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New Dutch Oven
Our troop hosted a pack of Webelos at the camporee earlier this month and their Cubmaster insisted on giving us some money. I said "no", he said "yes". I said "No", he said "Yes". I said "NO", he said "YES". Since he's a lawyer, I gave up. :-)

Anyway, I wanted to do something special with the money and the scouts have started to get more interested in dutch oven cooking, so I looked around.

Lodge has a Lewis & Clark Commemorative dutch oven out. It's an 8qt. 12inch - that means it's deeper than normal so it works great for a roast.

If you want to take advantage of my legwork, the cheapest place I found this oven was at katom.com (I never heard of them either) and it was significantly cheaper than Lodge, REI, and other places. I was a bit nervous ordering it, but it arrived today and it is perfect! They also have the BSA Logo dutch oven and lots of others.

So, this weekend at the Scoutorama, the visiting Webelos be cooking doughnuts and chocolate chip cookies in our D.O.s - and if that doesn't convince them to join the troop, nothing will!

Scout On
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Posted: 15:44 10-30-2007 245
MYSCOUTING Almost Here
It seems like forever that there has been a 'MYSCOUTING' link on scouting.org that just goes to a "Coming Soon" page. It was going to be here in August, then September, now its October.

But, the page has finally changed! You can now access MYSCOUTING and register. Enter your email, BSA ID info, and password to create an account for yourself. You receive a confirmation email and clicking the embedded link activates your account.

That's when you get to see the MYSCOUTING menu - "E-Learning", "ReChartering", and "Advancement" - "Tour Permits" are not available yet. You'll need special codes from your council to use the ReChartering and Advancement areas.

The MYSCOUTING area really needs a lot of work. Right now, its just an entry page to a handful of non-integrated tools, each one needed a separate login with no navigational integration between them. But, at least it's moving along and we're inching closer to usable online tools to reduce the work of our precious fellow volunteers.

Scout On
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Posted: 9:16 10-27-2007 244
Kid Nation
Have you watched Kid Nation on TV yet? My youngest son and I have been studying it for the past few weeks and find it interesting.

The concept is that 40 kids aged 8 to 15 are out at a ghost town that failed, attempting to build a city with no adults. (I have no idea what parents would have their 8 year old go out on his/her own for 40 days.) They've got a few kids that have good leadership skills, a few ringers that I think were coached to be irritants, and then a lot that you never hear from.

It's getting boring now that we know every show will have a contest, a town meeting where some homesick kids might decide to go home, and one kid will get a $20,000 gold star. Other than that, it's a whole lot of bickering, squabbling, and basic self-serving child behavior - imagine that. :-)

We are kind of rooting for Mike who is a Tenderfoot scout and was one of the leaders. He got voted off the town council last week so maybe he'll get a gold star soon.

There are a few snippets that would make good clips to use in a Troop Leader Training session on leadership styles that work and don't work.

Scout On
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Posted: 0:12 10-25-2007 243
Snow Sports Extreme
The scouts are planning their December campout which will be a skiing weekend. Since moving to Minnesota from Oregon, I haven't done much downhill mostly because there aren't many hills to go down. :-(
We do have a few guys in our troop that love to ski, though. They are talking about a high adventure trip to the West Coast in 2009 and include some skiing on Mt. Hood in Oregon. I've skied on Hood in July and it was a blast!

There's a full-blown summer ski program on Hood for skiers of all ability levels, as long as they want to improve. The National Alpine Ski Camp (NASC) offers a comprehensive summer program, usually attracting 14-17 year olds, but open for skiers down to 8 years old. What a great way to spend 10 days.
Besides skiing, the NASC program includes extra activities, such as rafting, rock climbing, windsufing, and mountain biking. They've been holding sessions for over 20 years.
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Posted: 23:58 10-24-2007 242
Cub Scout Hero
If you read Boys' Life every month like I do, you've seen a lot of Scouts in Action stories. Today, a Minnesota Cub Scout gets a medal for saving his little brother last year. Pretty cool!

In the summer of 2006, Jonah H., 10, saved his brother Micah, 3, from drowning in a family friend’s swimming pool. Micah jumped into the pool without a PFD and was unable to swim. Jonah called for help, swam to his brother and held his head above water until help arrived.

Jonah will be honored with a medal for his heroism tonight at the North Star Museum of Boy Scouting and Girl Scouting in North St. Paul. Jonah is a member of Pack 49 in Northern Star Council and lives in Maplewood.

In 2006, the Boy Scouts of America awarded 92 medals, spread across the 300 Boy Scout Councils in the country.

Scout On
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Posted: 15:42 10-24-2007 241
71 Years of Scouting in Phillipines
The Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) was established in 1936 with a mission to train youth as responsible leaders of the country that love God, their country, and fellowmen. Scouting was brought to the Phillipines in 1910 by Americans and now has more than two million members, making one of the largest Scouting organizations in the world.

BSP celebrates its birthday in October and has support of the government and especially the Department of Education. Education has weekly activities during October to help promote scouting in the schools. The activities this year support the "One World, One Promise" theme of Scouting worldwide.

As a highlight of scouting month in the Phillipines, the 14th National Jamboree will be held on Oct. 22-27 at the Philippine Scouting Center for Asia-Pacific Region, Mt. Makiling, Los Baños, Laguna. About 10,000 attendees are expected from the 109 Councils.

Scout On
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Posted: 23:08 10-21-2007 240
Philmont Packs
When I went to Philmont in 2005, we had a scraggly assortment of backpacks. We had internal and external frames. We had huge packs and practically microscopic packs. We had orange, brown, blue, red, and green packs. But, we all had full uniforms! :-)

Finding the luggage at the airport could have been a real pain, except that we had a trick up our collective sleeves. Rather than ship the backpacks and hope no straps fell off or zippers opened up, everyone bought identical duffel bags large enough to fit every backpack.

At the luggage carrousel, it was a snap to find our duffels as they came by! Plus, we had extra room for shipping back souvenirs, including the trail food I collected to show the troop what we ate for 12 days.

In case you haven't heard of them, a company called "Outdoor Products" has a range of camping gear that is inexpensive. It's a good brand for new scouts buying their first backpack or other gear - low price on gear they'll outgrow. They have a 10,600 cu. in. duffel for $23 listed on Campmor.com and other online retailers. I believe that's what we got in 2005 and the new guys'll be getting similar bags next year for the two crews we have going in June.

Scout On
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Posted: 14:37 10-20-2007 239
Try Blogging
I've had a few scouts ask me about blogging, how does it work, is it fun, does anyone read it, what value does it have, ... and so on.

For the most part, blogging is done by women. That doesn't mean it's a good way to meet girls or that guys will think you're a sissy if you blog. It means that most of the blogs are written by women. Women tend to be more open with thoughts and like to share 'stuff' openly. These blogs are most often public diaries of daily happenings, feelings, and the kind of thing that might have been written in a diary not too many years ago.

When men blog, there is usually a theme or niche for their writing. For example, I mostly write about scouting stuff. Other guys have blogs about electronic gadgets, horses, hunting, business management, stay-at-home dad, pretty much any area of interest where they can write and not get into feelings too much.

That's not to say there aren't guys with "diary" type blogs or women with "tech" blogs. It's just what you will generally see.

The reasons scouts blog are varied. Usually, it is because they feel they have a lot to say about a topic or want an avenue to express their thoughts easily and quickly. Recently, blogs have had a very strong impact on web site ranking and have even become money-making experiments.

Starting a blog is very easy, keeping a blog going can be hard work, especially when you've emptied your head of all the ideas you have on that subject.

To start a blog, you need to decide what you will write about, how it will look, what software you will use, and who you will use for your blog hosting.

Picking your topic to write about is completely up to you. It's better to keep it a broad theme in which you have ongoing interest. Writing about "electric lawnmowers" might be too narrow, but "lawn and garden" gives you more room to expand.

There are many choices for software and hosts to use. Most software packages give you a selection of page layouts and color schemes so it's easy to make your blog look the way you want.

Movable Type is a powerful publishing platform for blogs and Movable Type hosting is available through many companies. Wordpress is another blogging software that is very popular.

I happen to be a web developer and created this site before blogging took off so my blog is "home-grown" and does not use a package. I would not recommend anyone do it this way due to the unnecessary work and lack of features. Just find a host, buy a package, and start sharing your thoughts with the world - it just takes an hour to get started.

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Posted: 12:53 10-20-2007 238
Achooo
So, they tell me there's a bug going around. You think?!?

I've been out of commission for the past few days and am just now catching up on backlogged emails. Some of them have been interesting, but the one yesterday from someone moving their furniture and expecting me to get some Boy Scouts to help them was the best. :-)

Anyway, today's the first sunny day in awhile so I've got to kick the son outside and mow one more time while I work on my link directory and a few other web site updates.

Scout On
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Posted: 12:22 10-20-2007 237
Cubmasters and Scoutmasters
I sat in on a local Pack's meeting last night so I could hand out brochures for our upcoming troop event to the Webelos den leaders. They inducted some new Tiger Cubs and a Bear into the Pack. What a great time!

The Cubmaster introduced the two cheers they'd be using for the night. Either the "horse cheer" when shed held up a horse or the "rooster cheer" when she held up a rooster. The scouts just loved doing these different cheers and the place was full of activity and just plain fun. It was a very impressive and well-planned meeting.

From the minute I arrived, I noticed there were adults everywhere directing scouts on what to do, where to sit, when to stand, ... and so on. It's so much different being a Scoutmaster where I have to ask permission from the SPL just to make an announcement. :-)

The people that make great Cub Scout leaders won't necessarily make great Boy Scout leaders. It is a huge shift in style that is required from being the ringleader to being a roadie, supporting from the sidelines and helping get things organized.
I've seen in our troop where parents have joined with their son and had a difficult time making the adjustment. The best thing to do is have new adults that want to be involved complete the Scoutmaster Specific training as soon as possible. It's also a good idea for the Scoutmaster to have some sessions for new parents where s/he can explain the differences between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. I do these in April and May each year.

Even though the specific job duties of Cubmasters and Scoutmasters are quite different, they have the same general task of being the one person seen as the adult leader of their unit. They also need to be a good team, working together to ensure the transition of Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. Do you know your teammate? You should call him or her tonight and find a time to make a transition plan if you don't have one yet.

Scout On
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Posted: 12:07 10-16-2007 236
Another Lucky Weekend
We've been exceptionally blessed with nice weather for our campouts this year. (Maybe it's that global warming?) The district Camporee this weekend had clear skies and cool temperature with geese flying over and leaves falling from the trees.
We woke up to frost on Saturday morning but no one complained about being too cold at night. We had a 50% chance of rain Sunday morning, but it never came. The next few months will all be cabin and snow hut camping so the tents will be cleaned and packed until spring. I sure hope no patrol forgets to dry their tents before packing them away!

We had the opportunity to host 10 Webelos from a local pack and have them camp and eat with us. It was funny to see the difference a summer of Boy Scout camping makes on scouts. The Webelos, who were used to adults doing all the 'work', just ran around and then came looking for food when they were hungry. I told them that I only had enough food for the adults so they might want to go ask a patrol if they could help with the meal and eat with them. That took a bit of processing to understand, but they all got something to eat.

The Webelos joined us for our reflection and they all seemed to have had a good time. Hopefully, we'll see them at a troop meeting soon. It would be nice to get a few scouts from a new feeder pack.

I got to use a Sparks Fly flint & steel set to start our morning cooking fire - that was a fun success for me.

Scout On
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Posted: 11:50 10-15-2007 235
Last Campout of the Year
We're heading out in a couple hours on the last campout of the year for the troop. The November and December outings have us sleeping in cabins so this will be the last use of tents for awhile.
The weather forecast was practically perfect up until this morning when they changed it to be 50% chance of rain Sunday morning. Grrrr! But, that's our norm - packing up camp in the rain. There's a slight chance it might be snow instead of rain, but not likely.

This is the district Camporee with all troops invited, but only a handful participating. Past camporees have been lackluster and the district is trying hard to get them back in place as an outing not to be missed. But, it's hard to get over bad press, especially when it's passed down from scout to scout year after year.

We'll be hosting a handful of Webelos and their parents so they can meet our troop and experience a camporee. This is exciting because they are from a local pack that we've never even dealt with in the past. The two packs that normally feed us are not attending. So, this is a chance for starting a new relationship and having a good time.

I'll let you know how it went when I get home on Sunday.

Scout On
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Posted: 17:44 10-12-2007 234
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