, but if you go that route, I would use this as an opportunity to build troop leadership, so advise/mentor your PL ahead of time and help him do a good job of it. Or does this sound crazy, since none of these scouts are first class yet? I like that you want to enable your scouts, so I'd probably give it a try....but do mentor your scouts, help them understand how to teach skills and accept their responsibilities with a modicum of seriousness, and make adjustments based on how it pans out with your troop. Once you get a good experience base, get scouts up into the higher ranks, and get scouts with experience in Positions of Responsibility, you might want to revisit the sign-off policies to make it simpler and better aligned with more typical BSA practices.
  24. Last week's news was full of articles about the passing of Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, an upstanding, ethical, highly respected legislator. Although I couldn't avoid seeing all the clips about his body lying in state in the US Capitol, or about the myriad accolades extolling his virtues, I did miss any mention of the fact that he was a former scout and a long-time advocate for BSA. That perspective is in a recent Bryan on Scouting post... https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2019/10/29/remembering-rep-elijah-cummings-a-passionate-advocate-for-inner-city-scouting/ Now I feel sad. Scouting needs all the champions it can get these days...