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Short Notice Service
A local youth camp had some oak trees taken down this spring and cut to firewood lengths. At our troop committee meeting on Monday, a request to have the wood split and stacked before their first week of camp was presented. First week of camp starts this coming Monday - not a lot of time to organize and do the task.
I volunteered to find out what scouts would help and then determine if we could help out or not. Before I tell you what I did, how do you think this 'should have' been done? How should I have found out which scouts were available and then contact the camp to let them know if we could do the work?
Well, I was in a very tight time crunch. I had to get this done in two days so we could do the work on Thursday. I thought I would use the patrols like a phone tree. I sent an email to all patrol leaders telling them about the work to be done and asking them to get a list of available scouts in their patrol back to me. I then called each patrol leader to let them know the email was in their mailbox. I wound up leaving messages for most scouts.
It worked great. By Wednesday noon, I had gotten word back from all eight patrols and we had nine scouts and two adults that would be doing the job.
But, I overstepped my role in the troop. I should have contacted the Senior Patrol Leader directly and discussed the project with him. If he felt the troop should and could do it, then he should have contacted the patrol leaders. The results would have been the same, but their would have been more more scout leadership going on instead of an adult running the show.
I'm still learning. In a crunch, I have to take extra time in deciding what scouts can do instead of me or other adults. Adults are needed to drive and ensure safety - pretty much everything else can be done by scouts, sometimes with adult guidance. Next time, I plan to do a better job.
The wood splitting went great. The two adults split and the scouts stacked about 3/4 cord of wood. We didn't finish the job in our available time, but we worked hard and made a good dent in the task. More scouts would not have helped since the wood splitter was the bottleneck.
Posted: 7:51 06-24-2006 72
Thunder and Lightning
Last weekend, I got to see my first actual lightning strike. On our way to camping, we had to pull over because it was raining so hard.
While waiting for the rain to let up, lightning was crashing all over the place. About 50 yards away, a bolt hit a tree and we could see the sparks dropping off the tree. That was about enough to convince the scouts in my vehicle to head back home for the weekend. :-) But, once the rain let up, things went great for our trip.
We did canoeing and fishing (no fish) and for the most part the weather was just fine. Lots of mosquitoes and a train passing through somewhere in the distance about every hour did make the campout not quite perfect.
This trip had a noticably smaller turn-out with about 12 scouts instead of 35. But, I tend to agree with the couple scouts in our reflection that mentioned it seemed like we got more done and got along better with a smaller group. Something to think about.
Posted: 22:40 06-23-2006 71
Youth Leader Training
On Sunday, I took my son and another Life scout to our council's Youth Leader Training. It's a week long camp that just got a face-lift and new name this year. It was called Pine Tree but is now called Grey Wolf - Info Page
One of them is in the Rhino patrol and the other is a Python. When I left, their Troop Guides were leading them in making Turk's Head Knots.
This camp is yet another opportunity for leadership development in scouting. It's so encouraging to see a scout looking forward to a chance to use some leadership tool he just learned. And, to see him try it out, hone it, and then look for another tool to learn. Of course, not every scout has a drive for leadership, but every scout can't help but learn some skills just by being imersed in the program.
When they return from Grey Wolf, these two scouts will give a report to the Troop Committee and I'm really looking forward to hearing what they picked up for use in improving the troop.
Posted: 11:55 06-13-2006 70
Oops, make that 3,197 spots
I filled out the forms for two more scouts in our troop to attend the World Jamboree next summer. So, our little troop has 3 scouts going now!
These two guys will probably be the youngest BSA attendees since their birthdays are right at the cut-off. We spent about 45 minutes talking about the jamboree and their expectations - lots of excitement, that's for sure! They are both first class scouts but will be Star before they leave.
I let them know the troop would appreciate and expect a presentation about their experiences when they get back. We talked about how they would be representing not only their troop but also their country since they'd meet some scouts that have never met USA Boy Scouts before. And, we discussed ways they could raise funds over the next year.
It will be a fun year watching these 3 scouts as the date gets closer and then hearing about the Jamboree when they get home. I can hardly wait. :-)
Posted: 7:39 06-11-2006 69
Only 3,199 Spots Left
Well, one of the Eagle Scouts in our troop is planning on attending the 2007 World Scout Jamboree next summer. We're very excited for him! He went to the National Scout Jamboree in 2005 and had a great time. The patches, photos, and stories he brought back to share with the troop were super.
He'll be working at a council scout camp all this summer, his older brother is an Eagle scout, and his dad has been a great support to the troop - so you can see scouting is a big part of that family's life.
So, those of you interested in going to England next year had better get busy - only 3,199 spots left for BSA participants! :-)
Posted: 7:06 06-08-2006 68
World Jamboree Anyone?
The 21st World Scout Jamboree happens in July, 2007 in Chelmsford, England. This will be the celebration of the 100th birthday of the World Scout Movement.
The theme for the 21st Jamboree is, "One World, One Promise", and is being held at nearly the same location as the very first World Jamboree in 1920. 301 BSA members attended that first jamboree and 3,200 are invited to the 21st jamboree.
More information for BSA scouts interested in attending can be found at BSA Jamboree Page
. If you can raise the $3,975 fee plus travel expenses, it will be a 'once in a century' experience. About 40,000 participants are expected from over 150 countries.
Me? Well, 40,000 people is a bit much for me. I'll be rooting for you all from here at home. :-)
Posted: 17:45 06-02-2006 67
Did you notice there's a Monthly Contest
on Boy Scout Trail? Each month, you can win a $25 gift card for www.ScoutStuff.org
Besides that, there are some contests running by Boys' Life and Scouting magazines...
Scouting Magazine's Cartoon Caption Contest
has scouters come up with captions for 4 cartoons and maybe win gift cards.
Boys' Life's Summer Fun Photo Contest
has savings bonds as prizes for scouts.
Boys' Life is also running their 19th Annual Reading Contest
where scouts write a report, send it in, and maybe win a gift card.
Good Luck and Scout On!
Posted: 17:20 05-31-2006 66
Hiking for Food
We have a crew of 8 scouts and 4 adults going on a week-long backpacking trip in Wyoming in July. It is a big undertaking to plan your own high adventure instead of just participating in the canned Philmont or Sea Base programs, but it sure does give the scouts a lot of leadership opportunity. One scout chose a campground for the trip there and back. Two more are working on the menu. Another is designing shirts and finding a vendor. Lots of other duties distributed by the crew leader so everyone has something to accomplish before the trek begins.
Tonight, our crew hiked 3 miles to a local burger joint, had dinner, then hiked back. What a great hike! We even had 3 tag-alongs that aren't going on our trek but are getting in shape for a different backpacking trip. It was fun to see the looks when we all tromped in with our backpacks on. Luckily, this place is run by super people with great attitudes and they serve really good hamburgers. I guess I should give them a plug - it's called Lion's Tap
and I'm sure they'd love to have you stop in. One guy eating there said he was an Eagle scout and was looking forward to having his 9 month old son join Scouts. I told him the 6 years would fly be and he'd be a Tiger in no time. :-)
Posted: 22:16 05-30-2006 65
The William T. Hornaday award is a BSA award started in 1917 for service in conservation. There are a bunch of increasingly difficult levels to the award. A troop can earn a certificate by completing a meaningful conservation project. A scout can earn a (very cool) metal badge by completing some merit badges and leading a meaningful conservation project. This could be great practice for an Eagle project. A medal can be earned by completing multiple projects. A Scouter can earn a certificate or medal, but only after a very significant long-term contribution to promoting conservation in Scouting.
For anyone in Minnesota, I found out that MN DNR has over $300,000 funding available for grant proposals for restoring native shoreline vegetation. Possibly other state Natural Resources Departments offer similar funding. If you can think of a shoreline that needs work, you might be able to receive funding to help restore it. If you are looking for a challenge, are interested in conservation, and would like to try for a pretty rare BSA award, consider the Hornaday award.
To learn more about the Hornaday awards: Award Page
To learn more about the DNR funding: MN DNR Page
Posted: 8:41 05-25-2006 64
Bugs of Summer
Last evening, we went on a conditioning hike for a trip this summer to the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. I got my first mosquito bite of the year - actually 4 of them!
I'm sure mosquitos must do some good in the world, but I'm at a lose to understand just what that is other than be a food source for bats, birds, and fish.
Last summer, I wore a Buzz-Off shirt and pants on most of my camping trips and they worked great. They are impregnated with Permethrin.
But, this year I have something new to try. I just bought some new bug repellent made with Picaridin instead of DEET. DEET in about a 20% mixture works well for me, but I'm anxious to see how well this Picaridin works.You can buy Buzz-Off clothing online directly from ExOfficio
Posted: 10:08 05-10-2006 63
Summer Camp Planning
Looks like we have 39 scouts going to summer camp in July. We're trying something new this year. We have adjacent camp sites and will have 4 patrols in one camp and 3 patrols in the other. The hope is to have some friendly competition for camp cleanliness, good campfire programs, and stuff like that. With some incentive, we might wind up with campsites kept in a little better order than the last couple years.
Plus, the scouts receive twice as many program slots throughout the week - last year, we had a lot of scouts in each program session with a lot of sitting and waiting for their turn.
So, I spent yesterday preparing planning documents for each patrol to start working on at the troop meeting tonight. Each patrol picks the top 10 things they want to do during the week from the camp's program topics. They also decide which merit badges to work on. Scouts going into 8th grade and above also get to choose a few more activities from an additional advanced program. Once all the patrols complete their planning, the SPL and ASPL will figure out the week's program and merit badges.
It's great to pass on as much of the planning to the scouts as possible. I still have the fun of making sure we have enough drivers, how many adult meals are needed each day, tent arrangements for adults, and a hundred other little bits. And, its still two months away! :-)
Posted: 9:00 05-08-2006 62
Ballistas and Bridges
The troop returned from their first campout of the 'summer' yesterday - 50 degrees and 48 hours of drizzling rain doesn't count as summer. The weekend's theme was Pioneering and the Cobra patrol planned the agenda.
New scouts earned their Totin' Chips and spent quite a bit of time hacking, sawing, and whittling with their new-found freedom from having their own cards.
After a session of learning and reviewing lashings, everyone worked on a monkey bridge after lunch. Since some of the work required fewer people, a flagpole with tripod was also lashed together by some scouts needing a 'useful camp gadget' for advancement credit.
A very cool Ballista was also constructed and operated completely by scouts. They made the plans, did all the lashings and supplied the man-power. Pretty cool project! This was the first ballista ever constructed by our troop. Now they're talking about an improved version for next year.
Posted: 19:39 05-01-2006 61
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