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!
I should start by saying no one got hurt, no one died, and no one is going to jail…
It was August and we were heading home from Philmont Scout Ranch. Our two crews from the Troop stopped in Grand Junction, Colorado to eat at the Golden Corral Buffet, a restaurant that our Scouts came to love on the trip down to Philmont. I sat at a table with a handful of older Scouts and one in particular, I will call him Phil. Phil was a life Scout and a real active member of the Troop. Phil is a Senior in High School now, but at the time was enjoying his summer and just had a great time at Philmont. Phil has a little brother in the Troop that is real motivated and did a great job in pushing Phil to get going on advancement and taking a more active role in the Troop. So Phil and I started talking about his 18th Birthday and soon it would be on us. We talked about his goals and what he was planning on doing after high school. He stated that he was planning on joining the Army. Immediately I had some advice for him and we started talking about wrapping up his last requirements for Eagle. He had 8 months till he turned 18 and if he got going, he could knock out those last merit badges and focus on his Eagle Project.
About a month ago Phil decided that he really wanted to earn his Eagle rank. So, we started looking into how he could finish the merit badges and get the project rolling. Phil showed moments of absolute motivation and effort that I wish all our Scouts had in them. He also showed moments of “let it ride”. He fell into the trap of Maxing the minimum. Last week he got some critical merit badges complete and his Eagle Project approved. This week he hit a road block when he discovered that he was going to have a challenge that time would not allow him to over come. Tonight, he decided, along with discussion with his Dad and then me, that he could not finish before he turns 18 on Sunday.
Tonight I went to his home and sat and talked with him, his brother, and his Dad. We talked about the lessons learned through this process and that although he will not be an Eagle Scout, he has learned much from Scouting and that he is a better person for it. I shared with him that I am not an Eagle Scout.. in much the same fashion, I ran out of time when I was approaching my 18th birthday. I to joined the Army and turned 18 while in Basic Training. Instead of Eagle Scout, I earned Private First Class. All was not lost though.. the things that I learned in Scouting made me a successful soldier and in 24 months I achieved the rank of Sergeant. I shared all of this with Phil to reinforce that even though he can’t be an Eagle Scout he can take what Scouting gave him and what he learned and earned and apply it for the rest of his life.
Over the past few weeks and in particular the last few days, I have done everything that I can possibly do to assist this young man in becoming an Eagle Scout. I have looked for loop holes and work arounds and at the end of the day the lesson learned is that there is a process and that process needs to be done right. No short cuts, no loop holes, and no work arounds. With every thing we had we tried, we could not help the Scout that waited.
This is the first time I have ever had to look a young man in the eye and say that I am sorry he can not be an Eagle Scout. This is the first time that we have run the course and not succeeded. Not that the Scout is a failure, but that the Scout did not finish in time.
I am exhausted. This young man has worked hard, but he started to late to get motivated and get it done. I have seen a strong work ethic emerge in this young man and I hope that he learned that when he puts his mind to it, he can and will be successful. This short fall is not the end of the world and a great lesson in life.
He’s going to keep working on his project so it will benefit the community. That is a great thing. His service will be lasting, something he learned along the way in Scouting.
What I have learned in this process is that I need to do a better job of setting the Scouts up. I will not do the work, nor will I nag the Scout.. but what I will do, and what our Troop will do from this day forward is simple. On their 17th birthday we will sit down with the Scout and his progress record. We will explain the process and encourage them to start getting real serious if they want to be an Eagle Scout. They will have 365 day notice that time is running out. They will know beyond a shadow of a doubt what they need to finish and we will give them the tools to be successful. What they do with it from there is up to them.
I will not scramble like this again. I will not get in a position of working merit badges with a Scout 3 days before his 18th birthday. It is not the way the process is designed and does not demonstrate what it takes to be an Eagle Scout.
I feel real bad for Phil. I wish he was planning an Eagle Court of Honor right now. What I know for sure is that Phil has learn some valuable life lessons this last month and I feel that he will go on to do great things with his life because of it. I certainly hope so.
Scouting was real good for Phil. He did well. He just came up short. That’s life.. as hard as that is to hear. What he does with that knowledge is up to him now.
I gave him a coin tonight, it is the coin that I was allowed to have made when I became a Command Sergeant Major. I can’t award him the Eagle Medal, but the coin is to serve to him as a reminder of hard work and dedication and the rewards for effort. I am not an Eagle Scout, but I made it to the very top in the Army, so can he… if he wants to.
This has been a bad week for me in Scouting… but one that I learned alot and I hope that Phil did to.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
There has been much said, yeah.. even here on this blog, about how Scouting has changed to meet the needs of the lowest common denominator. A greater emphasis on merit badge work shops and staying within an arms reach of a cell phone. Sometimes I wonder if we in Scouting are still delivering the promise.. you know the promise of Scouting.
I find it interesting that when we look back in the not to distant past that Scouting was much different. Even as far back as when I was a Scout there were not the concerns of life as we know it in today’s Scouting world.
Now I am a believer that we do need to bring Scouting to where the boys are.. but sometimes we should take the boys back to where we came from.
Baden Powell once said “By the term Scouting…is meant the work and attributes of backwoodsmen, explorers, hunters, seamen, airmen, pioneers, and frontiersmen.”
The 1947 Handbook for Scoutmasters goes on to add, “The word ‘Scout’ opens up to the boy the picture of open spaces, woods, rivers, and lakes, mountains which are to be his playground and where he will have his fun.” It goes on to say, “It is this promise of adventure, of camping and life in the outdoors that lures the boy into Scouting. We MUST keep faith with him by giving him that adventure – not just to satisfy him, but because it is the best way we have of holding him.”
There is more written in the Handbook for Scoutmasters that reinforces this idea of adventure and the promise of Scouting, I wonder when we stopped talking about that. There is no mention of it in the current Scoutmaster Handbook.
We have allowed lawyers to dictate that adventure. We have allowed video games and laziness to dictate our levels of activity and we worry about Scouts leaving the program because we need the numbers.
I believe that every boy should be in Scouting… but not for merit badges or bobbles and beads. I think they should be seeking adventure! Like we did when I was a boy. Adventure! Parents need to allow this to happen.. that’s where it starts.
You know, there were just as many creeps in the world in the 70′s and 80′s as there are today. The world really is not more creepy.. the difference… we have 24 hour news now and this wonderful thing called the internet.
We rode our bikes to and from Scout troop meetings. Heck, we rode our bikes everywhere. We were told not to talk to strangers and never to take candy from them.. and you know, we came out alright. Every day in the summer we left in the morning and came home in time for dinner. Looking for adventure.
In Scouts we found adventure. We camped with our Patrols, we did not need… nor did we want, all the adults hanging around. The fewer of them the better. Our parents were concerned about us, but knew that we would be ok. We trusted our Scoutmaster and the skills we were taught and we looked for adventure at every turn.
Not every Patrol got a ribbon at Camporee.. but then again, they were not all about competing either.. they were about skills and discovering new things.
Our PLC had a blank check to plan the next big adventure. I remember when I was a Tenderfoot Scout we had the biggest adventure ever. Our Troop was dropped off in Belgium to take a ferry across the English channel. Once we arrived in England we took a bus to the Baden Powell house and stayed there for a few days. We explored the local area and got to camp at Gilwell Park. 2 weeks from when we left home, we boarded the ferry and back we went. We only had 2 adults with us the whole trip and it was an adventure of a life time.
The old Handbook for Scoutmasters suggests that we can retain Scouts because “it [adventure] is the best way we have of holding him.” The best way! I firmly believe that if we just allowed it, we can get back there. I don’t think that boys have changed much… it is the parents that did the changing. You know.. I can’t remember one kid when I was growing up that had peanut allergies.. now you can’t even say the word peanut without some Mom yelling that her son is allergic. I think it’s time we give our boys their adventure back. I think it’s time that we go back to actually delivering the promise and not just Eagle Awards. I think it is time that all of us Scouters ask the simple question.. are we still delivering the promise?
Just my buck and half.. curious to hear you thoughts. Weigh in.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Derek Hansen, Scoutmaster, lightweight backpacker, and as his website says “hammock enthusiast”, recently sent me a copy of his book “The Ultimate Hang”. It is an illustrated guide to hammock camping and a book that even the most experienced hammock camper or backpacker should have on their shelf.
I read the book, skimming through some parts and diving into others in a weekend. It is an easy read and Derek has made learning more about hammock camping fun and simple through great illustrations.
I started hammock camping after the 2010 National Scout Jamboree where Hennessey Hammocks had a cool display. What first caught my eye was the affiliation that the hammock campers have with Leave No Trace. Even at the National Jamboree the Hammock display was set up next to the Leave No Trace organizations (LNT.org) display and activity center. I had just finished the Leave No Trace trainer course and so pairing the two was a natural fit. I wish I would have had “The Ultimate Hang” when I started gearing up for hammock camping. Starting on page 34 Derek covers the principles of leave no trace. Perfect!
The book takes the novice and experienced camper step by step to ensure a great hammock camping experience. Now, it won’t say that in the book, but take it from me. If you do the things in the book, picking a choosing the gear that meets your needs and the set up that you are comfortable with, you will have a great experience.
That brings me to gear. Derek does not tell you what you should have. He demonstrates it all in this book. From whoopie slings to webbing and buckles. Bridge style hammocks to the “Bat hammock” he shows it all and lets the reader decide what he or she would be most comfortable in.
Even if you are not a hammock camper, there is something in this book for you. How to select a good camp site. The “Bearmuda Triangle” and an extensive discussion on tarps.
The book is interactive with QR codes that lead to web sites for more information.
Over all I find that this book is a great resource and a must have certainly for hammock campers, but for backpackers alike.
I highly recommend this book. You can order the book at The Ultimate Hang.com. At the website you can also get some fantastic advice, ideas, and thoughts on backpacking in the blog section. You need to check this out.
illustration from “the Ultimate Hang”
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Yesterday I stumbled upon a great You Tube Channel. It;s called Scouting lighter. From what I gather, this Scouter put this together as part of his Wood Badge Ticket. So +2 for this fella! A backpacker and Wood Badger!! WhooHoo!
Anyway.. I found his You Tube channel full of really great information. I picked out this one video in particular because it really explains what we are trying to do in our Troop and more to the point what I am doing with my gear.
Enjoy, and I highly encourage you… Nay Demand.. .that you subscribe to his channel!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Well, I had a great night out in the hammock ‘testing’ out some new gear that I finally received from Christmas orders.
The Hammock Gear Under Quilt is fantastic!!! Now I wish I would have got one years ago.
Anyway.. enjoy the video. The first part of the video can be found here.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
On one hand it breaks my heart when a Scout creeps up to his 18th birthday and has not completed the requirements for Eagle Scout. It reminds me of my biggest regret in not finishing my Eagle and I can see the disappointment in their eyes that they to will not be counted as Eagle Scouts. I tell them that all is not lost, think of the life skills you learned, the friends made, and the experiences that you had. The time spent in Scouting is worth while, even if it does not include the Eagle award. I have repeated this again and again that the goal is not to make Eagles, it’s to make men that make ethical choices throughout their life times. Men of character. Now I know that’s not what the Scout wants to hear when he realizes that he is not going to finish the trail that he started, but that is the reality and after some thoughtful consideration a look in the mirror and a glance over his Scouting record and experience, the Scout will soon come to understand that he got his monies worth and more in Scouting.
On the other hand, I am often disappointed in the Scout that he did not take advantage of the advancement program and complete the requirements in a timely manner. This leads me to wanting to say “I told you so” to the Scout, even though I won’t. Encouraging, reminding, a nudge here and a tug there to get the Scout to do the work is about all we can do. I refuse to just give it to them and I won’t take them by the hand and lead them around like a Den Mother. They all know what needs to be done and by the time they are in that 16-year-old range, well, they know how to get it done and they certainly know when their birthday is, so I tend to not feel to bad for them. After all, we are teaching life skills right?
When time is up.. time is up and you have to accept the consequence for your action or lack there of. Do I want them all to be Eagle Scouts? Sure, is it something that they all can do? Sure. I am going to turn my troop into a Merit badge mill and Eagle factory to make sure that we have more Eagles than any other Troop. Nope. The Scouts all know when they turn 18 and they all own a Scout handbook that shows them step by step what needs to be done if they want to be an Eagle Scout. Beyond that, I will help, I will guide, I will bend over backwards to work with them. But I won’t do it for them or allow other to.
I see to much of this in Scouting and it simply takes away from the meaning of the Eagle award. It takes away from accomplishment and sense of pride that the Scout has when he knows that he worked hard to get what only 4% of the Scouts in America get.
I suppose I can go on and on about this.. but when time is up.. time is up.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
In Oregon, when you approach a trail head that is a well used and highly frequented trail, there are signs that alert you of types of plants and animals in the area. The signs remind you that you need to be prepared for the hike you are about to take. Typically there is a map of the trail with significant landmarks and vistas pointed out. These signs remind you to have the appropriate gear for the hike and in some cases ask that you register at the Kiosk. In every case they let you know where you are and gives you information that assist you in having a great hike and not a terrible experience. Oregon wants people to get out and enjoy this wonderful land we have, but it wants you to do it responsibly.
Yesterday a couple of ladies went for a winter stroll out in the Columbia Gorge and got lost or at least disoriented enough that they had to be “rescued”. The Gorge is a wonderful place to hike, but like most places, the Gorge takes on new or at least different challenges in the winter. Just getting there sometimes can be an adventure. So if you are going to hike in the Gorge (or anywhere) in the winter.. You had better BE PREPARED. These gals wandered off picking up the trail and heading up to Nesmith Point. The hike into Nesmith Point is challenging enough in the summer, but that is the hike they chose. Now, it is fair to say that according to the News wire press release, “Both hikers have Intermediate experience climbing school training and Mountaineering First Aid and were prepared for the elements.”
The release goes on in the next update to state “The hiker’s actions and being prepared for the elements greatly assisted in their smooth and safe rescue from Nesmith Point.” So all is well that ends well. But the initial report stated that “the husband of one of the hikers reported he received a call from his wife who told him they were at the top of Nesmith Point and had lost the trail at some point while they were hiking. Their footprints were covered with snow and they could not track their way back down or see the trail.”
I suppose the moral of the story is that it can and will happen to anyone. So BE PREPARED. I am making an assumption here that neither had a map or compass.. the reason I say that is because I have hiked that area and having a map and compass could have easily put them in the right direction and regardless of snow and not finding the trail, they could have made their way back. But I don’t want to beat up on them, I just want people to listen… I want our Scouts to listen and use these cases as an example of why we want them to be prepared. It is fortunate that these two ladies were somewhat prepared and had the right attitude to make it out (with the help of SAR).
Baden Powell tells us to Be Prepared for any old thing. When the signs remind and warn, take heed. When the skills, attitudes, and gear is right, then proceed. But always be prepared.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Just a quick note here to introduce you to the new 52 to 16 page you will find it up on the top of the page next to the “home” tab. It is the page I am going to use to document the 52 weeks of shaving weight.. which by the way as you can see I am calling 52 to 16. 52 weeks to get to 16 lbs. Read more about it there.
Hope you enjoy the journey as much as I am. By the way.. if you want to join this journey.. let’s go along together, set your goal and start in. Let me know how you are doing and share it with us and your readers, if you have a blog too.
I’ll be using the hash tag of #52to16 to post updates and what not.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
It’s that time of the year when we all take a look back at our year and take stock in what we have learned, what we accomplished, and what we look forward to in the coming year. It is also that time of the year that all the “Lists” come out and WordPress sends us bloggers our report card.
So lets start with that. The blog is doing very well and it is all because of you the reader/viewer. Now I don’t claim to understand how blogs are rated and ranked, and I don’t know where the Scoutmasterminute.net rates among the really big blogs out there. I guess deep down inside I wish the blog was massive and only because then the world would see our Scouting world in the light in which we want it to be seen. I surf around at some of the blogs out there that are truly about nothing and see that they have thousands of followers, get millions of hits, and have what I consider sub par content. Scouting blogs seem to not get the views it should.
Resolve this coming year to tell a friend about a Scouting blog. It doesn’t have to be this one, but pick one. There are great Scouting blogs out there.
You can start with Bryan on Scouting. The official Blog of the BSA (Scouting Magazine). In typical well produced fashion the BSA has a nice product in this blog. I like that it is pretty interactive and does a nice job of telling Scouting’s story.
Then you need to check out the blogs of my Scouting friends. Scouter Adam for the Cub Scout folks out there, mixes up his personal touch as well as telling a great Scouting story. A stop in at the Boy Scout Trial is a nice site for resources, stories, and fun stuff. No list of Scouting blogs could be complete without Clarke Green’s Blog. That is a site that every Scouter should have bookmarked and visit often. Doug Metz has a nice blog out there also. I wish he would put more out there. He has a great story and I love to hear about his journey. Bobwhites Blather is another good site. I like blogs that stay current, are on topic, have fun, and speak to not only their Scouting world, but the writers other interests also.
I could list site after site that I am sure do not get enough visits and would love to see more. You can get a great idea of the Scouting blogs that are out there by visiting my friend Gregg’s Half Eagle.com. I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to the guy that pretty much got me interested and encouraged me to keep it going. Steve. His Blog has been out there for a long time. Steve has a unique take on Scouting from the perspective of a small town and small troop that has been there and done that. Steve was a Scoutmaster for 30 years and just can’t walk away. And for that we are all better.
If I left you off the list it is not intended to slight you or say that you do not have a great story. The list I just named was pretty much in the order they appear on my favorites list.. which is pretty random at best. There are great blogs out there.. but google Scouting blogs and see what you get. We need to be up on the top of that list.
The point is we need to get better at supporting one another. We need to tell Scouting’s story and get Scouting out front in a positive light.
Today I did receive my “Year in review” from WordPress. They give an option to share, but the numbers really do not mean anything unless they are placed in context. So I thought I would share, but in the context of you the great reader.
This blog was visited 52,000 times this last year. That to me is pretty darn good. But once again, I think it is to the Choir that we preach. And yep, the Choir needs to hear the sermon, but telling Scouting’s story and sharing tips and tricks for the trail is something that I want more to see. Believe me when I say that my ego does not this blog. I do it cause I like it and it is helping I am sure. In some small way 52,000 views lended a hand in someones Scouting life or life as a camper.
I was surprised to see that I only posted (as of yesterday) 133 new posts to the blog. And then upon further review I noticed that there were some real thin months for blogging out there.
So for 2013 I resolve to write more and post more to the blog.
2013 saw a major increase in feedback to the blog also and I want to thank everyone that made a contribution to the conversation. I especially want to thank Allan Green. Allan was the top contributor to the blog, lending his comments and feedback more than anyone else. Thanks Allan. Send me your address and I have something for you.
This year in Scouting for me took me to Philmont. Scouting’s paradise and I fell in love with the trails, the mountains, the canyon country that is the Sange de Christo range. The trip to Philmont for me was extremely special in many ways. Taking 2 crews from our Troop on an adventure of that magnitude was a challenge and an experience of a life time. It was not a once in a life time adventure, but a mountain top experience that touched me spiritually, physically, and mentally. I got to see the very best in Scouts and Scouting while watching our crew grow and develop and have a lot of fun. Philmont was the Scouting high light of the year for me.
Our grew again this year, and we lost some boys along the way. But in the end, the program got stronger and the Scouts got better. Youth leadership met many challenges this year and came out better for it. With a great plan going into 2013 I look forward to the many adventures that lay ahead.
Personally I grew this year. My relationships and my friendships are stronger.
And then there is the obsession with my backpack.
I have set a goal to reduce volume and weight from my pack. This is going to be a lengthy project and one that I will have fun doing. Playing with gear, testing new items and ideas and developing a lighter philosophy when it comes to hitting the trail. I look forward to that and sharing that with you here on the blog.
2012 was a good year. 2013 is going to be better.
Resolve to make changes in your life. Resolve to make your world better, your self better, and those around you better.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
More Scouting Blogs that I failed to add to the post:
Scouter Mom’s Blog
Scoutmaster Shawn’s Blog
Phil Pecks blog
Nick from across the pond
Bryan Spellman’s blog
Kevin Devin’s Blog of his interest!
And there are a bunch more.. make sure you visit them. Hit the like button and share them!