reviews

Gear Tip – Wet Fire ™

wetfire_packageOk… all of this talk about being lazy.. and it caught me.  Not really.  I wanted to get a Saturday Quick tip out this week but once again my Scouting life got in the way of the blog.
Saturday, I was at a Staff Development session for the upcoming Wood Badge course.  I am not on the staff this time, but I have been asked to be a Guest presenter during the course.  I will be presenting the Teaching EDGE and more than likely will be doing dishes also… it’s what we Wood Badgers do.
Sunday was dedicated to one of my Scouts.  We held a Court of Honor to present his Eagle Award.  Man, what a great day.  I love Courts of Honor especially when we honor a Scout that has worked so hard and has become an Eagle Scout.
Alright… enough of the excuses.
I was going to shoot a video about a piece of gear that I always keep in my pack.  In fact I keep a few of them in my pack at all times and love them.  They are the Wet Fire ™ Fire starting Tinder.
They are made by a company called the Revere Supply Company and is part of the UST line of products.  Designed for survival kits, these little Fire starters are the best.
Now, we don’t teach survival to our Scouts, rather we teach preparedness and being ready in the event that everything goes South.  Being Prepared is the way to stay out of survival situations.
Having said that, we all like a fire and the Wet Fire ™ Fire starting Tinder is the best way to get a fire going quick and easy.  I don’t know about you.. but I’m not into the whole rubbing sticks together and flint and steel went out of style in the 1800′s.  When I want fire, I want it now.  And I live in Oregon, read… wet.  The Wet Fire ™ fire starting tinder gets that fire going while drying out other tinder and smaller wood so you can have a nice fire in camp.
Each cube is 1” x .75” x .5” (24 x 19 x 13mm) and only weighs .16 oz (44g), they do not take up a bunch of space and for the efficiency you won’t worry about the added grams.
You can read more about it at their website.  The Wet Fire ™ fire starting tinder is available at most stores and are inexpensive.  About $6 for a package of 5.
Here is a little video from the folks that bring you the Wet Fire ™ fire starting tinder.
I carry these in my pack and I highly recommend them for everyone.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, High Adventure, Just fun, Methods, Motto, reviews, Skills, Winter Camping | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Snow Peak 700 Review

sp700Well, It’s Sunday and today we are celebrating our Troops 10th Anniversary as well as Scouting’s 104th.  Every year our Troop hosts its annual Red and Green Dinner.  A celebration of the Troop and Scouting.  This year we will recognize former Troop members and have a great time looking back on the 10 years that got us where we are today.
Today, since my day is dedicated to the Troop’s Red and Green, I thought I’d share this gear review with you.
Quickly becoming my “Go to” pot/cook set again, I went away from it for some time in favor of the Imusa mug.  I still like the Imusa, it gives me some options in cooking namely the size of the pot that the Snow peak 700 does not.
For the size and weight though, it’s tough to find a better pot for backpacking and cooking single servings.
Enjoy the review, let me know what you think.  Drop us a comment.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, Climbing, comments, Cooking, gear, High Adventure, reviews, Scoutmaster minute, Skills, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Scoutbook.com

scoutbookEvery unit has a method of tracking their Scouts.  Advancement, activities, special awards etc.  There are software programs and online resources for tracking, even an Excel spreadsheet can be used.  But I want to introduce you to a real cool way of tracking your unit.  Scoutbook.com.
Before I go any further, I should say in full disclosure that my unit does not use Scoutbook.com…. yet.  I was made aware of Scoutbook.com recently and thought I would review it and let you all know about some of the great features it has.  I should also say that as a Scoutmaster, I rarely get involved in any of this, but with Scoutbook.com your committee will be very happy to have such an awesome tool at their finger tips.
At first look I love the interface.  The ease of the program.  It is clean and requires no hunting to find what you are looking for.
tysonadvancement270Second thing that you notice right away is that the Scout has some responsibility for his advancement in this program.  Just like their Scout handbook, the Scout himself now has the ability to track and maintain parts of his record keeping.  Yes, he still needs to get the work done and Yes, he still needs to see the Scoutmaster or who ever signs the book.  But with Scoutbook.com, he has everything at his fingertips electronically.
I remember Former Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzucca reminding us to take Scouting where the Scouts are.  Well, 78% of our teens have cell phones, and not just cell phones, but smart phones.  So put this tool in their hands and see if they get excited about this part of Scouting.
I love that Scoutbook.com is on “The Cloud”.  Pretty much the world that we live in.  The ability to have data on your tablet, phone, computer or other device is critical these days.
Ok, So the Committee has a role in this, the Scout has a role in this, and the leaders all have roles in this.  It is a total package deal.  Constantly updated to meet all of the BSA requirements, linked to ScoutNet, and easy to use.
As a leader, you can track and maintain your training records.  I am sure that the Training chair on your committee would love for your help on that.mytraining280
Printing Blue cards is a snap also.. right from your device.
Merit Badge counselors can track the Scout and report percentages of complete to the committee in real-time.
For the leader, you can track multiple Scouts with just a few clicks.  Monitoring those first year Scouts sometimes can be chore.  But using the tools in Scoutbook.com they have been made easy and right at your finger tips.
Troop Committees can print beautiful reports and even the 34403 form to purchasing awards and advancement for your next Court of Honor.
Scoutbook.com is 100% secure and allows the unit to decide who gets what access.  The Scout, the Leaders, Merit Badge Counselors, and the Committee all have functions suited to them.
There are many features of Scoutbook.com that I can’t write about here, it would take pages on the blog.
If you are currently using other tracking software or online programs you may be able to transfer your data, but before you do, check out Scoutbook.com and see all of this for yourself.  It is worth a look.
And here is something cool about Scoutbook.com… You can have it for a year free because you read my blog.
The first 3 readers that send me an email (tbirdironchef@gmail.com) and ask for the subscription will get an annual subscription to Scoutbook.com.  You need to check out the website to see all of the benefits that come with this cool program.
I think it is a resource that you and your unit need to look into.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, blog, Camping, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Patrol Method, planning, reviews, Scout, Scouting, Skills, Summer Camp, technology, training, Webelos to Scout Transition | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Saturday Quick Tip 2-1-14

TOWEvery Saturday, we are going to add a “Tip of the Week” to the Blog.  A tip that will be focused on Backpacking, camping, hiking, cooking, or other skills associated with the great outdoors.
This weeks tip is a simple one that will save wear and tear on your pack and keep your gear organized and clean.
Let me know if you have a tip you want to share.  Also, if you have ideas or tips that you have questions about or want to see.  Please let me know and I will do my best to put them up here.
In this tip I use a Marlin Spike hitch.. to learn how to tie the Marlin Spike, check this site out.  Animated Knots by Grog

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, gear, High Adventure, Just fun, Methods, reviews, Scoutmaster minute, Skills, technology, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Teriyaki Chicken

Back in 2009, I posted this recipe and a video on my YouTube channel.  Well since I have been consolidating the channel and working hard on Blog content, I stumbled on this recipe and the video on an old hard drive.  I retooled the video and thought this was a great meal for anyone on the trail.
So you might say that I am re-purposing recycling the post, but trust me this is a recipe that you will enjoy. So try this one.  You will love it.

Teriyaki Chicken
1 cup dry instant rice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 pkg honey
2 pkg soy sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1 can or pouch of chicken
Before camp, mix all dry ingredients at home.  Store in a zip lock bag.
At Camp, boil water, add rice mixture.  After the rice is cooked, stir in Chicken, honey, and sauce.  This makes 1 serving, so do the math and multiply for your size of group.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, High Adventure, Just fun, Leave no trace, Methods, Motto, reviews, Skills | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using Evernote ™ for Scouting

Evernote_Icon_256One of my goals for this year and in particular in working on the blog is to use tools to be more successful.  There is nothing worse than a goal that is not attainable because of lack of want to or know how and sometimes tools can assist in making a goal more attainable.
A new years resolution to go to the gym only works while the motivation to work out is there.  Going to the gym and not working out because you don’ t know how only discourages you and you don’t go back.
I am one of “those people” that needs constant motivation to stay on track.  I do that by motivating myself and finding tools and resources that keep me focused and on task.
For example.  I am working on doing more to lift some of the burden of household chores from my wife.  She does and has done a fantastic job over the past 22 years and I know this is an area that I can do better at.  So I have picked up the responsibility to doing the grocery shopping.  I hate grocery shopping, but it is a task that I can do so I had to find motivation (other than just being more helpful).  So I dove into the task to find tools that would make grocery shopping more interesting for me and make me want to do it.  Enter an app for my phone.  I downloaded the Out of Milk app and started using it.  We make the grocery list on the computer and sync it with my phone.  Bingo.. we have a winner.  I am actually finding grocery shopping fun, walking up and down the isles scanning products and adding them to the shopping cart.
Apps and software have made much of what we do these days more tolerable.  They have also made managing tasks, lists, notes, and resources more accessible.  A few years back I started using an app called Evernote ™.  It was a cool way to take notes and have them available across different platforms.  My computer, phone, tablet etc.  Then I started using for Scouting.
Some of the cool things about Evernote ™ that I really like are the note taking and sharing of information I gather.  With Evernote ™ I can clip and save things right from the internet.  I can save PDF files for retrieval later and I can record voice notes.
Evernote ™ has all of this in one nice bundle.  I have many notebooks within Evernote ™.  This is nice to I stay organized and have everything right at the tip of my fingers.
evernotescreenshotOur Troop uses Troopmaster ™ to manage the Troop’s administrative functions.  But Troopmaster ™ does not have a corresponding app for my phone or a mobile way of accessing information from Troopmaster ™.  So I save the reports and most frequently used items from Troopmaster ™ as PDF files and drop them into Evernote ™.  I can’t tell you many times we have been at a Scout property and they need a roster with phone numbers, ages, etc.  I just open up Evernote ™ and there it is.  I can even print the roster from Evernote ™ if they have wireless printing available.  I had to do this last summer at summer camp.
Scoutmaster conferences are easily tracked and noted using Evernotes voice memo feature.  It is nice to talk with a Scout and then capture some of my thoughts right after we are finished without sitting a writing it all down.  Then once I get home I can transcribe the voice memo into a note for future reference.
Project planning is another great use for Evernote ™.  In 2012 I used Evernote ™ to plan and track our Philmont trek.  Everything from setting reminders to making checklists to ultimately making notes along the journey.  Adding pictures to remind me of tasks, people, places, and things we needed to do.
As most everything we get now electronically from the BSA comes in PDF format, dropping our reservations and other correspondence from Philmont was easy to save and retrieve.
I am still learning of new features and ways to use Evernote ™, but so far it is a great tool to make my Scouting life and my personal life more organized.  It is a way that I stay focused and on task and therefore more productive.
Some of the other ways in which I use Evernote ™:
workflowBuilding Packing list for Backpacking.  It is a nice way to make checklists and track weight and gear.
Lists for places I want to go.  Using the clip it feature on the web I can save maps, brochures, and information about places I want to go, in particular backpacking.
Saving ideas for future planning with the Patrol Leaders Council.
Recipes for Dutch oven or backpacking meals.
Using Evernote ™ Hello I save business card and meeting information.  That is really a neat feature and a fast and easy way to build and maintain contact lists.
That’s just a few.  I follow the Evernote Blog also.  It is amazing all of the different ideas shared there for use cases, tips, and what’s happening with Evernote ™.
Finding a good way to stay motivated and on task is important. It is critical if you are like me and have many irons in the fire and want to stay focused.  But like everything else if you don’t commit to using the tools then you as good as that new years resolution to go to the gym.
I hope that helps you find a tool that will help you manage your irons in whatever fire you place them.
Let me know what you use.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, Backpacking, blog, camp skills, comments, Cooking, High Adventure, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Philmont, reviews, Scouting, Scoutmaster conference, Scoutmaster minute, Skills, Summer Camp, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Cook Kit

The other day some discussion on Google + about cook kits got a few us talking.  I thought it was time to show what I am currently using.  I know that I tinker a lot with gear, but this cook kit seems to be the go to kit and really the only thing that changes out is the Imusa mug and Snow peak 700.  They are interchangeable in my cook kit.
I am curious about your cook kit, let me know in the comments section.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, Hammock, High Adventure, Just fun, planning, reviews, Skills, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mountain Hardwear Bandito Gloves

I recently talked about my gloves and layering system for keeping my hands warm.
Here is a closer look and review at the Mountain Hardwear Bandito finger-less gloves that I wear.
The Stats:
The body of the gloves are made of Deflection ™ Soft shell which is 100% Polyester.
The mitt portion of the glove is made from windblock and stretch materials pulls over fingers for added warmth.
The Palm is Synthetic leather, although it feels like fleece, very comfortable.
Weight:  3.6 oz or 103 g
They are windproof and breathable.
These gloves are Unisex and it is important to try of for accurate fit and sizing.
The Bandito glove is marked as a “Climbing glove”, but I find them great for backpacking, especially while hiking and doing camp chores.
The Mountain Hardwear Bandito glove retails for $45.

Was this review helpful?  Let me know what you wear.  Leave a comment and share.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, camp skills, Camping, Climbing, comments, Hammock, High Adventure, reviews, Scoutmaster minute, Skills, technology, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interview w/ Greg Cieply

supersecretI recently was asked to review a new “Scouting Book” by new author Greg Cieply.  I quickly read the book and posted a review on Amazon.  After reading the book, I thought it would be a great idea along with Greg to interview him here on the blog.
Now doing a blog interview is new to me, so we thought it best to do it kind of like they do in the magazines.  So here it goes.
Greg Cieply is a Scouter and Scoutmaster of his Troop 175 in Niles Illinois.  He has just completed his first book called “Super Secret UnderCover Campfire Badges – Cool ideas to make any meeting or camp out more livelier, enriching and more FUN” – available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.com
The book is a collection of 18 fun, easy and educational activities that any group of boys on a camp out can use to make their time together more enriching. Greg has been a Scouter for 10 years, recently attended the National Jamboree on the Pioneering Staff and has attended Philmont Scout Ranch in NM twice.
What inspired you to write your book?
I had been hearing lots of scouts talking about doing other “silly” merit badges – joking about the “Bee Keeping” merit badge at summer camp and a “duct tape” merit badge; novel things that Scouting would never allow. We had a counselor at summer camp one year who all the boys would ask about doing the “bee keeping” merit badge.   She thought of it as a joke at first, but it got to be kind of a way to get under her skin.   I suspect the other counselors would get other scouts to ask her.   As time had gone by I also noticed that lots of the boys spent most of their days learning hard science and much more formal things in scouting – First Aid, Cooking, Pioneering.  These are all good ideas and very useful for a later life vocation.   However I also noticed that many times a boy would be working on a merit badge that was quite useful and worthy of his time, but one that he just couldn’t finish or lost interest in.  I also noticed – especially at summer camp – that when boys had lots of down time in camp that they squandered with activities which really provided no benefit to them.   I’m all for fun and relaxation but why not make it “relaxation with a purpose” – just like Scouting’s mantra of “games with a purpose? So that’s kind of how this came about.
How did you come up with the subjects?
So after someone jokingly mentioned that there should be a duct tape merit badge, I starting thinking that there has to be other merit badges that the boys would be interested in doing, ones that wouldn’t take up too much of their time.  Mini merit badges I guess you could call them.  More importantly I was thinking about subjects that we would sometimes talk about sort of hush hush when the boys weren’t listening or ones they would talk about while I would be driving them back in the car.  You know how that is, they’re talking about video games and pokemon and girls. Things like that which we’d never really talk about in a scouting context.  So I starting thinking about all the possibilities that we could come up with that would keep them occupied. Since I really didn’t want to listen to them talk about all these things when I was driving, my mind started wandering and I came up with these ideas.
How much of the book can realistically be done within the Scouting program?
Well I think in that context a lot of the concepts are already covered.  You will probably encounter a good number of these topics; though not too many.  More often they are less specific and usually the requirements for learning or even just participating are much longer.  Also in the regular scouting program we have merit badge counselors, but in the book, all the leaders, parents and even other scouts can be “counselors”.  You simply need to make sure they have some knowledge about the topic.  For instance if you have a scout who has done some magic tricks and or some kind of performance, then you can have him be a counselor.  Typically I would suggest an age limit of say 14 and above to counsel, but it’s really up to you.
What is your favorite of all your “campfire badges?”
I really like the idea of the Science Fair Campfire badge.  I’d heard about other troops doing something like this at camp and I thought it was really neat and a great way to build rapport among the Scouts, have some friendly competition and learn how to overcome obstacles.  But the magic and stand up comedy ones are close to my heart as well.  I love doing stand up and always loved to see my son (Adam, who’s on the cover) do magic.  Those two will be a lot of fun for anyone that does this book.
What is your hope for this book? What are you looking to accomplish with it?
Well as I said earlier, I really felt that there were certain topics that boys need to know about but that often slip through the cracks.  For instance, the men’s fashion campfire badge section requires a boy to tie a Windsor knot, or even a bow tie knot.  (This isn’t as hard as they make it out to be in the movies).  However this probably isn’t addressed in any regular Scouting merit badge. It’s more like a life lesson that a Dad or an Uncle would provide for a boy on his first date or at prom.  In a lot of cases we’re seeing more and more single Mom’s bringing their boys into scouting and that’s great.  I’m sure there’s plenty of Moms who know how to tie a tie – my experience is that they don’t – but why not teach boys skills like this?  And do so in the context of Scouting.  I see that as a win win.  And if a Mom wants to teach it, more power to her.  YouTube or Pinterest is a great resource for that kind of thing.  But the connection with an adult in the process is even better.  If it’s a parent or an older scout that can pass along some good learning, then all the better.
You’ve been a scouter for 10 years, what has kept you going all this time?
Well like most leaders, it starts with a desire to help your own child accomplish important developmental goals in life.  We all want the best for our kids and the more and more you get involved in the Scouting program, you see how it changes lives in such a positive way.  When you see how much of a change it can make in your own child, you really start to see how it easily it can help others with very little work on your behalf.  As time goes on you start to realize that someone had stuck it out and provided your son with the benefits of their knowledge and efforts and you should do the same.  Pass it forward.  I love seeing the look on the faces of Scouts when they are having fun, or learning something new. That inexplicable look of satisfaction and accomplishment they get when the achieve something memorable.  Every time one of my Scouts earns a merit badge or advances a rank, I see how happy that makes them and it makes me incredibly happy as well.  That will keep me going forever – (at least for an hour a week – per boy)!!!
Do you have any current book projects?
As time has gone by I keep thinking of new “campfire” badges that the boys can do, so there will probably be a part 2 and maybe even more.  I’m also working on a book about Scouting and Health that I hope to have done by the summer. I expect it to be a great resource that’s also fun and interactive with the entire troop.  I’m as excited about that one as I was about this one!

I would like to thank Greg for the interview and the information on the book.  While it is not an “Official” Scouting book, I think it is a great resource for Senior Patrol Leaders and Scoutmaster that are looking for neat things to do with their Scouts.  I can not tell you how many times I hear Scoutmasters talk about their Scouts wasting time.  Well here is a possible solution that is fun and informative.

If you have a product, book, or neat idea that you would like to share and have promoted on the blog, drop me a note.  You can email me directly at tbirdironchef@gmail.com

Have a Great Scouting Day!
Book cover picture taken from Amazon.com

Categories: blog, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, fitness, gear, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, reviews | Tags: , | Leave a comment

YouTube Channel bump

Again with the reset subject.
Yesterday, I did some major work on the YouTube channel.  I am phasing out the old channel, which became a real pain switching back and forth between accounts… so it’s all in one nice bundle now.
Like I said before, most of the videos will post here on the blog also, but not all.
So here is the trailer for the new and improved channel… same old me.. but new focus for 2014!

Stay tuned friends… I have a great give away coming up!  Just wrapped up the details yesterday… Look for details this weekend!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, camp skills, Camping, comments, gear, Hammock, High Adventure, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Leave no trace, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, Order of the Arrow, Patrol Method, Philmont, reviews, Scouting, Scoutmaster minute, Service, Skills, stories, technology, training, Values, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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