Author Archives: Scoutmaster Jerry

My Cook Kit

As you all know I am constantly tweaking my gear.  I have been using basically the same cooking set up for a few years now.  A little tweak here and there and I have to tell you I am really happy with the cook kit that I use.
There are no right or wrong set ups.  When it comes to this kind of gear, I suggest you adopt the “Hike your own hike” philosophy.  That is to say do what works for you.  I have used everything from big pots and pans and green two burner Coleman stoves to the alcohol stove that I use now.
I have used heavy pots and light pots, sporks and full mess kits, but what I have developed now meets my needs and fits with our style of backpacking.
Using this set up I can cook everything, not just boil water.  Right now I am really into the frozen dinner reheat.  I like to buy the Smart Ones precooked meals and reheat them in my pot.  It works great.  I have also cooked them at home, dehydrated them and cooked them on the trail.  They are perfectly portioned and taste great.
The elements of my cook kit are simple:
It starts with the Cuben Fiber stuff sack.  I purchased this from zpacks.com.
I made my own Pot cozy from an old closed cell foam pad.  The pot cozy is a big part of the kit, for holding the hot pot, to using it with the pot to re-hydrate a meal.  This saves fuel.
I use the Imusa 12 cm pot or mug.   These used to be available at Wal-Mart.  I have not been able to find them lately, but there are places online that you can find the 12 cm (1.25 quart) and the 10 cm mug.
I have a custom lid for the mug the I got online.  There are multiple online store that you can get your lids or you can easily make your own.  There are a lot of lid options, but you will need a lid.
I covered my lid with Carbon felt.  You can buy carbon felt by the sheet at Home Depot.
I added a zip lock container recently with a screw top lid.  I had to add a strip of tape to the lid to get it out of the pot.  I made a cozy for the bottom to keep things warm and make it easy to hold when there is a hot meal in there.  It makes a great bowl. and way to store my stove and other cook kit items.  I use the 16 oz size.  It fits well in the kit and works for just about every meal I make.
Inside of the zip lock container is my stove, a scrub pad and an old rag that I I use to clean and grab hot things.  Makes a good napkin too.
To eat with I use am REI long-handled spoon.  This spoon allows me to cook without burning my hands or getting them in the food.  They spoon does not get hot either, so you don’t burn yourself.
The whole kit weighs in at 10 oz.
Well that’s my cook kit.  I really like it and it works super for me.   I’m curious, what do you use?
Let me know.  Leave a comment and share.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, Leave no trace, reviews | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Hammock Basics

I have received a bunch of emails recently asking about this “Hammock Thing” basically wondering why I hammock camp and what does it really involve.
Last summer I shot a video that answered some of those questions, so I thought I would drop it here on the blog from my YouTube channel.
The basics, kind of an extension of the post I did the other day on the Big 3.  The hammock set up takes care of two of the three, the shelter and the sleep system.  The third element would be my Pack, the hammock set up saves a lot of weight and space in my pack.
I have to be honest with you.  One of the main reasons I love the hammock camping set up is all the tweaking and playing around with the set up.  I suppose you don’t have to mess around with it.  The system is great out of the box, but it is so fun to try new things and learn more about the system.
For example, I am currently trying out different ways to do a “Pole Mod” on my tarp,  This is will be an alternate way of using the pull outs on the sides of my Warbonnet Super Fly Tarp.  I will keep you posted on how that goes.  I just got the poles yesterday, now it’s time to fiddle with it and try different techniques and set ups.  I’ll let you know how it ends up.
So check out this video, let me know what you think and please feel free to ask all the questions you would like.  I love to talk about hammocks and hammock camping.

I hope this video showed you a little about hammock camping and the hammock set up.  If you are interested, let me know.  If you already hammock camp, let me know that too.
Leave a comment, I love to know what you think.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, gear, Hammock, Just fun | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Your Camp Stool

Here is a short video talking about just sitting around.  An often overlooked piece of gear that is in the category of a “Luxury item” is the camp stool.  Go without it and you sacrifice a bit of comfort on your next outing.
Yes, you may have to take a weight penalty if you are keeping track of your pack weight, but in the end, having a stool or chair to hang around camp on will make the difference.
Sorry about the focus on the video… but you don’t need to see my forehead anyway…  This video is all about your backside.
My go to seat right now is the Grand trunk Stool.
It is 22 oz made of aluminum with a nylon seat.  It is compact and light and very comfortable to sit on.  They added a little storage area, which I find real nice when cooking.  A nice place to set things other than your lap.  I highly recommend this stool.  It will hold up to 250 lbs, not that I will ever get that heavy, but it’s nice to know that it will not break under me.

Let me know what you sit on while camping?
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, Just fun, reviews, technology | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Scout Strong

scoutstrongThis Scouting year sure seems to be getting off to a fantastic start.  The Annual Plan is exciting and looks to be super fun and this year between the committee and the Patrol Leaders Council, there is a great plan in place to enhance the program en total..
We put in place a good plan to promote Order of the Arrow Activities in an effort to grow the participation of our Arrowmen  Yes there is a bit of incentive as we can earn an award for that too.  The Order of the Arrow Unit of Excellence Award.  We have been moving to getting our Arrowmen more active through participation in the chapter and lodge events.  We are well on our way, but with this concerted effort and plan, I am curious to see how it turns out.
One of the other plans that we have put in place is to promote Physical Fitness throughout the Troop.  This includes the adults.  We make a promise every Monday night to “Keep ourselves Physically Strong”.  We plan to keep that promise.  Establishing a good habit of physical fitness now will help our Scouts and Adults be more fit in the future.
Last night at our Troop meeting, the Scouts of the Troop made a commitment to be Scout Strong.  Each Scout was given an activities log.  As a troop we are going to track our progress for the first 6 weeks and then set new goals for the next 6.  We are using the PALA (Presidents Active Lifestyle Award challenge) as our base for picking activities and will be incorporating activities into weekly meetings.
It is going to be a super fun year and adding these kind of kinds of programs to our annual plan is just what we need to round out the Scouts experience.
To Keep our promise to keep ourselves Physically Strong.  Sounds like a great plan to me.
Have a Great Scouting Day! 

Categories: fitness, Just fun, Leadership | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Big 3

koa55It is that time of the year when we share our knowledge of camping with those youngsters that are preparing to cross over into our troops.  For many of them, their camping experience has been family camping and not straying to far from the car.
For those scouts that will be entering backpacking style troops, or even those that are looking for gear that will last and work in different camping situations, we offer a bit of advice.
Lately, I have been asked by several Cub Scout Packs to come and pay them a visit to talk about camping gear.  I know that for some, this discussion can become overwhelming, especially once we start talking about the cost.
We focus on the Big Three.  This is the Shelter, the Sleep system, and the Backpack.
The big 3 is where most of the money is spent and where most of the money should be spent.  Going cheap with the big 3 will cost you more in the long run.  It is better to buy quality gear than cheap gear that needs to be replaced over and over.
The Shelter.
Notice I did not say tent.  The shelter could be a Bivy, a tarp, or a tent.  Complicated for a new Scout?  Not really.  They just need to see the differences and pluses and minus’ of the gear.
First, what kind of camping do you do?  Are you looking to keep your pack light?  Do you live in an area that you need to worry a lot about bugs.  Tents do not keep you warm, they keep you out of the elements, that in turn will retain the heat you produce along with your sleep system.  So a tarp or bivy may be a great option for you.
When it comes to tents, make sure that you look at three things.
1.  The rain fly.  It needs to extend beyond the sewn floor seam.  Look at the number of tie outs the rain fly has.  This will make a huge difference in the winter or extreme weather conditions.
2.  The Floor.  Look a the floor and make sure you see a seam that extends up the wall of the tent.  This is called a bath tub floor.  This is an important feature for  heavy rains and snow.
3.  Vents and Vestibule.  You will want a tent that is well ventilated.  This will reduce the amount of condensation you have inside you tent.  The vestibule is important to storage and space to remove wet or dirty clothing and boots.  It is also a place that you can keep your pack and even cook in a pinch.
The Sleep System.
Again, note I did not just say sleeping bag.  First rule, if your bag has Ducks or Sponge Bob in it.. it is not a good backpacking sleeping bag.
The sleep system is quiet possibly the most important gear in your pack.  Without a good nights sleep you will not have a good camping experience.  The sleep system is made up of the sleeping bag and the method of insulation.
There are essentially two types of sleeping bags.  Down and Synthetic.  Down is lighter and compacts tighter.  When down gets wet though, it does not retain its insulation properties.  Synthetic on the other, may be a bit heavier, but when wet will retain its insulation and keep you warm.  Synthetics dry quickly also.
We recommend synthetic bags for our new Scouts.  This way we know that in bad conditions they will remain safe and warm.
The sleeping pad, or insulation, is just as important as the bag itself.  There are may options when it comes to pads for insulation.
Closed Cell Form (CCF).  This is your most inexpensive option and had great benefits.  CCF is great in the winter.  While not the most comfortable, CCF pads work well and can be modified to meet the Scouts needs.  It can be cut down to reduce weight and size.  The extra can be cut to make a nice camp seat.
Air pads.  There are different types of air-filled pads.  Basically, insulated and no insulated.  If you camp in the Northwest like I do, you need to have an insulated pad.
The air pads come in many shapes sizes and “R” values.  It is best when shopping for a pad to lay it out and give it a test run in the store.  The thicker the pad, the more comfortable, but also the more weight you will carry.  Take those considerations into account when buying your pad.
The Backpack.
Like sleeping pads, the backpack comes in many shapes, sizes, and styles.  Essentially though when looking at a backpack you need to decide what style you are looking for, Internal Frame or External Frame.  The difference, basically how the pack rides when packed.  For the novice hiker, that has a lack of experience in packing his gear, the external frame pack will ride much better.  Internal framed packs need a little more skill in packing, but the learning curve is not that steep.  Modern packs are designed to give the hiker the best comfort while tailoring the load to meet the need of the outing.
We typically recommend that a 65 liter pack be the absolute maximum when looking at volume.  The average Scout can get away with 55 to 60 liters.  Personally, I do not carry anything bigger than 60 liters or 3950 cubic inches.
Keep in mind when buying a pack, what are you doing with it?  The bigger the pack, the more you will put in it.  Also think about how you load the pack.  Lots of outside pockets are not always a great idea, while at times and with experience they can be a great feature on the pack.  Simple is good.
Buying a pack should not be an off the shelf event.  You need to shop around and do your homework.  Try them on, load them up, walk with it.  Try before you buy.
So, why the big three?  This is the area that you are going to spend the most money on and it is also the three pieces of gear that will cost you the most weight.  Try to keep the weight of the big 3 down to 9 pounds total.  Think about total weight, you should be looking at 25% of the Scouts body weight.  Keeping the big three down to 9 lbs is a good start at getting to that percentage.
When shopping for the big three, don’t rush.  Do the research, ask lots of questions, see what others are using and make a sound choice.  The big three should be those three pieces of gear that you keep the longest and will help you have the best backpacking or camping experience.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, gear, Just fun | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tatogear AB-13 Alcohol Stove

Here is a quick review of the AB-13 Max hybrid Alcohol stove by Tatogear.
I really like this stove for a couple of reasons.  First, it’s small and light but produces the same energy to get your trail cooking done.
Second, I love the remote fuel feed.  This is great when you are baking as you need longer cook times and with a traditional alcohol stove the fuel you start with is what you will use.  The remote feed feature allows you to have a continuous flame for hours if needed.  The remote feed is a safe way of adding fuel while in the process of cooking/baking.
The AB-13 weighs in at .8 oz. or 23 grams.  The body of the stove is machined from aluminum with folding legs and pot stand.  Folded – 2 1/4 X 1, Unfolded – 3 1/4 X 1.5.  So it is compact and portable.
I figured you did not need to see water boil, so here is a short video showing the function of the stove.
Here is the nice feature of the stove as it applies to the nay sayers in Scouting of alcohol stoves.  You can turn this one off!

Check out the stove and other products from Tatogear at Tatogear.com.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Cooking, gear, Just fun, reviews, technology | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Triangle

vigil2Before our youngest son left for college, he wanted to get a tattoo.  I am not a big fan of “ink” even though I now have two tattoos.  But that was something he wanted and to top it off, he wanted me to get one with him.  I suppose you can call it a weird father son moment.  To add to the deal, my Dad also went with us and so the three of us all got new tattoos.
When it came time for me to decide what I wanted to have permanently embedded into my body I had to think long and hard.  Like I said, I’m not that big a fan of tattoo’s even though, like I said I have two.
So I decided on something that means a lot to me and upon further review the new tattoo developed more meaning.
First, the tattoo is the Vigil symbol of the Order of the Arrow, essentially, the triangle with three arrows in it.
Now I am not sure why the Order of the Arrow picked the triangle as its symbol for the Vigil honor, but it stands to reason that the triangle with its three sides and it’s three arrows represent the three W’s, Wimachtendienk, Wingolauchsik, Witahemui.  We also know that E. Urner Goodman, one of the founders of the Order of the Arrow was active in the Masons.  The triangle is a symbol that is prominent in the Freemason organization.
Be that as it may, I started thinking about it a little more and did some checking.  This made my new tattoo a lot more meaningful.
At first, it was all about the Vigil Honor and what it means to me.  Couple that with the three arrows, each representing one of my kids.  Then I learned more about the triangle.
The triangle represents stability.  It represents the Holy Trinity, it also represent Earth and Water.  The triangle pointing upward represents masculine energy or fatherhood.  As a three-sided polygon, the triangle represents the number three, which is meaningful to many groups. As such, triangles and other symbols made of three parts may be used to present such concepts as past, present, and future or spirit, mind and body.
I know that a lot of this is weird, and believe me, I have not spent too much time over thinking this, but I did find it interesting about what triangles represent.  I am not into numerology or over use of symbols, but when I look at the symbols in Scouting and how much Scouting means in my life, it all comes together.
The Fleur de Lis is a universal symbol in Scouting.  It represents the point of the compass, it is a flower that represents Mary the Mother of Christ.  It has three distinct points that remind us of the three promises found in the Scout Oath.  In Scouting history Baden-Powell first used the Fleur de Lis to recognize his reconnaissance scouts in the Army.  He carried the symbol to Scouting.  The stars that are attached to almost every Scouting organization on the Fleur d Lis represents Truth and Knowledge.
There is symbolism all around us in Scouting and by adding that symbol of the Vigil Honor to be a part of me forever I think that I have increased the meaning for me.
It’s certainly is not for everyone, and I do not promote or condemn tattoo’s.  They are what they are.  I think having this triangle on my chest where I have to see it every day is a great reminder of my Obligation and my life in Scouting.

Let me know what symbols impact your life?  I know a couple of guys that have really cool Scouting tattoo’s.. do you?

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog | Leave a comment

LOTS

debateLIFE OTHER THAN SCOUTING (LOTS)
And the great sports debate continues.  Last night I attended our parent meeting where the annual plan was discussed.  The plan is set, so now it is time for the Troop Committee to figure out how they are going to fund and support it.
When it got down to brass tacks and dates, the out cry of “What about the guys that can’t make it because of sports” hit the table.  The answer is simple.  Pick one.  As you all know I am a huge advocate of organized team sports.  Both of my sons played team sports and did Scouting.  How did we make it work?  We just did.  We understood that we could do both.
“But you scheduled summer camp right during conditioning camp for youth football!”  Yep.  That’s a great week to go to summer camp and if you talk to the coach, your son can go to summer camp and make up the conditioning week.
I understand that the conditioning week is important, but it’s youth football, he’s not playing at Notre Dame.  Most coaches are reasonable and will work with your son.  If not… find another team.. yeah… find another team… it’s youth football.
My youngest son finally had to make a choice between Scouting and Football.  Football won, but he’s now playing in College.  So the choice paid off for him.  Was his Scouting experience diminished in any way.  No, he still went on camp outs when he could and attended meetings here and there.  But while he was coming up and even at the high school level, the coaches were reasonable.  In 2010, Josh wanted to go to the National Jamboree.  It fell on the High School “mandatory” conditioning week.  He talked to the coach and the coach told him to go to Jambo.
He did the conditioning when he got back and still won the starting Quarterback position.  If he is good, he will play.
So the great sports debate will always continue.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind.
1.  Sports and Scouting are both fun and can be done together.
2.  At some point choices will have to be made.  Reality must set in.  If your little athlete is the next Tom Brady… Maybe football is the choice to make.  If he is playing just for the fun of it… Scouting is always there for him.
3.  Scouting is year round.  Sports are seasonal.  Know that and come back to Scouting when the season is over.
4.  Keep the drama out of the discussion.  It is a fact that of the 114,ooo high School football players in the Nation, only 1000 of them will play another down after high school.  So enjoy the time and stick with Scouting.  Boys that stick with Scouting fair a hell of a lot better in the long run in college and in business.
5.  Don’t make it an either/or.  You can do both.  Just make the right choice for your son.  This is not about Dad’s need to live vicariously through his son on the football field, it is about growing a young man to be one of good character.  Sports and surly Scouting do that.
This debate is going on all over Scout meeting places in America right now.  It is a debate that both sides get to win.
Just my thoughts on the matter.  2 sons, 2 scouts, 2 athletes, 2 great Scouting experiences.

Have a Great Scouting Day! 

Categories: blog | Tags: | 3 Comments

Discuss, Demonstrate, Show

scouthandbookWhen it comes to advancement in the Boy Scouts, it’s not really rocket science.  First, the Scout needs to want to advance.  Second the Scout needs to do the work.  And finally, the Scout needs to be tested.
This process can be easy for some Scouts while harder for others, but what I have learned in 10 years as a Scoutmaster is that it is all up to the Scout.  I have seen Troops in our area that place more value on advancement than in other methods and I have seen some that do not at all.  I think that we view it as one of the eight methods and my philosophy has always been that advancement will come when the Scout is actively participating and engaged in the Troop.
A Scout came to me asking for a Scoutmaster conference.   OUTSTANDING!!  Grab a couple of chairs and let’s have a talk I said.  So how have you been, we haven’t seen you in a while.  Well, I have been busy with other stuff says the Scout, and Scouts just kinda took the backseat, here’s my book, I need you to sign off a bunch of stuff.
Now, I am no drill sergeant when it comes to signing books, but there are some things that just need to be done.  Discuss, Demonstrate, and Show.  If that is what the requirement says, then that is what the Scout needs to do.
So, Tommy Tenderfoot, lets talk about these things that you have circled for me to sign off, I say to the young man.  You mean you are not going to sign my book the Scouts replies looking agitated.   No, that’s not what I am saying, I just want to make sure that you know what you need to know, this process is designed to progressively teach you the skills that you will need to be a good Scout and one day help teach other Scouts.  I went on, You see, here is says to Demonstrate how a compass works and how to orient a map. Explain what map symbols mean.  Did you bring a map and compass with you?  I’m sorry, but for tonight’s meeting I didn’t bring that stuff.  Frustrated, the Scout says No… but don’t you remember that hike that we did last year when we had the map out?  I know how to use it, can’t you just sign it?  No, I am afraid we need to sit down with the map and compass and work this out.  It’s not me being hard, it’s the standard.
Long ago I learned that most things in life can be broken down to three things.  Tasks, Conditions, and Standards.
There is a task to do like demonstrate how to orient a map and compass.  The conditions are that you have a map and a compass and you use them to determine your orientation.  And that standard is that once the task is complete, the map is oriented correctly.  And so it goes with pretty much everything, at least in Scouting in the area of advancement.  The Scout is given the task, the conditions are set, and there is one standard.  The standard is always to do the task correctly.  I always tell my Scouts that there is only one way to do things right and that is the right way.  This can be applied to everything in Scouting and in life.
When the Scout handbook asks the Scout to Demonstrate, he needs to demonstrate.  If it tells him to Show, then he shows, and if the handbooks instructs the Scout to discuss, well, that is exactly what it means.  These are the Tasks, the Conditions, and the Standards.  It is not rocket science, it’s just keeping the standards set.  It is the right way.
So why do I feel the need to share this?  Simple. I believe that we owe to our Scouts to make sure the standards are kept.  We owe it to the Eagle Scouts and Scoutmasters that came before us.  We always hear about “the good old days”  You know, how tough it was when we did it… well, it wasn’t that tough… there are standards that were upheld.  And we need to keep those standards.  It’s simple, it’s not rocket science.
So when the book tells you to do something… just do it, it’s the right way.  It’s the standard.
When a Scout needs a conference, give it to him.  Don’t be hard, just follow the task, conditions, and standard.  The Scout will benefit and so will the troop.  It is fair and consistent and the way Scouting has always done it, why?  Because it is the right way.
Demonstrate the standard.  Show the standard.  And Discuss the standard.  It’s the right way.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, Character, Leadership, Methods, Skills | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Fraternity

orderofstMfra·ter·ni·ty
frəˈtərnətē/
noun
1.
a group of people sharing a common profession or interests.
“members of the hunting fraternity”
synonyms: profession, body of workers; a male students’ society in a university or college.
synonyms: society, club, association; a religious or Masonic society or guild.
2.
the state or feeling of friendship and mutual support within a group.
“the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity”
synonyms: brotherhood, fellowship, kinship, friendship, (mutual) support, solidarity, community, union, togetherness; sisterhood
“a spirit of fraternity”

When we hear the word fraternity we often think of college, parties, and the movie Animal house.  And there is certainly something to that.  But today I want to talk about fraternity in a few other ways.  I was never a member of a college fraternity, but I have been to a frat house or two.  But we will leave those stories for another day.  In the broader sense of the word fraternity as I show in the definition, a Fraternity is a group of people who share something in common.  But to truly define that group there is a bond, something that brought them together for a common purpose or goal.  Whether that was to get through college, fight in a war, or be of service to others that bond defines the group and they have an ever lasting kinship because of it.
If you are reading this blog, you more than likely have a bond with me and your fellow readers in Scouting.  The Boy Scouts of America created an Alumni Association just for the purpose of rekindling that spirit of fraternity with those people who have for over 100 years been associated with Scouting in America.  Through this effort many people have reconnected with Scouting and as a result the fraternity of Scouting grows stronger.
Within Scouting there are fraternal groups.  Wood Badge and the Order of the Arrow just to name a few.  There is a connection of greater purpose within these groups that take Scouting to a higher level.   Within the common bond of Wood Badgers and Arrowmen is greater sense of duty to others, promoting the Scouting movement, and of course fellowship with the membership.  It strengthens our ties to Scouting and increases our willingness to make Scouting a lasting part of our lives.
You may also be reading this blog and thinking of other fraternal groups that you belong to that are outside of Scouting.  The Elks, Masons, Eagles, and Moose Lodges are all Fraternal groups that share a bond of service and fellowship.  The Veterans of Foreign Wars and the America Legion are Fraternal organization made up of men and women that share the bond of serving in the Military, some during times of war and others that served waiting to be called.  Their bond is thick with the experiences, hardships, and of course friendships made during their service.
Why is this all important?
First, we need fraternal groups because they promote that common bond.  With that common bond we tend to want to be a part and share in it for no other reason the fellowship and knowledge that we are a part of something that is like us.  In Scouting, in college, in the Service, we shared a bond that is unique to us and we are a part of it.  Being a part of something that is greater than us gives us that sense of duty to it.
Second, these fraternal groups are the vanguard of the bond we share.  The membership of that organization leads the way in promoting its ideals, activity, and development of its membership.  Thus the group continues to grow and last.  For example, Scouting.  Those that came before me and you have set the course for Scouting for us.  The Alumni association and men and women that believe in Scouting continue to make the organization what it is through their dedication continued service to it.  Scouting’s membership is the life of the organization, but without the support of the folks behind the scenes, making contributions of time and talent and a lot of treasure, Scouting would soon begin to fade.  The organization is bigger than merit badges and camping.  It’s fraternal bond is in its ideals, values, and memories of the members.
I belong to a few fraternal organizations.  Scouting of course and within Scouting I love my affiliations within the Wood Badge community and the Order of the Arrow.  They make me a better Scouter and keep me directed in my desire to serve.  In Wood Badge that service comes by teaching fellow adults and promoting the great program of Scouting.  The Order of the Arrow fulfills that in me that wants to serve others, demonstrate to fellow Scouts and Scouters the idea of Leading to Serve.
I am also a Life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  This is important to me as I have a bond with those members, especially those that served in my era.  This group is all about fraternity in the sense that we belong more to one another than to be of service to others.  It is a group of shared experience.
I am a Life member of the National Infantry Association.  This group is also one of shared experience, it is the professional association for Infantrymen and Infantry supporters. The NIA, supports the Infantry’s role in the security of our nation; helps Infantrymen build closer affiliations with one another; and helps preserve the Infantry heritage. Our membership promotes the only organization dedicated to supporting the Chief of Infantry and the entire Infantry community. Our membership strength ensures that the Infantry voice will be heard by decision makers.  We share the camaraderie of like-minded soldiers and citizens who believe in maintaining the Infantry spirit and recognize those Infantrymen that have made a contribution to our Infantry community.
Now to most of you this is meaningless and I get that, but it is something that is important to me.  I share this with you because you belong to something like this.  Whether it is with the Optimist Club or the Rotary club, your fraternal organization means something to you.
I am also a member of an unofficial fraternal group made up of soldiers from the last Battalion I served in.  We gather periodically (not enough) to share stories, talk about our lives, and share our camaraderie.
We had a gathering yesterday, which prompted me to write this post.  Why, because it all matters.  In Scouting or a Military fraternity, it is all the same based on our bond of fellowship and shared experience.
Yesterday the Wildcats gathered to celebrate our bond 10 years after we returned from Iraq.  The gathering was not limited to those of us that deployed, but in keeping with the fraternal group, any one that had ever served in the 1st Battalion 162nd Infantry.  I was pleased to see old friends, soldiers I had served with and led.  It was special to meet with an old Battalion Commander.  I never served with him, he commanded the Battalion when I was small child, but our bond was being a Wildcat, no matter the era.
I had the honor of serving the Battalion as the Command Sergeant Major before and during our deployment to Iraq.  I had been in the Battalion for years prior to that promotion serving in different companies and at many levels.  So my bond to the 1/162 Infantry is strong.  I love that Battalion.
Our Battalion has a long and rich history and tradition.  Established in 1898 as the 2nd Oregon Volunteer Infantry and thrust in action in the Spanish-American war the Battalion was later reconfigured in 1917 as the Army transformed during the First World War.  It was re-designated the 162nd Infantry Regiment with 3 Battalions.  1st and 2nd Battalion in Oregon and the 3rd Battalion in Montana.  The 162nd Infantry along with the 161st, 163rd, and 186th Infantry made up the Infantry Regiments of the 41st Infantry Division.  In the Second World War, the 41st with all of its Regiments served in the Pacific Theater.  It fought from 1942 till the end of the war in 1945 in the Pacific.
The Battalion stayed ready for the Korean war but never was called to deploy as was the case in the Vietnam war.  It was not until the call came for the Battalion to support Operation Iraqi Freedom that the Battalion once again saw action in 2003.  It served from 2003 to 2004 in OIF.
In 2006 the Army once again reorganized and the Battalion Colors were folded and the Regiment disbanded the 1st Battalion.
But through these gatherings we maintain our bond and the spirit of the Wildcat Battalion.  It’s rich history is something that we helped write and is something that we hold close in our hearts.  Through our fraternal spirit we keep it alive.
Yesterday at the Wildcat reunion the National Infantry Association along with members of the Battalion recognized me and one of the finest soldiers I ever served with the Order of St. Maurice.  It is an honor that I will cherish because the group that I was with and the soldier that I had the pleasure of standing with during the ceremony.  Our local chapter of the National Infantry Association, specifically MSG Morgan Olsen presented the award.  He is a dear friend and a soldier that I had the opportunity to help develop along his career path.  More though, he is a dear friend and I am glad that he was the one to not only present the award, but put together the entire event.
He demonstrated everything that is great about this group of men that I have had the privilege to serve with and for.
Our bond, the bond of this fraternity is stronger than life.  It is important to me.
You all have some group that you share this type of bond with, if nothing else, you share a bond within Scouting.  It need not be in combat or strife, the bonds we share in service and fun are just as strong.  What you do with that bond is what is important. How you share that bond and become a stronger part of that group is what is important.  It is important to you.
Do not let time pass without reaching out and reconnecting, establishing a stronger bond of fellowship, service, and camaraderie.  As I get to know the “old guys” in our VFW post, I have come to understand that for many of them this bond has been recently awakened, they have regret that they had not kept those ties closer in their younger days.  I don’t want that regret, and I am sure that you don’t either.
Fraternity.  It is an important part of our lives.  Strengthen it.
I shared a lot about my military fraternal life today… so I will close this post with the words of a song that I hold very close in my heart.  The words of the official song if the Order of the Arrow.  It sums up many of my feeling about Fraternity and why I belong.
Firm bound in brotherhood, gather the clan
That cheerful service brings to fellow man.
Circle our council fire, weld tightly every link
That binds us in brotherhood, Wimachtendienk.

Yours in Scouting, WWW
Have a Great Scouting Day!
In the picture:  Left is Sergeant Major (Ret) Kevin Stanger and I receiving the Order of St. Maurice.

Categories: blog, Character, Ideals, Just fun, Leadership, Order of the Arrow, Service, stories, Values, Wood Badge | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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