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School Recruiting
We lost a few scouts from the troop over the summer. One patrol had 3 scouts move out of town, so that was a blow.
So, I've been promoting the concept of recruiting to the scouts. Historically, we've had all the Webelos we can handle coming into the troop each spring. We're probably going to get 2 patrols from Webelos in 2007. But, I know there are boys in 6th and 7th grade that would have a great time in scouts but 'graduated' from Webelos or were never in Cub Scouts and are now missing out.
My speech I've been giving in scoutmaster conferences and at meetings goes something like this:

As you know, Jimmy and Bobby moved away this summer so they're no longer in our troop. They'll be starting 7th grade in a new school in a new town in a few days. I sure hope they meet some new friends there. Wouldn't it be great if some boy in their class said 'HI' and asked them if they were in Boy Scouts? Then, they could join a new troop there.

You'll be starting 7th grade (or 6th grade) in a couple days too. I bet there will be a boy or two in your class that you've never met. How do you think he'd feel if you introduced yourself and asked what he likes to do? If he seemed like a nice guy, you could say that you're in scouts and ask if he is too. If he's not in scouts or if he just moved here and needs to join a troop, you could invite him to our September campout or a troop meeting.

What parts of the Scout Law would that be doing? helpful, friendly, kind, cheerful.

So far, I've got promises from 7 scouts that they'll be giving it a try.

Scout On
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Posted: 12:44 08-31-2006 83
New Scout Pants
BSA has come out with a new option for uniform pants. They are called 'SwitchBacks' and are long/short zip-off nylon pants available online and should be in local scout shops. These are intended for use in the outdoors since the other official uniform pants aren't that practical. Unfortunately, they are priced at $40 which is about double what you can get similar 'unofficial' zip-offs for.

See and click the 'New' link in the navigation list at the top of the page.

Scout On!
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Posted: 9:31 08-24-2006 82
When Do They Get It?
We just returned from a great kayaking weekend. The weather was perfect and the river was mild. The Breakfast Pizza I made in the dutch oven for the adult's breakfast was a hit. Pretty much the only hitch was the brain flush that seems to happen to many scouts between outings.

I and the SPL and other adults have mentioned more times than I can remember that we crush trash before putting it in the garbage. We started pushing this after one weekend where we had 3 garbage bags full that I reduced to just one by crushing the trash.
This weekend, when we cleaned up the campsite, the garbage bag was full of empty, capped, intact plastic bottles - taking up about 3 times as much space as needed.

So, before our closing reflection, I explained to the group that we crush our trash and I explained why we do this. I have no idea how many scouts heard me this time.
But, I imagine that one Sunday I'm going to notice a very small, very heavy trash bag and then I'll know that they 'Got It'.
Until then, I guess I keep trying new ways to get the point across. Maybe I can save up a couple cases of empty bottles for the next outing and add them to the garbage early, early, early Sunday morning to see if anyone notices - that might be fun. I suppose I could request of the PLC that plastic bottles be 'outlawed' on campouts for 6 months, but I'm not much for adding extra rules.

Scout On
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Posted: 17:40 08-20-2006 81
LNT Training
I just found out about a Leave No Trace Master Educator Course being offered to BSA leaders on Sept. 5-10 at Northern Tier and Sept. 17-22 at Philmont.

More details are on this Northern Star Council PDF Flyer.

Sounds like an exciting opportunity to get some intense LNT training which you could then share with your local troops.

Scout On
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Posted: 13:31 08-13-2006 80
New Scouting Products
Hey, I was looking at and noticed a few new items that I think will be quite helpful for scouts.

There is now a $2.00 clear plastic Scout Handbook cover as an option to the $9.00 black cloth one. One of the most common problems for scouts is keeping their handbook alive until they reach their Eagle board of review. The handbooks made the last few years seem to have a real problem with the advancement pages in the back easily coming unglued. Combine that with leaving the book out overnight on a campout by the campfire and you've got a mess.
I think this new, inexpensive cover will be a big help to keep books dry and clean.

There is a minibook which has all the rank requirements taken right out of the Scout Handbook. It is intended to be taken on campouts instead of the full-sized handbook and used to temporarily record achievements. I got myself one so I can have all the requirements quickly available, even if I forget my handbook.
It is twice as big as it needs to be because it is written in English and Spanish. There are no places for sign-offs, just the little checkboxes like the pages within the Scout Handbook instead of the advancement pages in the back. So, if you want to use them for sign-offs, you'll need to sign in the margin area.

Scout On
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Posted: 13:11 08-12-2006 79
End of Summer Depression
Does it happen to you? Do you hate to see the summer winding down?

Maybe I'm the only one with this affliction, but since I've been playing the role of scoutmaster I get a serious case of depression in August. It's not because school is starting or because the weather will soon be changing. It's because the summer camps, high adventures, and big outdoors events are done for the year.

The troop will still have weekend campouts each month and there's lots to do for recruiting, advancement, and learning skills. But, now I have to wait 9 months for the next really big scouting trip. If you can believe it, I'm already looking forward to advising a couple scouts in planning their trek to Arches National Park next June and round 2 of Wyoming backpacking in July, plus we'll have the week at summer camp to plan. The planning is a very enjoyable and rewarding experience, but that will slowly form and then come in a rush just the month or two before each trip.

So, for the next few months, I get to relax a bit and not be too stressed. That's what my wife says anyway - I think of it more as being bored. :-)

Scout On
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Posted: 15:14 08-07-2006 78
Really High Adventure
We've returned from the mountains!
Our 1716 mile round trip to Wyoming was a great success, even though we did not reach the summit of Cloud Peak. The day we hiked up it, thunder rolled over the top so we stopped at about 12,200 feet - 1,000 feet from the summit.

The scouts were successful in lowering the flag at Mt. Rushmore with the ampitheater completely packed with visitors - what a super experience! As you can see below, they were a good looking group and they did a very crisp job.

Kemp's Kamp in Keystone, SD is where we stayed our first and last night. They have a nice pool, showers, and the folks running the campground are good people. See Kemp's Kamp web site for details. It's close to Mt. Rushmore too.

From Buffalo, Wyoming, we drove to the Hunter Trailhead, registered our group and then backpacked in to Soldier Park area. Since this is still outside the wilderness area, it is routinely abused by inconsiderate users. Hacked trees, fire pits all over, 4x4 damage, ... everywhere you look, its a mess.

One of the goals of this trip was to emphasize Leave No Trace ethics so this was a great way to see the difference that LNT makes. The scouts were so appalled that they decided to clean the place up. They spent over 2 hours hauling trash, erasing fire pits, and reconstructing a single fire ring. They actually discovered 3 fires that were still burning. With the 90 degree heat and strong wind, it was very fortunate that our crew came along to take care of them.

Once inside the wilderness area, the LNT practices were evident. There was much less impact along the trails and very little trash for us to pick up as we hiked along.

Our trek was about 35 miles and we carried all our food and gear for the 5 days of backpacking. We experienced some great sites, including 5 moose and 2 mule deer our last morning.

If you would like details about our trek, please just ask. The scouts are already planning next year's return trek - they are interested to see how badly their cleaned-up site will look and they want to reach the summit.

Scout On!

Boy Scouts at Mount Rushmore
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Posted: 11:29 08-01-2006 77
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