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The title is the Philmont Ranger motto, and the way of life for everyone associated with Philmont this season. Whether Philmont staff, youth participant, or volunteer adult, many people have had their summer plans turned on end by the closure of the Philmont backcountry due to extreme wildfire danger. Some have tried to be flexible and scrambled to arrange replacement adventures, others have postponed their treks to next year or 2020, while a very few have just vented their frustration to the online abyss.
This is an historic event, being the first time Philmont has closed its backcountry. So, how do you handle a catastrophy that completely shuts down your $20million/year business for an entire season? Philmont appears to be doing everything the best way possible, and making the vast majority of effected clients as happy as possible.
By making the decision to cancel their entire season, Philmont put the safety of participants and the quality of their experience far above the sunk costs by participants and loss of revenue to their business. Once that decision came about, figuring out who would bear the financial burdens was needed. Philmont offered refunds, alternate treks at other BSA high adventure bases, or replacement treks in 2020. Some cancelled crews are also able to slip a year to open 2019 dates, but only if there are open treks. Those options really should cover nearly everyone and demonstrate a high sense of responsibility on behalf of Philmont.
Depending on where the crew resides, the actual Philmont fee of a trek can be just half (or less) of the total cost. Many cancelled crews are on the hook for payments made to transportation companies, whether airlines, trains, buses, or shuttles. Many people are happily reporting that SouthWest Airlines and Frontier Airlines have been great about refunding fees. Leading the Way Tours appears to be refunding nicely, while BlueSky Adventures is getting some bad online exposure from folks saying they will not refund, or have given 50% refunds. Hopefully, that will change.
Some things to learn from this situation:
- Understand that, as a leader, your highest priority is safety of participants. The decision to cancel or alter an event due to any perceived danger is the right choice, whether it is a fire, blizzard, flood warning, high winds, or any other potential situation.
- Know the refund policy of companies you deal with for transportation or recreation, especially with regards to natural events.
- Consider travel cancellation insurance - and know what it really covers and how to file a claim.
Read the official Philmont Announcement about their closure.
If you're looking for an alternate High Adventure for this summer (or just to consider for future treks), here is a List of some cool adventures.
Many scouts and adults will probably be reciting the famous Philmont saying "I Wanna Go Back To Philmont" for the next year, just without the "Back" part.
Were you scheduled for Philmont this summer? What did your crew decide to do instead?
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Due to fire, many Philmont treks have been cancelled and the crew advisors contacted. In case you're still thinking of alternative adventures, or just to be aware for future treks, here's some other cool places to Scout around the country. Most of these have expressly mentioned they have room to take on cancelled Philmont trek participants. Scout On!
- Purchase surplus Philmont meals so your entire troop can experience Phil-food on any upcoming campout - Video
- Some of the Philmont staff have been dispersed to the other BSA national high adventure bases - Northern Tier, Sea Base, Summit - and all those locations might have openings for your trek.
- MOHAB (Montana High Adventure Base) - wilderness expeditions including backpacking and packrafting in wild habitat for elk, deer, bear, and cougar.
- Tahosah High Adventure Base - Denver area
- Texas High Adventure Base - Chisholm Trail, canoeing, kayaking
- High Knoll - Philmont of the East? in Virginia on Blue Ridge Scout Reservation with backpacking, horseback, rock climbing, ...
- SwampBase - Atchafalaya swamp in Louisiana
- Adirondack Trek Center - Seneca Waterways council
- Lost Pines - Capitol area council in Texas
- Yellowstone High Adventure Base - Camp Buffalo Bill in Casper, WY
If your council has a high adventure base, feel free to add it in the comments.
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In an official statement released today, the BSA and LDS announce a dissolution of their relationship. LDS will "discontinue its role as a chartered partner with BSA" effective at the end of 2019. A layperson's interpretation of that is "Game Over" between LDS and BSA.
On top of the other major changes to the BSA this year, this is yet another disruptor for us all to prepare for. In my small part of the world, it will have no impact at the unit level, little at the district level, but some at the council level. After all, of the religious in Minnesota, they are about 35% Lutheran and .35% LDS.
Other councils will certainly find significant membership drops.
At the national level, I expect there to be a major drop in membership and philanthropic income which will trickle down through the councils. Maybe opening the membership requirements will help counter the effects. Maybe there are other plans being made at the top. The next year will be interesting to discover how it plays out.
How do you expect this split to affect Scouting where you live? What steps are you taking to prepare for it?
Read the announcement HERE.
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Get ready to recruit youth of all genders.
The BSA announced a new recruiting campaign to attract all youth. It's called "Scout Me In" and is aimed at reaching girls to join Cub Scouts.
I don't think it's really so "historic" as the BSA news releases are saying since the BSA churns out marketing campaigns often enough. But, I expect we'll see the number of participating girls explode from the current 3,000+ girl Cub Scouts in the early adopter dens to 300,000+ next year.
Bigger news, I think, is the official name change of Boy Scouts to "Scouts BSA" in 2019. The youngest program is still Cub Scouts and Venturing is still Venturing, but the 12-18 year old program is changing to Scouts BSA to remove the obvious "Boy" in the name.
It will be interesting to see how long it takes the country to recognize Scouts BSA as Boy Scouts and not ask, "Is that another competing group to Boy Scouts?"
So, buckle up for another exciting year ahead in the ongoing evolution of Scouting in America!
PS: Read More
I think the 29th Burscough Scout group would be a fun bunch of scouts to visit some day! They have come up with an energetic request to contact other scouts around the world by making a video on Facebook.
This scout group has an active FB page that you might scan through to see some of their recent campouts, cooking, hikes, and such that they have done this spring.
They are located HERE on google maps - if you zoom out a bit, you can see why they used a Beatles song. :-)
If your scouts are interested in connecting with other scouts around the world, check out the Boy Scout Trail PenPals and Postcards features to find scout groups doing the same.
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Leggings, Capris, Skorts, and Scarves - these are some of the new girl gear items coming to Scouting this year.
With girls joining Cub Scouts, BSA National Supply has been making some clothing updates for the new scouts. You will probably be seeing these items (and more) in your Scout Shop in the not too distant future, and being aware of them might help you recruit more youth into your local program.
- Skorts - skirt and shorts combined, so they look like a skirt but provide coverage during active scouting.
- Scarf - I am interested to see how this fits into the uniform.
- Capris - shorter than long pants, longer than shorts.
- Leggings - tight fitting stretch pants.
It is obvious these new clothing options are intended to make scouting more attractive to girls. Sounds like a good marketing plan to me, especially if there has been feedback that the pants just do not cut it. It will be interesting to see what other "female fashion" accessories show up this year.
Updates to other Scout Shop items are coming, too. #5 in the picture is new colors for Pinewood Derby car wheels. Personally, I do not understand the value in this one, but maybe they go faster than black? Will more colors be available? White wheels would have looked better on my Marshmallow-themed car I made years ago. :-)
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The new Webelos Super Achiever patches have arrived and are available now. A hundred have already been shipped out to folks that pre-ordered them so they will have them well before their Blue Gold event.
Read more about the Webelos Super Achiever award, or buy your super achiever patches before this batch is gone, too.
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Today is the best day of the year for Astronomy merit badge and worst for Photography. :-)
At 10:28am Central time today, the winter solstice occurs. For the next six months, we'll be getting more and more sunlight each day in the northern hemisphere while our Scouting friends down under are losing it.
Here's an interesting activity to try. Get an 18-inch or so dowel or stick and stand it straight up on end (might need to make a stand for it if the ground is frozen). Mark the tip of its shadow on the ground every 15 minutes from 11am to 1pm, or until the shadow is obvious getting longer. Measure the length of the shortest shadow and write it on the dowel. By the way, from the base of the dowel to that shortest shadow mark is very close to North - check it with your compass.
To find the angle of the sun, go to this page and put 90 as angle C, side b is the height of your stick, and side a is the length of the shadow. Click Calculate and angle B will be the angle of the sun.
Repeat this activity on the spring equinox and summer solstice to see how much difference there really is between summer and winter sun at your location. I'll put my results in a comment below after lunch.
Lots of people have been asking about the Webelos Super Achiever patch. It's never been an official national BSA award, so it fell to individual units or councils to create or adopt the award locally. It was available in a handful of various designs and names, but has become impossible to find.
We are getting a new batch of Super Achiever patches next month to help ensure Webelos that earn all the available adventures can be recognized for their efforts. The patch is a "temporary" patch and includes a loop to hang it from the right pocket button.
You can order Webelos Super Achiever patch now, and they'll be shipped to you as soon as they arrive in January.
If you ever find yourself wondering if it is worth the effort being a BSA volunteer - this should take away any doubt you have. Listening to this young man might be the best way you have to spend 10 minutes today.
This is an interview with someone that jumped in to help out at the train derailment in Washington this morning.
It is sad that it happened, but refreshing to hear an Eagle Scout representing!!! Thanks to Daniel Konzelman and his girlfriend for their actions.
(You can restart it at the beginning if you want)
Our Pen Pals program has about 1700 Scouting units signed up and scouts around the world are exchanging mail and electronic messages.
A new Postcard Exchange has just been started. Scouts across the USA can collect postcards from scouts in every state.
Pen Pals and Postcards can be used to fulfill requirements for Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Girl Scout achievements, badges, and awards.
Communication, citizenship, and cultural awareness are all improved by interacting with other Scouts outside your local community.
There are girls and boys of all ages ready to swap postcards. We just need groups from more states to sign up.
Please talk with your scouts about getting involved and then sign up to get started.
I just gave away 3 gifts this morning in my Monthly Give-Away and I'm waiting for the winners to claim them.
You could win at the end of this month - if you just enter!
If you're looking for some gift ideas, here's a few to consider:
Reusable Handwarmers - Instead of throwing away hand warmers after one use, these reusable handwarmers can be used hundreds of times. They are inexpensive, easy, safe, and non-toxic. Plus, they are fun to explore the reaction taking place for STEM.
A perfect stocking stuffer.
Dutch Oven Cookbook - 66 favorite recipes used to promote dutch oven cooking in a troop.
Signed by the author and discounted.
Thru-hike Book - a book about hiking the 1,100-mile Ice Age Trail through Wisconsin. One woman's story about her speed hike and the other hikers she met.
A fun read for anyone you know interested in hiking something more involved than a Philmont trek.
Scout Shop Gift Card - Keep it simple and let the scout buy whatever he needs at the local scout shop, or online at scoutstuff.org
Comment about other good Scout gift ideas you've found this year.Scout On!
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Find more Scouting Resources at www.BoyScoutTrail.com