Tag Archives: #scouts

It’s Over 9000!


This little blog of mine, which hardly ever gets any new content (for my twelve followers, sorry about that), has seen a bit of an uptick over the last week.

Normally I see a slight spike in visits to this page at the beginning of each year, when Cub Scout leaders and parents are searching for information on career arrows for their Arrow of Light Scouts who will soon be crossing over to Boy Scouts.  That’s pretty expected.  I usually see a couple hundred hits a month in those instances, and it’s from inside the Scouting community for the most part.  Prior to this month the most page views I’d seen for this blog was about 1,200 in one month.

But it appears that the post I published back in March 2015 (and have updated a few times since then to keep it up to date), about Presidential visits to the BSA National Jamboree, has absolutely spiked in the last week.  In fact, as of the writing of this post, this month’s views are over 9,000.

itsover1000

So it’s really cool to me that people have gotten some value out of content I spent a not insignificant amount of time creating.  Or at least had the opportunity to get some value.  Or possibly just clicked on a link from some other site and immediately regretted it.  But hey, it’s something!

And maybe it’ll help to put to bed those claims about every President but one attending the Jamboree.  Probably not, but one can hope right?

Plus I got to use a Dragon Ball Z meme!

I’d been thinking about doing some more pages similar to this about confirming or debunking other Scouting myths.  Maybe I’ll re-visit that in the near future.

Hopefully I won’t go two years without posting something again.

We now move away from the post about this hits on this site from another post (meta posting?), and return you to Scouting content…someday.

YIS/WWW,

-Middletownscouter

 

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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

Recipe of the Week (#100DaysofScouting Day 870…Oops!)


Wow, first post back in a very very long time.  Fittingly, it is about food!

A couple of weekends ago, I went on a campout with Troop 18 (my son’s troop, where I am an Asst. Scoutmaster) to Put-in-Bay.  We all agreed we wanted to spend as much time kayaking, fishing, going into town and bird watching, and as little time as possible cooking.  So Saturday evening’s dinner was about as minimal as you can get, but it packed maximum flavor and the boys and adults all agreed it was just that. darn. good.  The boys dubbed it “Prison Slop.”  Here’s what would pass as a recipe:

Prison Slop

  • 2 gallons water
  • 1 box (6 lb) of instant mashed potato flakes
  • 3 pounds cheese (shredded, cubed, type doesn’t really matter)
  • 3 pillow packs (1.5 lbs) sliced pepperoni
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

(Equipment needed:  One turkey fryer burner with propane tank, one large stock pot with lid, big spoon for mixing and serving.)

Heat the water in the pot until just starting to boil.  Remove from heat and add potato flakes.  Stir until well combined and mashed potatoes are achieved.

Add in the cheese and pepperoni and mix thoroughly, stirring until the cheese is melted.

Serve to hungry campers as-is or with salt & pepper to taste.

Final Blue and Gold Prep (#100DaysofScouting Day 18)


So Friday was a pretty busy day.  In addition to working a full day, we had family come into town for the Blue & Gold on Saturday.  I also had plenty of prep work left to do for the Blue & Gold, but family takes priority so after work we were off to bd’s Mongolian Grill.  I ❤ that place!

So after getting home from that and relaxing with the b-i-l and family, it was time to get started on the finishing touches for Blue & Gold.  Looks like staying up all night working on the Webelos II slideshow is a tradition I could not break…

Finished up the slideshow about 6:45 AM on Saturday morning.  It turned out great if I do say so myself.  If I figure out a way to get it uploaded somewhere (it’s nearly 500MB) I’ll edit this post with a link.  On a previous post I discussed what songs to use.  This year was both easier and more difficult to figure out the songs (Wat?).  Easier for a couple of the songs because I had overheard my boys talking in the car going to/from Klondike Derby back in January about what their favorite songs and/or bands were.  Harder in that I couldn’t figure out what songs to use to fill it out after I used the ones of theirs that were appropriate.

By the way, there are exactly zero songs by Eminem or Avenged Sevenfold that are appropriate for Scouting functions.  Even the ones you’d immediately think were okay, like “Lose Yourself” or “Not Afraid” aren’t any good.  They’re tame…for Eminem.  He still drops a few f-bombs and some of the lyrical content is sketchy while not profane.  But while dramatically better than say “Kill You” or “Kim,” still as a whole not okay for use at Scouting events.

So anyway, our theme for B&G this year was “Knights of the Round Table.”  As soon as I heard that, I knew Monty Python must be a part of the slideshow.  I mean, c’mon!  So I looked around and found on Youtube a video of the “Camelot” song re-shot completely in Lego.  Win!  I grabbed that and it became the intro to my slideshow.

So after the Lego Monty Phyton video, we start in with the pictures and the music.  The songs (in random playing order except the first and last are where they’re supposed to be) were:

Europe – “The Final Countdown” (listed by two boys as their favorite song, thanks to Lego Rockband)
Linkin Park – “New Divide” (favorite band of at least one boy in the den)
Alex Boyé – “Born to Be a Scout” (been planning on using this one for this slideshow for a couple years now)
Switchfoot – “Meant To Live” (another #jambo2010 throwback)
Green Day – “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” (used it in 2009 but I couldn’t think of anything else)

(There may be one more in there, I can’t remember though.  I’ll have to check at home and edit this post if it is different.)

I hate to toot my own horn but it turned out awesome!  You worry about how well things you create in the wee hours of the morning after 24+ hours of no sleep will be to people who aren’t slap happy.  I’m glad it was pretty universally well liked!

Crisis Averted! (#100DaysofScouting, Day 17)


To follow up on my post from yesterday, after several phone calls and IM conversations with a few different people it seems we have managed to fix the issue where the troop that was supposed to do our AOL ceremony this Saturday had to back out on us.

We found a ceremony that will probably work better.  The ceremony Troop 572 does is great, but it involves setting an arrow aflame and with the way we did our career arrows for the boys that probably would not have been the ideal thing to do.  So while looking around we found the “Career Arrow” AOL ceremony at this website.  It seemed more appropriate and it only requires 1 indian costume.

Luckily our very good friend from church and Scouts, Josh – who recently completed his Eagle, turned 18 and became an Assistant Scoutmaster – said he would play that role.  It helps that Josh is like eleven-bajillionty feet tall (okay, not really, but I’m sure if he’s not at least 7′ tall he’s darn close!), which adds to the awe-inspiring part for the wee guys.  He also helped in last year’s AOL ceremony so he had a costume his size already, and our buddy Stan at Troop 18 still had it and was willing to help Josh out once he found out about our predicament.

We are also going to use a trick that we started doing in our ceremonies about 2 years ago that makes them seem much more professionally done.  Since the lights are usually dim it is hard to see people’s mouths and our guys don’t really speak.  Instead someone in the back with a script reads all the speaking parts and does voices.  It seems weird but has worked out awesome for us.

So now I don’t have to worry as much about getting an AOL ceremony done, and can go back to worrying about everything else that isn’t done yet…like the slideshow!  I got some pictures last night from the mom of one of my newer boys and now I just have to finish up getting the pictures in order and picking the music.  I don’t want to give everything away but I already have an opening video/song, an intro and first song.  Also have a closing sound bit and I think I’m going to use “Born to be a Scout” in there somewhere, but I need two or three more songs.  Any suggestions?  Here’s what I’ve used the last couple of years, I’d like not to repeat if possible:

2009
Survivor – “Eye of the Tiger”
Duran Duran – “Hungry Like the Wolf”
Barenaked Ladies – “The Other Day I Met a Bear”
Green Day – “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

2010
Foo Fighters – “Wheels”
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – “Teach Your Children”
Randy Neuman – “You’ve Got A Friend in Me”
Owl City – “Fireflies”
Randy Travis – “Heroes and Friends”

Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap! (#100DaysofScouting, Day 16)


I am seriously freaking out right now.  Several months ago, we scored an epic win by scheduling Troop 572 to do our AOL ceremony at Blue & Gold.  572 has hands down the best AOL ceremony around.  We were all really pleased about this (okay, except the CM who is also a leader or three with Troop 718 and the leadership at Troop 718 who thought we should automatically have them do every ceremony for us all the time).

Today we’re getting down into the final stages of preparation for Saturday’s Blue & Gold Banquet, and our Advancement Chair sends an email to the Scoutmaster from Troop 572 to check in if they need anything from us.  And the response we get back a little while later on (about an hour and a half ago) was that they have a conflict and cannot make our event.  CRAP!

So what to do, what to do?  Our OA chapter would likely not be willing to do a ceremony on such short notice…that is, if they were willing to do ceremonies at all.  I’ve asked in the past and have been told that they only do ceremonies for their own use, not for anyone else.  So much for the nice American Indian themed ceremony I think, unless we can pull something together in the next 72 hours…

(10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1…okay, I am calm.)

We’ll need to get cracking on either finding a replacement Troop or writing our own ceremony it seems.  Guess I know what I’m doing for most of my free time the next few days.

Arrow of Light / Cub Scout Career Arrows Follow-Up (#100DaysofScouting, Day 15)


(This is a follow-up to my previous post on Arrow of Light / Cub Scout Career Arrows, found here.)

So they’re done.  Finally!  And they look pretty sweet!  Probably because after doing the design, I had NOTHING to do with them after.  That task was undertaken by my lovely wife with the degree in Art!

So I kinda/sorta followed the ways that had been previously published, but we diverted in a few different areas and I think it turned out for the better that way.

First was that I bought the arrows.  I know, there’s plenty of resources out there on how to make arrows, like these instructions from the November 2001 issue of Boys’ Life.  But frankly, my time was worth more than the money of the parents in my den, so we purchased arrows.  There are lots and lots of places to get arrows from, but I settled on the 25″ Agate Tipped arrow from arrow-of-light-awards.com.  The price was not too high and they were in stock with quick shipping, and I liked the look of them.  They are only 25″ long, so it is quite obvious they’re ceremonial (even the smallest Cub Scout bow will be too big to fire it).  They showed up quickly and I was very impressed.

So then the next question was how do I mark the boys’ careers onto these arrows?  Searching the web tells me that there are two main positions on this.  One says to go the sticker route, and there are several places where you can buy pre-cut stickers in the appropriate colors and widths you need.  Or you can go the paint route.  Your nearest craft supply store, heck probably your nearest Megalomart probably has all the colors you need.  But paint can get expensive and can be very messy.  Frankly, I didn’t like either option.

So I went with a third option, which was to use colored embroidery floss wrapped around the shaft, and secured using Aleene’s Brush-On Tacky Glue.  I went to my local Meijer and bought a couple of the packs of embroidery floss where you get 36 skeins of multiple colors for $5 a pack.  I probably could have gotten the colors I needed cheaper by buying individual skeins from Michael’s but at the time I wasn’t sure what colors I was going to use for what.  By buying one of the primary color sets and one of the pastel sets I was able to get every color I needed except something to work for the silver arrow points.  For that we had to go to Michael’s and got a single skein of it there.

So now I had materials (arrows, floss, glue) and manpower (my wife), all I needed was a template and a color scheme.  No brainer on that, right?  There’s a few different variations out there, but most internet searches seem to point to pretty much the exact same pdf file.  But I wasn’t happy with that file.  First, it’s outdated.  This goes back to the days when Tigers weren’t considered full members of the Pack and didn’t earn Bobcat until their Wolf year started.  And there were other awards that I felt were pretty significant that were ignored.  And frankly the spacing used on that pdf file wouldn’t fit on a 25″ arrow if a boy had done a LOT during his Cub Scouting career (and at least one of mine had).  So what was I to do?

Of course, I made my own.  Let it never be said that I’m a conformist.

My feeling is that if you are going to count Arrow Points and Webelos Activity Badges, then you should count Tiger Tracks.  I also think that the Leave No Trace Award and the Good Turn for America Award should be included on the arrow.  Both of these also require an advancement report to be generated.

So we started just after the arrowhead with Bobcat and worked our way down the shaft through the ranks and special awards.  The table below I made to help keep track of Order, Sizing and color:

Cub Scout Career Arrow Order, Colors & Sizes

Badge / Award Name Thread Color

Size on Arrow

Bobcat Badge

Black (Iris 148) ¾”

Tiger Badge

Orange (Iris 710)

¾”

Tiger Tracks (Elective beads)

Pale Yellow (Iris 323) 1/8” per bead earned
Wolf Badge Red (Iris 128)

¾”

Wolf Gold Arrow Point Gold (Iris 421)

½”

Wolf Silver Arrow Points

Silver (DMC 415) 1/8” per arrow point earned
Bear Badge Aqua (Iris 100)

¾”

Wolf Gold Arrow Point

Gold (Iris 421)

½”

Wolf Silver Arrow Points

Silver (DMC 415)

1/8” per arrow point earned

Webelos Badge

Royal Blue (Iris 398)

¾”

Webelos Activity Badges

White (Iris 144)

1/8” per activity badge earned

Arrow of Light Badge

Bright Yellow (Iris 344)

1-½”

Religious Emblem Award

Tan (Iris 222)

¾”

Leave No Trace Award

Green (Iris ???)

¾”

World Conservation Award

Purple (Iris 755)

¾”

Good Turn for America Award Red/White/Blue braided (Iris 128 / 144 / 986)

¾”

For the Good Turn for America Award, we tried to find a varigated thread of red, white & blue but couldn’t find anything close.  So Jenny braided the three colors together and it looks really good!  It is only slightly taller off the shaft than the regular floss and really isn’t very noticeable.  I like it!

I asked each family to fill out a quick form to verify what the boy did and didn’t earn, I’ll attach a blank copy.  For all the things they did since Webleos, I had the info because I’ve been the den leader and we’ve used Scouttrack.  But for Tiger, Wolf & Bear, the former den leader kept paper records which were pretty accurate but I wanted confirmation from the families.  And one of my boys was in a different pack before Webelos and transferred to ours later on, so I didn’t have any of his previous records.

I used the data collected from the families for each boy to make a template in Word.  Just made a simple 2 row table and adjusted the column width appropriately for how wide each item should be.  The cell in row one was just filled with that color (or an approximation), and the cell in row 2 I put the actual measurement of how wide the ring should be.  Then I gave it all to my lovely wife, and viola!

So here’s a couple pictures of the Finished Product:

Cub Scout Career Arrow using embroidery floss

Cub Scout Career Arrow using embroidery floss

Cub Scout Career Arrow using embroidery floss

Cub Scout Career Arrow using embroidery floss

 

 

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?

Recipe of the Week (#100DaysofScouting, Day 9)


So it seems like each Wednesday was the day to post something food related, so I’ll keep with that topic for this week.

At our district’s Klondike Derby each year, the adults from each unit who run the cities participate in a chili cook-off.  There’s a travelling trophy that gets engraved with the winner’s name and that unit holds onto it for the next year and it is handed in, re-engraved and handed out to the next year’s winner.  Neat idea.  Plus in the early January cold it is always nice to be able to get some warm grub at each station!

So last weekend was our district’s first ever Cub Klondike (see my previous post), and I decided at rather the last minute (10:00 PM the night before) that I was going to make chili at my city.  I ran Nome where we did the Good Camp / Bad Camp station (I set up the camp and made five errors that were either poor camping skills or violating Leave No Trace and the boys had to identify each to me for their nuggets), so I was already going to have a kitchen set up, why not cook?  So I threw together a chili which isn’t terribly original but turned out excellent if I do say so myself (and I do, as did several other people at the event who partook in it).  So I figured I’d share the recipe.

(I should note that my “recipe” was basically to take the instructions from the back of the chili seasoning packet and modify it with some extra stuff, so McCormick’s should get some of the credit I suppose.  What can I say, it was 9 hours before the event and I needed to get some sleep, I didn’t have time to come up with my own seasoning mix!  Next time I’ll be more creative, and I’ll be sure to share the results with you too!)

Middletownscouter’s Special Valentine’s Day “Hearts on Fire” Chili

  • 2 packages McCormick’s HOT chili seasoning mix
  • 1 package McCormick’s original chili seasoning mix
  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 2 8-oz cans Tomato Sauce
  • 2 15-oz cans chili ready diced tomatoes (with onions)
  • 1 15-oz can hot chili beans
  • 1 30-oz can regular chili beans
  • 6 cups water
  • kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • Diced white onion (optional)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • Sliced pickled jalapeños (optional)
  • Sour Cream (optional)
  • Crackers (optional)

(Note: I cooked this recipe over a propane camp stove.  You could also do this over a campfire but be careful to monitor constantly to ensure even heating and no burning.  You also will want to soap the OUTSIDE bottom and sides of your pot so they don’t get permanently carbon scored.)

Season the ground beef with salt, pepper and garlic powder, then brown in a large stock pot.  Once there is no longer any visible pink in your ground beef, drain off the fat and return the pot to your heat source.

Add in the seasoning mix, tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans and water.  Stir until everything is completely combined. (Note, if you are doing this at camp, it helps to bring a can opener.  Opening six cans of stuff with a pocket knife takes a lot of effort and a lot of time)

Bring chili to a boil, stirring occasionally (making sure to hit the bottom of the pot so nothing sticks and burns on).  Once the chili is boiling turn down the heat (or move to a cooler area of the campfire) and allow to simmer until at the desired thickness / consistency.

Serve to hungry campers as-is or garnished with onion, cheese, jalapeños, sour cream or crackers.  Makes a LOT of chili, at least 12 full meal size servings.

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.

Gearing Up for my last Den Meeting


Tomorrow is the last regularly scheduled Lightning Dragon den meeting.  It should be pretty productive too.  Lots to get accomplished.  On the list of things to do:

  • Gathering – Collect homework / sign off on AOL for the last 2 boys in the den to be completed (they both had to finish the  Showman Activity Badge) / Set up room [prior to meeting]
  • Opening (Flags / Pledge / Oath / Law) [5 min]
  • Pizza! [25 min]
  • Work on Career Arrows [45 min]
  • Song Practice [10 min]
  • Announcements / Closing [5 min]

I think I’m going to have to have Jenny drop Jon and I off early and then go pick up the pizzas so we can get started on time.  I am going to email/call all the families today to remind them what they need to bring and also that this meeting is going to run 1.5 hours instead of the usual 1 hour session.  If the boys don’t get their career arrows done in time, they’ll have to take them home,finish them as homework and bring them back at the Blue & Gold.

Also will need to get B&G headcounts at the meeting tomorrow so that we can make sure there’s enough tables and food put out.  I think we’re already over 10 people coming for just our family and friends.

Scout Sunday at First Presbyterian Church


So most churches celebrated Scout Sunday last Sunday. However, at First Presbyterian Church (my home church) we do Scout Sunday the 2nd weekend in February because it won’t double-up with communion Sundays, which are long enough as it is. This is the 5th Scout Sunday I’ve helped plan at the church and each year it keeps getting better and better.

This year we had Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturers and Girl Scouts helping as worship assistants. The only person involved in the service (besides the choir) who weren’t current or former Scouts was the organist (I believe; I think the pianist was a Girl Scout in her youth). I was very happy with how it turned out. Here’s the layout of the service (items in bold are also read by the congregation in unison):

PRELUDE – Organist (Non-Scout) & Pianist (former Girl Scout)

WELCOME – Pastor (Eagle Scout)

PRESENTATION OF THE COLORS – Boy Scout calling with a Scouter, Eagle Scout, Venturer, Webelos and 3 Girl Scouts as color guard.

CALL TO WORSHIP (responsive) – Pastor (Eagle Scout)
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

PRAYER OF PRAISE AND ADORATION (unison) – Brownie Girl Scout
Eternal God, our beginning and our end, be our starting point and our haven, and accompany us in this day’s journey. Use our hands to do the work of your creation, and use our lives to bring others the new life you give this world in Jesus Christ, Redeemer of all.  Amen.

HYMNAL #564 – O Beautiful for Spacious Skies (Materna)

PRAYER OF CONFESSION (unison) – Junior Girl Scout
Almighty God, who made light to shine in the darkness, shine now in our hearts. We confess that we have sinned and have not walked in your light. Forgive us, we pray, and restore us to the way of Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

SILENT CONFESSION

DECLARATION OF PARDON – Junior Girl Scout

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND THE PEACE

CIRCLE TIME FOR YOUNG DISCIPLES – Eagle Scout

RESPONSE – HYMN #338 – Kum ba Yah (verses 1 & 4)

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION – Webelos Scout

FIRST SCRIPTURE LESSON – Deuteronomy 30: 15-20 – Webelos Scout
See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

PSALM 119: 1-8 (responsive) – Brownie Girl Scout
Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.
Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways.
You have  commanded your precepts to be kept dilligently.
O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous ordinances. I will observe your statutes; do not utterly forsake me.

SECOND SCRIPTURE LESSON – 1 Corinthians 3: 1-9 – Pastor (Eagle Scout)
And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neighter the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.
The Word of the Lord!
Thanks be to God!

SERMON – “Trail the Eagle” – Pastor (Eagle Scout)

A MOMENT FOR SILENT MEDITATION

HYMN – “Philmont Prayer” (sung to the tune of “Eternal Father, Strong to Save”)
Almighty God of hill and plain,
O’er which we hike in sun and rain,

On mountain top and valley low,
Protect us, Lord, where’er we go.
And from our grateful hearts we’ll raise
Glad hymns of thankfulness and praise.

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (unison) – from “The Brief Statement of Faith” – Boy Scout
We trust in Jesus Chris, fully human, fully God. Jesus proclaimed the reign of God: preaching good news to the poor and release to the captives, teaching by word and deed and blessing the children, healing the sick and binding up the brokenhearted, eating with outcasts, forgiving sinners, and calling all to repent and believe the gospel. Unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition, Jesus was crucified, suffering the depths of human pain and giving his life for the sins of the world. God raised this Jesus from the dead, vindicating his sinless life, breaking the power of sin and evil, delivering us from death to life eternal.

GLORIA PATRI – HYMNAL #579
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end,

Amen, Amen!

PRESENTATION OF TITHES AND OFFERINGS – Venturer

OFFERTORY – “The Greatest Gift is Love” (Mark Hayes) – Sanctuary Choir with flute soloist

DOXOLOGY – HYMNAL #592
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow
Praise God, all creates here below;
Praise God above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.

PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING – Pastor (Eagle Scout)

SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS – Pastor (Eagle Scout)

PASTORAL PRAYER – Pastor (Eagle Scout)

THE LORD’S PRAYER (unison)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name; thy kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN – “Scout Vespers” (sung to the tune of “O Tannenbaum”)
Softly falls the light of day
While our campfire fades away.
Silently each Scout should ask
Have I done my daily task?
Have I kept my honor bright?
Can I guiltless sleep tonight?
Have I done and have I dared
Everything to be prepared?

Listen Lord, oh listen Lord,
As I whisper soft and low.
Bless my mom and bless my dad,
These are things that they should know.
I will keep my honor bright,
The oath and law will be my guide.
And mom and dad this you should know,
Deep in my heart I love you so.

CHARGE AND BLESSING – Pastor (Eagle Scout)

POSTLUDE – “Christ for the World We Sing!” (Lani Smith) – Organist (non-Scout) & Pianist (former Girl Scout)

Everyone who was a part of the service did an excellent job, especially those doing the readings (one of whom was terrified of going up and speaking in front of the whole church).

After we got done eight of us went and had our traditional Scout Sunday brunch at Frisch’s.  All in all I was very happy with how well everything went.  Next year we are probably going to move our Scout Sunday to March 11 to be closer to the Girl Scout’s 100th birthday (3/12/12).



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?

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…

Cub Klondike is this Saturday!


Most everyone is familiar with the Klondike Derby, where teams of Webelos, Boys Scouts or Venturers pull decent sized sleds through the (mud/slush/snow/ice) going to different cities and earning gold nuggets. But what about a version for Cub Scouts?

Well, in Dan Beard Council, up until last year we had “Cub Winter Day.” It was a station-based outdoors event at Cub World and was very fun and well attended. But in 2010 council decided to move it from December/January to April and rename it “Cub Cabin Fever Fest.” But they forgot to tell everyone that it was the Cub Winter Day re-branded, and did a lackluster job of promoting it. Registrations flagged, and it was cancelled. For the 2010-2011 program year, council did not include either Cub Winter Day or Cub Cabin Fever Fest on their calendar. Does this spell the end for an wintertime outdoor experience for the Cubbies?

NO!

In Miami Valley Council, their southeastern district (currently the Wright Brothers district) has been running a “Cub Klondike” since about 1985. This event is similar to the Klondike for the older kids in that the boys are in small teams (3 – 6 boys I believe), and they pull a sled carrying needed gear around a course to do activities. But the sleds are plastic snow sleds not big Klondike sledges, the gear needed is rather minimal and nearly no skills are required. It is more about fun and teamwork than anything else.

This looks to be an excellent event and lots of fun for the boys, so if you haven’t already registered you should strongly consider attending. Online registration has closed but the Grand Poobah of the event has told me that walk-in’s are going to be accepted. Cost is a measly $6 per Scout (adults are free).

You can get all of the full info at the Hopewell District Cub Klondike Page.

I will be there helping run the Leave No Trace station (good camp vs. bad camp). I hope to see you there!

Lasts and Firsts (Happy Birthday, BSA!)


“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
-T.S. Eliot

Today marks the 101st birthday of the Boy Scouts of America! I know how we’ll be opening our pack meeting tonight, maybe with a little singing? It was on this day 101 years ago that a group of men including the namesake of our council (Daniel Carter Beard) got together to begin the process of transplanting the Scouting movement across the pond from Great Britian to America. And over those last 101 years we have seen what is undeniably the largest and most effective youth leadership training program in the country. The BSA is the second largest Scouting organization in the world (second only to Indonesia whose 17+ million Scouts make up nearly 40% of the world’s active Scouting population). Over 2 million young men have attained the highest rank of Eagle, and the list of influential people in positions of power in this country who were Scouts is amazing. I am glad to have been (and continue to be) affiliated with Scouting as both a youth and adult, and look forward to what is to come as the BSA trailblazes into the future.

Today is also a memorable day in the Scouting career of my son (and to me as well). It is his 45th pack meeting as a Cub Scout with Pack 19. It is also his last. He has never missed a Pack meeting that I can recall! Some have been awesome (bringing in the police department, fire department and animal handlers), and some not so much (the ritualistic handing out of the plastic baggies of awards, then we have announcements and then we go home), but overall they’ve been fun.

It occurs to me that this month is a lot of “lasts” for my Lightning Dragons. Saturday was our last Pinewood Derby. Today is our last pack meeting as Cub Scouts. Next Tuesday is our last den meeting. And on the 26th is our last Blue & Gold Banquet and their last day as Cub Scouts. Frankly, since the beginning of March 2010 this has felt like we were on some kind of farewell tour. And there have been a few times where it hit me a little bit to realize that this would be our last week at Adventure Camp, or Fun With Son, or our Pack Summer Campout. And yeah, it makes me a little sad to think about how in just a few short weeks we won’t be in Cub Scout Pack 19 anymore.

Honestly I think I should feel that way. We have devoted a large deal of our time for several years to this organization. We’ve had some struggles, and lots of triumphs, and developed a lot of really good relationships along the way. We in Pack 19 (and I mean all of us, not just my family) are lucky to have a wonderful group of families who all work together to do great things for these young men.

So while February may be a month of “lasts” for Jon and Jenny and I, the most important thing is that February is also the month for the beginning of some “firsts.” On February 26th, which is Jon’s last day as a Cub Scout, it is also his first day as a Boy Scout. And then moving into March, we have his first Troop meeting, his first troop campout at Red River Gorge (also a first visit for him), and so and and so forth leading up to a first Court of Honor and his first week at Boy Scout resident camp (as opposed to Cub Scouts).

So I’m going to try to enjoy the lasts while we can and not be too sad about them, because the firsts start right after, and that’s where the real adventure begins!

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.

…98…


So Sunday was 98 days until Jon crosses over to Boy Scouts. On this actual day, we spent most of the day preparing for the Eagle Court of Honor of a young man from Troop 18 who is also a member of my church. He asked me to assist him with it since I am the COR for the church, so I said sure…not knowing exactly what that means.

It appears that it meant that the bulk of the work for an Eagle COH is on the family to get done, so I ended up helping out considerably. We got approval from the Session of the church to have it at his home church (First Presbyterian) rather than at the Troop’s CO (First Baptist). That caused a mild irritation among some of the Troop leadership but it was quickly gotten over I guess. One of the SA’s from the Troop just had completed working on his son’s Eagle COH a couple weeks prior so he really helped us out, and between the young man, we two leaders and his parents we got the plan down.

I spent most of Saturday shopping for food for the reception, and then preparing it at the church’s kitchen that evening, including making two trays of cobbler (one caramel apple and one peach). Meanwhile, we also (using the wonder of the intarwebz) got the script and bulletin figured out over that week. On Sunday the bulletins were printed and folded – they looked good, we used the ones form the Scout Shop with the eagle medal embossed on the front.

Sunday morning just after services ended we started setting up the sanctuary and gathering area of the church for the ECOH. Lots of tables/chairs to put out and food to bring down from the kitchen. When we were done I had just enough time to make a last minute run to the store to get the young man a card, go get a shower and changed into my uniform so we could be back at the church to finish getting everything done.

The ceremony itself went great. I sat partially obscured in the pulpit area with quick access to a fire extinguisher since the ceremony included 26 candles being lit. The young man’s younger brother (First Class rank in Troop 18), the Scoutmaster and our Pastor were the bulk of the ceremony. I thought it was very well done and was happy with how everything went. I gave him a special award on behalf of the church to recognize all the service he has given to our church over the years.

The reception also went very well, and it appears that while we ended up with lots of leftovers for the family, the food did pretty good. Both the cobblers were devoured (I was told the peach was even better than the apple)! We were able to rest for a moment and congratulate the young man for his hard work and achievement, then we started cleaning up. We were completely cleaned up (Leave No Trace!) and out of the church by 9:00 PM. Overall I was exhausted but very pleased with how things went.

I was glad to get to help with this now so that I have an idea of what to expect when Jon finishes up Eagle (in several years). There were things that I would have liked to do that couldn’t get done because of the short time frame but the bulk of the job was there and done very well. I was thinking to myself that we should start a book of this stuff so that we know what to expect when the time comes…but then I just saw on Scoutstuff that there is a book. Think I might suggest that the Troop purchase a copy of that for future reference!

Somewhat tangentially related is that I now have a full Venturing uniform that I am going to use for my Scout items at First Presbyterian Church (where I am the Chartered Organization Representative for Pack, Troop & Crew 1). My stepfather was kind enough to sew all the patches on the shirt for me on Saturday so I would have it for the Eagle COH on Sunday. The shirt I picked up during College of Commissioner Science when it was marked down to $5 (they changed the uniform somewhat recently). Unfortunately they didn’t have any of the old style pants or shorts in my size so I had to buy a pair of the new style ones, and the belt and socks too. So now I’ve got a tan shirt for the Pack, a tan one for Roundtable, and a green one for church.

November Pack Meeting Recap


Pack 19 held their monthly Pack Meeting last night and even though it ran a little longer than expected, it went very well!

The core value of the month was citizenship, and we integrated this and Thanksgiving (which, as a national holiday fits right in there) to come up with our activities. We went with a station rotation idea where boys were split up into groups (each group included different ranks and siblings) and went from station to station where they did some sort of activity that was related to Citizenship.

Station #1 – Flags
At this station, we were outside the church at the flagpoles in the parking lot. Boys (and siblings) learned how to properly raise, lower and fold the US flag. The tie in to citizenship for this one is pretty easy to grasp; also it meets advancement requirements or electives at pretty much every rank level in Cub Scouts.

Station #2 – Cooking
In the church’s kitchen, the kids all made small apple turnovers using pre-made biscuit dough (Kroger brand) and a can of apple pie filling. While they were taking turns doing this their groups also learned the Johnny Appleseed grace and got filled in on the legend of Johnny Appleseed. This is the tie in with the theme, it’s American Folklore.

Station #3 – Cards
In one of the church’s side rooms, we had the boys do a leaf rubbing (and possibly identification, it was supposed to happen but I wasn’t in that room so I don’t know for sure). They turned their leaf rubbing into a Happy Thanksgiving card that the boys will give to a soldier or veteran they or their parents might know. The tie in here is for the boys to recognize the service of our veterans to our country.

Station #4 – Place mats
In another side room, the boys were given a place mat that had a blank map of the first 13 states (plus Ohio). They were supposed to color it in and label the states. Then on the other half of the page they were supposed to draw a famous American and tell what they did. Here’s a link to that coloring book page. The tie in here to citizenship was likewise pretty obvious.

Station #5 – Tic-Tac-Trivia
Back in the main room, we laid down big tic tac toe game squares on the floor with masking tape. We then had the groups answer trivia questions and if they got it right the square they were in was an O. If they got it wrong it was an X. All the questions were related to US History and the flag.

Leaders from each of our five dens ran one of the stations. I ran flags. After our pack meeting opening flag ceremony and a rundown of how things were going to work, the boys went to each station. They got about 10 minutes at each plus 2 minutes of travel, so it took roughly one hour for all the groups to get through all the stations. After the station rotations were done, we gathered back into the main room and did advancements using the ceremony suggested in the Den and Pack Meeting Resource Guide but slightly modified using BSA 2010 paper cups rather than hats. After that came announcements, then we circled up, sang Scout Vespers, did our blessing and went home. The boys grabbed their turnovers on the way out.

Overall I think it went very well, though it ran a little long. While I’m not entirely thrilled about that, my feeling is that if the boys were enjoying themselves that was the most important part.

Advancement – Besides the whole host of stuff that each family will have to go through their rank books to see what got completed, we also incorporated nearly all of the requirements of the US Heritage Silver Award. So I was pleased with how everything went.

Next month is a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T, so that should be an interesting pack meeting to plan. We’ll see how that goes.

YIS,

-Scott

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!

Arrow of Light Awards…Help!


So, being a den leader of a group of 5th grade Webelos (and a dad of one of them), I know that it is now closing in on 4 short months until our Blue and Gold Banquet where our oldest Webelos cross over to Boy Scouts. And since one of my six boys just completed his Arrow of Light Award this past weekend, I know the others will be doing it pretty soon as well.

So it is time for the tradition that obviously quite a few packs do, which is to get a ceremonial arrow for the boy who has completed AOL as a presentation for when he moves on to Boy Scouts. I always thought they were pretty neat. Now I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel here, and I am well aware of all the kits available out there. I think from a cost standpoint I will probably end up purchasing pre-made arrows from one of the many different sources available on the internet, then customize them for the boys. Now the customization part is where things can get a little bit more personal in the touches which I think is a good thing.

There is a document circulating on the web which seems to be the widely accepted standard that most people use. You can find a copy here. Another good website that I found with step by step instructions is here.

However, I think it might be time to update this very good document in regards to the colors and order. First, for the order of things. Since the June 2006 shift in BSA policy that boys must earn Bobcat before Tiger, I think the Bobcat black should come before the Tiger Orange.

For the change in colors, I don’t think there’s much to change, and I’ve actually seen several different versions. The one I plan on using is:

Bobcat = Black
Tiger = Orange
Wolf = Red
Bear = Aqua
Webelos = Blue
Arrow of Light = Yellow
Gold Arrow Points = Gold
Silver Arrow Points = Silver
Webelos Activity Badges = White
Religious Emblem = Tan
World Conservation Award = Purple

There’s two that I think are missing, though.

If we’re going to put in Arrow Points for Wolf & Bear electives, and the Webelos Activity Badges, then shouldn’t we also put in the Tiger Electives beads? I plan to. My main issue is what color to make them. They’re yellow beads, so the first thought would be yellow. But that’s the same color as AOL! What would I change AOL to? Or what color should I use for the Tiger electives if not yellow?

The second one is that I think if we’re going to note some non-rank awards (Religious Emblem and World Conservation), then I think it would be appropriate to also note the Leave No Trace Award. I know the award itself is blue and yellow but I would mark this one in Green (partly because it isn’t being used and also because LNT is all about helping keep the world a better…and greener…place).

So there’s my dilemma. Any suggestions?

I thought about adding a couple of feathers or beads to the coup feather and thong that I think I will make and attach to denote the non-rank awards. So that’s one option. But I think keeping it in paint (or wrapping the arrow shaft in colored embroiderly floss rather than painting) would be the better choice here.

Good thing these arrows I’m looking at are 25″ long! Some of these boys earned a ton of electives and arrow points, it’s going to use a lot of the real estate on that arrow shaft with paint!

One last note. I should point out that these aren’t really going to be AOL arrows. They’re more Honor Arrows because even if a boy doesn’t complete AOL (and I sincerely hope that isn’t the case for my den) I will still make the arrow for them, just leave out the yellow (or whatever color I end up using) to denote the AOL award.

EDIT 2/22/11 – I’ve posted a follow-up to this item here.

Peterloon 2010 Post Game Report


So another Webelos campout is under the Lightning Dragons’ belts, and overall I am very pleased with how things turned out. Half of the Webelos II boys attended along with 4 of the Webelos I boys. Those seven along with myself and the Webelos I Den Leader were sponsored by Troop 718 who sent 6 boys and 3 adults.

We had ourselves some hiccups with the communication and planning portion along with the Troop, but in the end those pre-trip issues didn’t turn out to be anything majorly wrong.

We arrived Friday evening and were able to get into our campsite pretty easily. For having 6,000 people there, the logistics of getting them in and out were handled well. We were in Subcamp 4, row 2, site 3 (right). The Webelos helped the Scouts with unloading all the gear from the two pickup trucks, and then in setting up their tents. After the tents were up and their personal gear stowed, the Webelos broke for a quick dinner of (now lukewarm) McDouble’s we bought on the way in. After that they helped set up the dining fly, get water and finish getting the campsite set up. Once that was done the boys didn’t have a whole lot else to do, and you could see this was the case all over Peterloon. Boys wandering around because due to the burn ban they had no fire to sit around or poke sticks in. Several of them joined in playing cards and others did what boys normally do while they had cracker barrel. I took a quick walkabout to the OA Trading Post at Subcamp 1 & 2 and ran into several folks I knew and visited their campsites. Got back to the campsite and once the leader meeting was completed between 10:30 and 11:00 PM we had more information on what we’d be doing the next day. Eventually all the boys went to bed, followed by us leaders and that was the end of the day.

It got cold overnight. I kept waking up every hour or two because I just wasn’t tired enough to forget I was sleeping on a 3/8″ thick foam pad sitting on the ground. It was a relatively quiet night considering the size of the encampment.

The next morning we woke up and the boys started making breakfast of eggs, sausages and hot chocolate. We knew it got cold overnight from the frost on some rain flies but were able to confirm sub-freezing temperatures by the frozen solid condensation droplets on the underside of the dining fly. After eating and cleaning up, it was time for fun! The Scouts went on their merry way, the Webelos (with adults in tow) went off to do the Webelos-focused activities, and a couple other leaders (myself included) went off to volunteer for a few hours. I ended up working the catapults.

The Webelos went through the store and midway exhibitors, then they visited the fort and got to look at solar flares through a telescope. They got to fire trebuchets, launch water balloons from a slingshot and (probably the coolest event they did all day) climb a signal tower. Then we broke for lunch for an hour or so and got back into the activities, silk screening their own Peterloon t-shirts, visiting the National Guard obstacle course / bounce house, building and firing their own catapults, play a version of “Minute to Win It” at the castle and finished up with a game of Giant Croquet (utilizing a compass to shoot bearings). Once done, we made our way back to the campsite for dinner.

Back at camp, the boys helped cook and eat a dinner of hot dogs, beans, vegetable soup, chips and bug juice. No one went hungry! They ate and cleaned up up quickly and at 7:00 PM headed back into the activities area for the Arena show. The show itself was pretty good, the boys really enjoyed it. They had taped messages from mostly local celebrities saying Happy Birthday to the BSA, and they had some games and contests and gave away prizes to units that did well at their events that day. Due to the burn ban the fireworks were nixed, but they made up for that with a pretty neat laser lights show. I personally thought the arena show was pretty good but just seemed to be lacking…something. Not sure what. No one thing popped out as bad or missing, but it just didn’t pop for me like when we watched A Shining Light from the national jamboree this summer. I remember leaving ASL feeling like my Scouting fuel tank had just been topped off, and I just didn’t come away from this one feeling that way, which was a bit disappointing to me. But the boys seemed to enjoy it which is the important part.

After the arena show ended we made our way back to the campsites and I think the activities of the day plus the burn ban turned into something I had never seen before at one of these large Scout encampments. By 10:30 it was dead silent and not a boy to be found anywhere in our subcamp. All of them were snuggled into their tents. The other leaders and I played a couple games of euchre and were also in bed by 11:30 PM or so. No problems sleeping Saturday night, I was tired!

Sunday we got up, packed up all our personal gear, dropped tents, ate breakfast of oatmeal and anything else left over from the previous meals, then cleaned up and the Scouts headed to one of the church services being held in the activity areas (Catholic, LDS, nondenominational and Scout’s own, plus a jewish service on Saturday evening). I stayed behind at the campsite to keep an eye on our gear, one of the other leaders didn’t want it left alone. Since we had a vehicle up at Upper Craig, three of the other leaders hiked up cardiac hill and retreived the trucks from the offsite parking area so they were waiting when the gates opened. The boys got back from church, we finished breaking camp and policing the area to ensure that we’d left no trace, then loaded the trucks and headed for home.

All in all, a great weekend and an exhausting weekend. I was impressed by the troop leadership at the campout and thought both the boys and adults worked well together for the most part.

Advancements – I’m working on a list of advancements the Webelos might have accomplished during the weekend. Here’s what I’m coming up with so far:

Outdoorsman 3 or 4 or Arrow of Light 4b or 5 – Since this was both a Boy Scout and Webelos oriented event, attending Peterloon could count for one of these four items…but only 1 of them, not all 4 at once.
Outdoorsman #8
Outdoorsman #11
(If we had been given more time to prepare for departure and to plan for extra stuff to do over the weekend, we could have also completed Outdoorsman 1 & 12. If there was no burn ban we could have also completed Outdoorsman 2 & 7.)
Engineer #9

I’m sure there were more that I’m missing, but not every activity yielded an advancement requirement completed and I don’t think it necessarily needed to be that way. So long as the boys had fun!

The highlight for me was seeing my son finish up his Arrow of Light by having a meeting with one of Troop 18’s Assistant Scoutmasters…who also happened to be my Scoutmaster when I was a youth in Troop 18 in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s!

If there were any comments for next time around the first thing that comes to mind is that the participation ribbons should be given to every unit represented. Our campsite got one for the Troop and none for the pack even though the pack was registered. I don’t know if this was an error on the part of the troop in how they registered or how they did things overall but I think it would not be very hard to find out which units are there and make sure all of them get a ribbon. I also was not a fan of the way they did the campsites. I don’t mind where we were, it wasn’t all that far of a walk and even Subcamp 5 isn’t really that far away, but it would be nice to have all the other units in the district grouped together.

Boy Led != No Adult Involvement


[Author’s note: Throughout this article I am not referring to any specific Troop, this is more general.]

I’ve had the opportunity to visit several Boy Scout troops during my time in Scouts, and the one thing I know for sure is that each one operates differently. Some may be just slightly different, and others are waaaaaaaaay out there. I’ve seen the Troops that are very much “Follow Me Boys”-ish with all the good little soldiers lined up neatly and in uniform while the Scoutmaster leads them through whatever it is they’re doing. And I’ve seen the opposite end of the spectrum, where the mass chaos that is a Troop meeting appears to be a re-enactment of the moshpit at a Slipknot concert by a group of ragtag boys with a couple that appear to have on an untucked uniform shirt and there’s a bunch of leaders in the corner socializing and not interacting with the boys because “we’re boy led.” The vast majority tend to fall somewhere in between those two extremes. My problem is that in both of the extremes, the leaders just don’t get it (in my humble opinion).

In the one extreme, you have a troop that is very much led by the Scoutmaster. He is in charge and the boys go along with what he’s telling them to do. I think we can all recognize that this is not a boy led environment, which is counter productive to the aims of Scouting. Will the boys learn about leadership? Sure…indirectly. Pretty inefficient though. And for the purposes of this post, isn’t really what I wanted to focus on.

It’s the other side of the spectrum that is equally missing the point. The group that thinks Boy Led means the adults are completely and totally hands off. If that was the case, why even have a Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmasters; the Committee could handle the “adult” stuff, right? I realize for the new parent the sight of a boy led Troop may look disturbing because they’re used to the very much adult planned, guided and led Cub Scout Pack, but when you have a Webelos unit visit and the families walk into a scene out of “Lord of the Flies,” well…that might be a bit much.

The problem that I see is that too many well-meaning leaders think that “boy led” means that their job as an adult leader is to stay out of the way. Granted, that is part of the job, stay out of the way of the boys from learning and developing their leadership skills and running the Troop. But the thought that boy led means no adult involvement is kind of silly. Obviously adult involvement is necessary; if it wasn’t, there’d be no adult leadership positions.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for boy led. Boys should be planning and carrying out the activities that they want to do, working on the badges that they want to work on, etc. They’ve got their structure for boy leadership with the Patrol Leaders and Assistant Patrol Leaders, Senior Patrol Leader and Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, in addition to the numerous other leadership positions (Chaplain’s Aide, Quartermaster, Scribe, Historian, Bugler, Den Chief, etc.). And through the PLC they develop a program and assign responsibilities. But all the structure in the world won’t make a bit of difference if the boys in the roles don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing. That’s where the adults come into play.

One of our most important challenges is to train boy leaders to run the troop by providing direction, coaching and support. The boys will make mistakes now and then and will rely upon the adult leaders to guide them. (Scoutmaster’s Handbook, chapter 3.)

The important theories here are in training and guidance.

The training part should be quickly and immediate at least on the Troop level. No sense in having a boy in a leadership position for any length of time without the training – he may be able to struggle through but a trained boy would make both the boy and the troop’s time easier. Beyond your TLT you have NYLT (National Youth Leadership Training) and NAYLE (National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience). Both of these are excellent opportunities for the boys.

Training also extends to the adult leadership as well. I would hope that any adult Scouter involved in the Scouting movement would know that there is a set curriculum for adult leaders that is position specific. Beyond the Youth Protection which all adults must take before they can turn in a leader application and must retake at least every 2 years, there is the Fast Start training, Leader Specific training (classroom) and for some positions Outdoor Skills training that requires a 1- or 2-night overnighter. Putting adults in leadership roles who are not fully trained is a disservice to the boys.

As an aside, I sat in on a Troop Committee meeting recently as a representative both of a Pack and of the District Training Team to review the new Youth Protection requirements and the upcoming 100% trained leadership requirements. One of the other people present (who at the time was another visitor but now is the Chartered Organization Representative for that Troop and it’s affiliated pack) complained that we’d never get leaders if we forced them to take the time to get trained. My response was something along the lines of “If they aren’t willing to go get trained, then they’re not the type of people that the BSA, I as a parent and leader or you should want in a leadership role.” I still stand behind that response.

Anyway, in addition to the regular training is this really helpful document put out by National, publication 18-236, called The Youth Leadership Training Continuum – A Guide for Scout Leaders and Parents. I strongly recommend that you take a look at this if you haven’t already, it gives quite a bit of great information on getting the boys trained for their leadership positions. If you are a Scoutmaster or a Senior Patrol Leader reading this who doesn’t already do this supplemental training in their Troop, I’d suggest you consider implementing it in the near future.

But the training is only half the battle, and I think this may be where the biggest disconnect happens with those mass chaos style units. In addition to the basic fundamentals of the training program for the youth, there is the concept of continued training and coaching by the Scoutmaster corps. I think most of the units that let the chaos ensure take a standpoint of “Well, boy led means we are hands off.” But that isn’t necessarily the case. Boy led means the boys are in charge, but as adult leaders we are responsible for providing guidance and coaching to the youth leadership to help them improve their performance and the overall program of the Troop. If the program is lacking, the other boys will “vote with their feet” and you won’t be able to have a boy led troop with no boys to lead. And a unit of just adult leaders already exists, it’s called the Commissioner Corps!

There is a difference between “taking over and having the adults show the boys how it is done or do it themselves because it just isn’t working out with that young man” and giving the boy guidance on the role he’s taken on and how he is getting it done. But it appears that many unit adult leaders believe the line is so fine between the two that they would rather sit back and let the blowing of the conch shells begin than taking an active role in helping the youth leadership achieve what it is they’ve set out to do. Not doing this supplemental guidance and coaching is also, I believe, a disservice to the boys.

Is meeting with the SPL or a Patrol Leader (or any youth leadership position) to discuss how they are performing and see where they are having problems that they want assistance with, or offering encouragement and advice on ways to improve considered taking over? Decidedly not. There is a time and place for everything, so I’m not suggesting doing this mid-announcements at a troop meeting. But Scoutmaster Conferences and Boards of Review are not just for advancement. And there’s after-meeting sessions or phone calls that can be done as well.

So the next time I see a unit that hasn’t published a plan for attending the 5000+ person jamboree 3 days before they’re supposed to leave, I’m not seeing the pitfalls of the boy led method in action, I’m seeing a failure of the adult leadership to provide proper training, coaching and guidance to the boys so they can lead themselves.

MCS Recruitment Wrap-up


So the school night went pretty well. Had about 10 boys show up it looked like. One signed up last night, and most of the rest seemed pretty interested so we invited them to our Pack Meeting / Campfire next Tuesday night.

I was expecting a bigger turnout though, but no biggie. Using the other private school in Middletown as a point of reference, they are slightly bigger but sustain their own pack using mostly parents as leaders (I believe some parents of former scouts are still leaders kind of holding it all together or keeping it tied into the Troop).

That might be the key there, because MCS used to have it’s very own Cub Scout Pack (Pack 972), but it folded a little less than 3 years ago from what I understand was lack of top level leadership…parents wanted to move on with their sons who aged out but no one wanted to step in behind them to take over. Probably one of the top 5 reasons why packs fold I would bet. MCS has about 100 boys who are in that Cub Scout age range which means that statistically a pack for MCS alone should have about 20 boys total (if all MCS students who are Scouts went to that school’s pack). Which is a good size I think, big enough that you can sustain most activities at a den and pack level but small enough to fall into the easily manageable range of things.

This post was supposed to go out 3 days ago but I saved it as a draft because at the time I was writing the thought was leading me into a whole new avenue and I wanted to finish that up. Now 3 days later and I’m drawing a blank. Oh well…

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