Monthly Archives: May 2012

Backpack cooking – Follow up

I received an email the other day asking some questions about the backpacking video that I recently put up on the blog.  They are great questions and so I thought I’d share the email and answers here.
Question:  What sort of Food Bag do you use? Is it insulated? Does that keep frozen foods cool enough to prevent bacterial growth over a summer weekend?
The food bag that I use is the Sea to Summit Trash Dry sack.  It is a 10 liter dry bag.  Total water proof and more importantly reduces the oders.  I repackage all my food into heavy-duty zip lock bags and then it all goes in the “inner bag” of the food bag.  It is not insulated.  In so far as frozen foods.  The foods that are frozen I put in the freezer and keep it there until Friday when we leave.  Typically it will stay cold and thaw in time for me to cook it.  I have never had a problem with bacterial growth.  The food stays cold enough.  Having said that though.. I live in Oregon.. and our temps don’t get to high until August.  I have used cold streams to store the food in also when I think there is a need to keep things cold.  Our water is never warm.  That is another nice feature of the bag.  It can be placed in water and everything stays dry.  I love the hooks on the side.  Makes it easy to hang.  This bag is endorsed by the Leave No Trace Organization.

Question:  Was that a metal spork you were using to stir up the meal? I had always been taught that metal utensils will damage the anti-stick coating in pots. I could see using a plastic spork, but I wanted your opinion if you thought this was important.
Yes that is a metal (Titanium) spork.  It is the REI Ti ware spork.  I have used that spork for years now.  And yes it will scratch the surface of a non stick pot if you are not careful.  I would not recommend this to Scouts that do not care for their gear, but it works for me.  I think it is worth teaching the Scouts to be careful.. even plastic utensils will begin to scratch if not careful.  I have an ASM that cringes every time I do that.. but my pots seem to not be worse for the wear.

Question:  What sort of lid lifter do you recommend for Scouts?  I have looked for something like this to purchase, but have not been able to find anything under a “lid lifter” search. 
I actually have an MSR pot lifter that came with the pot set.  Since I started using the Imusa mug to do most of my cooking however it have been dropped from the packing list.  Here are some of the types of lifters that I would suggest for the Scouts.  LINK.  Most if not all of our out fitters locally have them for purchase.  They range from about $4 to $15 dollars depending on the brand.  I have gotten so used to using the rag with the Imusa mug that it has become routine.  But pot lifters are a great idea.

Question:  What sort of coffee do you prefer? I take it you must bring along the instant packets if they fit in that little Nalgene bottle.
I have been using Maxwell house instant coffee lately.  I transfer it all into that Nalgene bottle so I only have to fill it about every 4 camp outs.  I like the Starbucks Via coffee also, but the Maxwell House International Cafe stuff is cheaper and tasty.  I don’t have to add anything also.  As much as you could argue that there is nothing better than fresh brewed coffee.. when I can roll over in the hammock and fire up my stove, boil water, and in minutes have some good tasting coffee.. I will take it.  Besides, when backpacking, sometimes less is better and a Nalgene full of flavor and a little pick me up, well, that’s all I need.  I think talking about coffee is like discussing religion or politics… everyone has an opinion.  I generally use the backpacker philosophy of “Hike your own Hike” when it comes to coffee.  everyone’s mileage will vary and everyone have their own taste.  As with all my gear, it is what I am comfortable carrying and using, I do not proclaim that how I do it is the best, but it all works for me.  Having said that though.. It is how I teach our Scouts, how they adopt it and use it is up to them.
I have often said that I am not a big fan of the Jet Boil.. and yet many of the Scouts of my Troop use it.. They Hike their own Hike.  We always reinforce this idea.  “Here are some ways to do it, some gear to do it with, and recommended skills that will help… now find your style, gear, and routine and hike your own hike”.

I hope this helps.  Sometimes I look back and see that I put something out… and of course it makes perfect sense to me.. it’s my stuff.   Glad you asked the questions.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, Just fun, Leave no trace, Skills | 1 Comment

Methods- Adults Association

This method is somewhat confusing, especially at the troop level for parents coming from the Cub Scout program.  I say this because it is different.
I’ll explain as we go.  First and foremost, no matter what level of Scouting you participate in Adult Association starts with being a good example.  An example of what right looks like, attitudes, habits, and the Scout Oath and Law.  This is a lofty ask, but it is without a doubt the most important part of being a Scout leader when talking about the methods.
How you carry yourself, talk and act, wear the uniform, demonstrate skills, and teach and coach these young men will leave a lasting impact.  Remember that you must practice what you preach.  I hate to say this, but if you unwilling to be a good example, Scouting does not need you.
Adults need to model the expected behavior and demonstrate good character.
We practice adult association when we conduct boards of review, Scoutmaster conferences, and work with the Scouts on skills and merit badges.  They see modeled behavior and we expect them to act like we do.  So we need to be our best.
Scouts look to adults for guidance, for coaching and a person to be a mentor.  We are that person in Scouting.
I have seen too many adults that carry this a bit far.  Boy Scouts are still Boy led.  We need to know when adult interaction or interference is needed.  Two deep leadership can be achieved from a safe distance while maintaining a healthy level of adult association.
Cub scout parents that come to a Troop often find it hard to get used to adults not being so hands on.  But as I often say, there are no adults in a Boy Scout troop who’s patch say’s leader.
We teach, coach, train, and mentor and maintain a healthy adult association through modeled behavior that reinforces good character, citizenship, and fitness.  Oh and we are supposed to have fun too!.. Remember the Scouting way.. that’s the game with a purpose!
Have a Great Scouting day!

Categories: Advancement, Character, Citizenship, fitness, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Methods, Scoutmaster conference | Tags: | Leave a comment

who’s it gonna be?

First of all, thank you all for the congratulations and nice comments about my oldest son earning his Eagle Award.  On behalf of John and the rest of the family, we are thankful and appreciate the comments.  It’s been a helluva week around here and I have not made time to sit and write.  I’ll try to make it up to you.
Now- on with the blog.
Thursday night was our District committee meeting.  The main topic was on Cub Scout recruiting.  Now Jerry… this is a blog that focus’ on Boy Scout subjects, why bother us with Cub Scout recruiting.  Great question.  And the answer is simple.  BECAUSE IT IS THE MAIN THING!
The main thing is providing Scouting for boys!  If they join Cub Scouts, the statistics tell us that by and large they stay in Scouts.  So Boy Scout leaders.. you need to grow Cub Scout Packs if you want to have a healthy Troop.  And that’s the fact.. Jack! as Bill Murray would have said.
So the other night we dove into the subject searching for answers and trying to establish a workable plan to grow Cub Scouting in our area.  Our Council has set a goal of 3oo new Scout units over the next 3 years.  100 units a year.. should be a piece of cake right.  The numbers show that Boy Scout Troops are healthy and doing well.. but over the last 5 years there has been a steady decline in the Cub Scout program.  So how do we reverse this trend?  How do we get 300 new units chartered?  How do we sell the Cub Scout program in our area?
Well, the answer to these and other questions seem to be a mystery, a tough nut to crack.  But I think we can offer some suggestions as least from the discussion we had the other night.
First.  We all know that we continuously preach to the same old choir.  We all belong to a group of dedicated Scouters that love this program.  And I have heard the sermon.. it’s good.  What we need is a bigger choir!
I am sure that your Roundtable nights are very much like our Roundtable nights, the same Scouters hanging out, great training, fantastic discussion, but only reaching about 30% of the Scouters in the District.  I am probably high on the 30% number.    So we need to get the word out.  We need to take our sermon to the streets and get where the Scouters and potential Scout parents and Scouts are.  We need to evangelize the word of Scouting.  Everyone at our meeting concluded that this was a major part of growing Scouting.  But who’s it gonna be?  Who’s going to be the Evangelist for Scouting?  I suggested that everyone in the room was responsible for preaching the word of Scouting.  Further, Scoutmasters.  You play a big role in this plan.  Develop relationships with Cub Scout Packs in your area.  Think outside of the traditional “Territorial” box and create choices for Cub Scouts crossing over.  Just because they go to a certain church or school does not mean they must attend that Pack or Troop.  Boys stay in Scouting when they are having fun.  The right Troop that offers they right program for that individual Scout is the answer.
Scoutmasters.  Create contacts with prospective Chartering partners.  You have been around longer than most Cubmasters and Den leaders… help them out by setting up prospects and visits.  You know the Scouting program and can sell Scouting to new Chartering partners.
Scoutmasters, you need to become evangilists for Scouting.  Pay a visit to a Pack in your area and talk to parents about the value of Scouting. Invite Webelos to camp with you and encourage them to attend resident camps.  Ask Packs if you can help them with their next join night. Bring Scouts with you.
Committee members.  You need to be evangelists for Scouting.  You are resource people.  You have contacts and ways of getting things done in Scouting.  Do not sit idly by and let Scouting happen.  Get in the mix and help grow Scouting.  You can arrange visits, parent meetings, and use your contacts to find new Chartering partners.
Get trained.  EVERYONE!  What I know for sure is that “You don’t know what you don’t know”.  One of the reasons Cub Scout leaders fail to grow their units is that they do not understand the value of Scouting and/or they do not know what lay ahead for the Scouts in their Packs.  Den Leaders and Cubmaster across the Nation need to get trained.  In our Council only 43% of all direct contact leaders are trained!  They don’t know what they don’t know.  Training opens the program up and sets Scouters on a course to make their units successful.  There’s that choir again.. and we keep preaching to the same old folks.
With training comes confidence and direction.  As soon as leaders are trained, they get excited about delivering the promise.  So who’s it gonna be?  Who’s willing to step up and be the evangelists for Scouting?  The answer to all of our problems is in the answer to that question.
Who’s it gonna be?
Have a Great Scouting day!

Categories: blog, Leadership, training | 3 Comments

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