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Magnificent Seven

There's a great article in the Stillwater Gazette about seven scouts that just earned their Eagle ranks all together. They joined their troop together and made a pact that they'd all stick with it to Eagle.

That's the sort of support and teamwork that every scout needs to be successful. As we receive 17 new scouts over the next month, I plan on promoting a similar pact within each patrol. Giving each scout the responsibility and authority to help his buddies stay the course sounds like one more good thing to help patrol spirit and scout advancement.

Scout On

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Posted: 13:51 02-13-2007 127
Monopoly for Charity
Now here's one that is new to me, but sounds like a fun event. Host a Monopoly Tournament to raise funds for a worthwhile cause.
On March 3rd, troops 718 and 799 in Thousand Oaks, CA are hosting a tournament to benefit their council's endowment fund. See BSA Monopoly for a cool website they have for their tournament.
The winner of their tournament is eligible to continue on to a State tournament, and there are National and WORLD championships after that! I never even knew there were such 'official' tournaments available.

For information about sponsoring a tournament, check out Hasbro Monopoly page which even has a 28-page tournament guide.

Scout On

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Posted: 23:45 02-10-2007 126
Aloha, Y'all
Since this month's Cub Scout theme is 'Aloha Cub Scouting' maybe you'd like to try your hand at learning some scout promises, laws, and mottos in Hawaiian.
The Maui County Council has an Ideals of Scouting page listing the Scout Oath, Law, Motto, and Slogan in Hawaiian.

And, here's the Cub Scout Promise:
(Cub Scout Promise)
O wau o amalia, ho'ohiki no ka hana ana i kou kilohana
Me ka hana ana i ka'u mahelehana
i ke akua ame ko'u a'ina kahiki
A e kokua i kekahi po'e
A e ho'olohe i na kanawai
o ka pu'ali
I promise to do my best
To do my duty
To God and my country,
To help other people,
And to obey the Law of the Pack.

E ho'omakaukau
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Posted: 17:13 02-07-2007 125
Stove Feedback
I wanted to thank people that replied about my Stoves for Scouts entry, especially Jack, John, and Tom.

It sounds like most troops use propane stoves just like us. But, some of them use a 20lb propane tank with a distribution tree and hoses to each stove - set the tank in a plastic milk crate to make it more stable. This cuts out the problem of throwing out all those propane bottles and reduces fuel costs, after recovering the initial expense of tanks, trees, and hoses. The main reason our troop committee has not done that is because it forces the patrols that share a tank to set up right next to each other. We could have a tank for each patrol and that might be the best solution for weekend 'car' campouts where no packing in occurs. Maybe a 5lb tank per patrol would work. Unfortunately, this doesn't remove the main problem area from the equation - that $17.00 regulator that stops working.

The use of popcan alcohol stoves was presented also. Those are pretty cool and a great project for scouts to make. On minimalist campouts, they are great for a single person to heat water and rehydrate food. But, their 5-15 minute burn time isn't enough for actual cooking. I've got these on my list of 'projects to try at troop meetings' for the PLC to consider.

I sent an email to Coleman asking about the regulators that stop working, pleading for any way to adjust them, clean them, or fix them. We'll see if they reply.

One other thing to pass on to you all. One scouter said they had tried to refill the disposable propane bottles with a fitting you can purchase. His experience was that it worked a couple times until the seal on the bottle would start leaking. On the Coleman disposable bottles, it does say "Do Not Refill" so we've not tried that.

So, my plan is to have the adults try cooking on two liquid fuel backpacking stoves on the next couple campouts and see how we do. (We don't really have much choice since we inherited an inoperable regulator :-) ) We might purchase a wire grill to set over the stoves for pot stability.
Assuming that goes well, I'll discuss it with the SPL and see if he'll ask a couple older patrols if they'd like to give it a try.

Scout On
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Posted: 11:40 02-04-2007 124
Stoves for Scouts
Hey, first of all, if you have some suggestions for something I should write about here, give a shout. Or, if you have a contrary viewpoint to something I've written, I'd like to hear it - I'm always learning new stuff and new ways to do things better.

Anyway, each patrol in our troop has a two-burner Coleman green propane campstove. They are sturdy and have worked well for years. The troop purchased two new ones two years ago and may need to get one more for the new scouts this spring. These stoves work, are easy to use, and have a big, flat cooking surface.

So, here's the debate I have going on with myself. Every campout, we consume a couple 'disposable' containers of propane. The $2.50 green metal bottles. I just hate seeing so many of these getting tossed away. The cost and the waste are frustrating to me. Also, the regulators that connect fuel canister to stove occasionally stop working and they are not adjustable so that is a $17.00 expense. What can we do instead?

Campfire Cooking - the adults often have dutch oven meals or other food cooked in coals instead of on our stove. The scouts ooh and aah, but don't often make their own meals that way. I think this is much more fun, but it takes planning and longer meal prep time. Most everywhere we camp for weekends allow campfires and are often on private property so there is little impact from other campers throughout the year. This means consuming firewood is not a problem.

Backpacking Stoves - this is what I'd like to promote more. They are smaller so less space in the patrol box is used up. The fuel is less expensive. The canister waste is eliminated. By using them on weekend campouts, scouts going on high adventure trips are already experts with them.

There is significant training needed for scouts to successfully and safely use these stoves. Filling, pressurizing, lighting, and balancing are the common problem areas. This would be a good opportunity for experienced scouts to teach beginners and for the new guys to get approval for their new skills when they master the stoves.

I'm planning on starting new scouts with the Coleman propane stoves and graduate them to the smaller stoves as they become experts. Ensuring scouts view it as an accomplishment to 'get to' use the smaller stoves is key.

The adults will also need to be trained and be responsible for managing the fuel storage as well as monitoring any filling or lighting of stoves.

I'm planning on providing each patrol with two stoves and a grill on which to balance pots. This will replace the large Colemans while keeping equivalent functionality.

I'm also going to design a card similar to the Totin Chip or Fireman Chit that scouts will earn when they demonstrate abilities with the stoves. Maybe the Chef Chit or Cooking Chit?

I'd like to hear what your troop does for cooking - stoves, fires, or microwaves?

Scout On
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Posted: 14:34 01-31-2007 123
New Webelos Super Achiever Patch
The Northern Star council has a new Webelos Super Achiever award patch for Webelos that complete all 20 activity badges. This award has been around a long time, but the council now has a new patch as shown.
It's ready just in time for this year's Webelos receiving it at their Blue Gold events.

Scout On
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Posted: 22:23 01-29-2007 122
Wavering Webelos
Last week, I got to visit a Webelos scout at his home. His mom had asked me to come by and chat about how Boy Scouts works and what the troop does.
Her son is very involved in music and other activities and they decided he needed to choose between continuing scouts or joining another music group. I think that's a healthy thing - choosing what you want rather than trying to cram everything into a boy's life. There's room for scouting and other things, but not everything.

When I was growing up in small towns, my choices were church youth group, sports, or playing with friends. There was room for all of it. But, now my kids get to choose between sports, music, theater, scouts, church, math club, and even more opportunities. There's no way to do it all, so choices do need to be made.

You scoutmasters should really make sure the cubmasters and Webelos den leaders in your area understand you are available to chat with their scouts about Boy Scouting. Go to a den meeting where they are comfortable and take a bunch of patches or mementos of troop outings. I show off sticks I've carved on our high adventure trips.
Next Friday, I get to visit with 3 Webelos that have not yet decided about Boy Scouts. I'm going to ask them to just try it for the summer and see what its like. Commit to going on 3 outings and then decide if they want to do summer camp or not. By then they either love it or are ready to drop it.

By the way, at church today, that musically inclined Webelos scout came up to me and said he's joinging the troop!

Scout On
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Posted: 22:55 01-28-2007 121
Global Warming Affects Scouting
We did not earn a Zero Hero patch on our winter camping outing last weekend. It's actually been three years now with temperatures that did not dip below Zero Fahrenheit which is required to earn the patch.
Maybe this global warming thing is true. I might need to ask the council to change the award requirements from Fahrenheit to Celsius. I guess that would help move us along to the metric system too.
Just today, I was outside with my 1st class scout son in just our t-shirts finally taking down the Christmas lights. It was almost 40 degrees, I think - downright balmy. If this keeps up, we'll be having mosquitos in March and snowplow drivers in the unemployment line. We already have ski areas around here hurting pretty bad.
Well, I don't know about you, but I'm hoping winter 07-08 sees massive snow storms and frigid temperatures. We still have a chance for some snow in the next two months, but it doesn't look promising to me. The PLC planned a troop meeting in February to be sledding, so we have our fingers crossed.

Scout On
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Posted: 0:09 01-27-2007 120
Kids Who Care
Kohl's wants to recognize Kids Who Care with monetary awards. There are winners chosen at individual stores, regions, and national. You can see the 2006 winners and nominate a kid before March 15 at Kids Who Care site.

Now I'm not saying scouts need to be rewarded for the good deeds they do, but if someone has done something noteworthy, this is a way to get more recognition for the need and say 'Thanks' to that scout.

Scout On
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Posted: 0:12 01-24-2007 119
Two Philmont Crews
Of the 18 scouts in our troop that signed the 'Interested in Going to Philmont' sheet in October, 16 have committed a $100 deposit to hold their spot. And, 2 additional scouts have signed up as well. I'm pleasantly surprised that so many are still in the game.

So, we are looking at having two crews of 9 scouts and 2 or 3 adults in June of 2008. We have 5 adults that have already said they want to go and it's just a matter of getting time off now.

Our troop decided to charge a $100 non-refundable deposit even though Philmont only requires $50. This is because a scout dropping out will increase the average cost per scout and the extra $50 will help a bit.

Now, our treasurer will be sending in a big check to Philmont and we're off and running! I am SO excited to have our first trek crew meeting and watch as the scouts figure out the two crews, identify crew leaders, and start on the long road of preparation just to get to Philmont. It's a long road, but an awful enjoyable one, I think.

The scouts will do just about all the planning, from choosing trek routes and program to making gear lists and deciding a training schedule. They will also decide if completion of certain merit badges, such as Hiking, Personal Fitness, and Backpacking will be required and whether crews will drive or fly to New Mexico.

If you're going to Philmont for your first time and have questions, just ask and I'd be happy to give you my two cents - for free. :-)

Scout On
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Posted: 23:34 01-23-2007 118
Snow Fun
When we arrived at our winter camping destination, I was sure we'd have quite a disappointing time. With only 3 inches of snow, my hope was to get one snow hut made, and maybe 2 if we were lucky.
Well, the scouts wound up scraping snow together for 5 huts - enough for 10 scouts to all spend the night in their own 2-man ice castles!
The day was cloudless as was the evening, so a bunch of scouts completed their requirement of telling direction in day and night without a compass. The only disappointment of the trip was having clouds this morning at 7:00am and not getting to see the Space Station fly over.

And, if any parents of scouts in your troop are concerned with snow caving in on their son, here's one of the huts with 9 scouts on top.
Scout On

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Posted: 22:52 01-21-2007 117
Challenger Troops
Troop 622 in Willmar, MN is a Challenger troop specially chartered for mentally disabled men. A story about them can be read here.

Scouts in Troop 622 have no 18 year old membership limit and they progress through the scout ranks at their pace. They persevere and meet requirements and celebrate their accomplishments.

There are many units that include scouts with various disabilities while other scout families prefer to have a unit dedicated to special needs scouts. In the Northern Star Council, there is a Challenger District to serve special needs scouts with special programs.

Our troop has hosted scouts from a challenger troop on occasional campouts and all scouts learned a lot. Your troop could check with your district or council to find out how you can help serve this special scouting population.

Scout On
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Posted: 22:41 01-17-2007 116
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