Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Posts posted by clemlaw

  1. We had a scout that burned Ramen...


    The lore in our troop was that we had a patrol that decided it was too much work to go through the difficult process of cooking their Ramen noodles.  So they just ate them raw.  :-)


    In my days as a Scout, we learned that to make the pan easier to clean, you should coat the bottom of the pan with soap.  That's good advice, but after one new scout was a little unclear on the concept, we had to clarify the advice slightly:  You should put the soap on the outside of the pan.


    It turns out that if you cook pork chops in soap, the soap is absorbed, and no amount of scraping will remove it.  Oh well, that's why we have peanut butter in our patrol boxes.  

  2. I did jump through the hoops to re-register, and the Eagle Scout search is now at this site:




    You do need to create an account at that site, but the good news is that it doesn't look like you need to be a NESA member.


    The bad news is that the search now reveals less information than it did previously.  In particular, it does not show the date they became Eagle.  It shows the Region where they got Eagle, but not the Council (although the Council information was often inaccurate, due to mergers over the years.)  It shows the troop number and city of their Eagle troop, although that information is only shown on the search results screen, and not on the profile when you click on a search result.


    The search results used to show a current address, which was often inaccurate, but that now appears only if the person has created an online profile.  Even though it was often wrong, it was helpful, because it would in many cases show the last known address for someone who is long since deceased.


    Since the Eagle Date used to be shown, presumably NESA has this information, so calling them and asking nicely might be the best bet.  But with the online site, you can now at least confirm that someone was an Eagle and which troop they were in.

  3. NESA has a database of all Eagles, and includes their troop number, council, and EBOR date.  (The council always appears to be the modern successor, so might not be accurate).


    Recently, NESA changed how you log into their site to get this information, and I have yet to figure out how to access the site.  As far as I could tell, the information was available only to NESA members.  Again, I'm not sure of the exact status, since I can't get there.  I suspect that if it's a one-time request for information, you could just call NESA and they would be able to tell you.


    Also, Eagle Scouts were listed in Boys' Life in the 1910's, but I'm not sure if that continued into the 1920's.  If your grandfather had an unusual name, then it might be fruitful to search for it at books.google.com.  If he had a common name, then you might need to narrow it down by adding search terms such as "Boys Life" or "Eagle Scout."

  4. Introduction of Candidates?  What Candidate?  This isn't the Order of the Arrow - its a Court of Honor to formally present to an Eagle Scout the awards he's already earned - he isn't a candidate - he's an Eagle Scout.

    I was the candidate.  If you have objections to the terminology, you'll have to take that up with the Mothers' Club of my old troop, which I assume probably printed them.  I'm merely quoting.  And everybody knew who they meant, especially after we were introduced.  :)

    • Upvote 1
  5. I haven't been to one yet in our troop, since we've only had one Eagle since my son started, and I was out of town that day.  But the ceremony is planned, and as far as I can tell, paid for, by the family.  It doesn't seem to be a troop event.  All of the scouts are invited guests, but it doesn't appear that they are expected to attend unless they have a personal connection with that scout (which is likely anyway, since it's a pretty small troop).


    This does strike me as slightly weird for a couple of reasons.  First of all, it seems kind of weird that the family is expected to plan and pay for an event where an honor is being bestowed upon the scout.  I guess if they wanted to have an elaborate reception afterwards, that would be one thing, but it just seems weird that they are in charge of the ceremony itself.


    One of our other ASM's, who is also an Eagle, put his finger on what I think is really wrong.  Every ceremony is apparently different, and it's not really viewed as a "required" troop event.  He pointed out in his experience, and I think this was true for me as well, that a younger scout attending an ECOH can conclude "that can be me someday" when he sees a succession of older scouts going through basically the same ceremony.  And seeing the other Eagles come forward, some of them adults, many wearing old medals, really made an impact on me.  I think this point is kind of lost when Scout Smith has a big bash, Scout Jones has a modest ceremony in a church basement, and he didn't attend Scout Johnson's ceremony at all.


    In our troop, the only connection of that type comes from the fact that the names of the Eagle Scouts are painted on the troop trailer, and we also have a display of all Eagles' names that comes out a regular Court of Honor.  


    The other ASM's son will probably be one of the next to make Eagle, and there will probably be 4 or 5 before my son does, so hopefully we'll be able to lobby to turn them back into troop events.

    • Upvote 1
  6. My ECOH in 1978 included an "Eagle Scout Charge," and according to the program, that was done by the DE.  That was followed by the "Eagle Scout Investiture," which I believe was when the medal was pinned on my uniform.  That was done by the Scoutmaster as well as the guest speaker, who was a minister who I believe was a family friend of the other scout becoming an Eagle that day.


    All Eagles in the audience were called upon to come forward and gave the scout sign, but I believe they gave the Scout Oath and/or Law, although I could be mistaken.  I don't have any recollection of taking any special oath.  The entire program is as follows:


    Opening Ceremony

    Convening Court of Honor


    Introduction of Candidates

    Eagle Scout Requirements

    Introduction of Guest Speaker

    Guest Speaker

    Eagle Scout Charge

    Introduction of Parents

    Eagle Scout Investiture

    Congratulatory Letters

    Presentation of Legion Awards

    Recognition of Parents

    Candidate's Comments

    Closing Court of Honor


    Retiring Colors


    IIRC, the ceremony took about an hour, and was followed by a reception hosted by the troop "Mother's Club".

  7. They whithered away when Councils and Districts, with the wink and nudge of National, started accepting Troop-only Merit Badge Counselors as acceptable practice - once that gate was open, there was no way to stop the practice from becoming Only-Troop Merit Badge Counselors.


    About five years ago, when my son was in Cub Scouts, I decided it would be a good idea to sign up as a merit badge counselor.  There was a training session at University of Scouting, so I went to that.  Nobody told me that there were "troop counselors" now, so I was quite surprised when people asked what troop I was with, and I told them I wasn't with one.  Most of the discussion focused on how they did things in their troop.  Some of them were actually surprised to learn that you didn't have to be connected with a troop.


    None of my merit badges are Eagle required, and so far, I have yet to receive a single call from a scout.  I have done two of them in a "merit badge university" context, but that's only because those two are among the rare ones where I think they can be meaningfully done in a class, and all of the requirements meaningfully completed in one day.  The other 3 or so that I counsel don't fit in that category, and I've declined offers to "teach" a class.


    In our district and council, there is a merit badge counselor list, but it's a closely guarded secret list that can only be looked at on a need to know basis.  In fact, for the first few years, I didn't know for sure which ones I was the counselor for.  Even though I might be qualified for a few more, I thought it would be best to limit myself to just a few.  So on the application, I listed the ones I wanted to counsel, but also listed a few others and let them know they could put me in one of those slots if they needed me.  Since the list was a top secret document, I never found out whether they wanted me for any of those.


    I suspect that there are a lot of people in the community who would be eager to serve as counselors.  One untapped pool is Eagle Scouts.  I suspect most of them would be happy to be a counselor for a badge that relates to their profession or hobbies.  Having them sit through a one hour training course, and then watching the YPT videos at home probably isn't too big a burden if a district put on the sessions at reasonable times.  


    One thing that prospective counselors don't have to worry about is their phone ringing off the hook.  I've received a grand total of zero phone calls from scouts wanting to do a merit badge.  In fact, the district's counselor list is such a closely guarded secret that I suspect that many scoutmasters don't know it exists, or if they do know about it, they use it only as a last resort.  I asked the other MBC's in my troop if they had ever gotten a call, and most of them hadn't.  The only exception was the counselor for Environmental Science, who occasionally gets calls from scouts in other troops who got a partial at summer camp.

  8. In 1986, one of my council's summer camps, Many Point Scout Camp (then known as Many Point Scout Reservation) buried a time capsule on the occasion of its 40th anniversary.  That was unearthed this year and the contents displayed.


    One of the most interesting items were cards filled out by all of the troops attending.  I paged through a few hundred of them and found the one from my old troop, which is now defunct.  It listed all of the leaders and scouts.  Since I had aged out 7 years before, I didn't recognize any of the names, although a couple of the last names looked familiar.  I did know the scoutmaster, whose son came in about the time I was leaving.


    On the back, they were asked to write predictions of what scouting would be like in the 21st century.   I would say that they got most, but not all, right:

    "More troop control from national, council & district leadership as troop leadership may be lacking in many areas."  I would say that's partially correct.
    "Very limited primitive type camping.  Scouts will camp in air conditioned hotels, primitive camping will be like today with tents."  We haven't quite gotten to air conditioned hotels.  The amount of camping today, in my experience, is more than back in the day, but with one caveat.  My troop generally camped four times a year.  In fact, they were normally called "fall camp," "winter camp," "spring camp," and "summer camp."  Most troops today at least try to do it once a month.  But the difference is that today, it seems to be more of an a la carte proposition.  In my old troop, most of the scouts went on all of the campouts, unless they had some particular reason to miss it.  Today, it seems like while there might be about 12 campouts to choose from, most scouts don't seem to make it to more than about 4.
    And while there might be a few "air conditioned hotel" opportunities that didn't exist back then, I'm seeing more of what I would consider to be primitive camping.  Most of our campouts back then were essentially car camping.  We had a few that were backpacking or canoe trips, but most  involved lugging patrol boxes around.  Very few troops had troop trailers, but that was probably just because cars had bigger trunks.  On the few occasions when we needed a trailer, we would rent a U-Haul.  It probably seems like we do more "car camping" because we all have trailers to haul the stuff, and we can do it more often.  But in my experience, I would say that there's a bit more "primitive" camping today than there was back then.
    The prediction for uniforms wasn't too far off:  "Uniform of knits, tee shirts & nylon long pants with choice of colors."  I had never heard the term "Class B" until I got back into scouting a few years ago.  While a few troops might have had a "troop tee shirt," it was just an optional piece of clothing, and nobody would dream of calling it a "uniform."  But today, the "Class B uniform" is a tee shirt with choice of colors, so I would say he nailed that!


    • Upvote 1
  9. At my blog today, I have some stories of Boy Scouts who served as civilian defense volunteers during the Second World War.  I started out planning a short piece, but I got sidetracked by some of the stories of British Scouts who served their country during the war.



    In particular, I have the story of Derrick Belfall, a 14 year old scout from Bristol, England, who served as a civil defense messenger.  During an air raid on December 2, 1940, he was sent with a message, which he delivered.  On his return to his post, he passed a house that had caught fire, and he stopped to fight the fire.  When the homeowner took over, he continued on his way, but heard cries for help.  He entered another house where he rescued an injured baby.


    With the air raid still underway, he continued back to his post, but was injured in an explosion.  He was taken to the hospital, where he died of his injuries.  His final words at the hospital were, "Messenger Belfall reporting.  I have delivered my message."


    I have more details and photos at:



  10. I was under the impression that it was required, but I really don't know for sure. It's listed on my scouting.org training as follows:




    [TD]Merit Badge Counselor Orientation[/TD]





    It was basically just a one-hour overview of the Merit Badge process, and was given as a session at our council's University of Scouting. Since I thought it was required, I took it.


    It does make sense that it shouldn't be required, though. Or if it is, there really ought to be an online version available. In my opinion, the Merit Badge program works best if most of the counselors are "outside experts" in some field, and those people could very well not be connected with scouting in any other way. So asking them to come to some kind of BSA training event is probably asking a bit much. Someone sitting down with them for a half hour and explaining how the merit badge program works is really all that's required.

  11. IMHO, it's more an issue of "a Scout is courteous" more than one of "a Scout is reverent." If a unit consisting of Jewish Scouts wants to have an activity on Christmas, I think that would be wonderful. On the other hand, if there were one or more Christian members, it would probably be best to avoid that date.


    Similarly, in a unit made up mostly of Christians, it would be best to avoid scheduling events on Jewish holy days if there are any Jewish members (or potential members, if it's scheduled far in advance).

  12. It turns out that the occasional objection that Boy Scouts are being "trained as soldiers" is nothing new. A hundred years ago today, an editorial to that effect appeared in a Tacoma newspaper. I have the full article at my blog:




    Interestingly, one thing I didn't know was that (at least according to this author), the "Boy Scout movement has been opposed by members of union labor in almost all countries where it has been organized." It never occurred to me that Scouting might be "anti-labor", but at least this guy seemed to think so.

  13. I was there for a week as staff, and my overall impression would be "some things sucked, but mostly nice stuff". :D Actually, I went there with the expectation that something big would go wrong, and I was actually a little disappointed that it didn't. There did seem to be some glitches, such as the understaffed zip lines. But overall, I didn't see any major disasters. Again, I was expecting some major catastrophe (along the lines of, "oops, we forgot to order any food") but it never happened.


    I only saw a couple of casts on Scouts, and I assumed that most of them had arrived that way. There was a very well staffed medical area, which is to be expected if you have 40,000 kids engaging in outdoor activities. One of my tentmates had to see the dentist, and he reported that the dentist was very busy fixing kids' braces. There was an air ambulance on standby the whole time, and I only saw it take off once.


    My biggest complaint was the amount of walking involved. Because it was billed (rightly so) as being very strenuous, that kept a lot of volunteers away. Either they were flat out forbidden from going or, they just decided to stay home because it sounded too strenuous. (I was almost in that group myself.) I was there the second week, and on my second day there, they quietly started running buses for staff. I took full advantage of the buses, and I suspect I would have had a very different view of things if they hadn't brought them in. But more importantly, if the buses had been planned from the very beginning, I suspect that there would have been a lot more volunteers. Once the buses started running, there were still a few somewhat strenuous walks involved, but most of the potential volunteers who stayed home would have been able to participate. Obviously, some staff needs to be physically fit to do their job. But most of them don't have to be, and if you can get competent staff there on the bus to fill those positions, I don't see why the BSA rejected this option.


    In fact, I think there would be something to be said for having buses for the Scouts as well. I think just about any scout, even one who was not in very good shape, would have been able to handle the hikes. But as noted above, there was also a serious time factor. Things were very spread out, and it could easily be an hour hike from one activity to another. And that would really limit the number of things that a Scout could do, especially if they also had to wait in line. Having a bus route that ran in a circle wouldn't give them door-to-door service, but it would really cut down on the transit time.


    I did get an e-mail asking me to provide feedback, and my main comment was that if there are buses, I'll probably be back in 2017. If there aren't buses, I probably won't be. Most of the buses seemed to be from local school districts, which seemed like a win-win situation. They were probably reasonably priced, and I'm sure the school districts could use the extra revenue. There were also deluxe air-conditioned motor coaches in use, but I was just as happy to see an old school bus, as long as it could get me up and down the hills.


    I really can't think of any major complaints. I didn't take one second longer than I needed to take a shower, but the cold water wasn't a deal breaker. If it was for others, that would be relatively easy to remedy. The restroom buildings did have power, so an on-demand electric heater could easily be added to the lines feeding the showers, to at least get them up to room temperature. I saw quite a few people who had lugged in a solar shower from home, since they were sitting next to many tents soaking up the sun. But I don't recall seeing anyone actually getting ready to use one. If I had been in charge of the food service, I probably would have done a few things differently, but I don't have any real complaints.


    I'm sure I could think of a bunch of nitpicks. Let's see--the drains on the sinks in the restrooms were poorly designed and didn't drain properly. The tent that I was working in really should have had a floor. It would have been nice if they had a few more spots to recharge electronics. I'm guessing they'll have most of those bugs worked out in time for the next event. Even if they don't, I'll probably be back, as long as there's a bus. :D

  14. The quantity of the lunches was actually OK. I had one or two items left over every day, so I had a small collection of snacks to eat on the way home. However, it did seem somewhat unsatisfying to have it be all "snack" items. I think it would have been more satisfying if at least one item was of a larger size, such as a sandwich.


    I solved the problem by taking one or two extra items at breakfast. I know some people took fruit, but I took some slices of bread or a bagel, and I was able to turn one of the lunch items into a "sandwich". Beef sticks between two slices of bread seemed more like "lunch" than just eating the beef sticks.


    I was disappointed that the drink mixes were zero-calorie diet drinks. I normally don't drink such things, and I would have much preferred a drink mix with actual food value, even if it was just (sugared) Kool-Aid or Tang.

  15. I'm a counselor for Scouting Heritage. I'm not connected with any particular troop--I'm just on the Council list waiting for the phone to ring, which hasn't happened yet. :D I did do it at a "Merit Badge University" type event, and I was quite disappointed that most of the scouts (despite be instructed to do so) didn't really bother to read the merit badge pamphlet, or even the requirements. To encourage them to do so if I do it again, I made the following web page which outlines my expectations, and has some ideas about sources of information:



  16. I'm now able to answer my own question. Since I'm on the staff for the second week (starting Thursday), I asked the staff that's already there. I only have to carry my stuff a couple of hundred yards. Since I already decided to leave my rock collection at home, I should be able to handle that. I was afraid that the answer was going to be in terms of miles rather than yards. :-)


    I'm probably the only person here who was the parent of an actual Lion in the Northern Star Council. We did Lions with another Pack and then had to change Packs due to a meeting night conflict.


    The main advantage of the program is that you get them signed up when they are young. Some other activities start in Kindergarten, and if you don't get them then, they might be booked. For us, the program worked out really well, and to a large extent, our Pack is doing it based on my son's experiences and what worked well for him.


    What I have encouraged is for the Lions to take part in as many Pack activities as possible, and not worry too much about trying to have den meetings or activities. The Pack where my son was a Lion did have den meetings. But despite valiant efforts by the leaders, the den meetings weren't really a big hit. They did things like have stories, do crafts, take a short hike, etc. The same activities really could have been done just as well at home, though. I think he had fun, but I don't know if it was really worth an hour of our time.


    On the other hand, he absolutely LOVED the Pack activities that he participated in. He made (probably with more help than older Cub Scouts) a Pinewood Derby car, raingutter regatta boat, etc. We went to council day camp activities, and he was able to participate in almost all of the activities the older Cub Scouts did. He absolutely loved all of those activities, and the only complaint that I remember was that he didn't get a real Cub Scout uniform. I don't think any of the Lions dragged the program down at all for the older Cub Scouts. He wasn't able to participate in everything, which was fine. When the other Lions couldn't take part, myself and the other parents kept them occupied with something else.


    The real advantage was that by the time he became a Tiger, he was already gung ho about being a Cub Scout. I think this was because he got a chance to soak in all of the activities that the older Cub Scouts were enjoying. We're following the same approach in our current Pack. We've had about 2 or 3 Lions per year. We just let them and their parents decide a la carte what they want to participate in, and some have been more active than others. I think we've retained all of them. The main advantage is that we didn't lose them to other activities that started in Kindergarten.


    A few days ago, we were at a park where some workers were repairing something. My son, who just became a Webelos was disappointed, because he wanted to do that job for his Eagle project. :-)


    If it's done right (in other words, not exactly the way that it's being promoted by the Council), I think it's an excellent introduction to the program. It's not necessarily for every Kindergartener, but for a lot of kids, it will really make them excited about scouting.

  18. I might leave the rock collection at home, and I'll probably bring some extra underwear either way. But I'm also wondering about the chair. If the bus drops me off at the front door of my tent, then I'll probably bring it. But if I have to carry it a mile (uphill both ways, I'm told), I don't mind sitting on the ground. :-)

  19. I'll be working the second week at the Summit Center (K2BSA amateur radio), and I believe I'll be housed in Camp Echo. Apparently, that's a 45 minute hike. With all of the various warnings about needing to be in shape, I assumed that I would have a long hike from the bus when I get there to my camp. Therefore, my general plan was to pack light.


    But last week, I got an e-mail warning people who use CPAP machines that they should bring extra batteries. Apparently, that went to everyone, because it doesn't apply to me. At first, I was thinking that it's probably not a good idea to expect a CPAP user to make a 45 minute hike carrying a couple of car batteries. So I'm thinking that the bus will probably take me closer to where my duffel bag needs to go. If that's the case, then I can probably bring along a few more luxury items.


    So does anyone have any knowledge of where the bus will drop us off? I asked the leader of my group, and he assumed it would take me right to my camp, but he wasn't sure. Should I bring my rock collection with me, or leave it at home and cut my toothbrush in half?

  20. I'll be on staff the second week, so I guess I'll never find out who Carly Rae Jepsen is. But I guess this will be my big chance to see Train.


    Bob Hope was at the 1973 Jamboree (at least in Idaho, which is the one I attended). I remember being a little bit surprised, since he was already what I considered to be "very old" at the time. But he was a big hit with the rest of the scouts in my troop.


    The only thing I remember about the actual show was that there was a stern warning the flash photography was not allowed. When the show started, flashes were going off everywhere. I suspect this was a Jamboree urban legend, but I heard reports that people were working the audience handing out free flash cubes in order to add to the spectacle.

  • Create New...