Monthly Archives: November 2011

Gear Junky

As you all aware I am a gear junky… It’s time to replace my old MSR Whisperlite stove.  I have had it since the mid ’80’s and it has served me well.  But its time for something new and improved.  I am looking at the Soto Muka Stove.  There are some great features of this stove that really appeal to me.
So it is on my Christmas list.  I sure hope my wife subscribes to my blog…

So, hopefully after Christmas I can do a good review on this great piece of gear.  Hint, Hint!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: gear | 2 Comments

One Door Closes

It is said that when one door closes.. another door opens.  Much as one chapter of a book leads to the next chapter we had a door closed last night opening the door or moving on to the next chapter in the history of our Troop.
Last night when I arrived at our Troop meeting, I was greeted by our Charter Organization Representative and another member of the Knights of Columbus.  They were friendly and said that they were paying the Troop a visit.   After I had met with a few Scouts that showed up early, they asked if I had a minute before the meeting started.  “Certainly” I said.  We went into a private meeting room.  I thought this was a great time to talk about all the great things that the Troop has been doing and to give him an updated calender of the 2012 Troop events.  So I started in with how we were doing on recruiting and advancement, then went on to talk about our run for “Troop of the Year” kind of going over our Journey to Excellence Score card.
About half way through my impromptu presentation, the COR asked if we could talk about recharter.  “Of course, I would love to talk about recharter” after all,  our recharter packet is due to the District on Wednesday.  They said that the Knights had discussed and voted to renew our Charter.  “That’s great I said.. we would hate to lose the charter partner after 8 great years”.  Well, they said.. no problem, we are going to sign the charter.. HOWEVER…  Yep.. here it comes.. the slamming of the door…
“The Knights” they started… “Voted to renew the charter, but you can no longer meet in the Knights Hall.”  My jaw hit the floor.. “WHAT?”
“Well, we [the Knights] held a discussion, and the Knights felt like you [the Scouts] no longer needed the Hall.”
“What the heck does that mean?”  I asked.  I was completely dumbfounded.  The more I asked why, the deeper and deeper the COR and Brother Knight hummed and Haa’d and danced around giving me an honest answer.
I think it is fair for me to say at this time, that I have been a Knight for 19 years.  I loyally served the Knights of Columbus as Grand Knight for several terms and as District Deputy for a term, not to mention being the Scoutmaster for the most successful program the Knights Council has.
They went on to say that we could still use the basement to store “all our gear”.. to which I replied, “What gear?”  They said, that this was the best they could do and unfortunately there was nothing else they could do for us.  Then they said, but we really want to recharter you.
I asked them what for… if we have no place to meet, we don’t need you.  As much as you are done with us, we also must be done with you…
Part of the responsibility of the CO is to “Provide adequate and secure facilities for Scouting units to meet on a regular schedule with time and place reserved”  Here are the Chartered Organization Responsibilities”
By receiving a charter from the Boy Scouts of America, the chartered organization agrees to:

  • Conduct Scouting in accordance with its own policies and guidelines as well as those of the BSA.
  • Include Scouting as part of its overall program for youth and families.
  • Appoint a chartered organization representative who is a member of the organization and will represent it to the Scouting district and council, serving as a voting member of each.
  • Select a unit committee of parents and members of the organization who will screen and select unit leaders who meet the organization’s leadership standards as well as the BSA’s standards.
  • Provide adequate and secure facilities for Scouting units to meet on a regular schedule with time and place reserved.
  • Encourage the units to participate in outdoor experiences.

At that point I heard the Scout Oath being recited, so I thanked them for the 8 good years and told them I had to get out to the meeting.  They asked me not to be mad or upset.  I told them that I was not mad, nor was I upset, I was disappointed in them, in the organization that I thought had a dedication to both youth and community.  I was disappointed that they could feel that this was the “right thing to do”.  I am disappointed in the Knights for displacing their Troop.  I told them that I was not mad and that this would be all that needs to be said.  They told me that we had till the 1st of the year.  I told them that in 24 hours we will have another Chartering Partner and they could rest assured that nothing will slow our program down and the Scouts will not be impacted by their decision.
One door closes… another door opens.
Today, I received many phone calls discussing the situation and it appears we already have a new place.  A bigger, better facility, and a Chartering Partner that values the Scouting Program.
We have not locked anything in yet, we have feelers out to two other organizations so we want to keep the options open.  After all we have 30 days to make the move.  We did have the Knights sign to get the charter in on time, but the Council knows we will be changing in the very near future.
Another door opens.
I am amazed at how our Troop committee mobilized in this effort.  Last night before the end of the meeting, they had a plan of action in place and things were on the move.  The Assistant Scoutmasters were already making calls and seeking the new location.  Today calls went out and we spent a good amount of time exchanging notes and discussions.  We are the move and not looking back.
One of the mom’s of the Troop has already volunteered to take the Charter Organization name off the flag.  Yes, they said we take everything with us.  They want nothing.
So the door is open, another chapter begins in the life of our Troop.
Last night I have to admit I was mad, disappointed, and upset that this chapter had closed.  But today is a new day and a new chapter, a fork in the trail.. the path to a new adventure.
One Door closed.. another Opened Wide!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, comments, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, respect, Scouting, Service, Values | 11 Comments

Quick romp in the snow for Hot Chocolate

It was a great Thanksgiving weekend.. we took advantage of some great weather and headed to the Mountain for a fun day of snow shoeing.  The sun was bright and it the temps were nice.  It was a fun time hanging out on Mt. Hood.  Enjoy.


Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Hammock, Just fun | 1 Comment

Genealogy Merit Badge

As my son’s worked to earn their genealogy Merit Badge they learned a lot about our family and as politically incorrect as it sounds, Our People.
My dad has become a real student of our family history, he has spent the better part of 2 decades researching, studying, and collecting information on our family and the heritage that it has.  For us it is not just about the family, but a people that collectively made up the community in which our family worshiped, worked, and raised generations.
There is an organization called the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia.  They are a people that have a long and rich history, that many are unfamiliar with.  Locally, Concordia University has dedicated a large library and research center for the AHSGR.
Places like this are great opportunities for Scouts to learn about their genealogy.
Having said that.. another less known historical fact, this event in history had a major effect on my family.
Today is “Remembrance Day”, when 70 years ago Dictator Joseph Stalin effected the mass Deportation of 1.3 Million Ethnic Germans living in Russia. In 1941 he began the Mass Deportation of our people to Labor camps in Siberia and Central Asia.
 The “Volga Germans, Unserer Leute” (Our People) were interned or murdered in 1941, few made it to the Gulags.
 Jakob, Georg, Adam and Philipp Schleining were Killed on 15 Feb 42 in our Ancestral village of Norka, along with hundreds more of our relatives and Neighbors.
 “Remember Us” were the watch word they left us in letters, messages and pleas as they were deported;  “Denken sie daran uns”.   (Remember us).
Help your Scouts know their heritage.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Categories: Advancement | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving 2011

Today as we gather together with friends and family to celebrate yet another year that we all have been so fortunate and blessed, let us reflect on all that we have to be thankful for.  The list is long my friends.  In today’s world, of uncertain economic strength, world conflicts, and governments gone wild, look back on you and your family.  Though we may not all be wealthy, we are rich.  We may not be powerful, but we have more influence than Kings and Presidents.  We may not have a mansion, but a roof over our heads surrounded by the ones we love is a palace in the heart.
My friends, on this Thanksgiving day.  Be Thankful.

The Philmont Grace

For Food, For Raiment, For Life, For Opportunity, For Friendship, For Fellowship

We thank Thee, O Lord.

Amen.

HAVE A GREAT SCOUTING DAY!

Categories: Values | Leave a comment

Video: Dead Horse Camp out

Last weekend our Troop went caving up at the Dead Horse Cave.  We had a great time.  Here is a little video of mostly the adult Scouters of the Troop.  Sorry, it was way to dark in the cave to get real good video.
Enjoy!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, High Adventure, Just fun, Winter Camping | 2 Comments

SMMPodcast #98 Gear Q&A

Welcome back, in this show we answer a listeners email on gear.  It is a peek into some of the gear I take and why.
Hope you enjoy the show.
I am looking for help with the 100th Show.. drop a voice mail to the SMMVoicemail Box by calling 503.308.8297 or you can email me a recorded voice message.  I really want you to be a part my 100th Show.. so get your voice message in.
Thank you all for your continued support and listening.
This show is sponsored by the Boy Scout Store
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, gear, podcast | Leave a comment

LNT v. The Outdoor Code

Last night I sat with a couple Scouts, they just crossed over on Friday and were having their Scoutmaster Conference for their Scout Badge.  I love this first conference, it is a great way to learn about the new Scout and a little about where he comes from.  What amazes me is how open they are in that first conference.  They always have questions and for the most part, they are anxious to get to Eagle.
Last night as one of these young men recited the Outdoor Code, he stopped and asked if he could ask a question.  I said sure… so he asked, “Why do we need the Outdoor Code when you make us know the Leave No Trace stuff?”  I thought for a minute and told him that I would have to get back to him with a good answer.
I wanted to give him the pat answer of how the Outdoor Code is in the book and is a requirement, but then I thought that Leave No Trace is also in the book and a Second Class Requirement.  So that one doesn’t work.  So I was thinking, why do we need both.
Lets review.
The Outdoor Code:
As an American, I will do my best to -
Be clean in my outdoor manners.
Be careful with fire.
Be considerate in the outdoors.
Be conservation minded.
Leave No Trace Principles
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Dispose of Waste Properly
Leave What You Find
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Respect Wildlife
Be Considerate of Other Visitors

The LNT program is obviously more in depth and covers every type of camping… The Outdoor Code is more of a pledge or promise.
The LNT program are not just rules, but part of the whole outdoor program.  It is a skill set and an attitude.
The Outdoor Code is the promise that we make to live as a steward of the land.
I still do not have a great answer.  I suppose that in the final analysis if I had a vote, I would just go with the Leave No Trace program.  The Outdoor code, while traditional and easy to remember does very little with our Scouts to develop the attitude of stewardship and responsibility that is required for us in the wilderness and front country alike.
So I think when it comes down to giving this Scout and answer next Monday, its going to be a program vs. a code and how we use it to make a difference and protect our land.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Ideals, Leave no trace, respect, Scoutmaster conference, Skills, Values | 2 Comments

Test of Facebook

Sorry if this is post bugs you… but I have to test the settings for Facebook.  I have had multiple people ask if we could get this blog feed directly to the Scoutmasterminute Podcast page in facebook.. so I am test it now.
Thanks for your patience.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog | Leave a comment

Skill and Gear

This last weekend our Scout Troop headed up to Trout Lake, Washington to venture into the longest Lave Tube cave in North America, called Dead Horse cave.  We tried to get up to the cave last year, but with record snow fall we could not get to the entrance.  So the PLC put it on the calender again for this year and in a month that the snow should not be that bad, if there at all.
The temps have been dropping and with the Dead Horse cave being pretty much at the base of Mt. Adams we kept an eye on the weather and told the PLC to be prepared for cold temps.  The 10 day forecast called for around 21*.  We conducted a shake down on Monday night before the trip and found that some of the guys were carrying too much and in appropriate gear for cold weather.
We pride ourselves on learning from mistakes, but more importantly being a self-proclaimed expert when it comes to cold weather camping.  I have spent a great deal of time teaching both the ASMs and the Scouts about cold weather camping, and so it troubles me when we teach and take great care in instructing the Scouts to be better prepared for their outdoor adventures and they choose not to listen or act on the instruction.  What I will tell you though is that with experience comes knowledge and we all learn from mistakes and our lack of preparedness.
So what I have summed up in our first cold weather experience for this year is simply its all about Skill and Gear.
Camping in the cold and extreme cold requires a different skill set than you typical 3 season adventure.  It requires thinking and constant awareness.  This raises a challenge when we are doing this with younger Scouts.  I am going to make a sweeping generalization, but the young Scouts do not always think before they act.  They take the path of least resistance, they make choices based on what seems to be fun and not what is right based on conditions.  For example, they see snow.  Snow equals snow balls and snow angels.  Fun, yes, but the right thing to do when you need to be able to sustain in the cold for three days, No.  So much of the skill we talk about with our young men is staying dry.  We stay dry with Skill and Gear.  Wearing clothing that will keep us dry and staying out of the snow.  Simple things like using your pack cover to kneel or sit on when setting up your tent or cooking rather than plopping down in the snow.  Or staying on the path rather than breaking trail if you don’t need to.
So we teach them before we head out and then stay on top of them during the trip and hope that it starts to sink in.
<START RANT>
ATTN:  SHOE COMPANIES.  I don’t care about fashion and style!  You have assisted in the creation of a generation that can not and will not tie their shoes.  I BLAME YOU for laziness.
<END RANT>
I can not tell you how many Scouts have trouble tying their shoes and keeping them tied.  This is a major issue in the cold.  This weekend I could not believe how many of the new Scouts would rather allow their boots to fill with snow than tie their boots up.  GEAR.  It is so important to keep your feet dry and warm.  A good pair of boots and a set of Gaiters is extremely important in keeping your feet and lower legs warm and dry.
Ok, so I can go on and on, the point here is that just like when you are building something, the right tools are required to do the job right, and with the right skill set and the right gear camping in the cold is fun and exciting.
It’s all about developing in these Scouts those skills.  There are Scouts today that are more than likely not happy with the way I assisted them this weekend.  I was nice, I am not a yeller, but because of the way that they have been taught to be lazy and have things done for them, they had a little more of me than they wanted.
PLAN OF ACTION.
Saturday night, the ASMs and I sat around the camp fire after the Scouts went to bed.  We talked about the challenges we had and how we were going to fix it.
First.  Gear.  We are putting together a list of recommended gear and must have gear.  We will distribute that list to the parents at a mandatory parent meeting.  It will be made clear that if a parent does not attend the Scout will not camp with us in the winter.  That simple.
At that meeting we are going to show the parents what kind of gear we want to see the Scouts have.  We are offering solutions for the lack of gear that some of the Scouts have.  Between myself and the other Assistant Scoutmasters we have a lot of gear.  We are all willing to loan gear until the Scout can get his own.  We want ever Scout to have this experience, but we can not have a Scouts go unprepared.
Prepared for cold weather camping requires the right Skill and the right Gear.  I can not make exceptions when it comes to the safety of our Scouts.
Second part of the plan is to change the shake down plan.  We currently do them the meeting before the camp out.  We talked with the PLC and we are going to start doing the night of the camp out.  We will not leave the meeting hall till the gear is right.  A parent will have to stick around to either make adjustments or take the Scout home when he does not meet the conditions for the camp out.
The Scout will not go with us if he is not prepared.
And finally.  We will make sure that our older Scouts are prepared and able to assist with the training.  Our troop has become every young in the last year, with as many new Scouts as we have brought in there is a need to go back and retrain everyone and ensure that we all are on the same page when it comes these skills.  In the long run we will have a better trained and ready group on our next winter adventures… which by the way is in January.  So the time line is short and the urgency of matter is there.  We start tonight.
Skills and Gear equal success in the winter.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, gear, High Adventure, Leadership, planning, Skills, Winter Camping | 1 Comment

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