Category Archives: Camping

Jambo 2017 Registration is Live!


Im-Ready

BSA National just went live with registrations for the National Jamboree to be held at The Summit Bechtel Reserve near Beckley WV from July 15 – 29, 2017.  We are stoked!  Both Bear Bait and Tangled were able to go to Jambo in 2013, the first to be held at The Summit.  Him as a Boy Scout and her as one of the first group of Venturing youth (including girls) to be able to attend.  I really wanted to go on staff that time, but having had just changed jobs the year before, it wasn’t in the cards.  Got to attend as a visitor for a day and it was a really amazing experience.

Needless to say, as soon as we heard that registration went live yesterday, we submitted our registrations…yesterday!  Bear Bait as a Boy Scout again, and Tangled as a Venturing youth.  It will be the last National Jamboree either can attend as youth participants.  By the 2021 National Jamboree they’ll be adult Scouters (hopefully) and can go as Staff.  I submitted a volunteer staff application.  This is the email I got after my registration was submitted:

Dear <Middletownscouter>:

Thank you for submitting an application to be Volunteer Staff at 2017’s National Jamboree. You are receiving this email because we have record of you having submitted an application and having paid your deposit. As a reminder, no further payments are due until a staff position has been offered and accepted.

You will not receive any further updates concerning your application for the next 60-90 days. During that time, we will verify your BSA membership information. Once verified, your application will be routed to your council for the first step in the approval process. If there is a problem verifying your membership information, we will contact you to let you know.

At the completion of the Council review, you will be notified by email whether your application has been approved for Jamboree consideration or not. Please be patient during this process and keep your contact information updated within the jamboree registration system. Check your email (and junk/spam folder) on a regular basis.

Be sure and keep a copy of your confirmation for your records. When logging back into your account for any reason, you will use your registration code as your log in.

Registration Code: <snipped>

Thank you,
Jamboree Registrar

Woo-hoo!  Time to start selling some popcorn…or patches…or plasma…it’s going to be expensive.  Between registration fees, equipment, incidentals and spending money for the two kids last time we spent about $3000 for the two to attend.  But it was (is, and will be) worth every penny!

When you register for Staff, you have to give them three preferences for where you’d like to volunteer.  That can be kind of tough, there are many different choices!  I put my three choices as:

1. Administration – Communications / National Media
2. Program – Wheeled Sports BMX Mechanic
3. Program – Canopy Tours Guide

The first because I’m hoping it could be something cool like helping with the constant barrage of social media posts to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.  The second because it appears that the Troop 18 adults tend to work in that area (Mr. Dennis, Mr. Hines, Mr. Erwin, Mr. Mooney all did in 2013 and from what I hear most if not all plan to go back in 2017).  The third because I know the zip lines / canopy tours were understaffed last time around and it will probably be very popular event again and I think it would be cool to help out there.  I briefly thought about the patch trading area because I do like me some patches, but decided against because I’m sure the really anal patch police folks will probably be running that show and while I like to collect patches I wouldn’t consider myself an expert.  I half thought about doing one of the aquatics items as well because it might let me be in the water some, but I’d probably have to get some kind of paddlecraft, lifeguard or aquatics training first.

If you are thinking about attending, my advice would be DO IT!  DO IT NOW!  It really is a great Scouting experience to be among 40,000 other Scouts and Scouters celebrating Scouting and doing all the fun stuff that makes Scouting, well, fun!

Expensive?  Definitely.  But it’s two years away.  Start saving now.  Have your Scout work towards it, fund raise, etc.   I know in our council (Dan Beard Council #438) that scholarships are available to cover some of the cost.  It’s worth the effort, and for the Scouts the effort they spend earning their way to Jamboree can help make that Jamboree experience all the more special and meaningful.

If you are registering a youth member (Boy Scout or Venturer), there is no immediate cost to register.  If you are registering for staff, there is a $150 deposit due at the time you submit your registration.

Interesting in knowing more about Jamboree?  You can learn more – and register – at the Summit website.

Hope to see you there!

-Middletownscouter

Camp Like An Egyptian (#100DaysofScouting, Days 11-14)


Sorry to disappear for several days there, but I’ve been incommunicado.  I wasn’t abandoning my 100 Days of Scouting efforts, I was immersed in a totally new (to me) Scouting environment:  Girl Scout encampments.

I’ve stopped counting how many bag nights I’ve had camping as a Scout leader since getting back into the movement in 2006, but I’m sure I’m well over 100 by now.  But all of them had been with either Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts.  My oldest has been a Girl Scout since Kindergarten and other than writing the checks for fees to camp and other events each year, I hadn’t been very involved with her program.  I always felt a little bad about that considering how much time I put into BSA programs with Jon in all the roles I do at the pack level and above.

So when Brandi (former Cubmaster for the pack, was my program director for 2008 Cub Twilight Camp in Springboro and is currently the Service Unit Manager for NOVA 449 of the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio) asked me to take a position as part of the service unit team as “Camping Coordinator” I agreed.  That was about six 8 months ago.  I helped with a campout last summer that ended up being about 10 people total, and then I helped give the CSA a presentation on Campfire Program Planning (I used the same course materials I taught at University of Scouting).  I also showed up to a couple of meetings and helped teach knots to some of the girls.  Overall, it wasn’t too much work but I was glad to help.

The first big event that I was drafted to assist with was the winter campout.  This is a pretty big deal, one of the larger events the Service Unit pulls off each year.  In 2010 there were about 85 total people there (campers, program aide’s [PA’s] and adults).  This year our attendance went up and we had 118 people registered (several no show’ed on us, I think about 113-115 actually showed up).

We held the event at Camp Stonybrook over on Route 73 near Waynesville.  It was the first time I had spent more than a few minutes at that camp, and it was very nice!  We had the dining hall and the two lodges that are grouped nearby (Pinetree and Ittman), as well as the Director’s Cabin nearby down the hill.  There were girls aged from 5 (Kindergarten) to 17 (High School).  They were divided up based on age and program level.  Daisies had one side of Pinetree and were one group.  The Brownies were broken into two groups (pink and yellow) and all stayed on the other side of Pinetree.  The juniors were also broken into two groups (Red and Aqua) and took half of Ittman, while the other half of Ittman were our PA’s and PA’s in training (Cadette and older).  The most experienced and mostly the oldest of the PA’s, our Leader PA’s (LPA’s) were in the Director’s Cabin.  Each area separate sleeping areas for youth and adults and there were adult leaders with them.  Being the only male in the entire camp, I got the entire dining hall to myself.  I also got my own special bathroom.

We started the event on Friday about 6:00 PM and ended about 3:00 PM on Sunday.  The camp-in (called a camp-in because they were sleeping in lodges not tents) was themed “Camp Like an Egyptian” and most activities were based around that theme.

I was really impressed with the whole experience.  And honestly, it wasn’t too much different than running a Cub Scout camping event for about the same amount of people, at least from the standpoint in what I was doing as Camp Director.  The biggest differences I noticed:

  • Camp names.  We use nicknames in my den, but each leader and PA had their own camp name that was used solely in place of their regular name.
  • Songs – Not that there aren’t songs at Cub Scout camp, far from it.  They were just different songs.  And some of them are STUCK. IN. MY. HEAD. three days after camp!

I personally had a great experience and was really glad to have been able to go and help out (or at least I hope I helped out).  The girls were great!  And the LPA’s really were on the ball with being in front to get done what needed to get done, if Brandi or I needed something we told one of them and they made it happen.  And everyone seemed to be okay with having a (big hairy) man there, and letting me throw in a couple of things I thought would be neat to do, like introducing the girls to the Order of the Fork!

So now that I’m recuperated from that event (being up dealing with issues until 2:30 – 4:30 each night will make you kind of tired), we are working on an online survey for the parents to take to use as feedback for next year’s event.

And then, after I get through Blue & Gold this weekend, we start planning the Service Unit spring camp-out (at Camp Hook in May).  And then the Pack campout in the summer as well.  I think I’m going to be criss-crossing ideas and ways of doing things back and forth, kind of using the best of both worlds.

This should be fun!

Shiny of the Week, 2/17/11 (#100DaysofScouting, Day 10)


So if you couldn’t tell from previous posts, one of the things I like about camping is the outdoor cooking.  And that includes backpacking.  I’m all for lightweight, believe me, but not at the expense of MAH BELLAH! 🙂

So this week’s shiny of the week is my Jetboil.  I’ve had one for several years now, and it is one of my favorite pieces of gear.  Originally a backpacking buddy got the Jetboil PCS [Personal Cooking System] and I bought an extra cup for it.  But then I got a great deal on the GCS [Group Cooking System] (the version with the 1.5 liter pot) so I picked that up.  I am a huge fan.  It is relatively lighweight, packs down pretty small, and is well designed.  And it boils water LIKE A BOSS!  1 cup of water boiled in under 90 seconds, that’s insane!  And also pretty fuel efficient.  I’ve been able to do a 4-day, 50-mile trek on the AT through part of the Smokies and only used one tank of fuel…actually less than one tank as it lasted a couple more trips after that as well!

Okay sure, it isn’t superlight.  You want to worry about superlight, make your own alcohol stove with a soda can.  I can deal with the extra weight to get the performance I need.

The one thing that it has done is made me rethink how I cook when I’m on the trail.  Cleanup on a jetboil when you’re boiling water is a snap, and if you’re just reheating something it doesn’t take much more work either.  If you’re doing some serious cooking though, just like any backpacking stove it will take longer to clean than just heating.

So I tend to plan my meals based around foods that will only need heating, not cooking, when on the trail.  What’s the difference?  Well, a Lipton Rice & Sauce needs cooked.  But instant mashed potatoes just need heated.  And they’re much easier to clean up.   Some items that get cooked, mostly your soups (like ramen) are pretty easy on the cleanup too, but if you’re getting into sauces that thicken and can stick/burn onto the pot, that’s another story.  As you could guess by my Shiny of the Week for last week, I’m not a fan of cleaning up after meals so anything I can do through planning and preparation to reduce cleaning, I’m all for that!

I’ve used the small folding stoves with the trioxane fuel tabs, and cooking over a campfire, and been able to try out other backpacking stoves over the years.  But I really like the Jetboil best.

Now that Jon is about to cross over to a Troop and start backpacking more on his own, he’s going to need a new stove.  I’m considering giving him my PCS and buying one of the new Jetboil Flash systems…that wouldnt’ be wrong, would it?

So what do you guys use for backcountry cooking?

EAEOOU ILTTROU (100 Days of Scouting, Day 8)


Tonight I am going to induct my five Webelos II’s into the Order of the Fork.  I have been trying to restart this tradition in our pack for four years, but keep forgetting at each campout.  So tonight over pizza they will be “forked in” and become members.  At the Blue & Gold at the end of the month, they will fork in one new member each and I will fork in one of the leaders.  Then it will be up to them to carry on the tradition in the pack.

What is the Order of the Fork?  It is “a society so secret, even it’s own members don’t know it’s purpose!”  Seriously though, it’s more of a tongue in cheek / goofy thing, at least the version I remember.  I know that the Order of the Fork exists in Scout camps and non-Scout camps alike all over, and in some it sounds as if there was some hazing or some sort of ritual embarassment going on to it’s new members.  That isn’t the case in our OotF, anyway.

For the pack, I envision it as more of an honor society for the pack.  Scouts who are very active within the pack or who are model campers or whatever will get forked in at a meal, whether it is at our Blue & Gold or some other camp out or event.  Then they in turn will become members.

They make a spoof square knot patch, and a spoof lodge flap for it.  I ordered the square knot patches for my boys.  We also have a segment patch program that we are implementing where each time a Scout camps with us he has the opportunity to purchase a segment patch.  When all together, the segments will encircle a 3″ round patch (the size of the custom camp patches we order each year for our summer campout).  The segments are:

  • Tiger Cub
  • Cub Scout
  • Webelos Scout
  • Boy Scout
  • Leader
  • Order of the Fork

 

Pack 19 Camp Segment Patches & 2010 Summer Campout Patch

That’s our preview artwork of the 2010 summer campout patch along with the segments patches.  They look even better in real life!

We have about 400 total segments patches at my house right now.  If a person camps with us while a registered Scout or Leader they are eligible to buy ($1 each) the segment they have earned.  Right now there is only one person I know of who is eligible to purchase all of the segments due to their history as a Cub Scout with Pack 19, Boy Scout with Troop 18, and now as a leader with Pack 19.

Hopefully after my boys are gone into Boy Scouts the tradition will continue into the future with the pack for years to come.

Low Battery Warning; Time to Recharge


Nowdays, just about everyone has a mobile phone, or an iPod or some other electronic device that has those battery bars on them. We are all familiar with the bars, and what happens when there are no bars. Sometimes the little picture of the battery flashes, sometimes you get warnings about low battery. And sometimes you have to see for yourself because there isn’t a warning. But in all cases, if we don’t plug that device in and recharge the batteries, it will turn itself off. It will stop operating properly (or at all).

If only we could have those little battery lights over our heads too, so we could know when our batteries need recharged. I think I saw a commercial for a hotel chain or something like that with this premise, but I’m not just talking about getting a good night’s sleep here. I’m talking about something a little more profound I suppose. Where it isn’t just physically tired, it’s that feeling of being fully drained. Unmotivated. Meh. Whatever you want to call it. In Scouts, for those of us who volunteer (or were volun-told) as leaders, I call it Scouting Burnout.

Scouting Burnout (noun)
1. Exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation (aka “Scouting Spirit”) usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration (see also: dealing with parents)

And it happens to all of us at some point. Sometimes it is just as small as “You know, what? No. I’m not going to go to that meeting or run that event. Let someone else do it.” Sometimes though it’s the mass email to everyone you can think of telling them all how you really feel and that you’re done. Not just burning the bridges, but setting them up with the C4 charges and KABLOOEY! Unfortunately that can lead to salting the earth as well and cause an otherwise good unit to struggle or fail. Luckily, most Scouting Burnout falls towards the first part of the scale and goes up to “I’m out” without the drama.

Over the last several years since I became a Scouter, I have seen the entire range of Scouting Burnout in other leaders that I’ve known and been close with (including the salting the earth type, at least twice). And I’ve had my fair share of burnout as well. The key is to deal with it early before it builds up and causes drama to ensue. Everyone has their own way to relax, and when Scouts is that way and it is stressing you, that is double-plus-ungood. So how do you relax and recharge from your relaxation activity? Work? I think not! For everyone, their way to recharge their Scouting spirit is different.

For me, I go to camp. Spending a week at resident camp, not worrying about parents or checkbook balances or the next meeting or event, getting to spend time with my boys, that’s what recharges me. Not just getting to watch my boys do all those great things that Scouting offers, but getting to do it too. I get to be a big 8 year old and it is a blast! I come home and my Scouting Spirit is at max power, ready to go. It’s almost kind of a letdown to come home from camp and realize slowly that the rest of the world isn’t as great as camp was. Alas, real life does tend to intervene. But the time spent at that camp really amps me up in the Scouting sense. My wife will tell you that physically it is the opposite though, I am usually exhausted and completely worthless for a few days after we get back. 🙂

Unfortunately, resident camp is only one time a year. So what do I do in the meanwhile? Well, we camp out a lot, but it isn’t quite the same thing (very close though). But one of the neat things that happened last year was National Jamboree. I didn’t get to go this time around (I am *so* at the Summit in 2013!), but I spent the entire week listening in on QBSA Jambo Radio that I came across with much the same effect. The best part was heading down to our local council service center to watch the live stream of A Shining Light. That was great. I also DVR’ed it so I can rewatch at home at my leisure, thanks to Dish Network and BYU-TV.

The best part? Mike Rowe. I really think his speech was the highlight of the second arena show (Switchfoot and Alex Boye were also great too). So when I start to get a wee bit into those low bars on my Scoutometer, I jump onto UStream and re-watch his speech. So below is either the video embedded into this post or a link to it (I’m having issues getting it to play nicely).

http://www.ustream.tv/flash/viewer.swf

Link to the video on Ustream’s site.

What do you guys do to fight off or remedy Scouting Burnout?

Shiny of the Week – Feb. 11, 2011


(As in “oooooooh, shiny! I must have this!”)

So I’m going to try out an idea to do a post a week on some sort of piece of gear that I really enjoy using while camping or for other Scouting purposes. We’ll see how it goes.

For the first one, since I’ve got the dutch oven thing going on for the last post and a few previous to this, I’m going to make this my first “Shiny of the Week.”

The Coleman Parchment Paper Dutch Oven Liner
Coleman Dutch Oven Liners

These things are the bomb! They make the worst part of dutch oven cooking (clean up) the best part! So worth the cost. I know lots of units will use aluminum foil to line their dutch ovens and that works but whatever you’re cooking (say beans or chili) could get through where the foil overlaps or stirring can destroy the foil and then you get baked on bean residue in your dutch oven (and possibly a little extra aluminum in your diet if you don’t watch out). These liners are so much easier than that. When you’re done you just lift it out and the already clean dutch oven is ready to be oiled and put away. Just like that! I am now a fan.

I’ll even go to the Walmarts to buy them, and I make a point to never shop there normally! So kind of a short post today, but that’s my first “Shiny of the Week.” What do you guys think about the liners, or what method have you found that works well on making dutch oven cleanup easier?

PO-TA-TOES


What we need is a few good taters…

Song virus achieved?

Anyway, goodness knows I love me some taters. Especially on campouts. And I have to say that the newest addition to Scouting Magazine over the last few issues has been the article on Dutch Oven cooking and it is great! I previously posted about the Kalamata Roast recipe that we made back at John Colter in November 2010. This post is about the Udder Potatoes recipe found in the most recent issue.

For Christmas my Jen-nay (we’s like peas and carrots) got me a Lodge 12″ Cast Iron Camping Dutch Oven. What’s the difference between a camping dutch oven and a regular dutch oven? Nothing outrageous. But the camping dutch ovens have the three peg-legs on the bottom and the lid has the lip on top – both made to more effectively deal with charcoal. And they’re great! Even with all the technological advances in cookware over the last couple of centuries, cast iron still remains as the king of the hill, and for good reason. It works!

I *heart* my dutch oven, it is great! I’ve already used it a few times since Christmas and it is also the nifty BSA logo branded one. You can buy your own at your local Scout Shop (here is a link to the Scoutstuff.org page on it), or via Lodge’s website here. I’d suggest going through your local Scout Shop to save on shipping (it is heavy) and because the price is about $70 compared to nearly $100 at other places. The pricetag seems steep but it is worth every penny.

So anyway, back to the taters…

I saw the recipe in the most recent issue of Scouting and decided that it would be a great dish to try for the Pack Winter Campout in January. I had all the Webelos with me in a primitive cabin area of Camp Birch while the rest of the pack was in the comfort of the brand new Turner Building. Here’s the recipe:

The Udder Potatoes

Ingredients

½ pound of bacon, chopped
2 30-ounce packages frozen shredded hash browns
4 large green onions, chopped
½ teaspoon Morton Nature’s Seasons Seasoning Blend
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3½ cups heavy whipping cream
11 tablespoons butter, cut into slices
Set out package of frozen hash browns for about half an hour before baking. Allow them to thaw slightly. Fry bacon in Dutch oven until crisp. Pour off grease. Add hash browns, green onions, and seasonings. Mix gently until evenly distributed.

Pour cream over potato mixture and place butter slices on top. Bake in a 12-inch Dutch oven at 350 degrees (16 coals on top, 10 coals below) for 45 minutes. Remove pot from bottom heat. Put bottom coals on top of lid and tilt the lid slightly open for 15-20 minutes until browned on top.

I guarantee once your Scouts get a taste of this dish, if you ever ask them if they want scalloped or cheese potatoes again, they will all cry out, “No! We want the udder ones!”

Serves: 15-18

So we didn’t exactly follow the recipe, but they turned out amazing. First off, who uses half a pound of bacon when you’re camping? You can buy bacon at the grocery normally in 12 oz or 16 oz packages. So we used a 12 oz package, but we used the whole package. Extra bacon is good for the soul. Likewise with the heavy cream. I don’t know where you can buy 3-1/2 cups of cream. I see it in pints and quarts. So we bought a quart and used the whole quart – no point in saving half a cup of heavy cream when you’re on a campout.

Due to the extreme cold at the time, we used extra coals and due to the extra liquid I cooked it a little longer than originally stated. Came out AWESOME! I’ve remade it two times since then with great results too.

My personal preference it to lighten up on the green onion because that flavor can easily overpower, and more bacon because, well, it’s bacon! Jen-nay thinks cheese would make it even better, I think it is fine without the cheese. But I’m thinking about getting some of the cheese flavored french fried onion pieces and for the last five minutes of cooking sprinkle those across the top for crunch.

So now I’ve got dutch oven posts on a main dish, side dish and dessert. Wonder what will be next? We’ll have to wait and see…

Campfire Stories


So I was reading back on the Scouting Magazine blog and came across the post on great campfire stories. I had one pop into my head that I heard when I was a Boy Scout (or possibly a Webelos), told around the campfire by Mr. Fisher. The story builds into a joke but not until the final punchline and if you tell it right you can string the boys along for a while. I’ll tell what hopefully is a decent retelling of my own version of that story below.

“The Worst Thing I Ever Did”
(rewritten and embellished by Middletownscouter based on the original telling by Mr. Fisher)

Boys, it has been a great weekend and we’ve once again learned about the outdoors and about doing our good turn daily. But I want to tell you, I know that it is hard to be good all the time and sometimes we all fail. And that’s okay, we learn from our mistakes and move on. As hard as it is to believe, even I sometimes was guilty of not always doing my best to be a good Scout. So tonight I want to tell you a story about the worst thing I’ve ever done.

It was quite a long time ago in August of 1986. I was about your age, between Webelos and Boy Scouts, and it was the summertime. And boy, was it hot! You couldn’t be outside for more than a couple of minutes without your shirt being soaked with sweat. The kind of heat where you wanted to spend the day at the pool with your buddies watching the pretty lifeguard. You get the picture.

Well, for me that day was even hotter. Because not only was I not at the pool with my buddies watching the pretty lifeguard, I was at the house. Doing yard work. I spent the morning pulling weeds from the garden and edging the sidewalks. Backbreaking labor, on my hands and knees with gloves on pulling prickly weeds from the mulch covered flowerbed followed by using a garden spade to slowly cut a nice clean edge along both sides of the sidewalk and the driveway all down the front of the house. And my Walkman was broken, so I didn’t even have any music to listen to. It was brutal! I think I lost ten pounds from sweat that morning. After a quick respite from the heat for lunch, I was all set to ride my bike over to the pool, but alas, it was not to be! “You’re not going anywhere until the lawn is mowed,” my mother told me. All that work and now I had to mow the lawn? How unfair is that? Needless to say, I was in a very bad mood as I pulled out the ancient lawnmower and got it started up.

Now, the entire time I had been outside that day, so had the neighbor’s dog, Scruffy. They had this little fur ball Jack Russell Terrier that constantly barked at anyone it could see. It didn’t matter that I’d been around this dog for years, it still barked. Neighbors, mailmen, delivery men…it didn’t matter. This dog barked at them all. And it wasn’t so much the barking itself – that’s how dogs talk, after all – it was the pitch of the bark. It was a small dog, and it was a high pitched YIP YIP YIP type of bark. Imagine that, will you? It’s the middle of the summer, 100 degrees in the shade, you’re hot, sweaty, deprived of the chance to hit the pool with your buddies, forced into manual labor by your parents, and all the while there’s this constant YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP…it was too much for any man to take! I was trying to just get it done, get the yard mowed and if I couldn’t get to the pool at least I could take a shower and go to the movies to see Top Gun that night when all of a sudden, COUGH SPUTTER WHEEZE…the mower ran out of gas! I go to the garage to get the gas can and it’s empty! I had used the last of it to fill the mower the week before but forgotten to tell my dad so he could fill it up. Oh no! “Well, at least I was going to get a bike ride in that day,” I thought.

I got a bungee cord and strapped the gas can onto my bike and was rode the two miles each way to get the gas can filled up. Going out wasn’t too much of a problem even though it was mostly uphill. Coming back was a tricky proposition – the gas sloshing one way and then another made balancing the bike pretty difficult, but luckily I was able to coast a good way back since it was mostly downhill. Pulling into the driveway at the house, I hit the curb wrong and went down hard onto the sidewalk. Scraped up my arm and my knee, but worse of all about half the gas spilled out of the can! It just wasn’t my day. While I should have been thinking “A Scout is Cheerful,” I was just getting madder and madder at my poor luck. It was hot, I was injured, forced to do yardwork, wrecked my bike, spilled gas on the driveway and the whole time that stupid dog kept on YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP! It was too much to take!

I grabbed the gas can and went over to the mower, and filled it up. It had died pretty close to the fence between my yard and the neighbor’s and the dumb dog Scruffy was right there barking his fool head off. I had had enough. I went over to the dog’s water dish and put in the last little bit of gas left in the can. The dog, still barking, went over to the dish, sniffed it, lapped up the liquid, then stopped barking. Finally!

I started up the mower and was nearly finished mowing the lawn when I saw the strangest thing. Scruffy was going nuts! Running around in circles making the strangest noise I had ever heard from a dog, halfway between a growl and a yelp. He did this for a minute or two and then suddenly stopped and BAM!, fell over on the spot.

(At this point the story teller stops talking. When Mr. Fisher did this to us, we boys just stared at him waiting for him to go on, not wanting to ask the question we all had in our mind. Finally, one of the boys – or perhaps a planted extra adult if the boys don’t do it – will ask, “Did Scruffy die?”)

Nope, he just ran out of gas!

*rimshot*

Note: No animals were harmed in the telling of this story. It is a joke, feeding gasoline to an animal will severely hurt or KILL it. Seriously, DON’T DO IT. Professional driver on a closed course. Do not attempt.

99 to go


So for today, I’m going to go way back to Friday and Saturday, September 29 & 30, 2006. That was the date of (I believe) the first Hopewell District Cub-o-Ree. It also was the very first Cub Scout event that Jon and I attended, having signed up maybe a week before that. Even at a scant 6 years old, Jon and I were far from novice campers; I’ve been doing it off and on my whole life since I was a wee Cub Scout in the mid-80s, and Jon went on his first camping trip at just over 12 months old. So we roll up with all our gear fitting in my external frame backpack (tent, sleeping pads and bags, miscellaneous gear and our camp chairs (we carried the camp chairs, they didn’t fit in the pack). Holy culture shock, Radioactive Man! There were pop-up campers everywhere, people with tents the size of my first apartment…it was a huge difference between the camping I was used to and what I was about to experience! Jon and I got all our stuff set up and we were ready to go.

It was a lot of fun that night. There was a big campfire with the OA guys out there (which in our district is a pretty rare thing, I haven’t seen the OA dance or drum team show up to any Cub Scout event that I’ve been a part of since the 2007 Cub-o-Ree). We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and made s’mores and overall it was pretty neat to just start meeting all the new people in the pack. Jon spent most of the night running around the campsite with his new buddies and I spent most of it sitting by the fire in my camp chair sewing patches onto Jon’s uniform. Apparently this was some sort of bright neon sign that said, “I WANT TO BE A LEADER!” I actually had no intention of becoming a leader, just being a helpful parent and spending time with Jon.

So our District Executive at the time, Steve Stephenson, came by our campsite and hung out for a half hour or so (having food helps draw in the district folks), and I got to meet and talk to him which was nice. He mentioned that the next morning there would be an “information session for new leaders or parents who want to know more about Scouting.” Since it had been 15 or so years since I was last involved with Scouts, I figured I’d like to go to that and see what had changed, if anything, since I was a youth in the Pack 19 and Troop 18. I talked to our Cubmaster and he said it would be okay for me to go to that while they took Jon with them around to the stations and I could meet up with them when the session was over. Cool.

(So anyone who is a Scout leader is probably laughing by now after the last paragraph.)

Anyway, the next morning we wake up, have our breakfast of head-sized Sam’s Club muffin and a McDonald’s sausage biscuit and get ready for a day of fun! Jon goes off with the pack while I head over to the pavillion for this information session. As I quickly found out, that “information session” was actually New Leader Essentials (the training course that was replaced by the awful This is Scouting. Taught by none other than David Hoffman. And when I walked out and rejoined the pack at activities, I was pretty much a leader.

So that, dear reader(s), is the story of how I went into my first Cub Scout activity a parent and walked out a leader. And you all have David Hoffman to thank (or blame) for that!

Cobbler in the regular oven, really?


So apparently you can make a cobbler that isn’t in a dutch oven…who knew?

Last night’s dessert started out as “There is a half a #10 can of apple pie filling leftover from the pack meeting. What are we going to do with this?” How about a caramel apple pie? Or, better yet, caramel apple cobbler!

So off to the store we go. Grab a box of Duncan Hines® Moist Deluxe Caramel Cake Mix, a bottle of Smucker’s® Caramel Sundae Syrup, a container of Edy’s® Slow Churned French Vanilla Ice Cream and some butter. We already had cinnamon sugar at the house.

So we started by mixing in a good amount of the caramel syrup into the can of apple pie filling along with some cinnamon sugar, spread that into the bottom of a 13×9 glass baking dish, then covered the top with the cake mix. Poured the 1-1/3 cups of water over the cake mix and spread around about 2/3 of a stick of butter cut into small cubes. Sprinkled more cinnamon sugar over top of the cake mix and butter. Threw it all into the oven at 375 for about 35-40 minutes and it came out great. Topped it off with a scoop of ice cream and some more caramel sauce, it turned out great!

So trying to convert this recipe to work at the campsite (except for maybe the ice cream) and to use a whole #10 can, I’m thinking it would look like this:

Caramel Apple Cobbler
#10 can of apple pie filling
1 20-oz bottle caramel sundae syrup
4 Tablespoons cinnamon sugar, divided
1 box caramel cake mix
1 stick butter, cut into small cubes
1-1/3 cup tap water

Open the #10 can of pie filling, and stir in half the cinnamon sugar and about half of the caramel sauce. Pour into the bottom of a 12″ dutch oven (lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil if desired). Pour evenly over the top the box of cake mix, then drizzle the water onto the cake mix as evenly as possible. Top with the butter and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar over the top.

Cook at 375 degrees (17 coals on top / 11 on bottom) for 35-45 minutes or until desired doneness of the cake, changing out the charcoal as needed to ensure proper heating.

Serve with a drizzle of the remaining caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream (if you can get it to the campsite).

I’m thinking that might have to be one we try out at the winter camp out in January!

Mmmm…dinner!


Last weekend several boys from both Pack 19 and Troop 18 participated in the John Colter race at the old Camp Hook (now the southern half of Twin Creek Metropark) over in Carlisle. John Colter race is an annual event put on by Troop 572 (also of Middletown). There were several other units in attendance, including Webelos from Pack 572 and Scouts from Troops 725 in the Trenton area and 896 from Hunter. It was a great time and the weather was beautiful!

On Saturday night the adults from Troop 18 and Pack 19 cooked dinner for themselves. While the boys all had hot dogs (or chili dogs) and chips that Troop 572 supplied, we went a little meatier. Back in the April 2010 edition of Scouting Magazine I saw an article with a recipe for a dutch oven meal called the Kalamata Roast. Here’s the recipe:

Beef, Italian Style by H. Kent Rappleye, Scouting Magazine, April 2010
Kalamata Roast

First, you’ll need to preheat your 12-inch Dutch oven to about 275 degrees. That means you’ll want to place 13 coals on top and 7 coals on bottom.

Ingredients

3- to 4-pound beef chuck roast, bone in or boneless
¾ cup beef broth
½ cup brown sugar
1½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 large garlic clove, chopped
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, sliced into thin strips
½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1 (10-ounce) jar or 1 cup fresh or frozen pearl onions (not pickled)
Brown roast on all sides in Dutch oven. Pour beef broth over entire surface of roast. Evenly sprinkle remaining ingredients on top in the order listed. Cook low and slow for 3-5 hours. You can maintain this low simmer by placing two additional coals on top and two below every hour or so, depending on the weather.

Note: If you have any leftovers (fat chance), chunk up the meat, pour your favorite marinara sauce over it, heat, and serve with pasta. Amazing!

SERVES ABOUT 8-10

I am a big lover of olives (much to the dismay of my strange olive-hating family), so this recipe sang to me. I’d been wanting to try it out for months. And with Dave Erwin at the camp out – the master of the dutch oven – the opportunity was there. So we made that recipe for dinner, adding just a little bit more liquid, garlic and five or so whole jalapeños from my garden.

HEAVEN!

You all have to try this out! Seriously. Best. Recipe. Ever. Cooking the meat low and slow made it very tender, while you got the saltiness of the olives, the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes, and the subtle heat of the peppers. It was seriously Good Eats ™.

(Side note: Am I the only one who thinks Alton Brown should do a whole series of shows on dutch oven cooking over the campfire?)

Along with that we took some good sized baking potatoes, seasoned them up with a little salt, a little pepper and some garlic and hot peppers, wrapped them in foil and tossed them in the campfire coals while the roast was cooking. Those also turned out excellent.

All in all, it was one of the better meals I’ve had at a camp out. I seriously need to get myself a dutch oven with the feet on it so I can start learning to cook these types of things myself!

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