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Everything posted by mrkstvns

  1. This is where the beauty of patrol method and scout-leadership come together. Nobody needs to have any penalties for scouts who don't do a good job ---- the scouts will take care of that themselves. They'll make mistakes. Their peers will roast them. They'll learn from the experience and do better next time...
  2. Working with new scouts is a lot of fun --- they have so much excitement and ambition! I've noticed though that a lot of scouts struggle a bit with learning (and especially remembering) how to whip a rope. Bryan on Scouting had a post last week about a method called "West Country Whipping" that is a LOT easier to use than the traditional whipping described in the Scout Handbook. It's so simple and straightforward that it should also be easier to remember a couple years from now. (I suspect most scouts forget how to whip a rope about 7 minutes after the Scoutmaster signs off on the requirem
  3. I would hope they are not even checking or trying to enforce "rules" like that. I think that most experienced scouters already know that cotton has some issues on backcountry canoe trips: if it gets wet, it's just going to make you colder later --- not warmer --- and it's not likely to dry if you just hang it up on a line once you get to camp. I suspect they're telling you to bring a synthetic sleeping bag because they've had too many folks who had to sleep in a wet bag when night time temps can easily drop into the lower 40s or below. Nevertheless, I'm with you. Synthetic sleepin
  4. Helping the boys build stronger patrols is tough work! I know a lot of us bemoan the fact that the patrol method isn't as well understood or as well practiced today as it might have been in the past, but why? Are patrols fundamentally any different today? What are the characteristics of a "strong" patrol? What are some things we might be able to suggest to the boys to help them strengthen their patrols and make them into the kind of group that can exemplify great teamwork and leadership? To get some ideas, I was looking through old scout documents and I came across a description of the
  5. Thieves in St Louis made off with yet another Boy Scout troop trailer.... https://www.kmov.com/news/boy-scout-troop-s-trailer-with-equipment-inside-stolen-in/article_b65a1248-e0be-11e9-b184-13b39e0ebe0e.html Thieves cut two different locks to steal the trailer late Sunday night or early Monday morning, the troop says. St. Louis City police say 12 trailer thefts have been reported in the city in the past two months, including the theft of a trailer that left a South City business out $100,000. The troop’s trailer is described as a white 2006 Pace American Trailer, with Mis
  6. This sounds pretty cool. History is fun stuff! I would encourage scouts who have an interest in American history to earn the American Heritage merit badge, and maybe explore some of those Historic Trails that various councils have established over the years. (Of course, there is also the Historic Trails Award, which requires scouts to camp or hike a historic trail and to take part in events like this reenactment.) The list of council historic trails is here: https://tap.scouting.org/historic-trails/
  7. The look and feel of merit badges has evolved quite a bit since scouting first began in the early 20th century. In the beginning, merit badges were embroidered on a square piece of cloth. Later, the edges around the embroidery began an inexorible process of shrinking, and being rolled up along the edge. It wasn't until the 1960s that merit badges which looked like the kind we give scouts today started to emerge, with no cloth background apparent and a neat twilled border all the way round. The different stages of merit badge evolution are identified as "Type A" through "Type K".
  8. Scouts love their Dutch ovens! Over the years, there's not been a single food item that one patrol or another hasn't tried cooking in the classic campfire cookery. Even the simplest fare can become a culinary adventure when you invoke the Dutch oven mantra. Such is the case with popcorn... INGREDIENTS: 1/4 cup canola oil (or other vegetable oil) 3/4 cup popcorn kernels butter salt PROCESS: Heat 12-inch Dutch oven over about 25 coals. Add oil and popcorn, then replace lid. Rotate 1/4 turn every couple minutes as the popcorn cooks to avoid scorching. In
  9. I grew up in the era of pit latrines at scout camp. I was shocked, shocked I tell you, to find that scout camps actually devolved to flush toilets!
  10. I also like that some merit badges cannot easily be done at summer camp. Sadly, too many of the "counselors" that run the merit badge classes at council summer camps think that "WANTing the Scout to meet requirements" justifies them signing off things that were never done (or even attempted). This happens routinely with all those classroom-type badges that don't really belong in an outdoor program in the first place: why should Art or Communication or Family Life be offered at summer camp? Particularly when the most RELEVANT requirements of those badges can't possibly be done....yet inept
  11. Generally, I also understand a "public meeting" to be related to governmental function (even if it might not be directly spending taxpayer dollars). But I also like DuctTape's definition: "Public means you can attend, private is closed to "the public"."
  12. Right. But they do give us guidance. With next year being an election year, you're starting to see debates happening in various places. These can be excellent forums to hear about diverse opinions, but they're not the only places. I would definitely approve of a scout who wanted to attend an event labelled as a "forum", even though it might not follow a traditional debate structure. The "forum" tends to differ from a "debate" in that it focuses on a narrower subset of issues than a general "debate" might. For example, there are "forum" events focused on women's issues, LGBT, climate is
  13. Just an observation: the list of examples for "public meetings" is different for Citizenship in the Community and for Communication. Citizenship in the Community includes court proceedings whereas Communication does not (though Communication does include debates).
  14. Well, I haven't been on this forum for very long, but I often find the most enlightening discussions are those that were posted 10 years ago (or even longer). I sincerely appreciate that so many people over the years took the time to discuss topics and to share their wisdom. I do wish there were FAR more topics around woodsmanship and outdoor adventure being discussed. Sadly, it seems that the people with the most wisdom about such matters are the ones who mistakenly think they aren't needed. Thanks, JoeBob, and everyone else who has shared their experience and views over the year
  15. Thermacell gets great reviews on the REI site. The only downside I see to the Thermacell is that it requires a steady diet of replacement fuel cells, which can add up if you're planning to use the device on a longer trek (or even a weekend campout). I'm not really offended by the smell of spray-on repellants anyway, and the much lower total cost of Deep Woods Off will probably keep me away from the Thermacell approach. Info explaining how Thermacell works: https://www.thermacell.com/pages/how-it-works Order a Thermacell from REI: https://www.rei.com/product/152928/thermacell
  16. The Washington State Department of Corrections bans several books from their prison libraries. One of these books is "The Boy Scout Handbook".... Here is their entire banned book list: https://www.doc.wa.gov/docs/publications/reports/400-RE003.pdf
  17. I understand that the organization's motto is "Be Prepared", but I have trouble embracing the concept of carrying around a bunch of stuff from a canonical all-purpose list only to then admit that "Most, if not all, can stay in your day pack." My take on "Be Prepared" is to plan up front, anticipate problems, and only pack those items that will help solve those kinds of problems. Some of y'all convinced me that I should add a poncho to my "urban essentials" list, and that will be there next time, but I'm not sold on most other stuff....just not seeing the value of being prepared for t
  18. Interesting. I've never been asked to sign off on a scout who watched a meeting (or debate) on TV. In our area, the local school board and the city council record meetings and put them on their web sites. I'm not too keen on accepting that though because I think the scout misses out on the opportunity to be there in person and to see that it really can be ordinary citizens who make their way to the podium to express opinions, ideas, complaints, etc. (and the scout could be one of those people if he cared enough about an issue to come speak out about it). I'm not sure that kind of civic
  19. That viewpoint might actually make sense .... *IF* BSA had not ALREADY done background checks on each and every scouter and *IF* you did not already sign an explicit statement allowing them to do so when you submitted your "Adult Application." But they did...and you did... That makes this move redundant, unproductive, and burdensome on volunteers. It's therefore totally fair game for criticism.
  20. What I'd like the scouts to do is to think for themselves and question authority. Do the equipment lists we get actually make sense for the conditions we expect? Would we be wiser to jettison things so we can move lighter and faster? Are there other things that aren't on the list that probably should be? I plan to offer up a variety of very different kinds of hikes and let the scouts discuss for themselves what is smart to bring, and what is not. The next hike will be 10 miles in a National Forest --- rolling hills, unimproved trails, possibility of needing to navigate, no known
  21. I've heard a lot of buzz lately about the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus and how cases of it have been spring up along the east coast (particularly northeast/New England area). The virus is spread via mosquitos. Some info on the CDC web site shows that the virus is not common (fortunately), but it is yet another reason to be wary and protect ourselves against mosquitos. Info from CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/easternequineencephalitis/index.html
  22. August also happens to be the easiest month to find availability. Troops tend to snap up the June and July dates quickly, but fewer request August. August is hard for some folks because sports practice is starting up and families are getting ready for back to school.
  23. Our City Council meetings are a pain for most scouts because they are held during the day when kids should be in school. School board meetings are easy though. Texas has these "ISDs" --- independent school districts ---- and there are a LOT of them. Most ISDs hold board meetings in the evening, and if your local school board meets on an inconvenient night of the week, you can always drive a few miles to the next ISD. I think we must have at least 12 ISDs in and around the city of Houston... A patrol (or troop) could even do an activity one evening to go to a public meeting as a grou
  24. That sounds like a fine basic plan, but when do you start letting ordinary rank-and-file scouts do the planning and running of the ceremony? In our troop, we almost ALWAYS have several scouts working on Communication merit badge and they need to emcee a CoH for Communication MB requirement 8 (either that or plan and lead a campfire, which some scouts like to do). I can only see having the SPL announcing names & awards if nobody in the troop needs an emcee role for Communication MB.
  25. I complain a lot about bad practices at MBUs, so when I find one that's doing RIGHT by the scouts, it's only fair to send some kudos their way. There's 27 districts in the Sam Houston Area Council and several have their own MBUs. Some are poorly planned and operated, some are very well planned and operated. One of the BEST is done by Orion District. What I like about their MBU is that they ASK merit badge counselors how much time they need for their badge, and that's how much time they are alotted. Some classes might be 2 hours, some 3, some 4, some 5 or more....it depends on the co
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