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Everything posted by mrkstvns

  1. 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!
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. mrkstvns

    Where would you go?

    aka, "servant leadership".
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. An FAQ document about the upcoming background check process is available on the Bryan on Scouting blog: https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2019/10/14/rechecks-of-criminal-backgrounds-explained/ This document describes why the forms are required and how the process will work. Basically, they'll do background checks on all scouters in 2020, then every 5 years thereafter.
  9. If there's a new wrinkle on BSA troops, there might as well be a new adult leadership course on managing the wrinkles... Wood Badge for Linked Troops at the Summit in January 2020 $490 per participant Story: https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2019/06/05/linked-troop-wood-badge-course-at-sbr-will-blaze-a-new-trail-for-training/ Registration: https://bsa-20-1.com/
  10. mrkstvns

    Limit for Cub Scout nights of camping

    There are other things that can be "overnighters" but that I don't consider to be camping. My son's pack did some "overnighters" like a night in the Zoo, or a sleep aboard on the USS Lexington. These are fun things for the boys to do, but they're not in the woods, don't involve setting up tents, don't involve cooking their meals, and similar things that really define "camping". Just saying...
  11. mrkstvns

    How much water?

    Do you ever camp in places that have no nearby source of potable water? If so, how much water do you bring with you? This is not a hypothetical and it is not a backcountry trip --- we can drive a car up to near the site. 2 nights, 30 participants. If I bring 30 gallons, will it be enough to cover cooking, dishwashing, drinking for 2 nights? How much would you bring?
  12. I don't know if BSA made a mistake in their California listing, or what, but the link they have doesn't seem to go anywhere that's good for high adventure, HOWEVER, a different council than BSA points to DOES conduct outstanding high adventure programs on Catalina Island. The USEFUL link to these is: http://www.campemeraldbay.org/emerald-bay/high-adventure-program
  13. Quite right. Google search will turn up some possibilities, but it misses a lot and your search results are badly organized with those camps that had the most SEO-aware webmaster showing up first (not camps that are the best, or that have the most exciting programs). A good site to begin your search for all those "hidden gems" is https://tap.scouting.org/ Near the bottom of the page is a link to "Council High Adventure Camps". This is an excellent resource listing more HA camps than you ever knew existed!
  14. mrkstvns

    Limit for Cub Scout nights of camping

    Well, it might not be killing your pack's program, since evidently you had a lame pack that didn't even bother to camp. (Sorry, gotta call a spade a spade, after all, a scout IS trustworthy). My son's pack camped twice per year, so when the boys bridged to a scout troop, they were prepared to get right into an active, productive outdoor program. Putting restrictions on that kind of quality program *IS* a bad thing and if that's what BSA wants, they RICHLY deserve any and all criticism that comes their way.
  15. mrkstvns

    Limit for Cub Scout nights of camping

    That sure does sound astoundingly stupid, doesn't it? Yet, I can see how someone comes away with that interpretation. I'm looking at the GSSS and I see numerous references to cub scout packs doing "overnight camping" (but without a clear definition of that term). Further down, a distrinction is drawn for Scouts BSA units, which do "weekend camping". See: https://www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/gss/gss03/ Sigh. Sounds like another needless controversy brewing....
  16. Former scouts and scouters with fond memories of camping at El Rancho Cima will be somewhat pleased to learn that 533 acres of the former BSA summer camp might be preserved as a public park (out of a total original area of over 2,000 acres). It's not the whole camp, but it sounds like it includes the former River Camp and many of the camp's facilities. Story is here: https://www.kvue.com/article/news/local/plans-to-turn-wimberley-boy-scout-property-into-public-park/269-9621162b-ed9f-49d2-bfdd-cccb16dc2752
  17. mrkstvns

    Webelos Camporee (Webelosree)

    In our area it's referred to as "World of Webelos". Same idea though...
  18. mrkstvns

    Fooled to want foil?

    Maybe. But probably not. It's not straightforward. There are a lot of issues around gathering firewood that we're becoming more aware of and that are becoming increasingly important as we face ever-diminishing open lands. While we might view dead trees or downed wood as fuel ready for gathering, it is also a food source to some species and a habitat for others (think birds picking up twigs to build nests, beavers using branches and logs to build their dams, etc.) Bugs like termites might directly consume wood, and they, in turn, become food for birds or other animals. There can be myriad complex life cycles that depend on downed wood in a forest. Of course, it depends. In a large, dense forest that has very plentiful trees, there is more than ample supplies of wood for you to have your fire and the flora and fauna to thrive as it always has. In other places, not so much. In some places, there has historically been ample supplies, but today, those supplies are no longer adequate, yet there's old timers like us who remember as kids that we were allowed to collect wood. We often criticize the forest service for "over regulating", when in fact, it's simply that we are uncomfortable with the truth that the world is changing and that our behaviors are part of the problem. Even in areas where downed wood is plentiful, we should take steps to minimize our impact: a) don't mess with wood that is obviously a habitat (or suitable as habitat), such as downed logs, b) don't take and burn all the wood in an area, c) be sensitive to the type of area, for example, deep in a forest your gathering of sticks for a fire will have little long-term impact, but in a heavily over-used "frontcountry" park, the availability of down wood is already low and any additional gathering can have an outsize impact on its ability to sustain a healthy ecosystem. Despite the threat to some lands, there are absolutely places where your wood gathering would be a service. For the past several decades, US land managers have suppressed natural fires and too much fuel buildup makes those areas susceptible to bigger, hotter fires. Getting rid of some of the excess fuel there would be a good thing. The problem is that most people are not paying attention to the kind of forest they're in and most people have zero knowledge of how to tell how much deadwood a forest needs to maintain its lifecycle, and how much is "too much of a good thing." The places where scouts and the general public camp most often are the ones where there's "too little", not "too much". One notable problem that just seems to be getting worse as time goes on is the issue of invasive species destroying our forests. Collecting wood as fuel for fires contributes to that problem because you inadvertently pick up insects, eggs, larvae etc. and move them to another place in the forest ---- or worse yet, take the wood with you to save it for the next campout somewhere far away. Invasives like the emerald ash borer have been spread largely through people moving wood. I love a campfire as much as the next guy, but I do try to educate myself a little bit about the way that campfires "like we've always done it" may not be sustainable. One way I try to be more responsible about firebuilding while STILL having a fire (because I value the way it fosters cameraderie) is to buy a bundle of kiln-heated wood and use that as my fuel. Some info on these issues... * https://www.dontmovefirewood.org/ * https://thedyrt.com/magazine/lifestyle/where-to-buy-firewood/
  19. mrkstvns

    Fooled to want foil?

    In the 70s too. I don't believe our troop even OWNED a propane stove. Gathering wood and building a fire was always the first thing we had to do in the morning. I remember one campout we went on where overnight temperatures had gone below 0. We woke up and our dish soap had frozen solid so we had to thaw that out before we could even soap our pots to fix breakfast!
  20. mrkstvns

    Camp Strake

    I get depressed when I hear of councils closing down camps, so it makes me particularly happy to know that Sam Houston Area Council is opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art summer camp next year. The camp is located on the edge of the Sam Houston National Forest, so it will, hopefully, retain its rustic character for generations of scouts to come. The camp is accepting reservations for summer 2020, but already, many sessions are full (everybody wants to experience the new camp smell). I have a feeling this will quickly become the most popular scout camp in Texas. Info about Camp Strake is here: https://www.samhoustonbsa.org/summer-camp
  21. Another good option for you might be the Great Lakes Sailing Adventure offered by Michigan Crossroads Council. Sail the Great Lakes on a 52-foot twin-masted sailing vessel? Yeahhh, that sounds pretty awesome! Looks like they not only allow 13-year olds, but the scout doesn't have to turn 13 until September 1 (which means 12 year olds turning 13 at the end of the summer). (At least that's how I interpret it...) Info: https://scoutingevent.com/attachment/BSA272/document_15205557840_1999.pdf
  22. mrkstvns

    Fooled to want foil?

    Sounds like you're talking about those Pillsbury croissant rolls (or biscuits). If that's what you're cooking, do you ever have a problem with the tube expanding (and maybe even exploding all over the place)??
  23. mrkstvns

    Sea Base Staffer Arrested on Drug Charges

    Hmm. Had to Google that to see if I could find the article y'all are talking about. I assume it's this one: https://www.outsideonline.com/1919191/thrifty-clean-and-brave I don't really see anything too radical going on here, though there's definitely some tales of hi jinx and "boys will be boys". I wouldn't be troubled by the Sea Base guy if he'd just been caught with the reefer, but LSD isn't a substance I want to just dismiss with a wink towards youthful exuberance. If he's into that stuff, I really don't want him working where I send my kids.
  24. You are correct. ...and 13 does seem too young given their program. From the Sea Base eligibility guidelines: Participants must be 13 years of age prior to their arrival at Sea Base. Participants who would turn 13 during their adventure are not eligible to participate. AGE REQUIREMENTS CANNOT BE RELAXED.
  25. mrkstvns

    Country Meats

    We should have a contest: Pale Horse can have a group of kids standing outside a shopping center selling $20 bags of popcorn and I'll have a group of kids right next to 'em selling $1 meat sticks. Whoever makes the most money gets to buy the nicest tents for their troop.