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Posts posted by SiouxRanger

  1. Today's scouts don't have 10% of the skills I have from my scout youth days of 60 years ago.

    And, granted, who NEEDS to know how to make fire, purify water, navigate in rugged backcountry, read a compass (what is that?), read a road map, build a shelter, signal for help, teach your cat to speak French (well, maybe not that), sharpen a knife, tie knots (and bends, splices, whipping (gee-a number of ways to do that (Clifford Ashley) and lashings)), pitch a tent…

    BUT, all those out-dated and antiquated skills have made me extremely confident that I can take care of myself and reason my way to good decisions.

    Can I build a fire in the pouring rain?


    Do I know WHY I can build a fire in the pouring rain?


    And that is why Scouting is valuable.

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  2. convoy so that if a vehicle has a failure, we can still get the youth/adult to the train on time. And the wounded vehicle can sort out repairs later.

    4.  Things happen.  Run out of gas. Bathroom stops. 

    5.  Lead MUST know the number of vehicles following, and MUST have a good sense, well perfect, of what the last vehicle looks like headlight wise.

    6.  A written list of cell phone numbers distributed to all drivers, and if not, MUST exchange cell phone numbers to lead and tail drivers.

    7.  Tail driver NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, passes the second to last driver.  The tail driver is always, ALWAYS the last driver. Some driver stops for any reason, the tail driver always remains the tail driver. The tail driver never passes any vehicle in the convoy.

    We have had times, rarely, where the convoy got quite spread out and the lead pulled onto the Interstate shoulder for folks to catch up.  A questionable thing to do, but depending on circumstances, traffic load, sunshine, etc., not as risky as might be thought.

    It is a lot to ask of the lead, but if everyone is paying attention it does work.

    HOWEVER, in light of the information I've learned on this thread, I have to reexamine the wisdom of convoys.

    (On one convoy to summer camp, a dad, once hitting the interstate, disappeared at 80-85 mph., flying past everyone.  Met up with him an hour later at the summer camp. Well beyond the speed limit.)

    My half cent's worth. (not pricing myself above that sage, the Remember guy…)

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  3. Very interesting thread.

    After 25 years of adult participation-never heard mention of the "no convoy" rule. 

    As a lawyer, I've read a great deal of BSA documents on policy, 2 deep leadership, guide to safe scouting (no boomerangs, rats), stoves, liquid fuels. use of words with more than 7 syllables but less than 10 syllables, best practices to avoid plummeting space junk (NASA branded but ownership denied), bull roarers (OK-I think), coracles (nope), etc.

    A scouting professional once "corrected me" telling me that "scouting is not complicated."

    Compared to a soccer program where parent drops off child to race across field to the game and returns to the car?

    Parental involvement in soccer can be nil. Liability risk is less than nil.

    Scouting is very complicated.  AND, if you get it wrong (somehow, and it is easy to do), you might end up a defendant for some abuse case and paying your own lawyer tens of thousands of dollars ultimately to be proven innocent.

    Try BANKRUPTCY.  Seems to have worked for National.

    All of that sounds "simple" to me. Nope.

    Our troop has convoyed for my 25 years there. Though never had a vehicle incident, that is anecdotal and no basis to make policy.

    Much to my distress, I was always designated as the lead. Only got everyone lost once-BUT, I was following the directions precisely of someone who claimed to know what they were talking about. In our wanderings, we came across a local in the hinterland who gave us corrective directions and we made our way safely. (Sunday morning after the campout, we ran into the good smaritan in a grocery store who reminded us (M)E that "you are the lost guys I got on your way…" (Thanks.)

    So, if convoying, having been the lead, there are some pointers I have learned:

    1.  The lead is "driving for everyone."  That is, my van is 5-10 vehicles long. Like driving a train. You can't run through a light nd leave the rest of the train hanging.  You stop at the light. Let folks catch up. With luck all will make it through the next light.

    2. Everyone needs to know where they are going in case they get separated from the convoy.  It all becomes a massive flow chart, taking into account all the unlikely events and imponderables. (On one convoy, a van lost some electrical connection under the dash.  We all stopped, the driver's brother who happened to work at an auto parts place in the town where the failure occurred, sent the right part and an hour later, the ENTIRE troop was on its way.

    3.  If a vehicle suffers some failure, if all are on their own-no convoy, then that vehicle is on its own.  To get to the train taking our treks to Philmont, we ALWAYS


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  4. We solved the "3x the work" cooking issue by camping next to the parking lot and ordering out-by patrols, of course.

    Separate patrol checks.  Scouts can't cook, but at least "Thrifty" is a work-in-progress.

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  5. On 4/9/2024 at 1:15 PM, SiouxRanger said:

    What's a "liberal?"

    On so many forums, the word "liberal" is used in a negative, derisive, derogatory sense.

    And the term for the opposite of "liberal" is…?

    That term does not seem to be used at all.

    I am not interested in starting an interminable political debate, just to obtain folks' definitions of "liberal" and whatever the antonym is ("conservative?")


    • Like 1
  6. I have to say, just how many binders of rules do we need?

    I drop my kid off at an open field to participate in a soccer game. In full view of hundreds of parents. The event lasts an hour or so. And I pick my kid up. And all is done. In full view of many adults.  (Actually, I NEVER left my kid, but for argument's sake…)

    SCOUTING (activities), on the other hand, encompass a wide range of situations.

     Friday nights to Sunday mornings, in remote campsites. Plenty of opportunities for abuse situations.

    Quiet, dark, secluded…

    My point is that this whole situation needs to be examined and reduced to a simple set of rules that is memorable…so that all of us can instantly recognize violations.

    I'm a lawyer. 50 pounds of rules. Fine.  I can do that. Three tons of rules. No problem.

    But for BSA volunteers, we need to simplify it down to something memorable.  "Catchy."


  7. 6 hours ago, qwazse said:

    The card is a tool for SPL’s to maintain discipline, if needed. In many troops, it’s not needed, so it might not be required.

    If a scout is found to violate knife/axe safety, rather than temporarily robbing the scout of a tool, a PL or SPL may request to see the scout’s card, clip a corner from it, explain the safety violation that necessitates the clip, and assure the scout that you think he or she will do better next time. Once the scout presents a card with four corners cut (never happened in my lifetime), slice the card in half and invite him/her to retake a safety course with a JASM or instructor and earn a new card.

    Obviously, if the scout doesn’t have his card with him, he needs to put his tool away and acquire he card.

    The nice thing about this is that the scout is accountable to all the leaders in the camp. His PL doesn’t have to worry about watching every scout all the time. If he PLC agrees on the procedure, a scout who might “visit” a friend’s patrol just so he could violate safety without his PL catching him/her again can be mentored by the other PL without the two PL’s having to report on which scouts are playing loose with safety.

    So, ask your PL what your troops policy is.

    Clipping corners off Totin Chip card for infractions was the practice in my troop as a youth 60+ years ago. Don't recall it happening, though.

    Inattention to sharps safety is rather self-regulating;  I learned a lot nursing cuts due to X-acto knives.

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  8. I wear my Eagle knot, and none others. (Not even sure what knots I might have earned, though, District Award of Merit, and Silver Beaver, are among them.)

    It is all about the youth. Not about me.

    I have at least 8 Eagle mentor pins.  (Our troop has had the practice of only having an Eagle presenting a single Mentor Pin.  Eagles one per  I wear none of them.

    Those who need or want to know, they know.

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    17 hours ago, mrjohns2 said:

    I hope you are not having the scout do everything twice? That would not be good. 

    Nothing wrong with "Practice to Master," THEN test.  The test should not be a practice session. 

    Little is simple or obvious if one truly understands the skill-has mastered it. "Craftsmanship." Journeyman, not apprentice.

    "If I don't practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it."

    --Jascha Heifetz

    (I thought Vladimir Horowitz said that. A Google search ALSO attributed it to Louis Armstrong-enough searching…it is the thought that counts.)

    As a BSA certified angling instructor, I STILL practice my fishing knots. They are inherently confusing and I don't use them enough to stay fresh.

    How many bowline style knots are there? (I can think of 6 offhand, not counting mirror images of them-that would push it to 12.)

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  10. The Ranger Marathon is a huge inspirational goal to many Philmont Rangers, though its course and times recorded for its passage seem to be obscured in fog.  There are varied discussions of--course, route, times, and pack weights carried (more or less).

    The start point seems to be accepted by all as the camp Dan Beard, but the end point seems to vary over time from Kit Carson Museum, to Abreu (New Abreu), to Carson Meadows.

    Anyone who has first experiences running the Ranger Marathon, I encourage to post.



  11. And these are just comments, Eagle, summer camp staff (2x), Philmont Ranger (4x), Philmont Trek Advisor (4x)…

    52 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

    At meetings, we would run one mile for conditioning.

    Scouts headed for Philmont treks needed NO training-they are just too resilient at that age.  That being said, there might be a scout on the fringe of fit-that issue needs attention. 

    52 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

    Most weekend trips were 15 or 20-milers done as loops.

    "Loops" are by far the most logistically feasible. Do loops.

    52 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

    but it was every man for himself on the trail.  Bring all your own gear and food. 

    Not efficient at all.  Carefully plan food, carefully package food into 2 or 4 person portions, just like Philmont has done for decades. (On the Ranger Staff at Philmont some decades ago, I was told by the head of Philmont's camping commissary that Philmont was the second largest user of dehydrated food behind only the U.S. Army.

    And what works for the U.S. Army, and Philmont should at least be your starting point.

    And that is not to mention stoves, pots, pans, etc. Is every scout bringing a stove, fuel, pots and pans?  Not clear from the post.

    At Philmont, a single stove, fuel bottle or two (be prepared), and a single set of pots serves a crew of 12, and drastically lowers the weight everyone carries.

    If you have not read "The Complete Walker" by Colin Fletcher, then you have No business planning anything backpacking. (I have all 4 versions and have read all of them.)

    Colin cut half the handle off his toothbrush, and the labels off his underwear. To save weight.


     A "backpacking troop" has made a commitment to have minimal and lightweight gear.

    This is EXPENSIVE.

    My one person Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 1 tent cost $326.  At a discount of about $100. Cut over a pound and a half off my prior tent, a North Face Canyonlands (which I loved). The Copper Spur about 1 lb 8 ounces.

    My Marmot down sleeping bag, 900 down, cut about a pound and a half off my prior bag, but cost about $400.

    All of my unit's stoves and fuel bottles I own.  The unit uses them for free.  I simply want to KNOW how those stoves have been used, and I can only do that if I own them, and maintain them.  For two treks at Philmont, 2 MSR Dragonfly stoves, repair kits, fuel bottles, about $540.

    MSR stoves-I only use and recommend the Dragonfly model. Immeasurably more stable than all the other MSR models. More costly.  So, you "blow up" dinner because you have an unstable stove, having saved $20 on the stove purchase. "Hello to Hunger." (In was given an MSR Whisperlite stove once-upon a brief test, I immediately put it on the trash heap.)

    There is some group, name escapes me, motto was something along the lines of "BE PREPARED."

    I own all the water purifier systems for my troop for the same reason. And water purifiers are much more susceptible to failure than stoves.

    BUT, a failed water purifier will make you and the whole crew sick, (maybe deathly so) whereas a failed stove only provides cold macaroni and cheese.

    And, at least for use at Philmont, the commercially available water purifier systems are highly deficient. I designed my own system and it worked fine.

    If you want further information on that, just post here asking.

    I guess, this is enough for now.

    If you have any other questions, just post.


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  12. 52 minutes ago, KublaiKen said:

    My Troop as a youth backpacked on the AT and elsewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We made sure to hike on alternate sides of the mountains each day so that one leg didn't grow longer than the other.

    Oh no! I wrote a whole book, "My Circling Hiking Life." Always ended up where I started…

    • Haha 2
  13. On 2/9/2024 at 2:52 PM, yknot said:

    It can be extremely memorable, but so can a winning sports season. Kids are individuals and if they and their families have to make choices, they should be making them based on the full picture. 

    So, there was this District Executive (male) who was rather "rough around the edges" who came to put on a "Boy Talk" at our Pack's and Troop's feeder school ( with a female District Executive who was, is, and remains (after 30 years) the most impressive professional scouter I have ever met.

    He always seemed a bit short on sincerity-a bit cocky-so I was not too impressed, but, for some reason, I attended the Boy Talk (now, "Everyone Talk?").

    And he said:

    "Scouting is the only youth outdoor program (meaning "sports") 'Where everyone can play all of the time.'"

    And that struck me for its wisdom.

    Sports, driven by coaches seeking records (forgive my generalizing, as I have personal experience, twice, where coaches played every team member and still won championships), but, in my experience, "winning teams" are the one of a dozen or two teams in a league, meaning that the bulk of the participants experience the sense of loss.

    I sat many games on the bench, feeling pretty worthless, having endured all the "wind sprints," and training. Benched along with many others. (And, I SHOULD have been benched, as I was pretty lame, well really worthless.) But then again, no one spent a minute coaching me. (And some few years later, I set an endurance record that may still stand to this day, having been previously written off.)

    The point is that a youth can participate in the Scouting program-their "competition" is essentially their own drive. And some "select out" from the advancement regime, enjoying campouts and camaraderie, others drive through to Eagle.

    And so, the joy and memories of "winning teams" is well-earned, and well-deserved, the purpose of a youth-centered organization is to encourage and uplift the masses.

    One star quarterback does not uplift America. (OK, Tom Brady, but even he is a mere exciting spark in what needs to be a glacial move to change society.)

    20,000 youth finding encouragement does move the needle. Two million moves the needle even more.



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  14. Not sure where this fits, if anywhere, in this topic.

    In my day, just post the last glaciation, patrol leaders and assistant patrol leaders would routinely sign off on skill requirements from Tenderfoot to First Class. Adults also signed off, but at that usually on campouts.  And the patrols in my troop had weekly patrol meetings at the patrol leader's house. We practiced scout skills. None of that now happens in my sons' troop. Troop meetings only, no, that is, NO patrol meetings. Hmmm.

    And having attended nearly every troop meeting and entire campout weekends with my several kids, over 20+ years, in my day, the patrol leaders and assistant patrol leaders actually knew their skills and were competent to make the decision that a scout had mastered (or at least learned the skill to an acceptable degree) a skill and the patrol leader/assistant patrol leader were knowledgeable enough in that skill themselves to be trusted to sign off on a skill for a younger scout.

    And in my day, long before the mammoths had vanished, we had folding, pocket-sized cards for each rank.  Printed on heavy white card stock. A card for each rank, with all that rank's requirements, with a little line where an authorized person could initial that we had completed that requirement.  These little white cards were similar in size to the current merit badge "blue card." Some folded in half, some in three parts for the more senior ranks, having more requirements.

    I never went anywhere without my white card for the next rank I was working on. The beauty of it was that if I came a across a situation where I could demonstrate a needed skill, I had the card-the record- where I could get someone's attention, demonstrate that skill, get signed off, immediately and move on.  (There are the concepts, "praise in public-criticize in private," and "reward immediately upon performance.")

    The advancement white cards did that.

    And for years, when my sons joined their troop, I laboriously re-created those white cards for them and for all the scouts in the troop.  Printed them, cut them to size, creased the fold lines, and wondered "Just why aren't these now available?" (Handbooks, where advancement is now recorded-more profitable???)  Scouts, in my observational experience, just don't bother to take their handbooks anywhere-even to troop meetings. And the handbooks just seem to fall apart in short order. 

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  15. Back in my day the Philmont Ranger Marathon was from "the northern most camp to the southern most camp," being Dan Beard to the Kit Carson Museum at Rayado.  Carson Meadows camp did not exist.  A little over 42 miles. Carrying a 30 pound pack, more or less (water load varies during the run as consumed and refilled). Pretty much meaning carrying a "Ranger Pack," which is what a Ranger would carry taking a crew onto the trail for two days.  It's lighter than the pack a scout or adult would carry. (Insider info:  It's why Rangers always look so relaxed on the trail-don't get short-winded or sweat even in Class A's-they aren't carrying quite that much, well, and of course, they are 20 or so and acclimatized to the altitude.) To my knowledge, the record is under 12 hours.

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  16. 1 hour ago, Jameson76 said:

    While a good plan, just be careful to make sure the challenge and adventure is included.  In the 70's and in the skill award days you could pick from 12 and had to earn 8 for Tfoot - 1st Class.  Only required ones were First Aid and Citizenship.  You could earn Family Living, Community Living, Communications, Environment, Physical Fitness, and Conservation and do minimal outdoor stuff.

    Swimming, Camping, and Cooking merit badge were not Eagle required.  Yes, you could attain Eagle Scout rank and NEVER camp, NEVER build a fire, NEVER hike.

    The of history of Eagle merit badge requirements is rather vague my memory, having earned Eagle about 1965.  At my time there were Eagle required merit badges. The 3 Citizenships, Swimming, Life Saving, Camping, First Aid, Personal Fitness, maybe Safety, Pioneering, and Soil And Water Conservation (I earned Soil…and NEVER would have if it weren't required.) I earned all of those.  And I earned Bird Study. There was no formal Eagle Project in my day, but apparently that was instituted a few short years thereafter.  We did have a service requirement, but I cannot remember what I did.

    The recent merit badge requirement focus, last 10 or 20 years, or so, on paper-work intensive merit badges, or adventure focused merit badges with what seems like ever increasing paper work requirements, appears to me to me to stifle the adventure side of things.

    As a Scouting fossil, I find it unfathomable that one can earn Eagle and not earn Swimming and Life Saving merit badges.

    Camping, cooking, pioneering, first aid, perhaps safety should also be required.

    I have been the lead on a number of Cub Scout weekends sponsored by the District, and I recruited Eagle Scouts as "Den Leaders" for the Cub Scout patrols.  Maybe 8 cub patrols camping for one night, with their parents.  Not a single Eagle Scout could build a fire.

    In my day, as Second Class scouts, we could set up heavy canvas tents in the dark, tying all the knots in the dark-by feel. (Flashlights back then were garbage; batteries no better fading quickly in the cold.) We made our own tent pegs with a hatchet. These are much less "life skills" as confidence builders.

    Granted, I think in my Scouting youth days, there was more focus on scouting skills, than interpersonal relationship issues. And the shift in Scouting toward greater awareness of interpersonal relationship issues is all for the good in my opinion, to a degree.  The balance, in my humble opinion has shifted too far from outdoor skills (and that means outdoor activities are much less emphasized and the "adventure" of Scouting is being lost).

    Scouting needs to teach its principles and instill its lessons in the amphitheater of Nature and not in a classroom.



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