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  1. OK, I'll be the goat. I actually prefer to bring instant coffee on back packing trips. Being a retired MGySgt, I learned early in the Marines to strip down the load and carry the essentials. No coffee maker, no sugar, no cream...just instant coffee, a canteen cup, and heat tabs. I use a stove instead of heat tabs now, but the principal is the same. I do have a little cylinder thing for making drip coffee by the cup that doesn't add a lot of weight, but the instant is a lot more convenient and the gadget doesn't make the coffee noticeably better.
  2. Gateways not only teach scout skills and build teams, they are also great public relations tools. I have a hard time understanding the LNT concerns. It's "LEAVE no trace", not "have absolutely no indication of your presence." As long as the gateways are staked out and not dug in, I don't see how they will leave a trace when they are removed. Besides, these are rarely erected in the back country where they will have a negative aesthetic impact. Gateways are most commonly used in developed campgrounds.
  3. Just watch the bulb on top. When the color looks right, perk another minute of two and it's ready. The color always seems to get right before it's strong enough.
  4. Dan, Yeah, she's pretty good to have around. She'll dig out answers get ideas to help me out. The old SM stepped down because he's too busy with work and intends to go back to college for another degree.
  5. Hi Scouts and Scouters, the "new" scoutmaster in question chiming in. First, it's probably best to explain I'm the new scoutmaster for the troop, but have been a scouter since 89 and SM in two other troops in the past. Being military, I move around a lot. The basic issue here is I am changing a program that the old scoutmaster was running, and there is a natural resistance on his part. No one likes to see their programs change. The former SM was extremely well organized and had a handle on everything. In essence, he was the SPL, SM, CC, fundraiser chair, and quartermaster (boy position, not equipment coordinator). The phrase "Third Year Webelos Program" is frequently used in the District when referring to our troop. I'm trying to change that. I had the boys set the calendar for the troop, broke the meetings to patrol instead of one big group, put them in uniform (encouraged), am training the PLC to run things, got them out of public camp grounds (handed them a map with camping areas that aren't public campgrounds marked and asked them to find some places they want to go), got packs on their backs, and, probably most importantly, got rid of the 40 minute merit badge session that was scheduled inside every meeting. I'm also trying to get the Troop Master data files out to the SAs and CMs. Most will be read only, but the program is designed to put out 8 different satellite modules that cover different committee functions. The only module I want control of is activities, but to get it out I need to get it away from what I consider to be a control freak first. I'm also trying to get the adults in the troop trained so they will learn what the program is. In essence, I'm trying to use the methods of scouting to produce leaders and good citizens rather than generate 6 Eagle Scouts a year. Sure, it's going to get a little ugly and have a lot of pimples, but when's the last time you looked at a 16 year-old boy. Pimples are part of the program :-) The boys seem to be responding well, and as they get more pumped up, the parents are beginning to follow.
  6. Back to the sheath knives......... I carry a pocket knife when scouting, and have gotten used to councils prohibiting sheath knives, but I prefer a small sheath knife. My personal preference is a skinning knife, it's small and sturdy. Sheath knives on the whole are sturdier, accessible when you have one hand occupied, have finger guards to prevent your hand from slipping onto the blade, and won't accidentally fold on your hand. On the whole, I feel they are much safer than pocket knives, especially the cheap knives most of the younger scouts seem to carry. I agree with earlier post, it's a matter of PC, not safety or utility. YIS, JJ
  7. Ah, the dreaded basic skills, or perhaps it's best to call them the survival skills. Face it folks, technology has changed the basic skills a boy needs to learn for today's outdoor adventures and life in general. I have copies of my brother's 5th edition (1948), my 7th edition (copyright date withheld to protect the aging), and the current 11th edition (1998) of the Handbook for Boys, and a quick scan of them makes that point pretty apparent. (a very good handbook history sight is http://www.troop97.net/bshb1.htm). Technology aside, I have to admit my old handbook and pioneering merit badge book were probably the two most useful books I brought with me to the first gulf war. Why? Because technology fails and what we are calling the basic skills become crucial when you are in the wilderness when it does. So how do we get the boys to retain the skills for if and when they might need them? One way we did it was by not buying framed rain flies, tables, chairs, and other high tech comfort items for our troop. Instead, we bought closet dowels of varying lengths, metal tent poles, thin rail fence rails (not the split variety), and lots of ropes. We loaded this on our trailer when we went out, so no matter where we were camping we had the basic materials to do pioneering projects. Need a table?, lash it. Want to sit down?, make a chair. Want to make sure the boys do it?, break out the pioneering merit badge book and make your own projects in the adult area. Our boys "learned the ropes" so well, they designed and built a pioneering playground for the scout show one year. I recommend having a local welder make some free standing fire pits as well. Cooking on stoves is here to stay, but knowing how to build a fire and cook on it is pretty important and not as basic as it may seem. Of course, if you're backpacking in, you won't be bringing all these things. I promise you the boys will use materials found on sight and walking sticks to make the basic stuff if they get used to making projects every time they go camping at a drive in sight. On top of learning and retaining the skills, you'll find participation in camping trips will normally increase as well. To paraphrase an old movie: if they build it, they will come.
  8. US Marine for the last 24 years, thinking I might make a career out of it. Probably going to teach elementary or special ed when I decide to retire.
  9. I was in a troop once that had an adult patrol called the Middle Agers. The flag had two crowns and a jester's hat in the center for the SM and two SAs, and knights' helmets on the border for the committee. We did this to spark scout spirit among the boys by our example. There was a dual meaning to the name, and the true meaning came out in our yell. We would bend at the waist with one hand toward the ground, the other on the small of the back. We would then let out a loud groan as we stood up straight.
  10. Doesn't the adult application say the scoutmaster has to be approved by the COR? I could be wrong, I can't find a blank application around the house. Even if it doesn't, I like the idea of interviewing. I had to submit a resume one time to the minister of the church that sponsored our troop and then interview with him. He had been involved in scouting as a youth and wanted to insure the new scout master would serve as an example of the Scout Law. I had no problem interviewing, even though I was the only candidate for the position. It set the minister's mind at ease and let me know the charter organization strongly supported the scouting program.
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