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What do fresh snow, mud, and dirt have in common?
They're perfect for finding animal tracks on your next hike!
But, once you've found the tracks, you need to figure out what animal made them. That can be a challenge, especially for people just starting their outdoors adventures.
These Animal Track ID Cards
are great for identifying 16 animals you might find on your travels, from the tiny mouse to the huge bear. It's a great resource to print and keep in your pocket for quick reference.
What should you do if a young one asks you, "Hey, what's that print?"
Hand him the sheet so he can figure it out himself instead of impressing him with your infinite wisdom and simply saying, "Oh, that's a wolf." Discovery is the best teacher!
(If that link above doesn't work, see the backup
Posted: 13:36 02-13-2013 947
After their Blue Gold banquets and cross-over ceremonies, many Webelos will be joining troops over the next month. A new adventure for young boys full of excitement and apprehension about camping without parents, cooking their own food, and hanging out with older guys. These Webelos have been top dog for the past year and they're now being thrown back to the bottom of the heap. Making this transition fun and accepting is a key first step for a long Boy Scout experience. Ensuring their first campout is successful and rewarding is a great way to start their time with your troop.
Joining in March gives new scouts a few camping opportunities with the troop before their big Summer Camp
experience. Be sure your troop has planned campouts in April and May geared towards the new guys. As you can see in the photo, at least around here, a March campout can be just plain miserable with cold, wet weather and not a great first experience for new scouts - while an April campout is usually beautiful. I'd recommend having the new scouts spend March getting ready for camping by practicing camping skills and patrol teamwork at troop and patrol meetings, then take it to the field in April. Those tents and stoves that are old hat to you do take some practice to master.
These first campouts should provide an abundance of opportunity for scouts to learn, practice, and demonstrate skills for Tenderfoot rank. Scouts should be able to complete half the requirements on their first campout. The Patrol Leader Council members, when planning these spring campouts, have the perfect opportunity to introduce new scouts to their troop. It's a time to show how we camp, how we help each other, how we accept new people, how we live the Scout Law.
The first campout certainly doesn't need to be a big deal - just being out with the guys IS a big deal! Here are some things to consider in planning early campouts for new scouts:
- Hold the campout as close to home as you can, in case someone is just not ready for the challenge of being away from parents.
- Schedule lots of time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - cooking those first meals is a real challenge.
- Have a Troop Guide help each New Scout patrol - actually helping them the entire weekend, not just listed on paper.
- Raise the American flag Saturday morning and take it down in the evening. You could do this Friday evening and Sunday morning as well.
- Have time Saturday morning to fix some frayed rope and put up some clothes lines - to whip and fuse rope and practice two half-hitches and tautline hitch.
- Go on a hike in the afternoon and discuss hiking safety and buddy system along the way.
- Plan a short campfire program for Saturday night with 3 or 4 skits, a song or two, and a couple stories. Not too long, or too late, since the new guys will most likely be wiped out from the day.
By introducing new scouts to camping in a setting that's easy for your experienced scouts, and geared to the new guys, you begin a solid foundation of their sense of belonging in their
Posted: 11:18 02-12-2013 946
Postponing Membership Decision
The Boy Scouts of America have postponed decision on membership policy changes until the May, 2013 national meeting. Here's the news release:For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, providing it's youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. In the past two weeks, Scouting has received an outpouring of feedback from the American public. It reinforces how deeply people care about Scouting and how passionate they are about the organization.
After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America's National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy.
To that end, the executive board directed its committees to further engage representatives of Scouting's membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns. This will assist the officers' work on a resolution on membership standards. The approximately 1,400 voting members of the national council will take action on the resolution at the national meeting in May 2013.
Posted: 10:01 02-06-2013 945
Philmont Trek Choices
Going to Philmont this summer? Congratulations!
Your final payment to Philmont is due in less than a month. In just a few weeks, your crew will need to submit trek choices. Of the 35 various treks available, you'll need to decide on your top 5 and hope you get the one you want. Treks are numbered 1 through 35 with 35 being the longest in miles and most strenuous. All treks are long enough to qualify for the 50-Miler award and most offer plenty of program fun - there is no bad
trek itinerary at Philmont.
If you've not had a Philmont crew meeting yet, you'd better get moving!
By now, you should be electing a crew leader and selecting chaplain, guide, and other crew positions. In February, your crew should be meeting to hear about the various Philmont programs, treks, and guidelines, and to gather program and difficulty preferences from each scout. Using Itinerary Selection Tools
from the Boy Scouts, the crew leader and advisor can decide on the top 5 treks that best meet the crew's desires.
Prioritizing your trek itinerary elements should be done by the crew members, not just the advisor. There are many things to consider when choosing your trek. Here are some:
- Dreams - Many scouts see Philmont as the pinnacle of their scouting life. Find out what each crew member expects from Philmont - what they've heard, special attractions they can't miss, concerns they have. Since they'll probably only do it once, it would be great to fulfill as many dreams as possible.
- Experience - A crew of scouts going on their first big backpacking trip might bite off more than they can handle by selecting a higher number trek. Choose a lower number and enjoy the shorter hikes each day.
- Age - Boys develop muscle as they age. Most sixteen and seventeen year old scouts are physically developed so they can do the strenuous treks, if they're in shape. Fourteen year olds may not have the muscle strength and stamina to take on those hard hikes.
- Program - All crew members should have input about what program elements their trek will include. Since there are around 40 different program elements, you can't do them all on a single trek. Prioritizing what each scout wants and then finding the trek that contains most of the highly desired elements can take a lot of work. See this Philmont Programs checklist to see which treks include which programs. You could give this Philmont Program Choices list to every scout to gather personal program priorities. There are some very useful trek selection tools at this page.
- Medical - Every crew has a weakest hiker. That is often an adult, so honestly assess the abilities of everyone in the crew. Review medical forms and use practice hikes to evaluate physical abilities. Choose an easier trek if it better matches your crew.
There are dozens of Philmont resources online that are very useful in learning about Philmont and planning your trek. Some are out of date, but these have good info:
Posted: 15:42 02-04-2013 944
Last day to get an entry in for January's random Boy Scout Trail drawing for three prizes.
Hey, it's a lot easier than a Hot Dog Eating contest! All you have to do is type in your email.
Go to Scout Contest
page to enter.
- $25 Scout Shop gift card
- $50 ClassB.com coupon
- Cobra Braid survival bracelet
Posted: 15:06 01-31-2013 943
Your Opinion on BSA Membership
Influence the decision by sharing your opinion with the national Boy Scouts of America leadership.
There are three ways you can get your opinion to the BSA folks working towards a decision on the national membership policy. As a member of the organization, in this democratic society, it's your responsibility to participate in the decision-making process. The BSA has set up these avenues for you to get your opinion to them - di it in the next couple days if you want it to count.
- Email -NationalSupportCenter@Scouting.org
- Phone - call (972) 580-2000
- Web Form - complete the form at BSA Contact Us
Posted: 14:52 01-30-2013 942
BSA Membership Discussion
See BSA Media Statement
Boy Scouts of America
Monday, Jan. 28, 2013
Attributable to: Deron Smith, Director of Public Relations
For more than 100 years, Scouting's focus has been on working together to deliver the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. Scouting has always been in an ongoing dialogue with the Scouting family to determine what is in the best interest of the organization and the young people we serve.
Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.
The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue. The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs.
Posted: 17:23 01-28-2013 941
Weather Hazard Training
My biggest concern about bad weather when leading an outing is lightning. Everything else takes time to build, or is avoidable, but lightning is common, unpredicatable, and deadly. So, I keep a thought towards lightning when hiking, choosing a campsite, and scheduling activities.
You should begin to prepare for outdoor adventures by completing the online BSA Weather Hazards training. It takes about 45 minutes to go through the ten sections and print your certificate.
This training is a quick overview of potential weather dangers you may encounter on outings. Extending your knowledge about hazards in your area would be a good next step.
The training starts with a set of questions which is a good way to review what you already know. This is followed by ten sections, each with pictures and narrated text about the weather hazard and then some review questions or activities to check your understanding.
The sections covered are:
- Cold Weather
- Hot Weather
- Flash Floods
- Weather Signs
A complete tour plan requires someone currently certified in Weather Hazard training. Now, before your spring outings, is a great time to have everyone complete this training at MyScouting.org
It might be a fun training topic at a troop meeting for all the scouts, or a crew meeting for the guys heading out on a High Adventure this summer.
The Weather merit badge pamphlet is another good resource for learning more about reading weather signs and anticipating adverse weather conditions on your treks.
Posted: 11:21 01-28-2013 940
Top 10 Bandana Uses
have a bandana along in the wild. I can't think of a more versatile item to have in my pack. It takes little room, weighs nearly nothing, and can be used over and over for many different tasks.
On my 2nd day hiking through Arizona, I used it to keep my face warm from the blowing snow - that was a surprise! Here's 10 uses, plus a couple dozen more - you may not want to use your bandana for the tasks in the order listed. :-)
Leave a comment if you have more ideas to share!
- Keep dust out of your mouth
- Warm air before breathing it in
- Bind a wound
- Filter debris from water
- Wipe off sweat
- Wash yourself
- Soak and wrap around your neck to cool off
- Protect your head from the sun
- Strain food bits from waste water
- Emergency toilet paper
- Collect pop-tart or ramen noodle crumbs when you open the package
- Blow your nose
- Wipe your eyes
- Dry your feet after crossing a stream
- Signal a rescuing airplane, helicoptor, or boat
- Fix broken tent pole
- Hold up your pants
- Hide your identity
- Keep your ears warm
- Ultra-light pack
- Replacement kite tail
- Capture the Flag flag
- Parachute for nut-n-bolt soldier (untold hours of fun as a kid)
- Plug a leak
- Open a tight lid
- Hot pot holder
- Dish rag
- Practice knot tying
- Sling for broken arm
- Binding for splint
- Hand warmer
- Hat band
- Leg gaiters
- Molotov cocktail fuse
Posted: 19:24 01-24-2013 939
Scout Sunday - Feb. 3
Scout Sunday is sneaking up quick this year. It is the Sunday on or before Feb. 8 and that comes earlier in 2013. If you've not gotten to it yet, you're right down to the last chance to start planning how the Scouts can participate in your church's observance.
Individual congregations can hold their Scout Sunday on some other date in February if the pastor feels that would better fit their schedule.
There is a nice set of Resources
for a service on scouting.org which might be helpful.
Scout Sunday is a great opportunity for your congregation to touch base with the Scouting community. Scouts helping with the service by ushering, reading, or praying are all ways to show the impact of Scouting on the youth of the church.
Posted: 17:21 01-22-2013 938
New Year - New Giveaways
Don, John, and Denise won prizes in the monthly Boy Scout Trail giveaway yesterday. You can enter for this month on my Contest page
Scouting magazine is having a giveaway this month also. One winner will get a two-person REI Cirque ASL 2 tent, a Kelty Mistral Minus-20 sleeping bag, and a Therm-A-Rest Z Lite Sol sleeping pad.
Click this Scouting Contest
link to enter. Bookmark the link and enter every day to increase your entries.
Posted: 10:59 01-03-2013 937
If you're wondering if there's anything you can do to help folks in Newtown, even though you're hundreds or thousands of miles away, there are many opportunities to support them. Here's one...
Two of the slain children were Tiger Cubs in Pack 170. The Connecticut Yankee Council has set up a fund to support their families and your financial contributions, as well as cards and letters, are welcome.
Before you contribute to anyone, please check that your support will be legitimately used. See ctyankee.org
for the address and instructions for this fund.
Some other funds you might check out, but I have not investigated:Doing SOMETHING is better than wondering what to do.
Posted: 14:04 12-17-2012 935
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