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Win a Scout Ring
Joy Jewelers
Someone's going to win a Scout ring from Joy Jewelers in 5 days - why not you?
In March, April, and May, the Boy Scout Trail monthly give-away includes a custom ring, valued at $250! All you need to do is enter your email address on my Contest page for a chance to win.

Even if you don't win, you really should check out the Joy Jewelers scout rings - especially if you know someone looking for a unique scouting recognition item. They also have rings for Wood Badge, Sea Scouts, and Venturers - all of which can be customized.

Enter once per month to maximize your chances at winning - and make sure you enter your address correctly or your winning notification will be lost in cyberspace forever. And, we certainly don't want to add to all that cyberjunk out there.
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Posted: 14:36 03-26-2014 1082
Changes On the Way
2015 Cub Scout Changes
There have been a lot of comments on my Belt Loops page about the proposed 2015 cancellation of that part of the Cub Scout program.

The Academics & Sports program going away is just one of the changes we'll see next year. Change, even change for the better, causes a disruption in our routine. Many of us are comfortable doing things the way we've always done it - even if that way is not the best way. Routine is comfortable.

So, as you probably guessed, most comments do not favor the change. But, in 2016 or 2017, whatever the "new" program is will be "the way we've always done it". We'll get used to the changes and deliver the program, and my expectation is that the changes will be an improvement.

The retirement of Academics & Sports is just one of a big handful of proposed changes. Next year will see some relevant updates to the Cub Scouts, and 2016 will see the Boy Scouts changing.
Some updates to look for:

There's more. Check out this PDF for the most "official" info from Dec. 2013.
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Posted: 7:27 03-20-2014 1081
Healthy Scouts, Strong Scouts
ScoutStrong Patch

Does your Scouting unit include healthy drink, snacks, and activity in all its meetings? It's easy to do, but often lacking. Regular physical activity and healthy eating are two areas for improvement in most Scouting units, in order to advance that "physically strong" part of our oath.

So, the BSA has started a simple 3 step program to help units moving in the right direction. All you need to do is: Drink Right, Move Move, and Snack Smart. If your scouts are motivated by patches, they can all receive a free one if your unit tracks its efforts.

This new Healthy Unit program is aligned with the ScoutStrong program. I blogged about the ScoutStrong program 2 years ago.

Download this PDF file with all the details about getting your unit on a healthy path and receiving free patches for your effort.
HealthyKidsHub has more info and ideas you can use.
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Posted: 13:23 03-18-2014 1080
FL Patch Traders?

A Cub Leader in England left me a message. Tracey will be visiting Orlando, FL (I wonder what's there to visit? :-) ) in April. She has asked if any Scout Leaders in the area would like to swap patches and badges during her visit.

If you are interested, please email Tracey at:
straceydor @ A O L . c o m

Sounds like an opportunity to chat about international scouting and demonstrate BSA hospitality for any of you way down south.

Scout On
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Posted: 10:33 02-28-2014 1079
$30K Art Scholarship
art merit badge
As winter drags on, the snow keeps falling, and temperatures refuse to climb, it's a great time for scouts to tackle the Art merit badge.

I just found Doodle 4 google which might be a nice bit of motivation for some scouts to try their hand at Art. A $30,000 college scholarship and $50,000 grant for his school will be awarded to some young K-12 artist that submits the winning doodle.
The theme for the competition is: If I Could Invent One Thing to Make the World a Better Place... - the enthusiastic scout might also use this work towards the Inventing merit badge!

Entries need to be complete before March 20.

Scout On
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Posted: 8:30 02-21-2014 1078
LNT Master Educator Course

How would you like to camp in Moab, Utah for a week in September?

The Utah National Parks Council is sponsoring a Leave No Trace Master Educator (LNT ME) course with 5 focus options - Frontcountry, Mountain Biking, Backpacking, Rafting, and Horseriding - from Sept. 15 to Sept. 20 at the Entrada High Adventure Base.

This is an opportunity for you to expand your LNT abilities and become authorized to train more LNT Trainers. Every BSA council should be working towards having LNT MEs locally, so you might contact your Council Outdoor Ethics Advocate to find out how you can help.

See LNT Course page for details and registration.

Two of my LNT friend in Minnesota will be part of the training staff for this course - Lucky!
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Posted: 9:32 02-14-2014 1076
For Service's Sake
Scout Service Project

In the cold and wind yesterday, the scouts provided service to some elderly citizens in their community. We joined a church's project to rake leaves from the yards of seniors that needed assistance. It was a great excuse to be outside enjoying a fall day before the snow finally arrives.

The weekend before, I had the opportunity to participate in a Habitat for Humanity panel build day. Habitat constructs homes for families and have a very good reputation. To make construction go faster, wall panels are constructed in a warehouse and assembled into a house at the site.

I did this service as a member of my church, not with scouts. I would HIGHLY recommend every young man take part in any Habitat project he can. If you've never done it, you will be amazed at the skills you learn on a project - for free! I've put up walls, sheetrocked, painted, put on siding, used hacksaws, levels, power saws, palm nailers, t-squares, and the list goes on and on. All the safety stuff that goes with the work is also covered and professional builders provide direction.
Look for Habitat opportunities in your community!

One hurdle I find with Scouts and Service is the expectation of reward for work provided. When our raking service opportunity was presented to the troop, one scout asked, "Do we get paid?"
I thought about that for quite awhile. In our society, nothing's free. You work, you get paid. If someone helps you, you'll owe them a favor later on. This is shown to us often in movies and media. Seldom are we taught to do service for service's sake. Even many philanthropists get tax breaks, names on buildings, or some other reward for contributions. Friends of Scouting even does this - contribute enough and get a coffee mug, or collector coin, or artwork.

Remembering all the scouts in this troop have been in Scouting less than 6 months, his question was a good one. Do we get paid?
Yes, I believe we do. There is the easy answer of "Yes, you get service hours for advancement." But, I think that is a poor answer that turns the service into a job with a reward. As soon as scouts have enough service hours, they stop serving others.
The more meaningful pay is not instant, tangible pay and can be difficult to grasp.

My pay from Habitat included learning some skills that are useful the rest of my life. My community will have a new family owning their own home. And, I had fun meeting and working with members of my church.

My pay from raking leaves was that I got to meet Jane, a widow living in the same 1937 house since she bought it with her husband in 1962. I got to hear her story of adding an addition and having children grow and leave home. She got to see some Scout uniforms doing a Good Turn rather than trying to sell something, so her view of the BSA might go up a notch and she may share that with her friends. And, I got exercise, fresh air, and time to chat with a couple scouts with nothing else to do.

More than all those reasons, doing service just For Service's Sake is really the best reason to do service. When a scout recognizes that his time and effort really helped someone else, while receiving nothing in return, I think that is one big step towards being a Scout.
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Posted: 10:24 11-10-2013 1071
Big Wins

On my first campout with the scouts since returning from my hike across WI. We picked a cold, wet weekend but still had a good time making a trebuchet and launching tennis balls. With just 8 poles, you can build a very nice little launcher.
Food was the major chore yesterday and today. Here's a scout making pancakes over the fire. They also made bacon and hashbrowns while the rain turned to sleet and a few bits of hail.
It's important for us to keep expectations realistic for new scouts. I believe scouts can do tremendous things, usually much more then they think. Just remember that small steps of experience build their abilities so they are able to tackle the big things. Sometimes, just having the pancakes come out not burned and not gooey IS a big win!

A few people asked about the trebuchet, so here's a picture of what we built. Click it to see a larger picture. See the comments for a link to the plans.
Scouts only needed to learn the clove hitch and square lashing to create it. It's a good beginner lashing project.
A plastic serving spoon from a patrol box was lashed to the end of the throwing arm with a round lashing to create the bucket to hold ammo. At the troop meeting last week, some scouts volunteered to bring items to throw, but none followed through. :-( So, the scoutmaster conveniently had a few tennis balls, just in case.
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Posted: 7:55 10-20-2013 1069
Top Cook Contest
dutch oven enchiladas

Are you the best chef in your troop?
Do the scouts rave about your meals months later?
Well, here's your chance to prove it!

Scouting magazine is holding a Camp Cuisine Contest this month. Submit your entry at their contest page and you might win an MSR Dragonfly stove. Way cool!

There's a category for adults and one for scouts, so share the word and see if someone in your troop can win.
Even if you don't win, your recipe might earn you $50 if it gets published in Scouting magazine.

But, hey, don't submit Enchiladas because that's my favorite and I have dibs on it!

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Posted: 15:12 10-18-2013 1068
Programming Patch Secret
Programming merit badge
At the Scout Shop today, I saw the new Programming merit badge patch. It was a pretty boring looking patch, to tell the truth. Kind of bland shades of green in the green border, and no picture of a computer, or any electronic device.

But, if you have an old school programming degree ( like me :-) ), you would recognize that the image is actually three highlighted strings of 1s and 0s - that's Binary code and each digit is called a BIT.
There are eight digits in each of the three highlighted lines - 8 bits make a BYTE.

Looking up the three BYTES in this chart, shows them to be the ASCII codes for B - S - A
Now, I thought that was pretty clever and could be a fun tidbit to start out with when counseling for this badge.

Oh, I bought the Programming merit badge pamphlet at the shop since I hope to counsel for this one, and on page 14, there is more info about this visually plain but thoughtfully done patch.

Scout On
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Posted: 13:44 10-02-2013 1067
End of the Trail

I walked 30500 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 23 miles today.
We slogged our way to the western terminus!!! A few pictures and congratulations, and then into the Ice Age center to get out of the cold rain. I guess the directions for the parade got lost - no one showed up except my good friend Duncan. What a great surprise to be greeted by him at the very end!
We ran into some volunteers doing trail work and actually got to be the first hikers on a brand new piece of trail that will be completed next weekend. It will nearly complete the trail through St. Croix Falls.
No need to find a plce to camp tonight. No planning tomorrow's hike. No wondering what excitement the trail will bring. Just profound gratitude to all the folks that make this trail possible and my opportunity to enjoy it - end to end.

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Posted: 14:02 09-28-2013 1066
Camp Phillips

I walked 66000 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 30 miles today.
We put in a long day, but it went quickly hiking and visting with the new people we met on the trail.
Nearly to Haugen, a man with a dog came down the trail towards us. He recognized us and said he's been following this blog - how cool! Greg chatted while we hiked toward his vehicle. When we got there, he had soda and snacks waiting. What a great treat on a warm afternoon - Thank You, Greg (and your dog Archie)
Once past Haugen, the trail passes through BSA Camp Phillips. I've heard of this camp but never visited. It looks like a well-run and very nice camp with waterfront, pioneering, nature trails, and lots more. It was sure great of the BSA to have the trail pass through.
Soon after the camp, there is a big logging operation underway - chopping down everything, including many blazed trees. This was our first real hardship of the trail. We lost about 45 minutes searching for blazes, backtracking, and a little guessing before we finally made it through. Pat and Kehly - watch out!
Other than that, just a glorious day on a very mellow trail most of the day.

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Posted: 22:02 09-25-2013 1061
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