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Posts posted by clemlaw

  1. Our council has (or had, anyway) an event called Wali-Ga-Zu, which is a competition between patrols in different troops in various scout skills, such as lashing something together, first aid (adults from another troop serve as victim), knot tying, etc.  There are a number of "academic" parts, such as identifying map symbols.  Each year, one different subject is added, and troops are given that information beforehand to identify on flashcards.  One year it will be constellations, one year it will be leaf identification, etc.  I believe there are about eight events that they rotate through, and they are scored by adults from other troops.   It's a little bit like Klondike Derby, but it's an indoor event on a weeknight.  For many troops, I'm guessing it takes the place of their regular troop meeting that week.

    Surprisingly, I can find very little about it on Google.  There were documents about it online on the district website, but since districts have been shuffled around, those resources don't seem to exist.  I did find these photos on some troop's Facebook page which give an idea:


    I have no idea why it's called what it is, or what that name means.  But it's been a longstanding tradition in one district, and seems popular.  

    • Like 1
  2. I agree with you 100%.  When I was a Scout, probably about half my merit badges were done through someone in the troop or at camp, which makes sense for ones like camping, cooking, etc.  But the other half were with a counselor who had no apparent connection to scouting, and making a phone call to an adult to set up an appointment was an important skill.  And there probably wasn't anyone in the troop qualified to counsel Atomic Energy, Coin Collecting, or a few of the other arcane ones I earned.

     I'm a counselor for Law merit badge, and if a scout wanted to earn that one (and I've been waiting next to the phone for years), when he met with me, I'd be dressed like a lawyer and not a scouter.

    But I'm also a counselor for Signs Signals & Codes and Radio Merit Badges, and those are often done as a scheduled session with a local scouting museum.  Even though I'm not a fan of "classes," and I try to avoid that word, both of them can be meaningfully completed in one day in a group setting.  And when I'm leading such a group, the uniform seems appropriate.  

    • Upvote 3
  3. Until about 7 days ago, I was registered as ASM of my son's troop.  But he'll be aging out this year, I haven't been very active for the last year, and it didn't make a lot of sense to renew.  So as of September 1, I no longer have any troop position.

    My registration as merit badge counselor, however, remains, and there are a few occasions when wearing a uniform would be appropriate.  So if there are any members of the merit badge police, here's my plan:

    I'll remove the troop number and ASM patch.  Since MBC is a district position, I'll replace the shoulder loops with silver.

    Any other suggestions?


  4. 37 minutes ago, TMSM said:

    Citizenship of nation - assumes you have been to a place registered as National Historic or to DC/state capitol (we are not allowing virtual tours) 

    In my area, there are hundreds of places that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, so almost 100% of Scouts will have been to one recently.  Some are pretty mundane, such as bridges, park buildings, libraries, etc.  Normally, I would ask a Scout to just go see a new one for purposes of the merit badge, but under these circumstances, they could pick one out that they've been to recently and find out more information.  So that takes care of requirement 2(a).  Requirement 2(d) (national monuments) specifically does not require a personal visit, so that can be done online, even in normal circumstances.

    At my website, I have online resources for Citizenship in the Nation, so feel free to use that if you think it's helpful.  Some of my links are only relevant locally, but most will be helpful anywhere.  (I noticed I haven't updated it for a while, so I need to change our members of Congress.)


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  5. I posted above about making masks for hospitals.  For those of us (like me) who don't know how to use a sewing machine, I noticed that one local group was asking for volunteers to help by doing the prep work, such as cutting the fabric.  

    Also, if you have any elastic or fabric left over from your Cub Scout craft projects, they can probably use it.  My wife's Girl Scout group is in kind of a holding pattern as they wait to get the elastic that someone ordered.

    So if any Scouts are looking for a service opportunity, I would encourage them to check the websites of local hospitals and see if they are soliciting masks.  Even if they can't sew, they could reach out (on Facebook, NextDoor, etc.) to see if those groups need any help.  

    • Upvote 1
  6. I don't like the idea of "classes" or "teaching" merit badges, but I think I could meaningfully counsel all of the requirements for Citizenship in the Nation or Scouting Heritage.

    Citizenship in the Nation requires at least one in-person visit to a historic place.  But the list of possible sites is so broad that, chances are, the scout has visited on recently.  Under normal circumstances, I would ask them to go to a new one, but I think it would be OK.  Also, many of those are outdoor spots, so if their family is OK with it, they could do that requirement.  Or maybe that's the one requirement that would have to wait.

    Scouting Heritage requires scouts to play a game with a group of scouts.  But a creative scout should be able to figure out some game that could be adapted to play online.  The other requirements, such as interviewing old scouts, can be done by phone or online.

    I posted this idea on a district facebook page, and there didn't seem to be any interest.  It would take some work on my part to set up online sessions, and I would need some help.  (At the very least, I would need another adult to attend any webinar for two-deep purposes).

  7. Some of our local hospitals are asking for people to make surgical masks.  They're providing detailed instructions.  I don't qualify, because I would probably hurt myself if I tried to use a sewing machine.  But if any of your scouts can sew, this would be a real way to help.  My wife's girl scout group will probably start on this (in their own homes, of course) very soon.

  8. On 1/15/2020 at 9:29 AM, perdidochas said:

    I don't see the big deal.  When I signed up as a district level MBC and did it for about 5 years, I had two Scouts from outside of my troop request for my services as a MBC. 

    You have me beat by 2.  🙂  I've asked other counselors whether their phone has ever rung from a scout outside their unit, and the answer is almost always no.  The exception was someone who counseled a required badge that generated a lot of partials at summer camp.  He said he got calls occasionally for that one.

  9. On 10/21/2019 at 11:35 PM, karunamom3 said:

    and 4 begin pioneering

    Hmmm.  That sounds like a good way to get a free tower.  🙂

    We did JOTA at the North Star Scouting Museum in Minnesota, http://www.nssm.org as K0BSA.  The management of the museum has recently undergone some changes, and I think that's why the program didn't get very well publicized this year, so the turnout was very low.  On a positive note, though, we have a permanent antenna at the museum now, which should streamline future JOTA's and other events.

    In previous years, I've counseled Radio merit badge.  This year, for a change of pace, I decided to do Signs, Signals, and Codes, instead.  Six scouts completed it, including two girls, the first girls I've signed a blue card for.  They all did very well on both Morse Code and Semaphore.  

    73, W0IS

    • Upvote 2
  10. On 6/11/2018 at 8:59 PM, qwazse said:

    Bonus points: find someone who was in the pack 75 years ago. See if he's in a position to pay a visit.

    I forget which requirement it was for, but when I was a Tiger Cub leader, I had a Cub Scout from 1941 visit the meeting.  He wasn't from the same pack, but it was still a big hit with the kids.  And later, when chatting with someone at Roundtable, I learned that he had been a member of the pack, and I'm sure he would have been happy to come back and tell about what it was like back in the day. 

    For a Boy Scout troop, I would encourage one or more of the scouts to work on Scouting Heritage Merit Badge.  One of the requirements is to prepare a history of the unit, and this would be a good time to do it.

    • Upvote 2
  11. I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned three important points:

    1.  If any scouts are working on Wilderness Survival MB, they should head over to the health tent and pick up some of the free emergency water storage containers.

    2.  In accordance with the G2SS, I hope someone reminds the scouts that they should not attempt to use these as water balloons and throw them at other people.

    3.  In accordance with Leave No Trace principles, if any scouts violate #2, they should be reminded to thoroughly clean up all residue after the water balloon fight.

  12. Our local GSUSA council just sent out a broadcast e-mail, which is also on their website:


    Among the allegations:



    A school district representative in our area reported that a Boy Scout volunteer told them that Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are merging.

    A Boy Scout volunteer in our region asked a Girl Scouts River Valleys volunteer to help create programming for girls who join Boy Scouts.

    We heard a rumor from a concerned member that "Girl Scouts River Valleys are in dire financial straits and are practically being forced to merge with the Boy Scouts."


    I suspect that #1, if it happened, was the result of the school employee misunderstanding some correct information that was provided.  Rumor #3 doesn't make any sense, since there's no mechanism for a local council of the GSUSA to "merge" with the BSA.

    And I suspect that #2 is absolutely true.  Some BSA volunteer asked some GSUSA volunteer to help create a good youth program.  Last year, I (a BSA volunteer) was asked to help a GSUSA volunteer create programming.  Not only was I asked, but I was happy to do so, and I did.  If I do say so myself, it was very good programming, and I think the girls enjoyed it.   The GSUSA did absolutely nothing wrong in asking me to do this.  And the BSA did absolutely nothing wrong if some volunteer made a similar friendly request.


  13. I didn't get all of the details, and it sounds like they were short on details.

    But when my wife got back from Girl Scout® roundtable (it's not called that, but you get the idea), she was told that they were "not allowed to do anything with the Boy Scouts."

    The ostensible reason for this was that some Boy Scout literature somewhere used GSUSA®  logos or names or something without permission.  Supposedly because the Boy Scouts did this, it suddenly became impossible for any GSUSA® unit anywhere in the country to "do anything with" the Boy Scouts.  The exact reason for this impossibility was not explained.

    My wife pointed out that if they aren't present when the Boy Scouts do recruiting, then this will be counterproductive to the GSUSA®.   But it's still impossible.

    So the distinct impression that I got was that they are not happy with the Boy Scouts, and to express this displeasure, they want to make sure that the Boy Scouts don't even dream of using anything that's even remotely their intellectual property. 

    I think the takeaway from this is that we should be careful not to do things like quote famous Girl Scout® leaders.  And if we do, they won't be able to "do anything with" us.

    • Sad 2
  14. Here I am in my youth uniform, which I wore to my scoutmaster's 95th birthday party a few years ago (I'm on the left--he's the handsome guy who is seated).

    Before I get any compliments about being able to fit into my youth uniform, it is a pretty tight fit, I actually got it before my Eagle Court of Honor at age 17-1/2, and I was a bit overweight at the time.

    I wear this uniform occasionally to show off my bona fides as an old timer.  It has my 1973 Jamboree patch.  In this picture, I'm also wearing the neckerchief from our council contingent at that jamboree, a vintage neckerchief slide from our council summer camp made of genuine plastic, and a temporary patch from one of our council camps with the council's pre-merger name.  I think everything else was current for my position at the time.


    • Upvote 1
  15. You would have to pay for full access, but this newspaper page seems to talk about the 1963 running:


    The Google link contains the following snippet:  "21 Scout Teams Race for Winona RED WING, Minn. - A total of 21 Explorer Boy Scout teams, including three from Winona, departed from here at 1:30 Ihis afternoon in the ninth annual 65-mile canoe derby down the Mississippi River to ."

    Here's more of the text from the page:  "21 Scout Teams Race for Winona RED WING, Minn. - A total of 21 Explorer Boy Scout teams, including three from Winona, departed from here at 1:30 Ihis afternoon in the ninth annual 65-mile canoe derby down the Mississippi River to .Winona. The four-man teams are divided into two divisions -- Class A anil Class B. Class A teams consist of Scouts 16 and 17; Class B, 14 and 15. WINONA teams include Post 6, sponsored by Central Methodist Church Men's Club; Troop 11 sponsored by the Cathedral Holy Name Society, and Troop n, sponsored by Knights of Columbus 639. Members of the Post 6 team entered in Class A competition include Gary Schooling. Gary Mahlke, Terry Konipp and D'on Ah- rams. Members of Troop 11 (earn, also in Class A, are Daniel Nixon, Donald Dennis, Craig Zeches and mercial Club. The Class B learn includes John Tidball, Terry Kroening, Jerry Odermann and Matt Odermann ,h: The Class A team consists of Dan Standinger, Richard Deming, Dennis Jacobs and Wayne Bartz Other communities with teams competing are Austin, Rochester, Reel Wing, Pine Island and Zu- brota. THE TEAMS will step at Camp Hok-Si-La near Lake City tonight and will start the second clay of racing from that spot Saturday". By Saturday afternoon the t e a m s should reach the Minneiska pool, near the Whitman Dam, S3 miles from here. The teams will depart from "


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  16. I would recommend having the scout ask at his school, place of worship, etc., whether they need any of those things done.


    And if they need one more, have them go down to the local thrift store, buy a framed picture, and reinforce the frame.  Then, hang it on the wall, or just donate it back.  While they're there, they can look for any broken objects made of glass, china or pottery.  As a last resort, find one and break it!

  17. Yes, Requirement 2 shouldn't be too difficult, no matter where the Scout happens to be.  IIRC, the "fedreral facility" requires a "tour," so just going to the post office and buying a stamp probably wouldn't qualify.  But if the postmaster is willing to show them around, then it's probably OK.


    The "national monument" (requirement 2d) doesn't require a personal visit, so they only need to actually visit one location.  The easiest, at least where I live, is the "historic landmark" category, since there are over a hundred in one county.  They include a number of bridges, so just walking over the bridge would qualify, although I'd probably recommend something a little more interesting.  But if the Scout is into bridges, then I'd say go for it!

  18. At my website, I have some information for scouts working on Citizenship in the Nation:




    I have explanations of my expectations for the requirements, and also some resources for working on it.  I have information on local sites that can be used for requirement 2 (historic sites).  Obviously, most of those are only relevant in my area.


    I'll probably tweak this after I've counseled the merit badge a few times, but if anyone finds it useful, feel free to make use of it.  And, of course, constructive criticism is always welcome.

  19.  A boy can swim only if he's in a pool and can wear ear plugs, goggles and nose pinches?  Does that really make him a swimmer?  What happens when the catamaran tips over in the lake and he gets dumped?  


    The original question wasn't about the swimmer test.  It was about the beginner's test.  And if I recall correctly, I don't think the beginner's test gives him any more boating privileges than if he were a non-swimmer.


    Personally, I think that any kind of a mask is a hindrance to swimming.  But if some kid thinks he needs a mask to take the test to advance to "beginner," then I wouldn't worry about it too much.  Learning to swim is the most important thing, and he's going to be able to do that only after he becomes a beginner.  Whether or not he advances past Tenderfoot, at some point in his life, he's going to be on a boat, walk on a dock, or be in some position where he might unexpectedly find himself in the water.  And the way that scouting will help him is by teaching him how to swim.  


    As a practical matter, the BSA beginner test means that he'll be able to go out in 3 feet of water, rather than water up to his knees with the non-swimmers.  And he'll have a lot more opportunities to learn how to swim if he has access to the 3 foot deep water.  Again, I would encourage him to take off the goggles.  But if that's what it takes to get him out in the 3-foot section, then I would make it happen.


    (I should add that at our council camps, the staff are very zealous that to go into the "beginner" section, you're not allowed to touch the rope, and you have to get your head wet and swim under the rope.  They won't even let old codgers like me get away with lifting the rope.  So if he's going to make use of his new "beginner" privileges, he's going to have to get his head wet anyway, which means that the problem is self-correcting.  After a couple of times of putting on his mask just to go under the rope, he'll discover that it's a lot easier just to hold his breath and do it.)

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