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Eagle Gifts
Eagle fire pistons
Here's what I've been doing this week. :-)

I just finished these three fire pistons for the Eagle court of honor this weekend. I carve the scout's initials and "479" and then make some design on the rest.

After the knifework, I sand with 150, 200, 320, 400, 600 paper, then 0000 steel wool. By then my hands are worn out, I'm covered in dust, and the wood has a nice sheen. I've applied coatings in the past, but it doesn't increase the gloss much and I like the warm feel of the wood.

I tested them to make sure they worked and each one gave up an ember right away, one even on the very first compression!

Scout On
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Posted: 17:34 04-29-2011 623
Day 80
100 days of scouting
What a difference a day makes! Yesterday was rain and sleet, but this evening we had a wonderful 5-mile hike for guys preparing for Philmont. I went along just for fun - hiking around town is a great time to chat with scouts about how they're doing. Oh, and to answer questions from dads going to Philmont for the first time about their clothes, pack, boots, raingear, ... and everything else they are worried about. :-)

Today was my youngest's birthday and I always make the birthday cakes. He's totally into Ultimate so he got two frisbee cakes with his team's logo on them. They're getting together tomorrow night so he'll take them there. He had a game and they won so they're now 4-0.

Sent the solution to Clove Hitch on a Tree to someone out there in the world.

Hey, if you haven't entered this month's contest, you have two dates to go.

Scout On
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Posted: 22:19 04-28-2011 622
Day 79: Summer Camp Prep
100 days of scouting
On Sunday, we'll recognize three Eagles from the same patrol at a court of honor. My fingers are a bit sore from whittling their gifts the last few days, but I'm almost done.

Spent a couple hours checking out the summer camp documents and making sure our electronic copies are in sync with any changes. At the PLC, each patrol will be given a packet that they use to figure out merit badges, activities, and duties. Then, they'll work with the SPL to combine their wants and needs and turn it all in. We've found that Word document copies of the paper that council sends us work a lot better - the legibility alone is worth it!

We've got about 45 scouts going to summer camp. Each patrol votes on which troop activities they'd like to do during the week - things like Greased Watermelon, Water Polo, Sailing, Primitive Firebuilding, Dutch Oven Cooking, Climbing, Archery, and the like. Some of this can also be done during their evening 'free time' but afternoon times are set aside for troop events too.
The older scouts have special activities available such as COPE, Kayak, Tree House, and Huck Finn where their patrol gets away from the rest of the troop for an afternoon or overnight.
I've even heard that the camp has jet skis this year - we'll see how well that goes over. I've heard mixed thoughts on the appropriateness of it versus the lure to keep older scouts coming to camp. You can see more info about Camp Many Point.

Had about a dozen units join my link directory today. You can Add your Site.

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Posted: 7:07 04-28-2011 621
Add your Site
If you'd like your troop, pack, or crew listed on my directory, here's your chance. I just added a Add Site page so you can do it yourself.

It might get you a little bit more exposure to people looking for a unit in your town, especially if you have a link back to

Of course, I expect to have the largest scouting unit directory in the universe by the end of the week. :-) Well, not really because it's only USA and Canada right now.

Scout On
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Posted: 10:21 04-26-2011 620
Day 77: Troop Meeting
100 days of scouting Day 77: The skills training and big game were done outside at the troop meeting. It's been a long winter, and today it looks like it's not quite finished, but having more daylight and warmer temps means the scouts can spend more of the troop meeting time outside - hopefully the whole meeting.

A scout and his dad let me know that he'd be dropping scouts. I let him know I appreciated that he 'closed the loop' with me and didn't just drift away. And, he's always welcome to drop back in if he finds time.
Some guys are naturally good at leading and Scouts is just an opportunity for them to demonstrate their abilities. Others, like this scout, need the small bits of leadership to nurture and grow their abilities that they've not found yet. We'll miss him.

Distributed BSA membership cards and a pile of blue cards.
Installed Troopmaster on an adult's laptop.
Got rid of a bunch of winter lost&found junk from campouts.
Used Donkey in the Well for my scoutmaster minute.
Also spent a couple hours whittling on three Eagle gifts. I'll post a picture in a few days when they're done.

Scout On
Challenge your Scouts

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Posted: 7:24 04-26-2011 619
Happy Easter
100 days of scouting
He is Risen.
He is Risen, indeed!

I'll be at church this morning, then have the In-Laws visiting us the rest of the day. So, a day off from scouting.

Scout On
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Posted: 6:36 04-24-2011 618
Day 75: Hiking
100 days of scouting Day 75: Two crews preparing for Philmont in June had their first 10-mile hike this morning. I don't get to do Philmont this year because there's a surplus of dads wanting to go, but I get to join them on the hikes since I'm the Hiking merit badge counselor. I've been hiking about 6 miles a day on my own every day so today's walk around town was nice.

The crews have 5-mile hikes scheduled for each Tuesday and Thursday, plus 10-milers each Saturday and a couple Sundays for the next 6 weeks. There're also two 20-milers lined up so enough hike opportunies for anyone doing the Hiking merit badge.

Have you looked at the Hiking merit badge? It's probably about the simplest merit badge to earn but we've only had a couple guys complete the requirements to earn it over the past few years. Lots of guys do all the hiking required, but few take the couple minutes to make the trip plans before a hike and even fewer write the after-hike reports. They don't really need the badge for advancement since most do Swimming at summer camp, but it can still be used as an elective badge.

Scout On
Challenge your Scouts

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Posted: 21:02 04-23-2011 617
Day 70:
100 days of scouting Day 70: You never know where you'll find someone ready to chat about Scouting. Had my dental check this morning and mentioned to the lady doing the check that I had been camping with Scouts this past weekend. She proceeded to tell me all about her time as a Girl Scout leader - my part of the conversation was mostly "Uh-huh" or "Huh" with all her scraping, prodding, and polishing going on. But, it made the time go faster. She had high praise for the Boy Scout program, wishing her Girl Scouts did more outdoors stuff, skills, and real life training. I did mention Venturing.

The BSA is trying to get more Alumni reconnected to bolster the volunteer ranks. I hope some successful strategies are developed so more of these past Scouts become current Scouters sharing their life lessons and skills with the Scouts of today.

I visited the Ashland, WI troop tonight. I gave their scoutmaster a fire piston, their SPL a camping chess/checkers/backgammon game, and everyone else a neckerchief blank to carve from Whittler Bob - he's got tons of different blanks you can buy for your troop.

Scout On
Challenge your Scouts

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Posted: 5:52 04-19-2011 616
Day 69: Snow Camping
last snow camp
Four new scouts survived their first (and probably most miserable for awhile) campout with the troop. Friday evening was cold and windy, but the tents got set up before the rain really started.
The rain started, turned to sleet, then snow as the temperature dropped. In the morning, we had a beautiful white park all to ourselves.
Even though I sent one last reminder about what to pack after the SPL had announced it and the patrol leaders talked about it, it was disappointing how many blue jeans, sweatshirts, and tennis shoes were being worn. Some of the guys were pretty cold. But, a 5-mile hike and aggressive game of kickball kept them warm most of the day.
My new sleeping pad was great - I had my best camping sleep in a long time both nights.

100 days of scouting Day 69: Besides camping, there was more Scouting going on this weekend.
I did a "Test Out" of a scoutmaster for Intro to Outdoor Leader Skills while the scouts were on their hike. We didn't have enough interest to hold the IOLS training, but he wanted to get through it and it went well.

Sunday evening, we had an Eagle Court of Honor. This scout has been in a den or troop with me for 11 years - since I was his Tiger den leader. Lots of pictures and memories of a little imp growing into a confident young man. There are two more from that original Tiger den that will hopefully earn Eagle this year.

In other news, a scout troop was rescued from a flood - I wonder what the real story is about how they got in that predicament.

Scout On

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Posted: 7:31 04-18-2011 615
Day 67: It All Evens Out
100 days of scouting Day 67: I guess it all evens out in the long run.

Last year, every weekend campout was warm weather. It was so warm in January that the snowhuts melted, everyone wore shorts camping in April.
This winter we were camping during the season's deepest snowfall, the coldest night, and it looks like the last snowfall of the season tonight. They say to expect an incho or two.
It all evens out.

Last weekend, I was teaching a bunch of Scouters and missing being outside in a tent. This weekend, I get to use my new sleeping pad, eat dutch oven cooking, and smell like smoke when I get home.

Last fall, we had about 60 Scouters in IOLS training. I had to cancel it this weekend because only two signed up.

A few months ago, there was talk of droughts. This month, sandbags are along the rivers holding back the floodwaters.

I don't get to go to Philmont this summer. But, I do get to do a 50-Mile backpack up north on a brand new trail.

I finished my taxes and sent them in the old-fashioned way. I got a refund from Federal and wrote a check to State for almost the same amount.
It all evens out.

Scout On
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Posted: 15:31 04-15-2011 614
Day 65: Fixin' and Cleanin'
100 days of scouting Day 65: A scout and his dad came over after school to fix a tent pole in his patrol's tent. Only took about 10 minutes and now he can help teach someone else the next time it's needed. He learned a figure eight stopper knot.

Three scouts stopped by after that to clean two dutch ovens that their patrols had neglected after their last use. Rust happens fast in a bare, wet, closed dutch oven. Fortunately, steel wool and elbow grease saved the day. A quick spray of vegetable oil and they're looking ready to go. I told them they might consider making a few batches of doughnuts to break the D.O.s in again. :-)

Sat through the district committee meeting tonight. same old stuff.

This weekend will be the first campout for the new patrol so there's a flurry of parent question emails fluttering around. The troop guide is taking care of everything so far and I'm impressed. Latest weather says rain and possibly snow. Oh joy!

Scout On
Scouts can run their troop
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Posted: 22:41 04-13-2011 613
Day 63: Robotics
100 days of scouting Day 63: The Robotics merit badge gets officially launched on Tuesday. I picked up the merit badge pamphlet at the scout shop today and it's pretty cool. You can see the requirements and worksheet on the Robotics merit badge page.

My weekend was spent presenting CPR and Wilderness First Aid to a dozen scouts and scouters from eight different troops and one crew. Now those units have fulfilled their high adventure training requirement, and we had good weather so most scenarios were done outside.

Tonight was the new SPL and his team's first PLC meeting and troop meeting. He did a great job. The ASPL, Troop Guide, and a PL are all Juniors in high school and I was very impressed how they supported the new SPL, just an 8th grader. Their experience and encouragement will be a big help. I thanked them publicly and privately for their leadership, even as followers.
My scoutmaster minute was Afraid and Brave.

Scout On
Challenge your Scouts
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Posted: 8:04 04-12-2011 612
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