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Merry Christmas
That's pretty much it - Merry Christmas!

I received some nice gifts from my family today. Some compression bags from Granite Gear and a pretty funny waterproof toiletpaper holder/bag from Sea to Summit. I expect it will probably wind up being a very useful item next summer, but the idea of it is funny.
Last summer at Philmont, our maps got pretty wet so the waterproof map case my brother gave me is a great tool!

We now have a few days to visit, eat, and enjoy ourselves before returning to the normal schedules.

I hope you have a happy, restful time this Christmas.

Scout On!
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Posted: 12:10 12-25-2005 44
Court of Honor
Everyone survived the skiing. Two brothers forgot their skis in their parents' van when they were dropped off so their dad got to drive up to the ski area on Saturday. That was lucky for my son since the dad also took his helmet which had been forgotten. :-)

The stand-in SPL did a great job as I figured he would. Some boys just 'get it' easily and understand what it means to lead as does this one. He knows what is needed, does what he can, sees when he needs help, and asks for support. And, he is rubbing off on to other scouts in his patrol.

Our quarterly Court of Honor was held last night. This is typically a smaller ceremony and we had 2 First Class, 1 Star, and 1 Life scouts receive their patches. Sometimes we have 5 or more scouts all receiving the same rank and it makes it much less personal. I really enjoyed having time to concentrate on the achievements of a single scout at a time and I think the ceremony was more meaningful.
Each of these scouts had taken longer than 'normal' to reach these ranks so it was great to have them accomplish this.

We also had an Eagle earn his Bronze Eagle Palm. He has been an Eagle for awhile but his ceremony was delayed and will be finally happening this Saturday. He's a great scout - very giving and supportive of others. And, his dad has been a huge asset to the troop for the past few years. Now, we have a few months to work on replacements for both his dad's role and his leadership.

So, these Courts of Honor are fun but also show that scouts move on and new scouts need to keep coming in to fill the void and make the troop their own.

Scout On!
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Posted: 16:49 12-13-2005 41
Missing an Outing
Well, there are some jokes around about how you can tell if you are spending too much time scouting. Tomorrow, the troop is going skiing for the weekend and I am not going because there are enough adults to drive already signed up. I feel just awful about missing an outing with the guys! Sure wish I was going!

I believe that the minimum required adults should go on an outing so that the chances of it truely being 'boy-led' are increased. Since I'm not really needed, I'll be staying home. There are a handful of new parents that have not done camping with us all summer that have signed up, so its important to get them into the program. I know it would be good for me to be there to show them the ropes, but I've already let the old goats that are going know I want them to teach the new guys.

My youngest son will be going on this skiing trip. That's actually a really good thing because he'll have an opportunity to lead his patrol without the scoutmaster dad around, and I'm sure he'll do just great. He tends to be my shadow on outings since this is his first year. I suppose in a year or so I'll never see him and miss him hanging around terribley, but that's a good thing to experience over time.

Anyway, on this outing both the SPL and ASPL will be absent so the patrol leader of the patrol that is organizing the outing has volunteered to be acting SPL for the weekend. What a great experience for him! At the Patrol Leader meeting this Monday, he took on the duties and is ready to give it a shot. Since this is just his 2nd year in Boys Scouts, it would be great to see - wish I was going! The biggest challenge will be to make sure the older scouts show him the respect and support he deserves for accepting the role. I've let the adults that are going know I would like them to keep an eye out and remind scouts as needed.

We've had reallly cold temps for the past week and the news says it should snow lightly all day on Saturday so it should be just a super time - wish I was going!

Now, I just have to figure out what to do at home all weekend while I'm waiting for Sunday to finally arrive so my son can tell me about his adventure.

Scout On! wish I was going.

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Posted: 23:37 12-08-2005 40
Scouting Service
A dozen scouts and 5 adults from the troop played bingo last night. Not a typical 'scout' outing was it?

But, we played at a senior assisted care facility along with about a dozen elderly residents. It was great to have 11 year olds interacting with 91 year olds for a couple hours. One of the Methods of Boy Scouts is 'Adult Association' because boys need contact with adults they can emulate. They really got to experience that last night.

One resident was deaf so a scout wrote down the numbers called out so this person could participate. That was very encouraging to watch and you could see the scout understanding that his job was important.

I got to meet a man that had been a boy scout during the Great Depression. He told about how he could not afford a uniform and how he attained First Class, but then had to drop out to work. He asked the scouts what merit badges they were working on and what ranks they were.

Another man said he was an adult leader of a troop about 40 years ago. There were around 20 scouts in the troop but he was pretty quiet and did not share much else.

I believe it was a good experience for the scouts to meet these men and understand that scouting has a life long impact. Someday, they will be grandpas and great-grandpas telling stories of their scouting adventures to little kids.

It was also a good evening to bring some companionship to a few of our neighbors, especially in this time before Christmas.

Scout On
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Posted: 12:26 12-07-2005 39
Scouting Nails
So, the troop now has a schedule for 18 months. Lots of exciting places to go, things to do, and skills to learn. Now comes the hard part.

How do you get 25 or 30 boys to a location 100 or more miles from home and back again for the weekend? Well, of course we need adults that will drive. And will use their vehicle. And have insurance. And will give up a weekend at home for a weekend in the woods. That all tends to whittle down the adults willing to support the troop.

Some people have to work on weekends. Others have commitments to teach Sunday School, fix the house, or watch younger kids. And still others need to run errands, walk the dog, or get their hair cut. Some people can always come up with something that prevents them from going on a campint trip without really admitting they just don't want to do it. It's much more efficient to be told that someone can not, does not, and will not camp - then I can spend time encouraging others instead.

In our troop, we are very fortunate to have a few highly active adults that recognize the value in participating in the outdoors program of Boy Scouts. These 4 or 5 adults attend about 80% of all our outings and have been invaluable in making the program happen, along with occasional participation from other adults. They are the nails that really build an adventurous and exciting year for the scouts out of all the events the scouts have planned.

I'm worried that some of the nails will get bent as they are used over and over. Unfortunately, we don't have a hardware store to easily buy more when needed. We have to start from scratch like the Blacksmithing at Philmont Scout Ranch. While we were there this summer, a staff member sat on a fence and it broke. He went into the shop and, starting with a rod of iron, crafted a big ol' nail and pounded it into the fence - good as new!

Every year, I get a few new iron rods delivered. Some of them fire right up and become strong nails in just a couple months - others sit in the fire for years and never do become a useful tool. I'm really hoping for some good iron this spring since it looks like a few old nails are wearing out.

Scout On.
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Posted: 18:23 12-06-2005 38
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