Monthly Archives: December 2007

Part 1 – Trustworthy and Loyal

The first two parts of the Scout Law… yeah we all know that right…
But lets talk about it in terms that mean something.

Do you Trust me? Why? Is it because I have earned your trust or because I have a patch on my sleeve that says “Scoutmaster”.
Well, I suppose the answer should be “Both”. But I hope it is the former.
Trust is earned. It is an essential component of any relationship and in the context of Scouting it is the foundation of the Patrol. You have got to trust one another. This breeds respect and friendships. It tells the other members of the patrol that I can be counted on. That I will always be there.

This brings us to Loyalty… Loyalty starts with the leaders and works its way down to the Patrol members. Loyalty means that you will be true to your family, your Patrol and Troop, your School and your Nation. Loyalty is non negotiable. You are either Loyal or you are not.
In a patrol the members count on loyalty to get things done. Coupled with Trust, Loyalty tells the members that you can be counted on and you will never give up. That you will put the team before yourself and that your buddies can depend on you to pull your share of the task.
Loyalty runs deep. That is why I say you either are or you are not. It is not something you can turn on and off.

In terms of the winter cam pout. Trustworthy and Loyal play a big part. You need to count on your patrol mates to watch out for you and keep a vigilant eye out for signs of cold weather injuries. You also should be able to count on the members of your patrol to should their share of the task. If everyone viewed it that way then no one would want to let the other down.

Trust and Loyalty are both earned, and the way in which they are earned are by being Trustworthy and Loyal.

Happy Scouting!

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An appreciation for the Outdoors

So much is being said these days about the over all health and physical nature of our youth. National statistics tell us that 15% of Americas youth are obese. The problem is that this 15% will become obese adults. This is a serious health concern. Obesity is the number two cause of preventable death in America.
The Boy Scouts of America have an answer. In its Aims, the Boy Scouts want to attack this with physical fitness.
Which brings me to developing an appreciation for the outdoors. It is through the outdoor program that we really encourage physical fitness. This encompasses the bulk of the BSA program and flows into the daily lives of our Scouts.
We encourage our boys to be active in sports in school and other sport outlets (the YMCA, Pop Warner, Little league etc).
But it is through Scouting that we can tackle multiple issues.

I developed a love for the outdoors when I was a Scout. Now I am sure that Scouting or not, I would have strong love for the woods and being out, that’s just how our family was, but for many the Discovery channel is their gateway to adventure.
Scouting gave me opportunities to get out and see the wonders of the woods. I remember my very first camp out as Boy Scout. We were camped at Manassas Virginia. It was a chilly fall weekend and we were camped in a wood stand next to a big meadow. I woke up in the early hours of the morning and watched the sun rise over the meadow. The dew and fog made for a quiet, soft feeling. I thought this is awesome.
Flash forward 30 years, last month we camped at Camp Cooper. We woke up to a fine dusting of the white stuff. A chilly November morning in Oregon. Looking westward into a beautiful draw filled with Old growth forest, I thought to myself… This is awesome!
My appreciation for the outdoors was sparked. fed, and encouraged to grow through Scouting… and it still is today.

Throwing a Backpack on and trekking into the wilderness, trying to find the path with least amount of footprints is the classroom for this development.
Challenging yourself and being with your friends when you reach an incredible vista can be life changing and the most memorable of experiences.
All of this and it allows the opportunity to breath clean fresh air, eat hearty meals without the guilt of laying around afterwards, exercising not only your body, but your mind as you challenge yourself and each other.
Self esteem and confidence and physical fitness are born out of the outdoor program. There is no better feeling than that of success. Success that you did your best, your met the challenge and completed it, you were part of a team, you were able to see something that most folks may never.

There is a waterfall on Camp Cooper. It is one of the most spectacular things you will ever see. To get to it you have to hike two miles down a switchback laden trail. At the bottom is a small bridge were you are cooled by the mist of the waterfall. To get back you have to climb the two mile trail up. It is a demanding hike, but for those that rise to the challenge the day is one that leaves an indelible mark in your memory. 95% of Oregonians will never see this waterfall. And for most of them it is only 2 hours away from home. Scouting will bring you to it and allow you to appreciate this wonderful part of our land.
Camping, hiking, and being in the outdoors opens those doors to new worlds. This is what sparks explorers and adventurers.
I was talking with my sons the other day while we were watching a show about Mt. Everest. I told them I have no desire to climb Mt. Everest, but I would love to climb to the base camp and hang out there for a week or two. I think the experience would be amazing. Those that have no appreciation for the outdoors would not understand.

Those of us that love the outdoors and consider ourselves outdoors men, campers, Scouts have that appreciation. The appreciation of being in pristine areas surrounded by trees and majestic peaks. Clean air and stillness. Quiet mornings and undisturbed meadows leaves a peaceful healthy calm. Blood pressure goes down, you can think better, your lungs clear and you can enjoy all that God has given us.

A help in the fight of obesity in youth, a way to see the majestic beauty of our world, and a way to stay healthy and fit. The outdoor program of the BSA. It makes us better all around. I can not imagine my life without Scouting and the deep appreciation it developed in me for the outdoors.

Happy Scouting!

As an American, I will do my best to -

Be clean in my outdoor manners.
I will treat the outdoors as a heritage. I will take care of it for myself and others I will keep my trash and garbage out of lakes, streams, fields, woods, and roadways.
Be careful with fire.
I will prevent wildfire. I will build my fires only where they are appropriate. When I have finished using a fire, I will make sure it is cold out. I will leave a clean fire ring, or remove all evidence of my fire.
Be considerate in the outdoors.
I will treat public and private property with respect. I will use low-impact methods of hiking and camping.
and
Be conservation minded.
I will learn how to practice good conservation of soil, waters, forests, minerals, grasslands, wildlife, and energy. I will urge others to do the same.

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The Scoutmaster Conference

The Scoutmaster conference is a critical part of the advancement process. But it is much more than that. The conference is used to evaluate the Scout, it is used to get to know the Scout, and it is a way of communicating the Scouts needs and the needs of the unit to the Scout.

First, it is used to evaluate. Yes evaluate. This is the Scoutmasters opportunity to see the Scout in action, to get an understanding that the Scout knows the skills required. That the Scout has met the requirements for advancements and that he can prove that he has achieved the necessary skills and knowledge. It is also when the Scoutmaster “Signs off” on “Demonstrate scout spirit by living the Scout Oath (Promise) and Scout Law in your everyday life.”

To me this is very important. This is the opportunity for us to discuss the meaning of the Scout Oath and law. I ask very pointed questions like, “What did you do yesterday to live the Scout Law?” What I have found is that Scouts do not understand the values expressed in the Scout law, having this discussion educates them, and as a result the better understand the concepts of being “Trustworthy and Loyal” rather than just a definition and a bunch of words said on Monday nights. Once they gain the understanding they can actually live the Law and Oath. This all comes out in the conference.

Second, the conference is a super way to get to know the Scout. Find out what motivates him and makes him tick. His likes and dislikes and his expectations of not only Scouting, but School, home etc. This is a great opportunity for the Scoutmaster to develop the relationship of trust and confidence in the Scout. This part of the Scoutmaster conference does not necessarily need to have anything to do with rank or advancement. I find myself having these discussions on camp outs, after Troop meetings, and on hikes. This is also a great way to demonstrate mentoring and coaching.

Finally, the conference is an effective communication tool. It is a great way to talk one on one with a Scout about his needs and those needs the unit may have of him. As a leader or follower it can be effective in asking for help or communicating expectations.

The important part about the Scoutmaster conference is that it can be held anywhere, anytime, and does not always have to be connected with the next rank. It is of the utmost importance that the Scouts have a feeling of trust and confidence. They need to know that the Scoutmaster is there for them and is willing to listen and act.
A friendly ear, some good advice, and time dedicated one on one to every Scout.

Personally I think the Scoutmaster conference is one of the greatest parts of my job. It is an opportunity for me to learn and a time for the Scouts to develop.

Happy Scouting!

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Preventing the Yard Sale

Keeping your gear organized is important. Important for many reasons, but namely to prevent the “Yard Sale”.

Keeping your gear all together helps you in all camping situations. In the cold, knowing where all your gear is can save you from frostbite and having a miserable time.
Keeping your gear packed and together keeps your gear dry and clean. And in a Cold weather environment this is critical to staying warm.

So here are some tips to Prevent the Yard sale.

1. Organize your Pack. Use ditty bags, zip lock bags, or garbage bags, but keep your gear compartmentalized as much as possible. Keep your extra clothing in a separate “Dry” bag, keep your cooking gear together, keep your wet weather gear in bags. The use of ditty bags keeps your part compartmentalized. Everything has a bag and every bag has a place. This make finding gear real easy too.

2. Pack your backpack for the experience. Pack those things you don’t need right away in the bottom and back… pack that which you need right away close to the top and the outside pockets.
Trail mix and water on the outside, extra long johns in the bottom.
Pack your backpack, don’t just shove things in it. If you organize the pack at the start, it will stay that way throughout the cam pout.

3. Take out only what you need. Leave everything else in the pack. When you are in your tent, you do not need the entire contents of your pack with you. Your sleeping bag, your pad, and the clothing for tomorrow.. everything else should be stored away in your pack.

4. Use your zippers. Every zipper on your pack should be zipped. Put stuff away and zip it closed. This way if you have to move your pack, your gear will not fall out.

5. Use a pack cover. A pack cover keeps your gear dry and contained. Critters won’t get into your pack, neither will snow, rain, or dirt. A pack that is covered also presents a neat and tiddy package. It shows that you have packed and kept your gear together.

Finally, keep your gear to a minimum. If you don’t need it, or you have never used, don’t take it. Pack for the occasion. You won’t need sandals on a winter camp out.. so don’t pack them, that is one less thing you have to worry about.

Preventing the “Yard sale” is key. If your gear is scattered all over the place, you are not being a good camper. Your gear is getting lost, dirty, and wet. If you fail to take care of your gear it will fail to take care of you.

These little tips can make your camping experience better, no matter what the weather. Keep your gear organized and your gear will last longer, stay clean and dry and help you have a great Scouting experience.

Happy Scouting!

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Tribute to Steve Fossett

Last night at the Troop meeting we talked about the adventure of Scouting…

Check out this great tribute to a great Scout and Scouter that made the Scouting adventure his life.

TRIBUTE TO STEVE FOSSETT
There are some real nice videos here also, watch and listen to a person that has made the absolute best from his Scouting experience.

Happy Scouting!

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Staying Dry

How do I keep the contents of my pack from getting wet?
Throw on a pack cover. A simple waterproof cover keeps the inside and outside of your pack dry, and minimizes the added weight of a wet pack. It’s also a good idea to put your sleeping bag and clothes into a heavy duty, plastic garbage bag. Zipper storage bags also keep smaller items dry and organized. Finally, store your pack in the tent vestibule, or cover it with an extra-large garbage bag or pack cover at night.

This is one of 6 questions answered in a good article from Backpacker.com.
Read the entire article here

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Changing the Delivery

“The most important object in Boy Scout training is to educate, not instruct.”
-Sir Robert Baden Powell

One of the joys of being a Scoutmaster is that I get to learn something daily too. In the Junior Leader Training we discuss Communication, a vital component to leadership.
Part of the communication discussion is the parts of communicating, principally- the Sender, the Message, and the Receiver. In a constant feedback loop.

So what does that have to do with the quote at the top?
We have reached a point in our Troop where the message is clouded. Much like a radio station coming in fuzzy or the frequency is off by just a smidge. Our station seems to be caught up in the same commercials too. Have you ever noticed that you stop listening to commercials that are familiar? Especially the dull ones.

Our message is being sent and received, but not heard in some cases.
For example; Basic skills and discipline. The Assistant Scoutmasters and I seem to always say the same thing over and over again regarding basic skills and discipline. At first I thought it was the boys and then I thought about communication and what was missing in our attempt at Effective communication. That led me to the BP Quote above…. maybe we are not educating.. maybe we are instructing. And maybe that is not effective beyond the initial skills instruction. After a while it starts to become a fuzzy commercial.
So what is the fix? Change the delivery of the message? Change the message? Well I think it may be a little bit of both, especially the delivery.

You see Education encompasses teaching and learning specific skills, and also something less tangible but more profound: the imparting of knowledge, positive judgment and well-developed wisdom. Education means ‘to draw out’, facilitating realization of self-potential and latent talents of an individual.

While Instruction is a form of communicated information that is both command and explanation for how an action, behavior, method, or task is to be begun, completed, conducted, or executed.

This takes away the autonomy of the boy led troop to a certain degree. It also takes away the Scouts ability to develop at his own pace and participate at the level he desires. This also affects the way the Scouts process the information. If they are told to do something, they may be resistant, if they are given educated choices, they may tend to come up with solutions on their own. “I am not going to zip up my coat because he keeps harping on me” now becomes, “I’ll zip up my coat because I am getting wet”.

Instructions command, Education leads to guided discovery and that is what we are trying to achieve.
So changing the approach of the message from instruction to education can lead to clearer communication that the Scouts will respond to in a more positive light.

Hmmm… Old Baden Powell had it right!

Happy Scouting!

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Gearing up for the Winter Camp out

It is that time again to start getting prepared for winter Camping.
We have discussed it, but now is the time to get out your pack and look at it.
Take a solid inventory and shake yourself down.
Take out some of your summer gear and replace it with your cold weather gear.

Some things to look at:

1. Zippers. Are all your zippers working properly? On your sleeping bag? On your jackets?
How about adding some simple zipper pulls… you may need it on both your clothing and your backpack when you have gloves on. Sure makes getting gear easier.

2. How about your tent? Did it leak last campout? You might want to get some seam sealer and tighten up those seams. Adding zipper pulls to your tent can be real helpful also.
Check your rain fly and add guy lines. Also think about your footprint. Does it match the size and shape of your tent. An odd fitting footprint could lead to water pools.
An extra tarp folded under your tent will provide an additional layer of insulation too.

3. Clothing. There is so much to be said about clothing, so I will give you a general shake down.
First… NO COTTON.. Cotton kills! It acts like a sponge and does not dry fast. Keeping that cold wet on your body will throw into Hypothermia.
Second… Wear your clothing in layers.. Remember, LOOSE IN LAYERS!
A good base layer of long underwear; Polypropylene and other Hydrophobic fabrics – polypropylene is a synthetic, plastic fiber which offers dead air space and a fiber which cannot absorb water. The fiber is hydrophobic so it moves the water vapor away from the source (the body). Polypropylene layers are extremely effective worn directly against the skin as a way of keeping the skin from being wet and reducing evaporative heat loss. As the water moves away from the body it will evaporate, but each additional millimeter of distance between your skin and the point of evaporation decreases the amount of body heat lost in the evaporative process. DO NOT WEAR a T-Shirt under your Base layer.. it defeats the purpose.

After your base layer, add a shirt and pants. Jeans are not good in the winter. Wool pants or dry wicking pants are what you want to stay dry and warm. A good pair of snow pants over the base layer will do also.

Add a Fleece or Pile layer next. Polar Fleece keeps water off of you and retains warmth.
Then add your outer layer. A good wind resistant and water proof or resistant jacket.

Do not forget to cover your head. Most the body heat escapes from your head. – because the head has a very high surface to volume ratio and the head is heavily vascularized, you can lose a great deal of heat (up to 70%) from the head. Therefore, hats are essential in winter camping. The adage – if your toes are cold, put on a hat – is true. A balaclava is particularly effective and versatile. A face mask may be required if there are high wind conditions due to the susceptibility of the face to frostbite.

Keep your hands covered too- mittens are warmer that gloves because the fingers tend to keep each other warm, rather than being isolated as in gloves. It is useful to have an inner mitten with an outer shell to give you layering capabilities. Also “idiot strings” are important to keep you from losing mittens in the snow. However, gloves are always essential as well in winter because of the need for dexterity in various operations.

Keep your Feet warm- finding the right foot gear depends a great deal on the activity you are involved in as well as temperature and environment. In areas with only a few inches of snow you can hike in just boots.
Socks – one of the best systems for keeping feet warm is using multiple layers. Start with a thin polypropylene liner sock next to the skin to wick moisture away followed by 1 – 2 pairs of wool or wool/nylon blend socks. Make sure the outer socks are big enough that they can fit comfortably over the inner layers. If they are too tight, they will constrict circulation and increase the chances of frostbite. Keeping your feet dry is essential to keeping your feet warm you may need to change your socks during the day. Foot powder with aluminum hydroxide can help.
High Gaiters – are essential for winter activity. They keep snow from getting into your boots and keep your socks and pants legs free from snow.

We have discussed this before, but perhaps the most important item is your sleeping bag.
You need to stay warm at night or your entire trip will be miserable.
Take a look at your rating and then see what you can do to increase it, or rather decrease it.
If you have a 15 degree bag.. you want to go down to at least 5 degrees. You can do this by adding a liner or a bivy cover. This adds about 10 degrees of warmth to your bag.
Double bagging also works, by taking a thin summer weight bag and inserting into your mummy bag, you can add warmth, be careful when doing this though. Make sure the bag is not to tight on you and that you can zip up both bags.
Sleep with a hat on. This retains the escaping heat. Make sure you stay on your sleeping pad also.
Finally, if all else fails, a fleece blanket inserted into your sleeping bag will add warmth.

Stay tuned, we will post more on winter gear!

Get your head ready for snow camping! Its an adventure you do not want to miss.

Happy Scouting!

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Scouting for Food

Today we helped.
Today was the annual Scouting for food drive. 15 dedicated Scouts and 5 Adult leaders braved the snow and helped out not only with bringing food, but collecting it from units dropping, weighing it, sorting it, and putting it all away… all 7204 lbs of the food collected for the St. Vincent de Paul Food bank.
Only 14 units dropped at our location, but the seven thousand plus pounds of food will go a long way this winter in helping those less fortunate in our community.
Scouting for Food is a wonderful program that we do each year. It really brings out a sense of service, especially to the boys of Troop 664. As the food is being collected, sorted etc. The food bank doors are open and the Scouts get to see the direct result of their labor. Those folks that need a helping hand are served.
If it were not for the Boy Scouts there would many people not having basic needs like a meal tonight.

Great Job Boys! That is what Helpful and Friendly are all about. You made us all proud!

Happy Scouting!


PICTURE OF THE DAY!

The last of the 7204 lbs to weigh, sort, and put away

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Surround yourself…

With great people and great things and you will be successful.

That is what I call a “Truism”.
And here is how I know.

1. I have surrounded myself with great Assistant Scoutmasters and a Wonderful Committee.
- the Troop is Successful.
2. I have surrounded myself in a great Church.
- Makes me a better dad and husband, better person all around.
3. I have surrounded myself with really great friends.
- I have amazing friendships.
4. I have surrounded myself with great Camping gear.
- I have great camping experiences.
5. I have surrounded myself with the Scout Oath and Law.
- I have the tools for great judgement, unquestionable Character, and a solid values base.

See… it is a Truism.. Surround yourself with greatness… you will be successful in all that you do.

Happy Scouting!

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