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White Scout Socks
There are crew-cut and low-cut white activity socks available at
These socks are not for wear with the scout uniform, according to the information I received from the folks at this week.

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Posted: 15:20 10-30-2009 456
Double Eagles
This evening, I got to sit in on my first Eagle Board of Review. As Scoutmaster, I don't do boards of review, so this was my first time. The advancement chair figured it would be good for me to see what one is like - besides, they needed someone to unlock and lock the church. :-)
It was a bonus - there were two boards back to back so I got to see two scouts go through the process. And, they both did just great! One scout handling questions tossed at him from six different adults, all with varying degrees of warmth or confrontation.

I got to sit quietly with my mouth shut and reading my new volume of "Scouting" (did you see the ad on the inside of the front cover?) while actually listening to the conversation. It was very rewarding to hear how well the Eagle candidates expressed themselves and shared their beliefs and values.

I'd highly recommend you volunteer to help with boards of review in your troop if you aren't the Scoutmaster or Asst. Scoutmaster. It's a great way to help the troop and get to know the scouts better. The growth from new Scout to Eagle is pretty amazing. And, if you are Scoutmaster, ask to sit in on an Eagle board so you know what they're like. Or, participate in an Eagle board for a scout in a different troop if you can arrange that.

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Posted: 21:01 10-27-2009 455
Weird New Patches
Have you seen the new Leave No Trace Trainer and Webmaster leadership position patches? I mean actually looked at the real patch? Here's an image for another look, along with a standard patch.

These are to be worn by scouts in these positions of responsibility. In that context, I would expect the patches to follow the same color scheme and style as all the other position patches.
It would seem weird to have a couple patches different than the other 15 positions. But, the lettering color is black on the Webmaster patch and light green on the LNT Trainer patch. And, the font is different on the patches, too.

It almost seems like the BSA patch people grabbed a patch that was already created. Either that, or the design review was lacking. Or, these patches are the first of a new 'Centennial' version of the position patches. Well, it's possible.

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Posted: 21:33 10-22-2009 454
Leave No Trace Trainer
Here's the new Leave No Trace Trainer patch for the troop leadership position starting in January.

I have not yet seen the requirements or expectations of holding that position, except for rumors that completing an official "Leave No Trace Trainer" course is required before wearing the patch.

A LNT Trainer course runs about 16 hours over a weekend. Once a scout completes the LNT Trainer course, he can then lead LNT Workshops which are typically around 2 hours of training to present the seven LNT Principles. Participants that complete a LNT Workshop can receive a certificate which is required to backpack in some wilderness areas. This is perfect for this position and I expect the LNT scout will be asked to present workshops each year.

We've been having scouts present LNT principles within our troop and to local Cub Scout dens already, so we've got guys that could step into this role now if they want. There are some fun, interactive ways to present the principles at which give a taste of LNT in a short, active session - not enough to call it a workshop or get a certificate, but good introduction or supplements.

LNT Trainer courses typically cost $25 to $75 - even the low end of that will put a real damper on scouts stepping up to this new position. I hope some of the plans for this new position include a lower-cost way to train the scouts. And, with such an expense, I expect troops will want a scout to stay in the role for more than the usual 4 or 6 months needed for rank advancement.

I'm a LNT Master Educator and am excited that LNT is being promoted in the BSA a little more now. The changes in the new Scout Handbook and this new position give LNT more exposure. Now, we need to follow through and train scouts and scouters in how to follow LNT principles as our normal practice.

There is a website under construction at that appears to be a BSA site about the Leave No Trace program. The domain name was registered this spring to a person in "northwest region venturing" and the contact email on the site is a address. Maybe this will be the home for LNT in the BSA at some point.

Scout On

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Posted: 7:55 10-21-2009 453
Flexibility at Philmont
I just received the 2011 Philmont registration packet. It looks like the nice folks at Philmont are making an effort to be a bit more flexible with their height/weight limits for youth, and maybe adults.

From the packet:
"For participants under 21 years of age who exceed the maximum acceptable weight for height, the Philmont physicians will use their best professional judgment in determining participation in a Philmont trek.
Participants under 21 years of age are strongly encouraged to meet the weight limit for their height. Exceptions are not made automatically and discussion in advance with Philmont is required regarding any exception to the weight limit for persons under 21 years of age, whether it is over or under. Philmont will consider up to 20 lbs. over the maximum acceptable as stated on the chart, however, the exception will never exceed 295 lbs.

So, it's possible that a youth can weigh more than the limit and be allowed on a trek, but the trek organizer had best discuss it with Philmont well before hand.

Regarding adult height/weight, the document says:
"Participants 21 years and older who exceed the maximum acceptable weight limit for their height at the Philmont medical
recheck WILL NOT be permitted to backpack or hike at Philmont.

That's direct and clear to me. But, another statement in the document is:
"A water-displacement test to determine percent body fat will also be accepted in lieu of the height-weight guidelines.
Women will need to have a body fat of 20% or less and men will need to have a body fat of 15% or less to be qualified to participate.

That seems to contradict the previous statement. If I'm 72 inches tall and weigh 240 pounds, I'm outside the limits and I can't trek. But, if my body fat is tested to be 14%, then I can trek.

Well, it's not a concern for my 6-2, 175lb. body when we go in 2011, but I appreciate Philmont in moving away from a zero-tolerance sort of policy with the weight and being more creative in determining who is capable and prepared to trek.

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Posted: 9:32 10-14-2009 452
Letter or Spirit?
Eagle Scout Suspended for having a tiny pocketknife in his car parked on school property.

Cub Scout Suspended for eating lunch with his pocketknife-fork-spoon.

Zero-tolerance policies are all the rage. The problem with "zero" is that there is no leeway and no way to use the brain God gave you with which to think. Policies set up with absolutes often cause a mess.

These two scouts didn't follow the rules and they both understand that. But, one minute of talking to the 'offenders' and any sane person could tell there was no danger to others posed here - anyway, no more than from the pencils, pens, backpack straps, belt chains, hair picks, rulers, compasses, protractors, ... and the infinite other potential weapons that exist at school and in everyday life.

The spirit of safety policies are, of course, to keep people safe. When those in authority drift from the spirit to the letter of the written policy, they tarnish their reputation and lose respect.

It happens in scouting too. Scouts are good at figuring out ways around troop policies and game rules. We just had a good discussion about electronics use at troop activities. It ranged from "zero-tolerance" to "whatever". Once the discussion clarified what our goals in limiting electronics were, it became much easier to define how scouts are expected to act with these tools rather than banning them.

We're fortunate. In the Scout Law and Oath, we have pretty much all the behavioral expectations set for everyone to understand and accept. Not much more is really needed besides that.

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Posted: 16:22 10-13-2009 451
Adult Training Day
District "Intro to Outdoor Leadership Skills" training all day tomorrow at camp. I'm driving another trainer up to camp at 6am. He teaches Ropes-n-Knots to start the day at 8am and I end the day with Leave No Trace and then First Aid.
I've been doing these two sessions for the past two years now and they fit in perfectly with my LNT workshops and Red Cross WFAB sessions. I'm looking forward to some time with other scouting adults - hopefully pick up some tips and share some best practices with the noobs.

I just made a new "Scout Skills Jeopardy" board with First Aid questions for T-2-1 and will test it on the attendees tomorrow. It's a good demonstration of different (fun) ways to teach and review skills and knowledge.

That's a big drive over this winter in our troop - the new SPL wants to make it more fun and I want to focus on scouting skills. I just met with the SPL tonight and he's ready to go for his first PLC meeting on Monday. Exciting transitions!

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Posted: 21:59 10-02-2009 450
Three Winners
Picked the September give-away winners yesterday.

Enter on for the October give-away.

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Posted: 12:42 10-02-2009 449
Cheap Uniforms
If you're just the right size, you can get BSA uniform shirt, pants, and even socks for under $20 total! is really trying to get rid of their old inventory and have cut / hacked / slashed / obliterated prices on remaining quantities.

My size in pants is gone. :-( But, I'm telling the troop so the bigger adults and smaller scouts can get a deal if they need it.

Heck, for $1.62, it's tempting to get a pair of knee socks. :-0

Scout On
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Posted: 8:16 10-01-2009 448
Philmont Inflation
This past weekend, the PLC decided to add Philmont to the 2011 calendar so I was online checking for registration dates. If you want to receive a registration packet, you should send a request to now. It's also not too early to gather interest from scouts so you can request the right number of crews before the end of November.

I also found the preliminary Philmont fees for 2011.

Are you ready?

Are you sitting down?

I searched around for fees from past years, and here's the Philmont fee over the years, per person:
2004 - $475
2005 - $495+04%
2008 - $560+13%
2009 - $595+06%
2010 - $620+04%
2011 - $725+17% !!!

Ouch, I'm hoping that is a typo or else 2011 is going to be a pretty expensive trip.

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Posted: 12:34 09-30-2009 447
Lazy Man's Court of Honor
Like many troops, ours has courts of honor every quarter - March, June, September, December. The September court is by far the busiest with summer camp merit badges, new scout advancements, and general end-of-summer finishing up of awards. The SPL and ASPL normally distribute merit badges and other awards, then, as scoutmaster, I'm up front talking way too much doing the ceremonies.

There is a requirement in the Communications merit badge that the scout lead a campfire program or court of honor. Usually, they opt for the campfire option since it's less formal. I lucked out and a scout needing to complete this merit badge for Eagle planned and ran the court.

So, I got to be lazy and watch scouts run the entire thing with not a single adult out of his/her seat, except to stand and applaud. I could really get used to this and would highly recommend getting your scouts to at least occasionally perform ceremonies, if they don't already.

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Posted: 22:48 09-29-2009 446
Yet Another Eagle Leadership Service Project today. It was fixing up the playground at a local church. We've had a glut of projects this summer - actually 7 of them. The projects were at four different churches, a nature area, and two city parks. Lots of landscaping, painting, and building of outdoor furniture.

Today's project had a relatively small group of scouts compared to the size of the troop. It still went well, but I'm afraid Eagle Project Burn-out has set in. I've been warning the Life Scouts of this since July and the last one even gave out ice cream coupons at troop meetings to get guys to volunteer - smart scout!

Five and a half years ago, the troop had a great group of about 16 scouts join. Many of them reached Life quickly, catching up to the scouts in the two years ahead. But then they went into idle mode, feeling they had "lots of time" to get to Eagle. In 10th grade, a couple of them got in gear and pulled the other seven along in their wake and put the pressure on the guys a year older. So, now we have 18 Life scouts, 13 of which are Juniors or Seniors, all anxious to get Eagle. Makes lots of service hour opportunities and a good impact on the community, but difficult to convince scouts to set aside yet another day for volunteer labor.

We still have 3 more projects being planned before winter sets in. They are good projects, but will be extra challenging to complete with the short time left and tired out scouts.

I will be using "the Summer of '09" as an example of planning your project well ahead of time, for a long time. Acquiring volunteers is a crucial part of the project plan that can't be taken for granted.

Scout On

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Posted: 22:00 09-27-2009 445
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