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Last Chance for Ring
Joy Jewelers
Two people have already won a Scout Ring from Joy Jewelers. On Sunday, the third and final winner will be selected. It can't be you unless you enter the drawing.

The Joy Jewelers scout rings make a cool recognition item. Rings for Boy Scouts, Wood Badge, Sea Scouts, and Venturers can all be customized for the individual.

Just enter your email address on my Contest page for a chance to win a $250 ring, a $25 scout shop gift card, or a $50 coupon.

Starting Monday, a new prize will be available but I'm not telling what it is yet. You'll have to check back to see. I will say that I've tried it and it's Very Tasty!

Scout On
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Posted: 9:15 05-29-2014 1091
Custom Uniforms
Tallest Boy Scout

Jodi asked about uniforms:
"I am 6'9" and have yet to find official pants that don't hit me mid-ankle. Even the un-hemmed ones go to a 38" inseam when mine is 42". The shorts are almost obscene, but I've bought a pair of official pants, then cut and hemmed them to an appropriate shorts length. My shirt is somewhat loose/baggy, but it's the size that was long enough and I plan to have it tailored a bit when I can. The socks never fit either. Belt, neckerchief, and hat are all totally fine. What do you recommend for those who cannot find official clothing? Thanks!"

Uniforms that fit can be a big/small problem for scouts and scouters on either end of the growth charts. Fortunately, even the tallest scout had a uniform - it was custom tailored for Robert Wadlow around 1931. Robert was 7ft. 4in. when he was 13 years old and here he is in his uniform.

I don't know if the BSA made Robert's uniform or not, but they're available to help you now. If the range of standard uniform sizes don't fit you, you can still be properly uniformed by contacting the BSA for a Made-to-Measure uniform. I've been told by the ScoutStuff folks that it takes about 12 weeks to receive a custom-made uniform, so plan ahead and Be Prepared!

See this page for their contact information.

Scout On
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Posted: 15:46 05-27-2014 1090
Respect Wildlife
Nature Requirement
I completed Second Class requirement #6 on my hike this morning - identifying 10 kinds of wild animals. In just a couple miles, I saw a: chipmunk, grey squirrel, rabbit, red-wing blackbird, Canada goose, mallard duck, cardinal, baltimore oriole, goldfinch, and robin. There were many more birds and animals flying and scurrying about, but those are my 10.

Actually, I complete that requirement nearly every time I walk around at this time of year. It's pretty easy to complete this nature requirement since the animals are out enjoying the warm spring weather. Finding animal evidence in the dead of winter can be much more challenging, at least here where it's all covered under feet of snow.

What do you notice in the accompanying photo? The top half is a photo of a Canada goose on its nest I took while hiking this week. She knows I'm there and is trying to be invisible while keeping an eye on me.
The bottom image is the same nest the next day. There are broken egg shells, but no birds. Canada geese leave the nest almost immediately after hatching so I expect the parents and goslings are out and about somewhere around here.

When doing your animal identification, or any outdoors activities, remember to respect the wildlife you find. I took those pictures from the other side of a small pond, probably about 60 feet away.

Give animals lots of room, take pictures from far away, and don't harass them at all. Especially this time of year, babies are abundant and some adult animals are very protective. For your own safety, as well as the animals', keep your eyes and ears open for signs of wildlife and don't invade their space.

Respecting Wildlife is one of the seven principles of Leave No Trace which scouts should follow on all outings.
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Posted: 10:50 05-22-2014 1089
Loyal Cat

I'm not a cat person, but this cat has cornered the market on LOYAL, HELPFUL, and BRAVE. I usually think of cats as being self-centered, pampered, and nonchalant. I guess I really need to expand my view on felines.

This short video also shows that our motto "Be Prepared" needs to be followed everywhere and all the time. You never know when you'll be required to provide immediate aid to yourself or someone else. In the blink of an eye, a seemingly safe, fun activity can turn disastrous and we need to be ready to step into action.

Scout On
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Posted: 15:54 05-14-2014 1088
Look Up
Since it's had over 12 million views in the 10 days it's been out on YouTube, you've probably already seen this video. But, if you haven't, sacrifice 5 minutes of your life to hopefully change your view on how you're spending your life.

My favorite line in it - "Smart Phones and Dumb People".

I'd love to hear it set to some Rap Beat or Rock-n-Roll music. :-)

Scout On in the Real World
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Posted: 9:28 05-05-2014 1087
Gregg H. Rox!
Silver Beaver Gregg Hilferding
Gulf Ridge Council presented a Silver Beaver award to Gregg Hilferding who works at in Florida.
The silver beaver is the top recognition a council can present to an adult volunteer, and I wholeheartedly applaud their choice in Gregg. Rather than duplicate it all here, you should check out ClassB's article listing all Gregg's involvement in Scouting. He has certainly set the bar high for volunteers!

Scout On
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Posted: 16:32 04-22-2014 1086
Without Bugs
SansBug sleeping tent

How bad will the mosquitos be at camp this summer?
When was the last time that bunkhouse mattress was cleaned?
Are there mice running around these floors at night?

Whenever a night is spent at scout camp, these sorts of questions might keep you awake. I've stayed in some pretty nasty places where I would have liked a little protection between me and the insects and vermin sharing the wilds with me. I know of a few young scouts just starting out that missed some great campouts because they were scared of the bugs.

A tent works fine, with mesh screen and floor, to keep the blood suckers at bay but most scout tents are 2, 3, or 4-person varieties. They take up a lot of space, weigh quite a bit, and are cumbersome. I know of a better idea for many situations.

I've just received a SansBug shelter to try out. It's a very cool automatic pop-up bug-free zone so campers can sleep in comfort! Besides being a small, light solution to the "can't sleep worrying about creepy crawlies" problem, it is a ton of fun to set up. All you do is Let Go - it pops itself open and you crawl right in.

The fine mesh of the SansBug lets breezes blow through but prevents bites, disease, and general pestering from all flying and crawling insects - that's mosquitos, spiders, ticks, bedbugs, and all their little friends. Not to mention snakes, scorpions, and lizards.

SansBug at Scout Camp

SansBug can be set up on a floor, tent platform, bunkbed, cot, or inflatable pad - wherever the scouts are spending the night. If your scouts stay in canvas tents at summer camp, the SansBug is a perfect replacement for the hanging mosquito netting you use now. Even if you are sleeping indoors, the SansBug keeps your tender skin completely isolated from whatever's out there.

At less than 2.5 pounds and folding into a flat 20-inch disc, it's very easy to pack - even one for every scout. People have used SansBug shelters in Thailand, Afghanistan, Haiti, and even Scout Camp! A church took 30 SansBug tents to sleep in on their mission trip to West Africa, for example.

So, what are the drawbacks of this nifty little invention? Well, it's not rain protection - but a tarp above it can fix that for outdoor use. If you open it in your living room with candles, flowers, and stuff sitting around your wife mom might get mad at you. It really does POP open.

I'm planning to hike at least half of the Appalachian Trail this summer - anyone want to join me?
I was planning to use my tent and avoid the shelters that have been built about every 10 miles along the trail because they are notorious for mice and other critters. Visiting with all the other hikers that use the shelters would make my hike much more enjoyable, so I would miss that.
With a SansBug available, I now have to rethink that plan. I could save a lot of time every day since I wouldn't be looking for a camping spot every night, setting up my tent, and taking it down in the morning. Just pop up my SansBug, throw in my gear and I'm ready to tell stories around the campfire until the mosquitos swarm - then I just hope into bed. And the mice can scurry around all they want.

Scout On
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Posted: 11:11 04-18-2014 1085
Scout Dies
Boy Scout Killed
Life Scout and his grandfather are two victims in yesterday's Kansas City shootings. It was saddening to find out about the attacks, and even more so when another connection is found.

One Scouter is assembling a package to help the Underwood family here, in case you would like to help.

If your unit would like to send a note of support to his troop, Reat Underwood was a member of Troop 92.

Send any cards to the council headquarters, care of Reatís family.

Reatís Family
Heart of America Council
10210 Holmes Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64131

Any donations need to be designated either for the family, or to a James West Fellowship.

See this page for more.

Scout On
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Posted: 12:16 04-14-2014 1084
Scout Tech
Scout Tech Chip
A BSA executive has posted his opinions on the use of smartphones in Scouting for Bryan @ Scouting magazine.

He presents that smartphones are tools that can be used, or abused, similarly to pocketknives. He touches on the problem of some of us old guys trying to force our fond memories of Scouting as youths onto the youth of today - without realizing their youthful view of the world is not ours.

I'm glad to see words like these from the BSA closely matching my view on the topic. Just yesterday, I was helping with the local high school Robotics team and noticed every single youth had at least one electronic device, most had two. None were playing games on them. They were documenting, communicating, planning, sharing, developing, and on and on. Oh, there were 3 scouts on that robotics team, too.

Sure, if there is nothing better to do, these electronics will provide entertainment. A planned program should carry itself and demand participation so there is no downtime with the need for entertainment. If "free time" is part of the plan, then electronic entertainment is just another form of fun.

The scouts in Troop 479 have been responsibly using electronic devices of all kinds for over 5 years now. Waaaaay back then, the Senior Patrol Leader and his Patrol Leader Council came up with a troop policy regarding electronic devices. Every six months, the newly-elected SPL and his PLC re-adopt the policy and it hasn't changed yet.
To support their policy, a Tech Chip training plan and wallet card were developed and are available for any other Scouting units to use or adopt. The Tech Chip directly addresses use of electronics which the BSA Cyber Chip leaves up to individual units.

The comments on Bryan's blog have been interesting. 4 or 5 years ago, 90%+ would have been against electronics and state that they are banned and taken when found. Now, it appears to be a slight majority allowing scouts and scouters to have electronic devices.

So, how about you? Care to share what your pack/troop/crew does regarding electronics at Scouting activities? It's a good thing to discuss occasionally as the cyber landscape continually changes.

Scout On

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Posted: 13:28 04-09-2014 1083
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
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