When preparing for winter camping or camping in colder temps than you are typically used to it is important to get your mind right.
It is a must to have the right gear, train for the conditions and practice before venturing out into the cold. But the most important thing to prepare is your attitude.
We teach that COLD means to stay clean, keep from overheating, wear your clothing loose and in layers, and stay dry. Those things should keep your warm and comfortable while camping in the winter. I have known people that just never seem to be warm. They can add layers and layers and still won’t be warm. When they are constantly cold, they dont want to be there.
I was stationed in Alaska while I served in the Army. Before I was assigned to Ft. Wainwright in Fairbanks, I was in Georgia, I think this is the Army’s idea of humor. When I arrived in Alaska I was sent to a course called Cold Weather Indoctrination Training (CWI). The first thing that they tought us was that we had to get our mind set to be cold. Once we accepted the idea that it was going to be cold, we could focus on our job. The first night of the training we took our sleeping bags and sleeping pads an went out into a near by stand of trees about 100 yards from the barracks. We were told that we would be sleeping out there for the night. “Trust the gear and accept the cold” the Sergeant said. I thought I was going to die that night. I got in my sleeping bag, wiggled around a bit, and then settled in for a nights sleep in the snow. The guy next to me tossed and turned all night, his teeth chattered, and at about midnight he got up and ran to the building. I remember watching him through the face hole of my sleeping bag. I was toasty warm in the bag and would not have gotten out of that warm bag to run if the forest was on fire. The next morning, the Sergeant came out and woke us up. The air was crisp and it was cold. He told us that we needed to get up and get moving. It was like jumping into a cold pond.. you just hold your breath and go for it. I sprang from my sleeping bag throwing clothing on as quick as I could. Once I got my boots on and started rolling up my sleeping bag I noticed that I was not cold, I was working up a little sweat even.
We marched to the dining hall for breakfast, then right back out into the cold for more training. The more we trained, the more I got used to the cold. The more I got used to the idea that it was just going to be cold, the more I accepted it and it was just another thing.
I can remember my second winter in Alaska, when it warmed up to the single digits above 0, we would run around with sweatshirts and t- shirts on. The cold was just a matter of fact. We had our minds right.
Now, I dont want to confuse anyone by changing up the meaning of COLD.. but I remember my Squad leader came up with a new version for us to keep our minds in the right attitude for the cold temps.
C- Can’t is not an option. When the tents need to be put up, camp chores need to be done, Can’t is not an option.. the work has to be done. Can’t is not a phrase that gets us out of any situation. YOU CAN be in the cold… You just have to accept it.
O- Operate with the mind set that this is a challenge I am willing to face. Challenge yourself mentally, physically, and prepare your self for the Challenge.
People do not summit Everest because they have North Face gear and lots of money. They accept the challenge and push themselve in the preparation.
L- Look around, you are not the only one out here in the cold. Your buddy counts on you and you count on them. We do this together. When one man is not mentally prepared the whole team suffers.
D- Dont forget your training and have confidence in your gear. Training for the enviornment settles the mind. The less you think about the cold, the more at ease your mind is. Just like athletes rely on muscle memory to esure that they are fundementally sound, thus they can focus on the other aspects of the game and their oppenent. Never forget your preparation and training and you will have the right mind set.
Some of the Scouts wonder why I seem to love camping in the winter. It is quiet, I love the crisp air, and you never have crowds. Above all I love the challenge. I love to test my skill and training. I love to safely push personal limits. I trust my gear and my training and know that I can have fun out in the winter just as much as I do in the summer. I try to teach our Scouts those same things that I learned 30 years ago. Just like then, I accepted the challenge and adapted to the winter conditions. As a result I gained an appreciation for camping in the cold. Now I love it.
Your mind is powerful and will allow you to do just about anything that you want. As long as you trust yourself, your training (the people that trained you), and your gear, you will have an awesome time camping in the cold.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Boys join Scouts for the Outdoors.. they join for the adventure and fun times that they are promised. Parents sign them up for Character development, life skills, and the values of the program. The outdoor program is the heart of Scouting. It is the place where the Scout learns, practices skills, develops friendships and a love for the wilderness and has fun.
I am sure by now that you have tore through the Aides to Scoutmastership… this has been a fun couple of days pouring through the writing of our founder. The more I dig in to the book, the more I know that the organization that BP was forming was centered on the boy and that his first and foremost goal was developing them to be good men. In the early years of the 20th century, England was a different place and boys were not allowed to just be boys. There are so many problems with suppressing the will and spirit of the boy and BP saw the destruction of boyhood and the effects that it has on manliness. I fear that this is happening again and its high time to take get it back.
The outdoor program of the Boy Scouts is how we do just that.
“In spite of teachers and parents, boys remain loyal to their own world. They obey their own code, although it is quite a different code to the one that is taught to them at home and in the schoolroom. They gladly suffer martyrdom at the hands of uncomprehending adults, rather than be false to their own code. “The code of the teacher, for instance, is in favor of silence and safety and decorum. The code of the boys is diametrically opposite. It is in favor of noise and risk and excitement. “Fun, fighting, and feeding! These are the three indispensable elements of the boy’s world. These are basic. They are what boys are in earnest about; and they are not associated with teachers nor schoolbooks. “According to public opinion in Boydom, to sit for four hours a day at a desk indoors is a wretched waste of time and daylight. Did anyone ever know a boy-a normal healthy boy, who begged his father to buy him a desk? Or did anyone ever know a boy, who was running about outdoors, go and plead with his mother to be allowed to sit down in the drawing room?
“Certainly not. A boy is not a desk animal. He is not a sitting-down animal. Neither is he a pacifist nor a believer in safety first,’ nor a book-worm, nor a philosopher.
Remember that the boy, on joining, wants to begin scouting right away; so don’t dull his keenness by too much preliminary explanation at first. Meet his wants by games and Scouting practices, and instill elementary details bit by bit afterwards as you go. “He is a boy-God bless him-full to the brim of fun and fight and hunger and daring mischief and noise and observation and excitement. If he is not, he is abnormal.”
I have made it pretty clear in writing this blog what my feelings are regarding how I think Scouting should be. I am a believer that Scouting is done in the outdoors. I know that there is a place and need for the merit badge program, but feel that it is over emphasized especially the “Filler badges” like fingerprinting and skating and those types of badges. Again, I know that there is a place and need… but sometimes I think they, and other non outdoor focused activities distract from the Scouting program.
Having said all of that…
The outdoor program provides adventure and opportunities that allow the Scout to develop skills that make them self reliant. The Scouts classroom is in the outdoors. That is were Scouting should happen. Scouts plan their adventures and carry them out in the outdoors. In short.. the outdoors is the center of the Scouting program.
The outdoor program is the fix for the boys and to Scouting. It is where we teach our Scouts the skills and an appreciation for the outdoors and adventure. It is were we let them play the game with a purpose and watch as they grow in leadership and we achieve the aims of Scouting. It is in the outdoors that boys develop character and practice citizenship and fitness.
As the Boy Scouts of America states; “Learning by doing is a hallmark of outdoor education. Unit meetings offer information and knowledge used on outdoor adventures each month throughout the year. A leader may describe and demonstrate a Scouting skill at a meeting, but the way Scouts truly learn outdoor skills is to do them themselves on a troop outing.”
There are many ways that the outdoor program can be executed. The key is to just get outside and do it. Make a commitment with the Patrol Leaders Council to add high adventure activities to the Troop plan. Make sure that every month has an outdoor overnight experience. NEVER Cancel an outdoor activity. Shame on the adults if they are the cause for failure of the outdoor program. The outdoors is a must for Scouting to happen. It is a must for the Scout to grow and meet the goals that Scouting has promised him.
Get out and play!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Those of you that have followed the blog for a while know that I am a fan and collector of Scouting literature. I don’t just collect the books, magazines, and other literature, I love to get into them and see how Scouting was, how Green Bar Bill wrote and what the program looked like over the decades.
A common phrase I hear often from “older” Scouters is how things were “Back when I was a Scout”. It seems that things were so much better back when we were Scouts. But then I got to digging in to the literature and what I have found is that the more things change.. the more they really do stay the same.
Yes, before I get hate mail… Scouting has changed a lot over time, but really, it has stayed the same.
In the 1959 edition of the Boy Scout Handbook the Boy Scouts of America talks about YOU, the American Boy.
Before I get into this, I was listening to a podcast the other day. The host of the podcast was talking about kids today and some of the things that they have lost over time. Some of the heritage of America has not been adequately passed down to our kids. I remember when I was a kid that we played like we were on the wild frontier of America. I was Daniel Boone and some of my friends would play the roles of Davy Crockett and Kit Carson, and Wild Bill Hickok. We would fight the battle of the Alamo, build rafts and float down the “Missouri”. We built forts and tried to live the legends of American History. I once met Daniel Boone at Frontier land in Disneyland. It was a great day, you would have thought Daniel Boone came back just for me to meet him.
I think everyone I knew could sing every word of Davy Crockett. You remember.. he was the “King of the wild Frontier”.
I think watching the tv shows, seeing our hero’s at Disneyland, and learning about them in Scouting, School, and out in the woods shaped how we played the game with a purpose then.
Who are the hero’s today? Who are those Davy Crockett’s that the kids today run through the woods acting like?
The 1959 handbook talks about the American boy…
“Have you ever dreamed of hiking the wilderness trails that were worn down under moccasins hundreds of years ago? Do you hear in your imagination the almost soundless dip-dip of Indian canoe paddles or the ring of the axe of an early pioneer hewing a home out of the American wilderness? Have you followed with your mind’s eye the covered wagons on the trek across our continent? Have you thought of the men and women who built our country by their determination and devotion? You are the descendant of those people. You are the guardian of what they built. You are the American on whom the future of our wonderful country depends.”
Great writing. It inspired Scouts for years to learn about our heritage and not feel ashamed of being an American boy. It valued the spirit of the pioneer, the frontiersman, the explorer an encouraged the Scout to seek that adventure and become a part of the American Narrative.
We have lost that kind of writing in our current handbooks. Now the handbook gets the Scout to the next rank. But the more they change, the more they are the same. Where we have lost it is in us. We have stopped teaching them. We have stopped allowing them to be American boys.
“Today you are an American boy. Before long you will be an American man.” The ’59 handbook continues. “It is important to America that you become a citizen of fine character, physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” We all agree that there is no change there. The handbook, as in today’s handbook sets the course for the Scout to begin a life of values and adventure. “Yes, it’s fun to be a Boy Scout! It’s fun to go hiking and camping with your best friends… to swim, to dive, to paddle a canoe, to wield and axe… to follow in the footsteps of the pioneers who led the way through the wilderness…to stare into the glowing embers of a campfire and dream of the wonders of the life that is in store for you.” Do we make that promise to our boys today? Why not? Nothing has changed there. The world is not that much different.
I always tell our new Scouts as we sit around the campfire to watch the older boys as they join us in the circle. There is a magic in the campfire. It is a magic that no matter who you are or what your job is in the troop, it plays true every time. That magic is in the embers. It forces one to stare and quietly be a part of it. And sure enough, someone will join us in the circle and their eyes will immediately move to glow of the fire. Where once a loud noise came is now silent and engaged in the magic of Scouting. It is for us to not allow things to change. Scouting is rich in tradition, values, adventure, and spirit. The more things change, the more that will always stay the same. If we want it to.
I think that we need to go back and take a look at old handbooks. Look at the writing of William Hillcourt and how he could draw the imagination of the boys of America. Look how he engaged them to being a part of the rich heritage and adventurous spirit of Americans before them.
We have lost that spirit and way that pull the boys of America into this great adventure. It will be gone if we don’t share it. If we don’t allow them to be American boys.
Building rafts like Huck Finn and standing atop the Alamo defending an ideal. Hanging out in a tree house and hiking off into the wilderness in search of new land. We hold them back in the name of protection, we kill their spirit of adventure and call it safety. I cringe at the thought of not passing on our American spirit to this generation of boys.
They want it.. they just don’t know what it is.
The more things change.. the more the American boy is the same.. Let him be one!
“When you are a Scout, forest and field, rivers and lakes, are your playground. You are completely at home in God’s great outdoors. You learn to notice every sound, to observe every track. Birds and animals become your friends. You master the skills of walking noiselessly through the woods, of stalking close to a grazing deer without being noticed, of bringing a bird to you by intimating it’s call. You learn to find your way cross country by map and compass, to make a meal when you are hungry, to take a safe swim when you are hot, to make yourself comfortable for the night in a tent or under the stars. You become a true outdoorsman.” Boy just like when I was a kid acting like Daniel Boone.. the king of the wild frontier. This was Scouting when I was a boy… and it is Scouting now. We just need to remember that things really have not changed that much.. it is us that changed. The wilderness still calls, adventure still yells for our boys to come. Are you going to let them?
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Well, Camporee is over once again for another year.
Here are some thoughts on the weekend…
First and foremost I need to tell you that pride is just one word that comes to mind when it comes to how I feel about the boys of my Troop. Now, you may be saying to yourself… yeah Jer.. You say that all the time.. and yes, yes I do, but this time it is a “Coming of age” kind of pride.
As you also know, our troop camps using a “Backpacking style” of camping. We don’t have patrol boxes, we pack it in and pack it out, and we insist on boy leadership. We teach our Scouts to be self-reliant and to think and do things for themselves. Above all we have fun.
Our senior Patrol runs the Troop and is trained and guided to make sound decisions. They are not always right and they certainly are not always popular, but in the end the Troop seems to meet its goals.
Maybe it’s me, but for more than a few years it seems that our Troop has been sort of black sheep within the district. Until recently the only Troop that camped strictly using Backpacking methods. This year we noticed that a few more Troops are adopting our style of camping.
There are certainly advantages and disadvantages of being a backpacking Troop in a car camping district.
Super fast set up and take down and smaller footprint. I think this one and cooking are the two things that other Troops can’t wrap their heads around. We got into camp at about 7:30 PM. Within an hour we were all set up and working on the gateway.. we will talk about the gateway later. The camp site gets up quickly and allows for the patrols to get to the business of having fun.
This morning, the Scouts hit their typical Sunday routine. They woke up and started packing. Once packed, they cooked breakfast and finished camp chores. The troop was pretty much ready to go, but given a set schedule for camporee made the choice to lolly gag around camp. This is both a disadvantage and advantage. Lots of time, and nowhere to go when it comes to waiting on the rest of the schedule.
Cooking and clean up is easy and not without a good meal plan. A big misconception is that backpackers only eat freeze-dried cardboard. Not so. If you can cook it on a green stove, you can cook it backpacking and this was demonstrated all weekend as the boys cooked great meals
Lighter loads made for easy load out and pack up. I figure this is where many Troops have a problem with the way we camp. Immediately after closing ceremonies we were loaded in the cars and on our way home. As we drove off we could see the “heavy Troops” still taking down camp and loading up the trailers.
Now, I don’t really have a problem with the car camping style.. it’s just not for me and certainly not for our Troop. It is nice to wake up cook, clean up, pack and hike out. Makes for happy Scouts that, at the end of a good weekend can look forward to easy tear down of camp. A couple of our Scouts were talking with one of the troops next to us. They reported that the Scouts were not happy that they had at least an hour of clean up, tear down, and then put away once they got home. It is so much easier to load a bunch of backpacks into the truck and drive away.
To be honest, I find no merit in making the Scouts unhappy.
Our Troop never scores well on the camp site inspection, largely in part to the fact that the folks doing the grading don’t know what to look for. They are looking for patrol boxes, watch stations, and tents that are all pitched in a row with even spacing and Canopies to cook under. We don’t get scored high because our cook kits are put away after each meal and our food is hung in bear bags. They don’t see the little bottle of camp suds that we use to clean our pots and mess kits and they are not used to seeing single person tents or tarp set ups. So we have grown accustomed to just camping and having a fun weekend at camp o ree. The Scouts don’t seem to mind that we don’t “win” each year, but it is clear that they have a great time. That is not say that the Patrols don’t come away empty-handed. Each year they show well in the events and always take home ribbons. But as a total score, I am afraid that we won’t get the grand prize until the committee decides to grade backpacking troops fairly. This is going to be an issue in the near future as more troops are adopting our style of camping.
We had a large group of Webelos camp with us this year. A Troop guide volunteered to be their guide all weekend and he did a spectacular job. I think of the 8 Webelos, we should get at least 6 of them to cross over into the Troop. They are motivated and liked the way we camped and had fun. The Dad’s that camped with us from the Webelos seemed to have a good time and were impressed with the way our boys ran the troop. It was a good opportunity for them to see the Troops of the District all at once. It was really good for us when they noticed a couple of troops that had the moms and dads doing all the cooking for the boys. ”That is not the way Scouting should be” said one of the Dad’s. I could not help be agree.
Where are the judges when the Scouts are not doing their own cooking.. but hey to each their own. That’s not how we do it. Green Bar Bill is flipping in his grave.
Our Scouts did a great job this weekend.. Perfect, No… but perfect in the way we do Scouting.
We had a real fun time this weekend and like I said at the beginning.. I am proud of the Scouts of my troop.
Our Assistant Senior Patrol Leader got an opportunity to lead the Troop this weekend and continued to develop into a good leader. He stepped up and did a nice job. It was nice to work with him and teach him some leadership techniques. Watching him apply them was rewarding for both him and I. Real proud of him… he will be a great Senior Patrol Leader.
Our Senior Patrol leader was torn this weekend between the Venturing Crew that he is a member of and the Troop. He did a fantastic job this weekend, but I could tell that he was torn when the Crew earned the Top spot for Crews this year.
Each Scout learned something this weekend and once again tested leadership and skills. It’s those things that make me a proud Scoutmaster.
Have a great Scouting Day!
<Insert tongue in cheek>
If you have 4:06 now is the time to sit and watch beautiful burn patterns on alcohol stoves. Yes, we are getting back into the swing of real pressing issues. Gear!
I picked up the Trangia stove recently and other than taking it out of the box have not really messed with it.
The Trangia stove looks, feels, and measures exactly like the Esbit stove that has become my favorite.
So I threw 1 fl. oz of denatured alcohol in each of them and sat and watched for 8 plus minutes as they burned. I wanted to see which would go out first. Maybe there is a jet pattern difference that would cause a difference in burn rate. Maybe there was a material design internally that would cause one to burn faster than the other. Really though… oh… no… you almost got me… you have to watch to see who wins.
Enjoy the video.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Today I saw a tweet from a guy I follow. He is an AT section hiker and shared this video, a humorous look at the MSR Reactor stove. I have never used a Reactor, but I have seen them and think that they are pretty neat. They are way to big for me and not really my cup of tea when it comes to stoves, but the video is funny and as I have stated before reinforces some of the reasons I am not a big fan of the Jet Boil.
All of that to say… Enjoy the video.. I thought it was funny.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
In a constant quest for new gear and nifty gadgets I have found my new favorite knife. I recently purchased a knife that is multifunctional, light weight and durable.
From the makers of the Light My Fire Swedish Fire Steel, Meal kit, and ever so famous Spork, comes the Light My Fire Swedish Fire Knife.
This great knife is all you need while out in the woods.It is a Mora Swedish style knife sporting a 3.75 inch blade made of Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel. The Actual size is 225x45x38mm and it weighs in at 94 grams. In the TPE rubber handle or grip is a Swedish Fire steel. The fire steel produces a 5,400 degree spark which is perfect for starting fire in even the wettest and coldest temps.
The knife is great for camp chores and starting fires, lighting stoves, and is not effected by the altitude.
The top or back edge of the knife is your striker. It has a perfect edge that ensures a strike every time on the Swedish fire steel. The fire steel is durable and is good for about 3000 strikes. That’s a heck of a lot better than a book of matches or bic lighters.
The Light my Fire Swedish Fire Knife comes in 5 colors, I chose the black one, but it also comes in Orange, Green, Blue, and Red. I looked at the orange version and it was just a bit to loud for me, but if you decide it’s for you I bet you never lose it.
The Light My Fire Swedish Fire Knife retails for $39, but I picked mine up on Amazon for $29 new.
I will be doing a video on the knife as soon as I get my camera and computer working together again… long story, let me just say that you need to stay out of creeks when the rocks are slick.
I really like this knife and it is now a full time part of my kit.
Until I get my own video up, here is the promotional video by Light my Fire of Sweden.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
This year I got a new pack. I traded in my Granite Gear Nimbus Trace for a lighter pack in an effort to reduce pack weight. I read somewhere that it is a good idea when reducing base weight to start at the base.. the pack.
So I did my homework and decided based on research and other reviews to buy the ULA Ohm 2.0 Pack.
The ULA Ohm 2.o is made by Ultralight Adventure Equipment in Logan, Utah. They specialize in Ultralight packs but don’t be afraid, you don’t have to be an Ultralight backpacker to use one of their packs. I am not UL hiker, but I do like the idea of watching what I pack and reducing the weight of the gear I carry.
The ULA Ohm 2.0 is a great pack. It is super comfortable and big enough for everything I carry, even winter gear. You do need to watch your weight though with this and all UL Packs. They are made of lighter materials and while they are durable, they do need to be handled with a bit more care. The Ohm is recommended for weights that do not exceed 30 lbs. My winter gear this year was right at 23 lbs and when I added additional water, it pushed the limit of the pack. I was careful packing it and certainly watched the seems as I went out on the last couple trips. The pack held and even at the weight max was real comfortable.
Here are the specs on the pack: Volume Breakdown= 2,100 cu in. in the main body, the front mess pocket holds 500 cu in, the 2 side pockets hold 400 cu in each. The hip belt pockets each hold 100 cu in each and the draw string extension collar (top of the pack) will hold an additional 500 cubic inches. That gives you a grand total of 3,960 cubic inches of space. That is a ton of room. The packs weight, unpacked is 29 ounces.
The ULA web site describes the pack as “A full featured, full suspension (active) ultralight pack that offers exceptional load control, on-trail functionality, and full body compression.
Combining a 1.2 oz carbon fiber/delrin active suspension hoop and exceptional compression, the Ohm 2.0 maximizes load control, load transfer, pack compression, and overall pack rigidity in an ultralight package.
1.9 oz ripstop nylon, ULA 210 Robic, and ULA’s proven construction methods insure the Ohm 2.0 is built to last despite its minimal weight. The Ohm 2.0 Backpack is now available in four colors, standard green and purple blaze in the ULA 210 Robic, and Woodland and Multicam in 500 Cordura.”
The standard features of the pack are: The suspension hoop, a must when lifting a lower a pack made with UL materials. Internal Pad holster that comes with a CCF pad. This is your back panel. A contoured padded hip belt. I love the way they have made the adjusting straps on the hip belt. The double strap allows for more adjustments to be made adding to the overall comfort and ride of the pack. Hip belt pockets. Contoured Shoulder straps that are comfortable and don’t dig in. The bif front mess pocket, easy access to the things that you need right away. I keep my rain gear, first aid kit, and that kind of stuff in there. Top compression strap keeps the pack tight and allows for flexible loading options. Ice Axe/ Pole retention loops hold your trekking poles or your ice axe snug. All of those features make the pack a great pack for weekend trips as well as extended days on the trail.
Inside of the pack is a hydration pouch that will hold a bladder up to 2 liters. There is also a removable mesh pouch inside, perfect for your keys, wallet, or even your iPhone.
I have been using this pack for a few months now and can honestly say that I really am happy with it. I love the weight, the construction, the features, the ease of use, and the comfort of the pack. It is solid and well made right here in America.
I highly recommend the ULA Ohm 2.o.
You can see more ULA packs at their website. http://www.ula-equipment.com
If you have questions, comments or ideas on your gear.. let me know.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Well, by now most, if not all of you have seen or are keenly aware of the Hit TV series “Are you tougher than a Boy Scout“. As they get through the first season, the subject of future seasons have begun.
It has been refreshing to watch Scouting on the boob tube presented in a positive light, showing high adventure and skills that most of us in Scouting like. I am also happy to see the caliber of youth that have been selected to be on the first season. They have really represented Scouting well.
But what of future seasons? At what point are they going to show your average Scout.. the merit badge hunter, the mud finder, and the velcro scout.. you know, the young man that can’t be to far from the safe reach of mom and dad. What will future events be on the show? A trip to the zoo? Maybe an aggressive game of chess? How about a fun game of patrol box cleaning? Sounds fun don’t it? Sounds like the stuff boys join Scouting for. Yep, and the nation will get to see all that adventure.. not quite High Adventure, but adventure none the less. I get the feeling that once the public gets their collective eyes on that they will beat down our doors to get in.
OK.. OK.. sarcasm over.
I have been going back and forth with some Scouters via email and some discussions that go back to comments I made regarding Scouting not being for everyone. It seems that most do not agree, and that’s ok. It’s certainly alright to disagree and I encourage it. What I don’t agree with though is that our program should be “dumbed down” for lack of a better term. Go back to the beginning and you find adventure in Scouting at every turn. That is what it’s all about.
Now, I suppose you could argue that adventure is adventure, and that is found in the individual. Yeah.. you could argue that. Ability levels can be accommodated, but at the end of the day, if we are not encouraging our Patrol Leaders Council to seek adventure, we are not helping in delivering that promise.
It serves us well to remember the Promise of Scouting that we are supposed to be delivering.
Allow me to refresh your memory:
Scouting promises you the great outdoors. As a Scout, you can learn how to camp and hike without leaving a trace and how to take care of the land. You’ll study wildlife up close and learn about nature all around you. There are plenty of skills you can master, and you can teach others what you have learned. Everyone helping everyone else-that’s part of scouting, too.
Scouting promises you friendship. Members of the Troop you join might be boys you already know, and you will meeting many other scouts along the way. Some could be lifelong friends.
Scouting promises you opportunities to work toward the Eagle Scout rank. You will set positive goals for yourself and follow clear routes to achieve them.
Scouting promises you tools to help you make the most of your family, your community, and your nation. The good deeds you perform everyday will improve the lives of those around you. You will be prepared to help others in time of need.
Scouting promises you experience and duties that will help you mature into a strong, wise adult. The Scout Oath and Scout Law can guide you while you are a Scout and throughout your life. (The Boy Scout Handbook 11th edition)
It is absolutely no surprise to me that the great outdoors is listed first! That is where adventure is found. Friendship and the bonds that last forever are forged in shared experiences and trials. I love the last part there… “a strong, wise adult.” The Oath and Law are great rules to live by and will last forever in the man.
So there it is.. the Promise of Scouting.. So are you Tougher than a Boy Scout? Can you assist in living up to the expectations that boys join Scouting for? Are you up to that challenge. Imagine if you flipped the channel to watch a high adventure show and there are a handful of Scouts diligently working the fingerprinting merit badge. Click! I just turned the channel looking for the home shopping network.. maybe I could buy some adventure there.
I’m looking forward to the next season of the show.. man am I happy to see Scouting on TV and looking cool!
Let me hear it! I know you have an opinion.
Thanks for reading the blog.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
It has been an interesting week or so and the blog once again, while always on my mind took a back seat to the daily working of being a Scoutmaster. As we prepared for the camp out and then went out on another winter adventure the Scouts of Troop 664 kept me busy
and looking for new ways to reach our Scouts and peak their interest.
On our way home from our camp out yesterday, I had an interesting conversation with the Senior Patrol Leader of our Troop. We were talking about the morning and some of the challenges that we encountered. Taking advantage of a good teaching and learning opportunity we shifted the conversation to what we could have done different. James talked about how he could have been a better example in that he should have got packed up before the young guys allowing him to be more available to assist were needed and he could have worked better as a team with the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader and the Patrol Leaders. I told him that he was right, a leader needs to always set the expectation by being a good example and that pretty much goes for everything. We talked about some of the decision-making of the group this weekend and why some Scouts seem to get it and others don’t. It comes down to decision-making and common sense. We agreed that common sense is not as common as we would like and then talked more about decision-making.
When it comes to making decisions, especially in a cold weather camping environment, there is a simple rule in that for every action there is a positive or negative reaction. The worst thing that a leader can do is nothing.
A Scouts skills is the knowledge base that his decisions are formulated and made from. The Scout can choose to do the right thing, or he can choose to do nothing. What we have seen from our Scouts is that when the make the choice to do nothing, they are cold, wet, and tired. In short, they do not have a good time. We have watched as Scouts that do not have fun on camp outs tend not to camp as much and lose interest in Scouting. There are a few arguments for and against. I have been told on one hand that it is my job to make sure that the Scouts have fun. I have also been told to stay the course. Now, before anyone jumps down my throat about this, let me tell you that we are not weeding kids out by camping in the snow and maintaining our Troop camping as backpackers. Every Scout that joins our Troop knows how we camp and see the calendar so they know when, where, and how we are camping, climbing, and find adventure. They make a choice at that time to join us or find another troop. As long as our Patrol leaders council wants to head down that trail, we will. We do a great job in training up our Scouts to be successful. But we require that they make a choice. They need to make a choice to learn or not to learn. That is up to them. Like I have explained over and over again, it is the jobs of the Scoutmaster and the Assistant Scoutmasters to assist Scouts in making it to First Class. I am not to interested in Eagle Scouts, that will come with hard work, determination, and developing as a young man. the skills learned and habits formed on the trail to First Class is the foundation of the making a man. Camping Skills, Citizenship, Fitness, and Character are all elements of the trail to First Class. But the first step on that trail is a choice.
So as I talked with the Senior Patrol Leader on the way home from the camp out we discussed possible reasons why the Scouts we have now are less mentally tough and unwilling to push themselves. Why can they not take what they have learned and apply it? Why have they not made the choice? Is it a lack of training? Is it a lack of want to? Is it something that we have done or failed to do? We could not put our finger on it. Whats different in the Scouts we have this year opposed to the Scouts we crossed over 4 years ago or even 2 years ago? We don’t really know. They all come from good homes, great parents, and none of them have learning disabilities… so they all have the ability to learn and make sound choices. So what is it? We will find out I guess.
In the mean time, what does this mean for the Troop? Tonight the PLC met and started getting ready for the next camp out. Next month we will head into the woods to develop our Wilderness Survival Skills. The plan won’t change and I am sure that some of the Scouts that have not been having a great time, well, they won’t go camping. I asked the PLC what they thought about that.. they said that it was fine, at least they won’t have to have bad attitudes on the camp out. I think the boys get tired of dealing with it too. It’s that “one bad apple” thing and the majority of the Scouts really would rather camp with the guys that want to be there and have a good time.So what? I think it is great the SPL is aware enough to have this talk. I am encouraged by a PLC that is willing to stay the course and take a part in having a Troop that they want to belong to, that they want to lead, and that they want to share with their friends.
We will have to see where this takes us. For now, we just get ready for the next outing and keep working with the young men that want to be there. These last few months have been challenging for the Scouts of our Troop, some are stronger for it, some developed better leadership skills because of it, and some have made a choice not to camp in the winter. I am ok with all of it.
What do you think? I think that things will be just fine. I think that the Troop will be fine and that we will continue to have great adventures in the future. I think that while some of the Scouts choose to turn away from challenges, most boys want to be challenged and want to see just how far they push themselves. I think this is the way boys are no matter how hard we try to be over protective and keep them in a bubble. Some how.. some way.. boys need to be boys and Scouts gives them that outlet when we provide the program and allow them to make a choice. That’s what I think. I am curious to see what your thoughts are.
Have a Great Scouting Day!