gear

Camporee

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!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Character, Cooking, gear, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Scouting, Skills, teamwork | 4 Comments

Making the world right again…

<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!

Categories: #52to16, Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, Just fun, technology | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

MSR Reactor vs. the Jet Boil?

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!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, High Adventure, technology | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Light my Fire- Fire Knife

knife1In 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!

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

ULA Ohm 2.0 Review

ohm1This 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. hipbelt 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.
ulaohmInside 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!



Categories: #52to16, Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, gear, High Adventure, Skills | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Just do something…

DSCN0627

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!

Categories: Advancement, Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Character, Citizenship, Climbing, comments, fitness, gear, Ideals, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Scouting, Scouts, Skills, training, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

And the Winner is…

Thank you all so much fo your response to the 1000th Post Give away!  It was nice to read all the comments and I thank you all for continuing to read the blog.  I hope that you all get as much out of it as I get putting into it.  Every day we learn something new, share something that we think, and have fun together in this great online community.
So without further delay.. The winner of the Imusa Mug Cook kit.. which includes a 12 cm Imusa Mug, an Esbit Alcohol Burner, a fuel bottle, windshield/pot stand and a base pad for those chilly mornings when you need to have a tad bit more insulation..
mdavis42al
Congratulations.. email your address and I will get your cook kit in the mail!  I am sure you will love this kit as much as I do.

Ok.. now that that is over.. I need help finding some video editing software.  I got a new camera and it records in .MOV format.  I need software that is easy to use so I can get the Sunday Coffee videos up on time.  I love the camera… not to jazzed about not having editing software to edit and save the video.
If you know of some, please drop me a note… free would be a great price.. but whatever.. I need it quick.
Thanks all once again for the comments!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, comments, Cooking, gear, Just fun | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Bonus Video – Grilled Cheese

Had all the stoves out today and it got to be about lunch time… Well…
Here’s some Bonus video of a nice lunch meal on the trail… Oh and the Cheese cake (left over from the Cheese Cake factory).. a great bonus to the lunch.  YUM!
Enjoy and Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, High Adventure, Skills | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Sunday Coffee… tea

This week we talk about cook kits, more to the point of stoves and the pots I use with them.
We also get into a bit of Knife talk and have a nice cup of Tea.
Enjoy…
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: #52to16, Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Cooking, gear, Just fun | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Attack of the Snow Blower

This weeks Sunday Coffee with Scoutmaster Jerry is full of coffee and adventure..
This weekend our Troop camped out up at White River on Mt. Hood.  It was a great time and lots of skills practiced and learned.
Sunday Morning around 4:00 AM our Troop encountered an unexpected attack.  We typically camp on the other side of a creek that flows adjacent to the White River snow park.  This is a good location as this camp out is always the first Winter camp out in snow for the new Scouts.  The location provides a good bail out plan and the comfort that the cars are not to far if we need them.  Anyway… this year the snow bridge was gone so we picked a camp site a bit closer to the parking lot.  We have camped there before, but this year was different.  At 4:00 AM the Oregon Department of Transportation snow crew cleaned up the snow park.  They plowed the parking lot and then sent in the snow blower  Now I don’t know about you but I had never felt the wrath of 100 lbs of snow shot from a cannon before.. until this morning!
Hope you enjoy the video.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, Hammock, High Adventure, Just fun, Patrol Method, Risk Management, Skills, stories, Winter Camping | Tags: | 3 Comments

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