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Posts posted by mrkstvns

  1. 1 minute ago, MattR said:

    I think powderhorn is mostly high adventure skills. Climbing, backpacking, cycling, canoeing. So maybe there's no point on how to organize a high adventure trip in what I wanted. But the rest of it would be useful.


    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. 2 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

    ...  Typically set up between trees, but the Scouts like to use poles.  We looked at actual expandable tarp poles ($15 to $20 each) and bought a bunch of 2" x 2" x 8' lumber (also from Home Depot) for about $2 each.  Put a nail in the end and we had tarp poles.

    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!!)

    • Upvote 1

  3. Fall is in the air, and nothing says "Fall" to me quite like fresh apples.  My grandma made tray after tray of apple bars for us to snack on, and my brothers and I would argue endlessley over whether apple pies should have a top crust on them, or should have cinnamon-laced crumbles on top of them.

    Fortunately, one of the tastiest fall apple treats is also very easy to make in a Dutch oven: Brown Betty.


    • 6 cups of cored and peeled, tart apple slices
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1 cup rolled oats
    • 3/4 cup flour
    • 1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick)
    • 1 cup chopped pecans
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon nutmeg


    1. Heat charcoal.
    2. Core, peel and slice apples. Put apple slices in dutch oven and sprinkle with sugar
    3. In a bowl or pot, mix together brown sugar, oats, flour, butter, pecans, cinnamon and nutmeg. Top the apples with this mix.
    4. Bake about 25-30 minutes  in Dutch oven (place 8 briquets under the dutch oven and 14 briquets on top). 
    • Upvote 1

  4. 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:

  5. 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.

  6. 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!


  7. 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!


    • Upvote 1

  8. 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 

  9. 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.

    • Haha 1

  10. 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/ 


  11. 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....

  12. 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?  

  13. 1 hour ago, mrkstvns said:

    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!

    ...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...


  14. 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!

    • Like 1

  15. 7 hours ago, karunamom3 said:

    Yes! Our district made it a weekend camping program. We had 6 scouts complete the radio merit badge and 4 begin pioneering. We are in NJ and we connected to folks, some scouts, in Maine, Florida, Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana,  Canada and Germany. It was open to cubs, scouts and venturers. It was cold, but lots of fun!

    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...


    • Upvote 1

  16. 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!


    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.

    • Upvote 1

  17. 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!

    • Upvote 1

  18. 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:








    • Upvote 1

  19. A group of Girl Scouts is building habitats for wild bees (i.e., not "honey bees").  

    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!