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High Adventure Training
Philmont and Northern Tier require Wilderness First Aid certification in each crew. The American Red Cross has offered a course for this certification for a few years, developed by an ARC chapter in North Carolina. This spring, an entirely new, national ARC course titled Wilderness and Remote First Aid takes its place.

This new course has been developed in cooperation with the BSA and is based on our Wilderness First Aid Curriculum and Doctrine Guidelines - I bet you didn't know we had that, huh?

There's a flyer about the course Here.

It's 16 hours, like the previous course, but it should be less expensive, have more hands-on, and use consistent ARC materials. A few key differences about this new training:

This training is not JUST for Philmont and Northern Tier - every troop and pack should have people prepared to handle emergencies wherever they are. If it will take more than 20-30 minutes for an ambulance to reach you, these skills can be life-saving.

I'm really looking forward to presenting this new training to help keep Scouting safe!

Scout On
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Posted: 9:26 02-26-2010 484
Thwarted Good Deed
Driving to church with the family this morning with an uncharacteristic amount of extra time to get there.
A couple blocks ahead, in the right turn lane onto the freeway from the 4-lane road we are on, there's an SUV sitting there with its emergency blinkers going, blocking access to the freeway.

I say, "Hey, should we see if they need help?" (with my hopes high of maybe getting to do a real good turn today).
Both wife and son say, "Sure!", so I pull up beside them on their left and ask my wife to roll down her window so we can ask what we can do. I notice there are two carseats with children in them in the back seat.

Just as we get beside the driver's window, he pulls forward and makes the right turn onto the freeway and off he goes - and the driver still talking on his cellphone!

I had to say a couple extra prayers of forgiveness for some of the thoughts I had toward the guy. :-) I guess he didn't have his Tech Chip yet.

Scout On
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Posted: 11:48 02-21-2010 483
2010 Advancement Aids
I'm not really an advocate of pushing fast advancement on new scouts, but it's important to have opportunities for advancement available so those that participate are not held back from moving ahead. Not much worse than a scout not getting to forge ahead when he's chomping at the bit.

To help the Troop Guides and Instructors, there are a few documents and aids available. These aids give a structure to the advancement program and provide guidance to the scouts leading the new guys.

The New Scout Schedule has been updated with 2010 requirements.

The Advancement Tracking Sheet has been updated also.

Scout On
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Posted: 14:45 02-14-2010 482
New Troop Guide guide
I've just finished updating the program guide our troop's Troop Guides use to help new scouts reach First Class. I added Leave No Trace and Water Safety, as well as an emphasis on EDGE. I also updated for the 2010 requirement changes.

With a big swarm of scouts joining this month, the Troop Guides have a big job ahead of them. Scouts in our troop don't typically reach First Class on the schedule presented in this guide, but it provides some structure for the Troop Guides to use for success.

You can download Troop Guide PDF if it might help your troop.

Scout On
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Posted: 16:34 02-13-2010 481
Fire-free Eagles
While redoing our Troop Guide guide with the 2010 advancement requirements, I noticed the Second Class cooking requirement (3g) no longer says "over an open fire". The Second Class rank does have a requirement (3f) to build a fire, but the fire does not need to be actually lit.

With those changes, it appears there can be an Eagle Scout that has never started a single fire. None of the rank advancements or eagle-required merit badges require that a fire be lit.

I understand the changes are because of fire bans in arid states, but somebody tell me I'm missing it someplace.

Scout On
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Posted: 15:04 02-12-2010 480
Scout Sunday
Tomorrow is Scout Sunday - the first Sunday before February 8. This is a great opportunity to recognize the 'reverent' point of scouting. Our troop is serving at the church where we've met for the past 12 years. Scouts won't have any role in the service but will be helping with refreshments, coffee, and such after the service.

If you need any last minute ideas for the Scout Sunday that you were asked to participate in and waited until the last minute to prepare, check out page for ideas.

This Scout Sunday will be our last at this location. As our troop has steadily grown, we've run out of room here and are moving to a new location on March 1.

Scout On
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Posted: 14:36 02-06-2010 479
Tech Chip
How are electronics handled in your troop, pack, or crew? Are they banned, allowed only at certain times, or permitted? just scouts, or adults too? All electronics, including GPS, flashlights, watches? A specific list of devices that are illegal?

I noticed quite a bit of online discussion about electronic devices on scout outings over the past year. Some adults just ban them altogether. Others let the scouts decide. Others ban them from scouts, but not adults.

In our troop, each newly-elected Sr. Patrol Leader determines how electronics should be handled. Long ago, none were allowed on campouts because they were just radios and music. As cellphones became more common, scouts snuck them along. This caused friction between the scouts. More recent SPLs have allowed electronics, but only in the cars, or only at specific times, or only for certain uses such as clock or emergency light - which has been difficult to manage.

Most recently, we've reached the consensus that electronics are too integrated into our daily lives to toss them away for a weekend. Setting expectations on how technology should be courteously and safely used in scouting has been our direction. Over the past couple months, we've created a short training program called Tech Chip, in the spirit of Whittlin' Chip, Totin' Chip, and Firem'n Chit. It is about 20 minutes of skits and discussion to ensure everyone understands the expected use of electronics at our scout events. At the conclusion of the training, each participant receives a wallet card.

At this past weekend's campout, I presented the training to the SPL, ASPL, and a PL. They then presented it to 15 other scouts. Everyone that I asked was excited about getting to take their devices now and they all could recite the expectations to me. Some of them were just excited to have a cool wallet card even though they didn't own cellphones. :-)

See more about the Tech Chip, training outline, and wallet cards you can purchase for your Troop, Pack, or Crew at the Tech Chip Award page.

If you have suggestions for improvement, please email them to me.

Scout On
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Posted: 14:11 01-27-2010 478
Winter Hike
A Tenderfoot has been trying to find time to complete his Second Class 5-mile hike requirement since September. With his involvement in sports, poor weather, and whatnot, we finally got it done yesterday.
None of his buddies needed the requirement and he couldn't get any to join him, so it was him, his dad, and myself - poor scout stuck with a couple old guys for 2 hours. But, with 21 degrees and beautiful blue skies, it was a great hike.

He had an aerial map of the park with hiking trails and ski trails marked. I asked him where we were on the map and then asked him to take us to a creek on the map so we could see if it was frozen or not.
After we discovered that creek and that it was emptying the lake, I asked him to take us to the creek that feeds the lake. Finally, I decided I would like to play a game of snow baseball so he took us to a ball field and then back to the starting point.

Along the way, he oriented the map a half dozen times, figured general direction without his compass, learned and then demonstrated triangulation, figured distance traveled using a map scale, and discussed general winter safety as well as crossing frozen water.

We even tried out my cardboard eskimo sunglasses I made yesterday morning. They aren't a great fashion statement, but they sure cut out the snow glare.

When you have just a couple scouts around, you can pass on a ton of skills, tips, experience, and knowledge, so be ready for those great opportunties.

Scout On
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Posted: 9:09 01-17-2010 477
Historic Merit Badges
Four old-time merit badges are being resurrected for the BSA Centennial celebration. In 2010 ONLY, scouts can earn Carpentry, Pathfinding, Signaling, and Tracking - the last three being dormant since the 1950s! Of all the planned hoopla, I think this is about the coolest - not many scouts will be able to show off these few patches.

Final requirements and patch designs are supposed to be ready by the end of January, but right now is time to line up merit badge counselors for these skills. Since scouts must complete their requirements by December 31, you should get the ball rolling asap.

I'm soliciting counselors this week so we can announce the counselors at our troop recharter event next week and hand out blue cards to scouts that want to do them. You might have a challenge finding adults with skills to counsel for these badges.

See the Merit Badges for details. The info is preliminary for now, until the BSA posts final requirements.

Scout On
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Posted: 15:54 01-13-2010 476
Thrifty Moccasin Party
The troop did a real cool thing last night, taking advantage of a great sale at the scout shop.

Using as our event and meeting planner, the SPL set up a Moccasin Making Meeting. Scouts signed up for the moccasin size they wanted to make. After the deadline, I went to the scout shop and purchased the 1/2 price kits for everybody at the end of November.

Then, at last night's troop meeting, the kits were distributed and over 20 scouts started making their own pair of moccasins for wearing in camp on this year's campouts. For under $10, the scouts have fun footwear.

It was a very hectic, lots of fun, half hour getting them all started so they could finish at home. The troop had made moccasins just like this 3 years ago so the many of the older scouts already had them and just helped the younger guys get started. I expect/hope we'll do it again in 3 years.

In case you didn't know, moccasins are great for in-camp footwear during the summer. After wearing awhile, the soles harden a bit but are still soft and flexible enough to promote Leave No Trace. Your steps make less impact than hard-soled boots. And, they are dry and comfortable after hiking all morning. And, they weigh practically nothing. And, They look way cool!

My two nephews (one is a Webelos) are visiting this weekend and will make their own moccasins since we had a couple pair left over. That should keep them busy awhile.

Scout On - and keep an eye on those sales.
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Posted: 23:18 01-12-2010 475
A Safer Summer
Eleven scouters and two scouts got certified in in my WFAB session yesterday. WFAB = Wilderness First Aid Basics training from the Red Cross.
That will help make 2010 a little safer around here, at least. The two scouts were guys in our troop so I'm happy they've increased their skill level a bit more.

WFAB or its equivalent is now required to trek at Philmont and Northern Tier. I expect Seabase will require it rather than just recommend it very soon and the Summit will require it too. So, don't wait to get some members of your 2010 crew trained now - the WFAB sessions can be hard to find later in the spring. It would be frustrating to cancel your trek because of inadequate training.

Now is a good time to review the CPR, Youth Protection, Safety Afloat, and Safe Swim Defense certification expirations of your unit - those all have short expirations. Ensure you have appropriately trained adults and youth leaders to make your adventures safe.

Scout On
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Posted: 12:21 01-11-2010 474
Winter Good Turns
Now that the boys are older, Christmas morning doesn't come so fast around here so I'm just waiting for people to wake up while I check the weather. The big news around here is the snow and we're supposed to be visiting relatives soon, so I want to travel at the safest time. It looks like we're going to get lucky and have an open window.

Snow and winter weather provides great opportunity for scouts to do some good turns over their holiday break from school. Our troop doesn't meet as a troop over break, but I encourage the patrols to get together on their own for something fun and/or service-oriented.

Individual scouts can easily see if driveways and sidewalks of their neighbors have been cleared. If not, they can offer to do it. Maybe their dad or little brother can be their buddy and help out too.

Scouts should know if they have elderly neighbors. If they do any door-to-door fundraising, or just through exploring their neighborhood, they should remember who lives where. Offering to pick up mail, take garbage cans to the curb, take a pet for a walk, or help with other errands can be a big help in slippery conditions.

Fire hydrants should be kept clear of snow. Many people don't realize this responsibility. A great service project for a patrol is to canvas a neighborhood, clearing fire hydrants after asking the homeowner for permission.
The same is true for groups of mailboxes and entries to sidewalks - it helps to have the snow cleared away, but people often forget.

Snow provides many opportunities to help others. A scout providing assistance without pay or reward is being helpful and kind, and hopefully also cheerful since it's such fun getting out in the snow!

Scout On - and here's a happy, safe, and restful holiday to you
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Posted: 8:02 12-25-2009 473
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