Author Archives: Scoutmaster Jerry

Green Bar Bill and Wood Badge

It’s Wood Badge Wednesday time again.  In this post I want to share a bit about my Scouting Hero William “Green Bar Bill”bill_pic Hillcourt.
Everyone knows that William Hillcourt wrote books for the Boy Scouts of America, but few are aware of all of the work that he did for Scouting in America, in fact there in no where in Scouting in America that we can not find Green Bar Bill’s fingerprints.

Green Bar Bill is responsible for Scout Handbooks, Field Books, and resurrecting Wood Badge in America after the Second World War.
You see. In 1948 the Chief Scout Executive Elbert K. Fretwell, commissioned 4 professional Scouters to to get Wood Badge underway as a national training standard. Bill Hillcourt was one of the four, BSA’s first Deputy Camp Chief and by then, also the national Director of Scoutcraft.
Once they created the course that would become the new Wood Badge they held two courses. One in New Jersey at the Schiff Scout reservation and the second at Philmont. They were respectively Course #1 and Course #2. Green Bar Bill was the Scoutmaster for both courses.
The Philmont course was held at Cimarroncito. Thirty-five men mostly from the Western parts of the U.S., assembled at Philmont’s “Big House” at noon on October 2, 1948, to launch BSA’s Wood Badge.
The course started tenuously with Professional Scouters pitted against Volunteer Scouters. SM Bill Hillcourt regrouped his Staff and broke an impasse. Patrol spirit soared and Participants overcame the obstacles of high altitude, physical and mental fatigue, slow and difficult supply deliveries, poor communications with the Philmont Ranch, and bad weather with rain, sleet, snow, and cold!
It was unquestionably a mountain-top experience. Tired Scouters returned home with strong, enthusiastic feelings; the future of Wood Badge in BSA was assured. (source http://www.woodbadge.com)
;As I prepare once again to staff Wood Badge for the 21st Century I look forward to that Mountain Top experience, albeit at the wonderful Oregon Coast!  I always learn something new about Scouting, the people I am associated with in Scouting, and of course myself.
Like I said, Green Bar Bill is one of my Scouting heroes.  His story from a young man that loved Scouting enough to get a job in the mail room of the National Office to creator of the new Wood Badge and countless contributions in writing the literature that shaped Scouting and Scouts for decades.  His impact is way beyond Wood Badge, but his involvement in Wood Badge is clearly one more reason for me to look to him as someone we should try to be.
I am looking forward to carrying on the Legacy of William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt, Wood Badge’s first Scoutmaster in America!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Backpacking Food

sdc10061A couple ways of thinking about backpacking food. First. Quick and easy.. boil water Second. Pre cook and reheat. And third, make it from scratch.

When we are talking about Quick and easy we throw freeze dried or dehydrated meals in to the mix.
Nice for quick meals that require very little skill and clean up. Boil water and add it to the meal.. wait 20 minutes and you are ready to eat.
In some cases these meals get easier when you just buy them pre made. Mountain House or Backpackers Pantry are very popular and can be found pretty much everywhere.
There are “higher end” freeze dried cook in bag meals that can be found online. They are better quality (in my opinion) and the price per serving is actually lower than going with some of the other store bought meals. Packit Gourmet and Hawk Vittles are two of my favorite.
You can also make your own, most of use however do not have the ability to freeze dry, but we do have the ability to dehydrate. Pretty much any meal that you can cook at home can be prepared for backpacking. Just cook it up and dehydrate the meal. Put it in a zip lock back or if you have a Food Saver, package your meal and you are ready for the trail.
Remember that fats do not dehydrate, so use reduced fat or the lowest fat meats you can. Also consider your serving sizes as you cook and dehydrate. Pack them in individual or two serving sizes. Anything more takes more water and time to prepare on the trail.
The second way of preparing meals is the precooked options. These are becoming a favorite option of mine. When we are talking precooked I am talking about meals that need only to be reheated to eat. Pretty much any meal that you can buy off the shelf (frozen or dry) that can be thrown in your microwave can be reheated and prepared to eat on the trail.
Bags of food that have a microwave option are perfect.
PF Changs, Bertollis, Marie Callendars, Stouffers, Birds Eye, Healthy Choice, and Jimmy Dean to name a few. For those of us that want to lose a pound or two, Lean Cuisine and Healthy choice make great meals that are portioned just right.
These meals are easy to repackage into zip lock bags, easy to reheat, and little prep work.
Finally, you can make your meals from scratch on the trail. This is a nice option when weight and resources are not a concern. I love fresh eggs on the trail, and when the distance is not too great and like I said resources are not limited making a nice steak and potatoes are a wonderful option while backpacking. In this case, anything goes as long as you can support it. For example keep items cold and from spoiling.
Fresh meals made from scratch may require more utensils, pots, pans etc. So planning is a consideration when exploring this option.
So here are some of my favorites, I tend to mix things up from month to month although there are certain meals that get into the rotation more often than others.
Breakfast.
Oatmeal
Jimmy Dean breakfast bowls
Eggs, Bacon (precooked)
Spam packets and eggs
Carnation Breakfast drink (instant breakfast mix)
Pop Tarts

Lunch
Tuna in foil pouch
Crackers
Summer sausage
Spam pouch
Chicken salad pouch
Noodles with pouch chicken (pre cooked)
Noodles with veggies and Jerky
Healthy Choice steamers

Dinner
Any of the Healthy choice or frozen meals
To get a good idea of what I am talking about Click here.

Snacks
I personally like to take cheese and crackers, some candy like Hot tamales and Gummy bears.
I take pudding, Snack pack pudding cups for after meals.
A York Peppermint patty is nice in the evening to settle the stomach before bed.
Hope that helps you enhance your meals out on the trail

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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The Great Non Negotiable

Adult Leader RolesI often talk about Character with our Scouts and on this blog.  To me Character is the Great Non Negotiable.  Character is that which once you give it away, you can not get it back.  Character can never be taken from you, but you can freely give it away.  We see examples of this daily, we need only to look to our Nations Politicians and how they compromise their integrity and Character when they fail to live the values that we all seem to hold true.  Being Trustworthy and Loyal, Brave and Obedient.  Our Governor here in Oregon seems to push the limits of integrity weekly.
When these “role models” give away their character while the public watches we know that they are willing to stretch their integrity to any limit.
They give it away and can never get it back.  We know what they are up to and nothing they can do will repair the damage done.
So it goes with our young men in Scouting.  Beginning at the early age when a Scout becomes a Tiger Cub we teach them Character Connections, themes that run through the entire program that set them on a course to develop Character and keep it.
“Character development should extend into every aspect of a boy’s life. Character development should also extend into every aspect of Cub Scouting.”   The core values that begin to make up a young man’s character in Cub Scouts are like a hand prepared for the glove that will be the Scout Law once he joins the Boy Scout program.  For this reason, I am happy with the change the Boy Scouts of America has put in place for all Scouts, no matter which program they participate will all learn and live the Scout Oath and Law.
In the Scoutmaster conferences I conduct with the Scouts of my Troop we often spend a great deal of time discussing character.  The skills portion of their advancement play a small role when compared to the way they act and grow.
Many times we direct a Scout away from certain behaviors during these discussions. Unfortunately, their school environment does not value the same character as we do.  I share the fact that Character is in fact a Non negotiable item in life.  Well, only if they want to have a good life that is full of meaning and value.
They have to understand that they can never negotiate their character away.  They need to know that the values that shape their character which we find in the Scout law are all good for their future and when lived will ensure character is kept. I find it disturbing that they are often willing at a young age to begin the compromise of these values.  It is not an issue of “cool” or even Scouting.  It is an issue of developing these young men.  I have said it before and will continue to say it… It is not my job as a Scoutmaster to produce Eagle Scouts, I am here to help develop men of Character.
There is an expectation that Eagle Scouts have Character, but in some cases the Scoutmaster valued the rank over the substance.  Their score card was compromised by the want to have Eagle Scouts and not good men.  The good news is that you can have both if you take the time to expect good character and never negotiate it away so a young man can feel good about getting rank.
If they are not ready.. they are not ready.  It is not for us to add to or take away from the requirements, but it is also up to the Scout and the Scoutmaster to agree on how he is “Living the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives.”  Now in that agreement my Scouts know that I will not negotiate when in comes to character.  I care less about how they feel and more about how they act.  Not a popular opinion in a day and age where every one gets a participation ribbon and trophy for having a pulse.  I want to see our Scouts go on and become successful, what ever that looks like in the future.  I never want to see them in the paper or the nightly news in hand cuffs or in a scandal.  I never want to see them negotiate away their character.  Selling their Eagle medal for higher pay or recognition, status or position.
Character is the Great Non Negotiable.  We need to teach that to our Scouts and expect it from them.. and yes, even if that means they develop a bit more before they are awarded the next rank.
If they don’t get it by the age of 18, we have more problems than merit badges and Eagle medals.
Just something to think about.. I do.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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The power of Why

Hey, it’s been a crazy week and now I am heading out of town for a little mini vacation with the wife.  So we will get back to blogging this weekend.
A couple things I am looking forward to this weekend (after our vacation),, We gave new Scouts crossing over on Saturday and then Sunday we have our annual Red and Green Celebration where we are not only celebrating our Troop’s achievements over the last year, but we are having our own Order of the Arrow 100th Anniversary celebration.
We will announce our Scout of the Year and recognize the hard work of our Scouts and some volunteers also.
So we are heading out of town.. a much needed break
To leave you this week at mid week with some good leadership content, take a few minutes and watch this video.  This is Simon Sinek, a great mind and speaker on leadership.  He talks about How Great leaders inspire Action.  Meaningful action that drives results.  I have said it many times as I teach our Scouts leadership.  Leaders provide three things, Purpose, Direction, and Motivation.  These three things can not happen unless the leader knows Why he or she should do those things.  Take a minute and enjoy some great leadership talk.
We will get back to the blog next week.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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So you want to change the world?

r1967“The Movement has already, in the comparatively short period of its existence, established itself onto a wide and so strong a footing as to show most encouraging promise of what may be possible to it in the coming years. Its aim is to produce healthy, happy, helpful citizens, of both sexes, to eradicate the prevailing narrow self-interest; personal, political, sectarian and national, and to substitute for it a broader spirit of self-sacrifice and service in the cause of humanity; and thus to develop mutual goodwill and cooperation not only within our own country but abroad, between all countries. Experience shows that this consummation is no idle or fantastic dream, but is a practicable possibility – if we work for it; and it means, when attained, peace, prosperity and happiness for all. The “encouraging promise” lies in the fact that the hundreds of thousands of boys and girls who are learning our ideals today will be the fathers and mothers of millions in the near future, in whom they will in turn inculcate the same ideals – provided that these are really and unmistakably impressed upon them by the leaders of today.” – Baden Powell in his farewell address to Scout Leaders.
Here is what I know for sure.  Scouting works.
IN MY OPINION

So the problem then is why is it that the world has not changed?  Scouting is currently in 161 Nations around the world.  Think about the current hot spots in the world, Libya?  They have Scouts.  Pakistan? They have Scouts.  Palestine and Israel? Syria?  Yemen?  The United States?  Yep, they all have Scouting and are members of the World Organization of Scouting Movement.
Common ground.  The Scout Oath (Promise) and Law.  In these two pledges Scouts from all 161 countries maintain a common set of values.  The Promise and Law are based on the principles of Scouting.  “Duty to God” – a person’s relationship with the spiritual values of life, the fundamental belief in a force above mankind. “Duty to others” – a person’s relationship with, and responsibility within, society in the broadest sense of the term: his or her family, local community, country and the world at large, as well as respect for others and for the natural world. “Duty to self” – a person’s responsibility to develop his or her own potential, to the best of that person’s ability.
Yes, no matter where you are the original Promise and Law from the founder can still be heard.  So why can’t Palestine and Israel get along.  I submit that the spirit of Scouting’s values and ideals have not embraced by the host countries. Politicians that failed to get the message when Baden Powell spoke to us Scout leaders.  They fail to understand the vision and the reality of what can be.  And so it is within Scouting today.  It comes down to Why?  Why is Scouting important?  Why is Scouting relevant?  Why should Scouting exist?
I have been giving these questions much thought lately and it comes down to this, when we know why we do what we do, not just what we do and how we do it the picture becomes more clear and the dream of Scouting can be fully realized.
Now, this seems like a bunch of hooey.. to those that don’t buy it.  They are also the same people that don’t get Scouting and what it is all about.  They are the Scouters that measure success by an Eagle plaque.  They don’t wear the uniform and find little use for training.  The problem is not just a political issue.  The problem is we in Scouting have forgotten why we do Scouting.  We have focused on being popular and not practical.  We have done a terrible job of telling Scouting’s story and promoting why we need Scouting.
We preach to the choir.  But when we preach we tell them how Scouting should be.  When we train our Scouters we focus on what Scouting does and how to do it.  But we miss they key component.  Why?
I firmly believe that when we understand why we stay focused on the movement.  We are not just another youth club.  We are Scouting.  So what is Scouting and Why is it needed?
Scouting started because of the youth in England when Baden Powell returned from his service in the Army.  Boys were lacking discipline and were in need of adventure.  The post Victorian era and the loss of many men the  eight wars fought by Great Britain from 1880 to 1902.  This made a large impact on the British society that left women and children at home.  Young boys looking for adventure embraced Scouting for Boys written by Baden Powell.
So where is the Why?  Why Scouting.  We know the history of how Scouting was founded but what was Baden Powell thinking when he took the boys to Brownsea island?  What was the message?  Why was all of this important for our world.  Scouting was started as a peace movement.  Powell had enough of war and understood that the skills he could pass on, yes skills adapted from military service.  Tracking, map reading, bush craft  and discipline all helped make a young man self reliant.  These skills coupled with lessons in values and character began to shape the next generation of young men.  It was this commitment to changing boys into men that Powell centered his new program for boys.
Baden Powell introduced the promise and the law to the new Scouts.  These values and promises were to lay the foundation of why we do Scouting.  Citizenship, Character, and Fitness.  The same aims we strive for in Scouting today.
So why?  Because we want to change the world,
We can do this by making young men (and women) into productive members of society.  They will have character, they will be good citizens, and they will be fit.  Why we do Scouting in America can be found in our mission statement; The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.  Again we see the values and promises of the Oath and Law that drive what we believe and why we exist.
But is this what we really believe?  Is this why we actually do Scouting?  It is for me, but when I look at the state of Scouting I think that we may have lost some of the vision.  I think that we have forgotten why we do Scouting.  I think that the vision of Baden Powell has become negotiable and the values and promises of Scouting have become less important than Delivering the a neat club for our youth.
We do a terrible job of telling our Scouts, their parents, and the public why Scouting is important.  And why is that?  I don;t think we know why we have Scouting.  Scouting has become a youth organization that competes with sports, school, and other youth activities.  Scouting had chosen to match program for program, activity for activity.  But it has not made the gains it could because what people want is know why.  Why should a young man be a Scout.  Why is Scouting better than other groups.  Why are the values important to change the world?  Why can Scouting make a difference.
We need not look much further than then Oath and Law and the mission of the Boy Scouts.  They explain why.
Until we buy that, we are just another club.
In case we miss the point with the mission of the Boy Scouts of America, lets take a larger view of how we change the world.  The mission of the World Scouting Movement is “... to contribute to the education of young people, through a value system based on the Scout Promise and Law, to help build a better world where people are self-fulfilled as individuals and play a constructive role in society.”
Clearly a mandate to change the world.  So why did we have two world wars?  Why do we have hunger in the world?  Why can there not be peace?  Politics.
But lets bring back to our local area.  Why can’t we grow units?  Why can’t we fund our programs?  Why is it that we struggle with our message?  The answer, we don’t believe it.
We don’t think we can actually change the world.  We don’t believe that a young man can earn his way.  We don’t believe in the values of being helpful and kind.  Society won’t let us they say.  Scouting was for another time they proclaim.  The world we live in is to grown up for Scouting.  The question is… do you believe?
Do you run your program the way it is supposed to be run or do you make it up as you go?
Do you live the values or just say them on meeting nights?
Do you know why we need Scouting or is this just a club for you and your son?
Do you know how the methods of Scouting get us to the aims or they Why of Scouting?
These are important questions for you to answer.  If we don’t know we can not deliver Scouting as intended.
All much to do about nothing though if we choose not to believe that we can make a difference, that we can make a change in our world.
First.  We embrace the why.  What are our values and where do find them.  Next, how do we put those values into action?  How do we show the world why we need Scouting?
Then, we learn about how Scouting should be and get our units that way.
Boys want to belong.  Parents want their sons to belong to something with meaning and values.  We need to give that to them.
When we a tell the world why and show them we are going to do the things that will get us us there they will flock to Scouting and we will make a difference.
So you want to change the world?  You want Scouting to be a part of that change?  Then know why.
Scouting works.  We will make a difference, its up to each of us.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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4th Annual Yeti Hang

This weekend I took to the mountain for the 4th Annual Yeti Winter Hang with the Cascade Hangers.  It is a great Hammock hanging event where we talk gear, hang out, and have a lot of fun.
Clearly a non Scouting event, but the gear, the camping, and the fun are reason enough for every one to go and enjoy.
Here is a little video I put together of the weekend.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Wood Badge Wednesday- The Woggle

I am the assistant Scribe for Wood Badge Course W1-492-15.  This is my third time staffing Wood Badge and I am super excited to once again have the opportunity to help the participants get the very most out of their Wood Badge experience.
Our Course Director thought it would be a fantastic idea to communicate to the participants well before course beyond the 300px-Wood_Badge_&_Woggleregular mailings, reminders, and lists that go out prior to the June course.  In the past we have used sites like My Family to host communication, but this year it was determined that Facebook was a good platform to get that communication out, not just to participants but staff also.
The Scribe team was asked, as is in our job description to begin that communication.  Part of that is sending out tid bits about Wood Badge that will get the participants ready and excited about getting on course. That task is assigned to me and I gladly accepted.
So, stolen from the pages of the internet.. or at least the title from Bryan on Scouting’s Blog... Wood Badge Wednesday was born.
Then I thought.. heck this stuff is good… I should share it on my blog.
Now, before you think I am just cutting and pasting from other sources.. I am writing all of this.  Yep, I am learning and using material that is out there.  After all Wood Badge is not new and so there is a lot of information out there that warrants me not having to rediscover the wheel.  But credit is given where credit is due.
So here is today’s Wood Badge Wednesday!
What the heck is a Woggle?
Once again we are going to introduce you to a little Wood Badge Tradition.. all a part of the magic that is Gilwell.
Part of the Wood Badge regalia is the Wood Badge Woggle. A Woggle is the traditional term for a Neckerchief slide.
You see back in the Wood Badge courses infancy, then camp chief Francis Gidney, was aware that most people were not that great at wood carving, so he had the participants tie a Turks head knot. This two strand Turks head was there after presented to participants that completed their Wood Badge course. The two strand leather woggle is the official woggle of Wood Badge and is not found or presented in any other Scouting activity.
The earliest reference we can find of the “Woggle” is in the 1923 14th edition of Scouting for Boys by Baden Powell were he writes “it [the scarf] may be fastened at the throat by a knot or woggle, which is some form of ring made of cord, metal or bone, or anything you like”.”
An interesting fact is the the Neckerchief slide grew in popularity here in America. English Scouts typically just tied their scarves or neckers with a knot. A Scouter named Bill Schankley, a young man from Australia working at Gilwell Park who was responsible for developing camping equipment. He was aware of the tradition of the neckerchief slides in America and decided to develop something for Gilwell. It was his introduction of the turks head knot to Gidney that became the Wood Badge Woggle.
So you can see, this fine tradition truly embodies the finest of the World Brotherhood of Scouting. And American idea, developed buy an Australian, adopted in England, and spread throughout the World in Wood Badge.
Wood Badgers from every Nation wears the same two strand Turks head fashioned from leather as part of their Wood Badge regalia. Well… how cool is that?
That’s your Wood Badge Wednesday.. Hope you are getting excited for your course.. Your staff is!
Have A Great Scouting Day!

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Why?

Last night at our Patrol Leaders Council meeting we discussed the most recent camp out, or I should say camp out attempt.  To recap, the weather got real bad, gear got wet, we assessed the risk and bailed out…in a nut shell.why
Part of each PLC meeting is a training portion.  I try to keep it to about 5 or 10 minutes, but last night was unique in that I sensed that the young leaders were not happy with the idea that we had to bail out of the camp out.  No one debated the fact that it was the right thing to do, but why did we get in the situation.
There is nothing we can do to change the weather.  But what is that we do to change or effect our desired outcome?  In talking with the leaders of the PLC I kept hearing that “We did not do this or that..” “We took short cuts” “We got lazy”.  And by and large they, although being very tough on themselves, were hitting the nail squarely on the head.
The problem I have was their use of the word “We”.  The way it was being used transferred the responsibility from “I or Me” to “We”.  You see, that makes it easier to assign blame or point fingers and the issues.
So we went around the table and each member of the PLC had an opportunity to reflect on a specific thing that could have been better.  And no.. no one was allowed to say the weather.  They also had to start their sentence with the words “I could have…”  The results were great.  We can not go back and change what happened this weekend.  We learned a lot about our Scouts and about the skills that we need to develop.  We.. I… learned that we have a fantastic group of young men that want to be successful and want to be leaders.  I was happy to hear them start answering the question… Why?
Why did I make that mistake?  Why didn’t I demonstrate good leadership by being a better example?  Why didn’t I check on my Patrol?  Why did I take short cuts?  Why was I lazy and not focused?
Now this may seem a tad bit harsh.. after all, these are just kids.  No.. These are kids that want to be leaders.  These are kids that understand that they are there to lead their friends.  These are young men that now understand that decisions that they make have an impact on not just them, but their patrol mates.  These are Scouts that desire to get it right and as a result will have more fun and adventure.
These are guys that are starting to get the concept that for every action there is a positive or negative reaction.  Each decision, each skill, each interaction within their patrols will result in success or failure.  They do not want to fail, but are willing to test themselves knowing that we are watching out for them and are there to teach them and coach them through the rough spots.  They feel safe knowing we care about them and are cheering them on to be better at leadership.
It was nice to listen in as they discussed the leadership principles that they did not practice.  This tells me two things.  First, they know what they are and second they know what they are supposed to look like.
We have a fun month coming up.  The Patrol Leaders Council along with the Troop Leadership Corps have a great plan… this month, they are sharing with the Troop the answer to WHY?
They are going to practice leadership by sharpening skills.  They listed the things that they see as their leadership challenges and are going to answer why these are challenges and how do we fix them.  It is going to be a fun month.  In light of this, they also asked to push our annual Junior Leader Training to February as it will serve as a great finale to this month of Leadership development.
I can’t tell you how proud I am of these young men.
I too am working on answering why?  Yep, there are things I should have done also this past camp out that I failed to do.  Why?  Well, I’m figuring that out.
Leadership starts with why?  Why do we lead?  Why do we care?  Why is it important?
Great start to a leadership discussion with your Troop.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Why we Salute

r1933Over the years I have various discussions as to why we salute in Scouting.  The question or discussion typically stems from a misunderstanding of what the salute means.  Many of the discussions try to compare the Boy Scouts with the Military.  This argument is not part of the Boy Scout tradition of saluting.  Think about when we salute in Scouts, pretty much only to the Flag as we honor the Nation during the National Anthem, when we say the Pledge of Allegiance, and when we are presenting and retiring colors.  We do not salute people, although it would not be inappropriate to do so.  You see it is important to understand the salute and how it came about.  Know that, it makes it more clear as to why we salute in Scouts.
The salute goes back way before the modern military and certainly before Scouting.
The tradition of saluting is commonly tracked back to the Knights of feudal times.  It was a greeting used to show both respect and trust as the Knight raised the visor of his helmet showing his face.  Modern Military tradition traces the hand salute, again as a sign of respect as the practice of removing ones hat was a sign of respect.  In doing so, the hand placement led to the hand salute.  A sign of respect.  In the military, the salute is rendered from subordinate to leader as a sign of respect for his or her position.  We render that same honor or show of respect when we salute the Flag of our Nation.
But the Salute goes back father than the Knights of old.  In ancient Greece the salute was a common greeting, the meaning still the same.  Again we found this same salute in ancient Rome.  These salutes were practiced more like our Founder Baden Powell intended.  The original concept of Scouts saluting one another was a greeting.  It was done by showing the Scout sign.  This greeting moved to the salute as we know it when honoring our Nations Flags and rendering honors to the Nations.  So along with the left handed hand clasp, the salute or as it was know in 1907, “the secret sign” became a Scouting tradition.
Respect, Tradition, and Honor.  That is why we salute in Scouting.  It is not about authority or superiority.  We salute because we promise to live values that include friendship and obedience.  We make a promise to do our duty to our Country.  Part of that duty is honoring the Nation.
So when folks ask why we salute, it is simple.  I am a Scout and part of an organization that shows respect.  Respect to one another and to our home.
Hope that helps in your next discussion over the fine tradition of saluting.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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The Better part of valor…

discression“The better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have sav’d my life.” – Falstaff in the Henry IV, William Shakespeare.
It is not often that we get placed in situations in Scouting that call for serious decisions to be made, decisions that may be the difference between fun and adventure and getting someone hurt.
Rule #1. Have fun
Rule #2. Be Safe
Beyond that it comes down the Scout Oath and Law.. that is all the rules we have in our Troop. Before every outing we go through, albeit not a formal process of assessing risk. Typically there are measures that can put in place to reduce risk or minimize those risks so the outing is fun, meaningful, and achieves its goals.
It is not often, in fact in 10 years we have reacted to risk by moving locations, changing the dates, or changing the focus of our activity to meet the assessed risk, maintain the learning objectives, and achieve the desired outcomes of our Troops outings.
Today, for the first time in 10 years the risk could not be mitigated and the better part of valor was to walk away, literally hike out and call it a day.
This weekend was out monthly camp out. The plan was to camp up in the Zig Zag canyon on Mt. Hood. A great trek in that we have done in the past. For a month now, we have trained for the outing. Learning cold weather skills, first aid, and how to use the gear that would need up on the mountain in January. The Scouts learned the signs and symptoms of cold weather injuries and how to prevent them. They learned tips to use ordinary camping gear for winter such as adding guy lines to a 3 season tent that will add to the strength of tent, keep it dry, and equip it for harsh conditions.
So we practiced and shook the Scouts down nit-picking at gear choices, uses, and what they thought would be acceptable versus what we know to be worth taking on a mountain trip in January.
The Troop was ready.
Change #1. Location. Due to the lack of snow, we determined that it would not be possible to go into Zig Zag canyon. Getting in would be fine, getting out would be another story. With the lack of snow we would not be able to hike out on the rock in the conditions that currently are hitting the mountain. So we moved the location to another camp area familiar to the troop on the slope of Mt. Hood. It would afford us the ability to achieve our goals and get good practical experience in winter camping for the Scouts. We decided to hike into Devils Half Acre. A camp area on the Historic Barlow trail. It has a good snow park, good trail, and plenty of camping area.
This morning we departed our meeting hall. In the early morning hours we began our adventure. A light rain was falling and the forecast was calling for heavy rain in the valley, rain on the mountain with heavier rains coming over night as well dropping temperatures. It’s all good, we are prepared.
We arrived at the snow park to a light rain and moderately cool temperatures. The thermometer was hovering around 38 degrees.
As we hiked into the camp area, a steady drizzle accompanied us. We got camp set up, dinning flys, and water boiling for hot chocolate. Everything was going well. A little wet, but we have camped in the rain before.
The Troop ventured off on a hike stopping along the way to practice skills and learn about ways to make winter camping enjoyable.
While we hiked the rain increased. We arrived back at camp and checked the gear and started the process of getting lunch prepared.
I did a walk around camp with the Troop Leadership Corps. I wanted them to develop the critical eye on what right looks like. We discovered that many of the Scouts while setting up took some costly short cuts. In their haste to get set up and under the protection of a tarp, they neglected to think about their current location, situation, and consequence. They did not use the extra guy lines as we trained, they picked locations that we not optimal for the rainy weather and as a result we had wet tents.. on the inside. That also meant that we had several wet sleeping bags.
Not catastrophic at that point.. but then we started to put fixes in place. We reached a point were we knew that for some of the sleeping bags there was no way we could get them dry.
We began to reevaluate our risk and assess what our plans were going to be in the event that the temperatures dropped and the rain did not let up. Hypothermia kept creeping into the conversation. Pack and hike now or pack and hike in the middle of the night It really came down to our willingness to accept risk or not.
We decided the better part of valor was discretion. Ensure that learning objectives happened, find the teachable moment, and live to have fun another day.
We gathered the Scouts around and demonstrated what we were seeing versus what we expected. We talked about the desired outcomes of all the training and preparation and how we may have failed in the execution. Then we packed up and hiked out.
First. We talked about leadership. All of the issues we discovered came down to leadership.
Second. We reinforced our leadership principles and how they applied in this and most situations.
We focused on the first three. Become a Life Long learner, Learn to lead yourself, and Model Expected Behavior.
Learning and retaining things that make you better. Practicing what you learned so you can test and reevaluate what you have learned. Leading yourself so as to be that person that others are willing to follow. And of course, modeling the behavior that you want to see from those you lead. If you maintain those three principles in what you do.. you will not only effectively lead, but will have a great time doing it.
After those lessons were, pardon the pun, soaked in, we packed up ensuring it was done right and departed.
Even though it was a short outing relative to our normal camp outs, it became one that will live in the memories of our Scouts as a learning event. Everyone learned something today, and that made this “Camp out” a success.
Looking back now just hours from the event, I see great value in taking some risk. I also see a lot of value in evaluating and reevaluation of that risk. It is through that process that we learn and discover. It opens up opportunity to teach and reinforce key leadership and camping skills.
I don’t want to have to do this often, but when we have to.. we know we will do what is right. The better part of valor is discretion. And live to camp another day.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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