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A scouter from our troop earned his pilot's license this past year at the local community airport. Yesterday, he took me up for a ride on a beautiful, sunny early fall day. This was my first time in a tiny plane and has been something I've always thought would be a wonderful thing to do. It was!
The flight was exactly as I expected - a bit rough, loud, exciting, and fun! It was very interesting to be with someone that has only been flying a short time but was very comfortable with all the instruments, skills, and communications protocols. For me, it was a great reminder how much a scout can grow and learn when placed in a constructive environment where he is challenged and allowed to be self-sufficient. It doesn't take long to become an expert and share skills with others.
We flew from Flying Cloud airport in Eden Prairie to Red Wing airport - the town where they make Red Wing boots and shoes. We were going to land at a grass air strip in Stanton on the way home, but the air there was crowded with gliders so we skipped that. Actually, it reminded me of a WWI dogfight with planes flashing in the sun here and there. When one of them came right at us, that's when my ace pilot decided to head for home.
Here's a few pictures of my awesome day in the blue sky with a great friend...
|Pre-flight inspection. There's a lot more to getting ready than I thought. A good pilot doesn't leave anything unchecked. This flying club has a long checklist that the pilot completes before and after every flight. It's a good way to make sure nothing is skipped and the plane is ready for the next flight.|
|The instrument panel. I now know what most of these are for - altitude, direction, speed, ... there's a lot going on all the time when flying. It's also a bit like the wild west up in the air. You need to be constantly scanning for other aircraft because anyone can fly pretty much anyplace when away from airports.|
|Taking off from Flying Cloud. The take-offs and landings where smoother than I expected. I guess I had an exceptional pilot! One thing that was kind of freaky is how steep the landing is. It seemed to me like we were doing a nosedive into the ground, but it was perfect.|
It's also amazing how many tiny airports there are all over the place. A map of airports in Minnesota looks like someone blasted it with a shotgun. And, since many of these airports are unmanned, communications is directly between planes on a pre-defined frequency. So, there is a lot of data you need to have along in order to do things right.
|It's always cool to see your house from the sky. :-) A ride in a small plane is kind of like the take-off and landing of a commercial jet. You know, the part where you drop out of the clouds and get to see things for a few minutes as you circle for approach. But, in a small plane, you're at the perfect elevation to see things for the entire flight. It's very cool!|
I have a 30 second video of the take-off and approach to Red Wing if you want to see more - View Video
Thanks for a terrific flight, Bob!
Posted: 7:50 09-10-2012 893
Guys like me really try to get all they can out of a purchase. I like to think I'm thrifty, but some folks would just call it cheap. I drive a 24 year old car that gets 33mpg and refuses to die. I have a laptop that still works from 1994. My lawnmower is at least 15 years old. But, sometimes even guys like me have to break down and buy new stuff.
In this photo, you can see me at the end of my Arizona Trail Hike - my old favorite shirt is completely worn through and my old favorite BSA hat is fraying. I haven't thrown out the shirt - I use it in my Wilderness First Aid training scenarios. But, the hat is finally gone.
Now, I didn't throw it away. I kept wearing it this summer. While sailing a Sunfish on a lake up north, the wind ripped it off my head and PLOP! into the drink. I circled around and almost got it three times before it finally sunk away out of sight. Sigh!
So, today I visited the scout shop and bought a brand new, bright, crisp, green hat. I expect after 300 miles of wearing it on the Superior Hiking Trail this month, it will be my new old favorite. I also have a new, sweat-wicking shirt but I don't think it will ever be a favorite. It just doesn't have the right feel.
Do you have an old favorite that should probably be replaced but you keep on making it work?
Posted: 20:27 09-04-2012 892
I'm sure you've met one by now. He might just make a quiet comment to you that your new square knot is sewn upside down. Or, he might point out paragraph 4 on page 5 of his Insignia Guide where it says that patch hanging from your right pocket button is 1/4 inch too wide. Or, he might complain to others when you're not around about how your 5 medals and all those knots are excessive. He's the Patch Police.
Recognition of efforts by volunteers is important. And, of course, we should follow the guidelines when displaying recognition. But, those people with experience and knowledge about the guidelines should use empathy and tact in a helpful manner when a discrepency is noticed. If you find it important enough to correct others, please do it respectfully and off to the side.
Many new volunteers receive recognition items but no immediate guidance regarding proper display. If your role includes distributing recognition, make it a point to also provide instruction about placement of the recognition item. Even if you don't present the items, you can always ask "Do you know where that goes?" when you congratulate the recognized volunteer. This will solve nearly all patch police cases before they occur.
Did you know the BSA actually does have a Patch Police program? Well, it's actually Patch Patrol, but close enough. The program is intended to promote BSA licensed patches rather than unauthorized knock-offs. And, it's a simple way to get another patch to add to your collection.
Officially endorsed BSA patches have a special backing so you just "Flip It" to see if its official. If you send the BSA an email telling them what you're doing to teach others to "Flip It", they'll send you a free "Real Deal" patch. See scoutstuff page
for the address and details. The program has been going since last year, but they still had patches left last month.
Let me know if the patch you get has the official backing on it. :-)
Posted: 9:17 09-03-2012 891
AZT Hike Video
Click the picture if you'd like to see a video recap
of my Arizona Trail hike. It's about 10 minutes. It won't win any awards, but you can see some of the terrain I covered.
I hiked the trail from March 17 to April 28, 2012. The trail is divided into 43 segments and it coincidentally took me 43 days to hike the trail.
This trek was an awesome adventure and a great first long hike. I learned a lot about extended hiking, met some interesting people, and survived desert hiking. I also helped get a few people involved in the BSA ScoutStrong program.
I'm doing the 300-mile Superior Hiking Trail
in about three weeks and will be promoting ScoutStrong during that hike also.
Posted: 13:07 08-24-2012 890
Adult BSA volunteers can't earn merit badges and ranks, but their participation in scouting activities with the scouts can be recognized. Some adults greatly enjoy the recognition, while others prefer to be inconspicuous. Either way, being aware of the awards and ensuring adult volunteers have the opportunity to receive them is important.
Besides the plethora of square knots volunteers can earn, there are many other awards available. Here's a bunch which you can find in the Awards section of this site. Any others you know about?
50-miler, BSA Family, BSA Lifeguard, BSA Physical Fitness, Emergency Preparedness, Founder's Bar, Triple Crown, Historic Trails, International Activity, Interpreter strip, James Stewart Good Citizenship, Medal of Heroism, Honor, or Merit, Mile Swim, Ready and Prepared, Trained strip, Hornaday
In addition to these official BSA awards, it's often more fun and meaningful for a unit to create and present its own awards. These are usually silly, but intended to recognize contributions by members. For example, the Golden Steering Wheel for driving scouts to camp every summer; the Citizen Ship (small boat model) for counseling the three citizen merit badges for umpteen years; the Golden Boot for taking scouts on treks.
Any service that folks provide can be recognized. It all depends on how much effort you want to put in and if that effort will result in more motivated volunteers offering up a better program and having fun. If you have extra adult resources in your unit, you might appoint an "Adult Recognition Chair" responsible for coming up with humorous ways to thank volunteers for their efforts. Keep it Fun.
Posted: 7:57 08-23-2012 889
WRFA and SAR
Presented my 12th, and hopefully last for the year, Red Cross Wilderness First Aid (WRFA) session this weekend. Between my long hikes, most of my weekends have been consumed by this training. I've presented to 160 people this year with most of them being Scouting folks. It feels good to have helped a bunch of crews get ready for safer high adventure outings this summer. The Red Cross is always looking for more good instructors, so you might contact your local chapter to find out more.
Also, the Search and Rescue merit badge requirements
are up now. It's a lot of 'book learning' with only requirement #9 actually being an 'active' requirement, but the organizational knowledge gained from earning the badge could be valuable if you ever have a lost scout. One requirement is to complete ICS 100 training and there's an online training for it Here
Pamphlets and patches should be at your scout shop now, or very soon, so scouts can get started as soon as your district/council has merit badge counselors signed up.
Posted: 8:26 08-20-2012 887
Chief Scout and Technology
Wayne Brock is the new Chief Scout of the BSA. He has an interview in the Sept-Oct issue of Scouting
magazine. In it, he mentions technology a few times, and I'm happy to see that he realizes technology is here and is a tool to be used. It also needs to be managed correctly.
The BSA is embracing and managing technology. Cellphones, digital cameras, GPSs, the Internet, gaming systems, and on and on - electronics are engraded in the lifestyles of youth and need to be addressed rathered than just banned in Scouting. There are many BSA social media channels - Patrol Z
for example. I bet your council, and maybe district, and possibly even unit have a Facebook page, Twitter page, and website.
I pulled out these parts about technology from the Scouting magazine interview
: What else do you plan to do in this role?Wayne
: Introduce technology to enhance the experience for youth as well as remove administrative burdens from leaders and councils so they can spend more of their time delivering the program. There is a high demand for this, and we have a very dedicated team working on it, although itís a multi-year project. Scouting
: Is technology the BSAís biggest competitor for gaining kidsí interest?Wayne
: Our national president, Wayne Perry, said in his introductory speech at the National Annual Meeting that he believes itís electronics. Itís kids staying inside and playing video games. Other people are going to tell you that itís sports. I think itís a combination of these things and others. Scouting
: Whatís the main argument from Scout leaders against technology?Wayne
: Some leaders donít think thereís any place for technology within Scouting. They say Scouting is a place where youth should go to experience nature and should not have their devices around. Others think technology is necessary to be relevant. Thatís the cultural war weíre in today.Scouting
: What are some examples of ways the BSA plans to use technology?Wayne
: If you come to the jamboree in 2013, technology will be very integrated into the program. There will be an app for your phone that will show you all about the jamboree and where you are, what your schedule is, where to find the different activities. To take full advantage of all this, Scouts will have to bring their mobile devices with them.
Posted: 8:33 08-17-2012 885
Scout Pen Pals
The last couple weeks here have been spent creating a Pen Pal Connection feature on Boy Scout Trail - see Pen Pals
It's a simple way to get your den, pack, patrol, colony, unit, ... listed and find other groups that want to connect. After you're connected, you decide if you want to exchange messages through the Boy Scout Trail system or use email, text messages, or paper mail.
There's nobody in the database yet, so it will take awhile to start seeing contacts listed. Den leaders that get started now might have some potential contacts ready when school starts and your den meetings get rolling along.
Posted: 13:15 08-14-2012 884
When does your community see Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturers?
They don't see them when the pack, troop, or crew goes camping.
They don't see them at pack, troop, or crew meetings.
They might see them at an occasional parade.
They probably see them every year selling popcorn, or other fundraising. Next month, lots of units will be sitting in front of stores and knocking on doors, selling popcorn. The community will see scouts in uniform all over the place, with their hand out.
It's a bit sad if that's the only
time the scouts are seen.
You and I know that scouts contribute much to communities. They perform millions of hours of community service across the country, but much of it is isolated and under the radar. The local community's perception of Scouting's involvement in the community is important.
Here are a few service ideas that might provide more exposure to Scouting in your community:
- Goblin Insurance - scouts clean up reported messes after Halloween.
- Flag Retirement - collect and dispose of old flags.
- Hydrant Clearing - shovel out neighborhood fire hydrants after big snows.
- School Care - clean the grounds and streets around neighborhood schools.
- School Carnival - some elementary schools have carnivals, scouts could man activities.
- Teacher Help - before the school year starts, help elementary teachers prepare their rooms. (chance to visit with past teachers, too)
- Patriotic Ceremonies - ask town government if they need help on Independence Day, Memorial Day, Patriot Day, Veterans Day, Flag Day, or other patriotic days observed in your community. Scouts can carry flags, be ushers, direct traffic, and other useful jobs.
When members of the community see scouts in uniform, performing acts of service, they get a glimpse of what Scouting is really about. Since most people don't attend unit functions, we need to make an effort to represent Scouting well whenever an opportunity comes up.
Too many people only see scouts when they come knocking on the door, wanting something. Even many helpful drives
(such as blood, food, clothing) to help others are asking people to give. Scouts performing service that looks like service makes a powerful impression on others.
There's nothing wrong with making the local media aware of the service. Providing service because it's needed is the important thing. Most service projects are just like that - something is built or fixed and then the hundreds of people that use it have no idea it was done by scouts. That's ok, but it's also ok to make the community aware of what Scouting does.
So, how do you make people aware of goblin insurance, hydrant cleaning, leaf raking, and other assistance you're willing to provide to needy individuals? You might make up troop business cards that scouts hand out to their neighbors when going door-to-door doing fundraising. They could be given only to older residents, or only those with hydrants in their yard, or whatever criteria was required. The card (or just slip of paper) has a list of free
services and unit contact info. Of course, you need to have commitment from your scouts that any offered service will be fulfilled. Also, providing free work normally done by local businesses would not be appropriate.
How does your unit
get noticed in your community for more than just asking for money? Do you have any ideas to share that are not fundraising and that get scouts noticed?
Posted: 9:46 08-10-2012 883
Eagle Project $$$ Help
Do you know of any Life Scouts needing building materials and equipment for their Eagle projects this year? There's help available to pay for it and it would be a shame to let the resource go unused.
Lowe's has a grant program this year that allows councils to distribute $100 prepaid gift cards to Life Scouts to use on their Eagle projects. The cards may be accepted at other building material stores than just Lowe's, so don't let that stop a scout from applying.
Scouts need to plan their project, complete and submit an application to their council, and hope there are grants left. Maybe contacting the council service center first to ensure the council is participating and has grants left would be a good idea.
It all wraps up on December 31, 2012, to here's yet another reason to get that project done now rather than later.
There's a page on the BSA site with More Info
, including an application form.
Posted: 13:29 08-07-2012 882
My son just got back from a week backpacking trip without me. The troop leaves tomorrow for a week backpacking trip without me. I need to get out on another trek!
I've been hiking about 8 miles each morning and looking around for a long, but not too long, trail to do.
The Superior Hiking Trail
is perfect. It's almost 300 miles, close to home, and I've not hiked it yet.
I plan to start walking south from the Canadian border to Jay Cooke State Park in Duluth, MN on Sept. 15 and would love to have some scouts or scouters join me for all or part of the trek. I figure it will take about 2 weeks, give or take a couple days. There's a 10 mile or so section not yet completed just north of Duluth, but the North Shore Trail runs through there and I plan to follow it as a connecting route.
There are about 90 established campsites along the trail, most with latrines, tent pads, firepits, and water source so the camping part should be quite easy. I expect to carry no more than 4 days of food and very little water since there is such easy access to water and resupply points.
September seems to me like a great time to hike this trail:
- Summer heat and humidity is gone. The weather should be cooler and no thunderstorms, but not too cold yet. The average hi and lo temps are very nice.
- No bugs. Mosquitos, ticks, and black flies should all be gone or nearly so.
- Fall colors are changing. This is right around the best time for the show to begin. If I'm lucky, this might be a great year for colors.
- Wildlife. Animals should be very active preparing for winter so I might get to see a lot.
- Fewer people. School will have just started so I should have the trail pretty much to myself during the week with more day-hikers on the weekends.
Besides, my youngest son will be off to college and my wife will be very busy with her first few weeks of teaching. It's a good time for me to be out of the way. :-)
I already have my food purchased and left over from my Arizona hike. I already have all the gear I need. I'm in shape to start. This should be an inexpensive, relaxing trek and a great time exploring part of my own backyard that I've not made time to visit yet.
Interested in joining me? If you are, just send me an email and maybe we can work something out. If you'd just like to join me for a few days, or a weekend, or a day hike, that would be cool. I'll be tracking my progress and blogging along the way so you can just stop and say HI as I walk by if you're in the area.
If your troop wants to plan a hike for a day or overnight on Sept. 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, or 30, just contact me and we can plan something. I'll have a Scout Shop gift card along for any troop that hikes with me - it does get lonely out there. :-)
Posted: 9:30 08-03-2012 881
Last chance to get an entry in for July's random Boy Scout Trail drawing for three prizes. Go to Scout Contest
page to enter.
- $25 Scout Shop gift card
- $50 ClassB.com coupon
- Cobra Braid survival bracelet
If you're just too busy to enter, don't worry - there's a drawing in August and every month you can enter.
PS: A few folks have asked why they never win even though they entered every month for the past year. All the winners are posted on the contest page, but I'll try to explain.
It's all LUCK! :-)
Every month that you enter, it's like getting another ticket in the pot. If you entered 47 months, you have 47 chances to win. So, entering each month helps, but does not mean you'll win.
Each month, there are around 6,000 tickets in the pot so you have about a 1 in 2000 chance of winning some prize if you entered once. If you enter every month for a year, that's about a 1 in 500 chance.
Posted: 13:59 07-31-2012 879
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