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Free Prizes
Did you notice there's a Monthly Contest on Boy Scout Trail? Each month, you can win a $25 gift card for

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!

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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. :-)

Scout On!
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Posted: 22:16 05-30-2006 65
Hornaday Award
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

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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
Buzz Off Insect Repellent Clothing by ExOfficio

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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! :-)

Scout On

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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.

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Posted: 19:39 05-01-2006 61
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