Risk Management

Getting Heavy…

DSCN0457I have been getting a lot of feedback about the quest to reduce pack weight.  Some of it is good, while others, mainly from other Scouters is not.  To be honest, up until our Philmont trek, I was in that camp.  I doubted the fact that a backpacker could be as safe and as comfortable going light.
A few years back the PCT Trail days gathering was held in Portland.  A group of us went to the event to catch some speakers and of course check out gear.  While we were there, we met the folks from Gossamer gear.  I sat in the room and listened as Glen Van Peski talked about how he backpacked and his philosophy.  He showed us his gear and I thought to myself.. no freakin’ way.  I am not going to sacrifice comfort and safety to have a light pack.  After all.. this backpacking thing is for fun right.  I don’t want to be in pain and struggle to get miles in.  I want to sleep and eat well and have a good time out on the trail.  Then we went to Philmont.  I fell in love with the Sange De Christo mountains and had the time of my life on the trail.  What I hated was my pack.  I left base camp with a 55 lb pack.  Never again I promised myself.  When we got home I started taking a real long hard look at why my pack weighed so much.  I started to research gear and how to pack better.  Now, I have been a backpacker for years.  And looking back over the those many years, I realized that I have morphed and changed gear many times, but never really getting away from heavy loads and lots of gear.  About 20 years ago I did a week-long trip up in the Wallowa’s in Eastern Oregon.  We started climbing from the trail head one morning and our packs looked like something a mule should be carrying.   I think my pack was about 70 lbs on that trip.  No resupply, no drops, and everything to include the kitchen sink in my pack.
Well, as you can imagine something had to change in my backpacking style.  The trip to Philmont taught me that I am getting older and still love to backpack.. so do something about it.
My research kept leading me to Lightweight backpacking sites and Ultra light backpacking web pages.  I quickly closed them thinking that I really don’t want to go down the “UL” road.  That’s not for me.. and it really isn’t.  Light weight on the other hand is right up my ally.
And so I started on this journey to lighten up.  The more I read and played with my gear, the more I listened to backpackers talk and write about Light weight Philosophy.  Philosophy?  What the heck.. this is just walking in the woods right?  And that is where I started to get it.  It is a Philosophy and when practiced… it will keep you safe and comfortable. Let me share with you some of the common themes in the Lightweight backpacking philosophy.  Note that I am NOT talking about Ultralight and I suppose that right off the bat, I should point out the biggest difference in the two.. and that is the weight we are talking about.
When we define Ultralight backpacking we are talking about Base Pack Weights of 10 lbs or less.  Typically Lightweight backpacking can be defined as Base Pack Weights of 11 to 20 lbs.  So with food and water you are talking about 25 lbs in the lightweight set up.  There are Super Ultralight backpackers out there that try to achieve 5 lbs or less.  That is not even on the radar for me.  Can’t see the need nor the desire to go that light.
So the Lightweight backpacking philosophy essentially is this;
The backpacker needs to really take a hard look at packing habits in order to fine-tune minimum packing needs and aggressively seek out the right gear available to satisfy those needs.  That gear needs to be lighter, have multiple uses, and of good quality.  To accomplish this hard look and refining of or fine tuning of gear look at the gear, clothing, and food that you take, shoot for lighter options and doing with less.  A key is that simple is better.  Gadgets, while fun, add weight and typically are not needed or even used.
Less volume, lighter-weight, high-quality/high-performance gear and clothing is a goal to strive for and will instantly reduce weight in your pack.
Pack clothing and gear that can serve multiple purposes.
Educate yourself on backcountry travel and safety, being well prepared for changing weather, wildlife encounters and whatever else may happen.  Get trained in Wilderness First aid and Leave No Trace.   In short, learn and Be Prepared.  Know how to use the gear in your pack and know what to do when out in the woods.
Use lightweight techniques to keep travel through the backcountry low-impact on both yourself and your environment.
Use products that provide the level of comfort you desire, even if they aren’t the absolute lightest available.
(this philosophy is common among lightweight backpackers, I found most of this from the website Lightweight backpacking 101)

For Scouts and Scouters, this philosophy is not out of the ordinary and should be easy to adapt.  It basically reinforces the ideas of Being Prepared.. through education and practice and Leave no trace.  It does not discount safety at all.  When the backpacker knows and understands the risks, the skills, and his ability, they can have a wonderful back country experience with a simple load on their back.
Cost of gear and changing out old gear is a consideration.  I am not suggesting that you rush out and swap all of your gear.  Take a look at what you have.  Start with the big 3.  Your shelter, your sleeping bag, and your backpack.  That is where the bulk of the weight comes from.  Trim it down a little at a time.  Consider alternative gear and see about making your own gear.  The rest will fall into place.
My first bit of advice if you want to jump on this journey of comfortable backpacking is to weigh everything.  This was very hard for me to get on board with.  Being a gram weenie was for those UL guys that wear one pair of socks for a 14 day trip and count the bristles on their tooth-brush.  But, once I started getting that critical eye on the gear, most of which came when I started weighing it all, it was an eye opener.. and the journey launched.
Now, I’ve been sharing with you all my steps on the journey.  I have replaced little things, and I did get a new pack.  I thought that was an important part of this process for me.  That may not be the case for you.
I suppose the point of all of this is simply.. Think.
Develop or use a philosophy that best meets your backpacking needs and style.  Hike your own hike and have fun with the adventure.  I share this with you because this is my way of helping me get lighter.  Putting it all into words is helping me refine my load and reach my goals.
I never thought, I would have to get so mentally heavy to get my pack light!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

The picture for this post is of me standing on top of the Tooth of Time at Phimont Scout Ranch.  

Categories: #52to16, Backpacking, gear, Hammock, High Adventure, Just fun, Risk Management, Skills, technology, training | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Be Prepared.. Please listen

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!

Categories: Backpacking, comments, High Adventure, Motto, planning, Risk Management, Skills, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

My First Aid Kit

A few weeks ago I showed my First Aid Kit while drinking coffee from the hammock.  I have since received multiple emails asking for a break down of what is in my First Aid kit.  Well.. here you go.
Feel free to ask questions or leave a comment here on the blog.
If you click on the video and open it up in YouTube, please subscribe to the channel and show us some YouTube love!
FYI… for those of you counting the ounces… The First Aid kit weighs 8.7 oz.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, gear, Risk Management, Skills | Tags: | Leave a comment

Winter Camping Leadership Tool box

***  EDIT NOTE:  This post was scheduled for today (12-14-12).  I contemplated “pulling it” in light of the tragic events that have shaken us in Connecticut.  Our hearts go out to those families.  The reason I did not “pull” this post is simply this..  We must go on.  I am sorry about the devastating events of today, but as our thoughts and prayers flow to those victims, we can not live in fear and can not let the actions of a few dictate how we live our lives.
I am sorry if this is ‘too soon’.. but this coming Monday our Troop will still meet and we will be getting ready for not only Winter Camping, but Troop Junior Leader Training and we will go on.
God Bless. *** 

SAM_0024Winter camping is like no other camping.  It requires skills, smarts, and the right attitude. It also requires strong leadership.  Leaders that accept responsibility and leaders that understand that the group comes before the individual.  In my Troop Training for winter camping is a significant part of the process.  We make certain rules on participation in winter camping events such as; You must participate in the 4 meetings that lead up to the camp out.  This way you get all the necessary training.  This is important as your buddy is counting on you to be there, understand what he is looking for, and is a part of the team when it comes to the in camp routines that are unique to winter camping.
A lack of discipline will also get a Scout “Uninvited” to a winter outing.  There is no room for a lack of discipline when it comes to camping in cold weather and high risk activities.
Part of the training that our Scouts receive are from the older Scouts.  They are given the training and the tools to ensure that proper training is being conducted.  I have given them the following to add to their Leadership Tool box.  The following is directed at the Leader and speaks directly to them so they can properly set the example, train their Patrol’s and have a great winter camping experience.
You are welcome to all of this information, feel free to copy and paste.  If you have questions, please feel free to ask.  You can always send an email or drop a note in the comments section.

Here are some items for a leader to have in his tool box for camping in the winter.

1.  The right attitude.  You must demonstrate a positive attitude in the winter.  The people following you depend on it.  As you go with you attitude, those that follow you will go.

2.  Be an example of right.  The leader must possess the skills and attitudes that make winter camping successful.  The leader must demonstrate those skills and teach others to use them.  The leader can not take short cuts and look the other way.  The leader must set an example by doing the right thing. 

3.  Skills.  There is a list of skills that make up a good winter camper.  Here are some that the leader must use and teach.
Gear- use the right gear and use it properly.  More importantly taking the right gear with you and packing it right.  Every item in the pack or SECURED to the outside and covered with a pack cover.
Staying dry. – Wet kills in the winter.
In camp routines.  Camp set up.
                           Getting in and out the tent without dragging snow in.
                           Storing gear.  Everything stays packed unless needed.
                           Gathering and “Making” water.
                           Gathering fire wood and making the fire.

Setting up camp.  Looking for best placement of tents/shelters.  No widow makers.  Building up snow walls.  Cooking areas.  Designated BIO area.
Anchoring of tents/shelters.
Morning routines.  Get up and cook right away.  Get things cleaned and stored.  Pack un used gear.  Hang anything that is damp to dry.
Cooking.  Have a plan. 
                Store food in bags in order they will be eaten.
                Repackage meals to reduce trash.
                Hot meals always
                3 good hot meals and lots of snacks.
                Hot beverages
                Clean up as you go and never leave dirty dishes lying around.
                Pack it all out.  Do not dump uneaten food in the snow. 
                Just because you can bury it does not mean it is right.
                Monitor water use and stay ahead. 
               Watch fuel consumption. No flame without a pot on it. NO empty pots.
               Don’t be lazy.  Cook and eat well.
Sleeping.  Dry equals warm.  Stay out of wind and wet and you will stay dry and warm.  Open your sleeping bag as soon as your tent is set up.  Get the loft going.  Make sure to have insulation under you.  Closed cell pads work great in the winter.  An extra blanket works too when used with a pad.  If nothing else your jacket should go between you and the pad or under your feet.
Your boots go in the tent and under your sleeping bag (foot end).  Do not wear anything wet to bed.  Change your socks and clothing before you go to bed if you are wet.  ALWAYS change your socks before you get in your sleeping bag.
Avoid condensation in your sleeping bag.  Wear a hat and keep your face out of the bag.  Short guys.  Fold unused portion of sleeping bag under you.
Take a trip to the pee tree before you go to bed.  Relieve yourself and then get comfortable.  You do not want to hold it till morning. You won’t sleep and you won’t stay warm.

4.  Be a Good example.  Yes, we say it twice.  This will get you farther as a leader than anything else in the cold weather.  If you do things right and maintain a positive attitude, those that follow you will to.

IMPORTANT.  Leaders are responsible.  You are the last ones in the sleeping bag after everyone is checked.  You are the last ones to eat or eat before the rest.  This way you can check, assist, monitor the rest as they prepare and eat.
Leaders.  You are the key to success.  You have been given the responsibility to teach and coach.  Use it.

Build your tool box.  Fill it with those things that make you a great leader and you will be.  Collective knowledge and a willingness to learn, practice, and share is the success of all leaders.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, High Adventure, Just fun, Leadership, Patrol Method, planning, Risk Management, Skills, teamwork, training, Winter Camping | 2 Comments

Expect more

It is amazing how themes run together and I think I have said it before on the blog about how a subject seems to maintain a solid thread in life for a time.  This week it seems that the subject of what we expect of our youth in so far as work ethic, values, and skills has taken up much of the conversation I have had electronically and with some friends.
Yesterday I received an email from a reader that challenged the idea that Scouts are not allowed to use liquid fuel, like white gas etc.  He made mention of my recent videos and said that I was irresponsible for encouraging our Scouts to use equipment that is “proven to be dangerous”.
So let me get that out-of-the-way first.  “Proven to be dangerous”… By who?
Reader, do you honestly think that REI and other fine outfitters would have the MSR Whisperlite, the Dragon Fly, the Soto Muka, and the Trangia stoves on their shelves if they were “Proven to be dangerous”?  Do you think for a minute that the Tooth of Time traders at Philmont SCOUT Ranch would sell the Whisperlite and Simmer light stoves as well as make available at the commissary Coleman White Gas.  And finally Reader… Do you own a Guide to Safe Scouting and have looked up the policy found in the Chemical Fuels and Equipment Document published by the Boy Scouts of America?
It seems that our Reader, based on his email, does not feel that Scouts are “Responsible” enough to handle liquid fuels.  He also feels that I act irresponsibly by taking the Scouts camping in the winter.  “I find it hard to believe you would risk injury of your Scouts in camping in temperatures below freezing.” he wrote.
Now, I really don’t want to offend any good Den Leaders out there, but this guy obviously has not moved on the Boy Scouts yet even though he signed his email “Scoutmaster”.
I am not going to address all of the “issues” he has with me and as he called it “My brand of Scouting”, but I do want to discuss this as a matter of course in the conversation of week regarding our youth.
I know exactly where this “Reader” is coming from.  He is of the class that believes that our young men (boys) are not capable of doing anything other than sitting in front of a TV watching Barney.
He is so afraid to let boys be boys that he is killing our young mens ability to function as men.  I am sure that knives are not allowed in his Troop and that the Mom’s do all the cooking.  He is of the mind-set that does not allow Scouts to build a signal tower and climb it.  Him and his fellow non believers in youngsters are the ones that keep a good and sturdy rope bring 18 inches off the ground and find the need to “spot” someone who is literally inches from doom.
He is the reason that Scouts are not supposed to camp with their patrols.. ohhhh… hear that sound.. that’s Green Bar Bill  rolling in his grave.  This reader is why we have Eagle Scouts that can’t tie Clove hitches and max the minimum when it comes to everything in Scouting.
They don’t believe that a Scout is able to do anything that he and his buddies set their minds to.  He has no sense of adventure and won’t let a young man push himself.  He is the reason that we expect less from our youth and as a result get less.
As you may be able to tell… this really chaps my butt.
Our young men can do anything.  They can use an ax, they can climb mountains, they can swim in open water, they can hike miles and miles and still have energy to sing and joke.  They can ride horses and slide down a zip line.  They can build fires and sleep under the stars.  They can ride their bike for a 100 miles and camp along the way.  They can scuba dive in the Florida Keys and canoe the Boundry waters.
But this guy won’t let them.  Why?  Because he does not believe in the power of a boy!
He Expects less and he gets less because he does not believe in them.
Expect more… get more!
Train ‘em, Trust ‘em, and Let ‘em lead!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, canoe, Character, comments, High Adventure, Ideals, Leadership, Patrol Method, Risk Management | 6 Comments

And the beat goes on…

Today I received a comment on the blog about my last post.  It seems that an Irish Scouter is a bit unclear as to my position and/or does not see consistency in my opinion.  He asked 4 questions and I thought.. just to kick this horse a little more.. I would not just hit ‘approve’ on the comment and leave it at that.  Nope, you all will get the pleasure of reading my response and lets see where it lands.
His questions are as follows.. oh.. and my response.
1. If this list that is due to be released has someones name on it that has never broken any law nor can they be seen as a danger to a youth how are they able to clear their name.?
First of all, lets remember where this list comes from.  No one’s name is on the list unless they put it there.  The files are generated from applications submitted by the person to become a member of the BSA.  It is during the checks that the person is deemed ineligible.  So, they can clear their name by not getting into trouble in the first place.  NO.. I have no sympathy for anyone that has or will hurt a child.  In short the person in the file or list will have “self identified” themselves as someone who may potentially be a risk.
Second point on the files.  Who is going to see them.  These files are not going to be released to the local newspaper and will not be placed on bulletin boards in lunch rooms across the city.  The BSA has been instructed to make the files available upon request.  I know for certain that I will never see these files, nor will 99% of the public.
2. If someone who is public about their homosexual yet was a member as a youth but as soon as they turn 18 they must then leave because they may be a risk and find themselves on a list.
That is the current policy, has nothing to do with the files.  Nowhere on the Boy Scouts of America Application for membership is there a question about sexual orientation.  So given the current practice of background checks it will never come up.  Most of us in Scouting really don’t care about the sexuality issue.  But to answer the question.. Nope they would not “find themselves on a list” as this is not a piece of information that is on the application and I am sure not part of a background check either.
3. Should all military service personal be barred from American scouting. Some have fired on innocent children in a combat zone some may suffer from ptsd at a future date. ?
Yes All military service personnel should be barred from American Scouting… ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?  NONE have fired on innocent children in a combat zone.  OH… unless you served with LT. William Calley in My Lai Vietnam.
This is a non issue.  A soldier that commits a crime is a criminal and the Military, unlike civilian courts drop the hammer.  This would make him a convicted felon and therefore he/she would be ineligible to serve in Scouting..just like any thug that would fire at innocent children.
I did two back to back tours in Iraq and served in the Army for 21 years.  Never saw what you suggest.  Stop watching Vietnam war movies.  I am sure you think we all smoke dope and drink too.  I have been diagnosed with PTSD.. but then again, they diagnose everyone with a combat identifier.. I earned a CIB (Combat infantryman’s Badge) and a Bronze Star.  My PTSD only flairs up when people that don’t know what they are talking about pop off.  If you want to talk about firing at innocent civilians I have story I could share about British Soldiers in the Basra area that would make you puke… but that is neither here nor there…. we are talking about Scouting right.  Oh and don’t forget our founder served in the Army.. I am sure that his soldiers were angels.
4. How can you stand by as your organization prevents personal who follow the scout law and are being honest about being gay and then kicked out and their name added to a list FULL of people who break the law. ?
John, you claim to read the blog.  I outlined my position on this issue in this post REACTION.  Again.  They would not be “on the list”.
OK this horse is now officially kicked.  In John’s opening statement of his comment he said, “I read your blog and have done so for a while, this is the second time that I nearly deleted all links to your site…”  I hope that you find my response satisfactory John, if not then I invite you to delete my feed from your reading list.  I am not changing my thoughts and ideas because of comments.  You asked how I can stand by our organization?  Well that is simple.  Even if it has issues, the Boy Scouts of America, the Scout Association, Scouts Canada, and all of the other 160 some odd Scouting organizations are still the best youth program on Earth and I am not willing to throw the baby out with the proverbial bath water.. are you?
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, comments, Ideals, Risk Management | Tags: | 4 Comments

Wilderness First Aid

Well, I completed more training today.  Yep… can never have enough training.  But today I completed a Wilderness First Aid course.  Two reasons for the training.  First, it is a requirement for each crew on a Philmont trek to have at least one person in the crew certified in Wilderness First Aid.  You also need to have a current certified CPR/AED member of the crew.
Last week at our Troop meeting we certified everyone in the troop on CPR/AED.  It’s just a good idea.. more training never hurts.  So we have lots of CPR certified folks heading to New Mexico.
Second, Wilderness First Aid is a great idea for a troop like mine.  Being in the back country each month we have to be prepared and part of that preparedness is being trained.
So lets talk about Wilderness First Aid for a second.  Three things:
First.  Depending on your level of competence or skill level in first aid the Wilderness first aid course will either bore you or you will learn a ton.  Having said that, there is never a reason not to take the training to reinforce your skills.  Much of the Wilderness First Aid class is a review on basic first aid.  IF you spend a good amount of time training your Scouts on their trail to first class you will know much of the first aid introduced in the class.
Second.  There is material to learn.  What I took home from the course were two things.  Rapid Body assessment and spinal injury training.  Those two things were a fantastic piece of training and extremely valuable.  Basic First aid rarely discusses spinal and or head trauma.
And finally, it’s about muscle memory.  If you don’t use it.. you lose it.
The course places you in scenarios that allow you to develop and hone your first aid skills.  It places you in situations that require thinking, skills, and working as a team to assess, treat, and stabilize a patient in the wilderness.
Take Home points.
Here is what I learned (aside from the additional skills).  I learned that assessment is critical to negotiate a good treatment and stabilization plan.  I learned that CPR really is [in most cases] a token effort that with a few exceptions will not save a life.  It may sustain life until professional help arrives and ‘calls the time of death’.  Like I said.. there are exceptions and for us Scouters the good news is that it works well on kids, people who have been submerged in freezing water, and lightning strikes.  So the next time you are planning on an injury.  Be a kid struck by lighting on a cold lake.  I am kidding, but I was surprized to hear and see evidence of just how ineffective it is.  Having said that… do it.. it’s better than doing nothing.  But really, once someone goes into cardiac arrest.. there is too much damage to the heart.  So says the Red Cross and most search and rescue folks.
Assessment is critical, I have said that?  Wilderness First Aid has given me tools to use to do accurate and timely assessments.   The other reality that we were introduced to was the fact that (out here in the west) help is not on the way any time soon.  For search and rescue you can expect to sustain a victim for up to 5 hours.  That is a long time to sustain treatment.  It is a challenge and one worth the time, but as a Scout leader in the Northwest, knowing that help is a long ways out.. It equips me with the knowledge that we have work to do when it comes to treatment.
And the last thing that I learned is that I have a good foundation of First Aid skills and am not afraid to use it.  controlling a situation, assessing the victim and the environment and moving to rapid treatment seem to be a strong suit of mine.  And so it goes into the tool box of Scoutmastership and the confidence that taking these Scouts into the wilderness is worth the risk inherent in the activities associated with being a backpacker.
So the wilderness first aid course is complete.  Never stop learning, and I will re certify in two years.
One step closer to Philmont and one more training class that made my Scouts a bit safer or at least prepared.
If you get a change to take the course.. take it.
Here is a link to the BSA site on Wilderness First Aid.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, planning, Risk Management, training | 2 Comments

Get Skinny?

After our last backpack trip we sat with the Scouts and had a good session of Start, Stop, and Continue.  I took the opportunity to do a little coaching on physical conditioning and that is where it got messy.
During our discussion on what we needed to do to get better at backpacking, I made mention that if you were overweight you needed to get skinny.  I was not targeting any one Scout, after all, we can all stand to lose a pound or two, I was simply stating that being overweight is not a good thing.  It leads to lots of problems down the road, the least of which being that ability to keep up on the hikes.
Now I am not Medical doctor, nor am I a nutritionist or health nut… I know that being fat is not healthy.  If you would like to argue that, so be it.  But I think that if you are alive in 2012 and do not understand the risk that you are putting yourself into by being overweight than you need to wake up.
One of the parents thought that me telling the Scouts to “Get skinny” was out of line.  They said that it was insensitive and hurtful.
During my discussion with the Scouts about getting in shape and losing weight, I put myself in with them.  I am in the process of losing weight for our trip to Philmont… but more importantly.. for my health.  I am almost 47 and do not want to let myself go.  The risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other issues are to great and I am not willing to go down that trail.
Childhood  obesity can have a harmful effect on the body in a variety of ways.  Obese children are more likely to have High blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In one study, 70% of obese children had increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.  Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea, and asthma.  Joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort.  Fatty liver disease, gallstones, and gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn).  And obese children and adolescents have a greater risk of social and psychological problems, such as discrimination and poor self-esteem, which can continue into adulthood.  But what about the health  risks later.  Things like; Obese children are more likely to become obese adults.  Adult obesity is associated with a number of serious health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.  If children are overweight, obesity in adulthood is likely to be more severe.  So says the CDC.  According to the Center for Disease Control During the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States and rates remain high. More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese.”
Hurtful?  Sometimes the truth hurts.  I never made it a point to hurt anyone.. but if you are fat.. you owe it to yourself to get skinny.  In the discussion we talked about why people are fat or overweight.  Mostly because of lack of excercise and bad eating habits was the conclusion of the group.  I can’t help but agree with them.
So this parent comes up to me afterward and says that they did not appreciate me calling their kid fat.  I never called anyone “fat” but I apologized for the term.. but asked the parent if they thought it was a good idea for their son to be overweight.  I also asked the parent what they thought I should say.  They hummed and hawwed for a minute and then said that my language only hurt.  I suggested that maybe it was what the Scouts needed to hear.  They are never told this at School and at home they are the darling of the house and we can’t tell it like it is.. right?
I asked the parent what they were doing to help their son get in shape.  How many hours do they sit and play XBox?  How many meals a week include fast food?  Now this line of questioning may seem intrusive.. and it may be.. but the net result is overweight kids.  And to be honest with you, I think it has a lot to do with parents that allow it to happen.
When I was a kid.. oh no.. not “when I was a kid” again…. When I was a kid I don’t remember to many overweight kids.. yeah we had a few chunky kids, but by the time we all hit Middle School, they had grown into their bodies.  The reason I believe is because we ran all day.  During the summer we were outside from after breakfast till the street lights came on (that was our curfew).  We played and we played hard.  We took sack lunches with us and stayed outside.  Our bike was our main mode of transportation.  We all had farmer tans and were not afraid of a good wrestling match or dirt clod fight.  But we were healthy.  Aside from seasonal allergies and a broken arm, life when I was a kid was physical and fun.  We played organized sports and pick up games.  Baseball all spring and summer and football in the fall.  The heavy kids played on the line, but they were fast and could hit hard.  They replaced “kid fat” with muscle when we got a bit older and were in shape.
I am not calling out the kids of today.  They are overweight because we let them become overweight.
We are afraid that they will get hurt playing sports, we are protective of letting them take their bikes across town, we don’t let them go all day without checking in every hour.  We give them money to hit McDonald’s rather than packing a sack lunch.  We have “Gaming nights” and XBox tournaments instead of getting them on the baseball field.
It’s our fault.. and you know what.. The truth hurts!
In the Scout Oath the Scout makes three promises.  The last promise is to himself.  “to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight”.  This promise is there to keep our Scouts well.  Being overweight is not being well.
Parents that do not appreciate our message are not getting it.  If the language was hurtful, then do something about it.  It is not the intent to shame, hurt, or belittle anyone.  But telling a group of Scouts that the right thing to do is to “Get skinny” is life advice that no one else is willing to say.
No one is willing to tell these young men that fat will hurt a lot worse than words in the long run.  The longer we adults caiter to and allow our youth to stay overweight, the more problems we will have to deal with down the road.
I brag about my kids all the time.  I am proud of them and the one thing that they can never say is that I was not honest with them.  They are not overweight or out of shape.  They are allowed to stay outside and play.  My youngest is outside right now throwing the football around with a group of his friends.  They eat well, don’t drink pop, get good rest, and stay active.  They are in sports, band, Scouts, and run with their friends.  They get good grades and have a healthy mental outlook on life.  Why?  Because we make it that way.
There are no excuses.  There is a lack of action or a lot of action.  You pick it!  Money is not an issue, attitude is the issue.  Ironically lower income kids are more likely to be obese.  Why? Because they don’t eat well.  This is a learning thing.  But there is no excuse not to learn.  Lower income families spend more on junk food than other folks?  Why?  It’s more expensive to take my family to McDonald’s than it is to make a good home cooked meal.  In my opinion it is because people are lazy.  To lazy to learn, to lazy to plan and prepare, to lazy to do the right thing.  The truth hurts.
I was in line at our local Wal Mart a few weeks ago behind a lady and her three kids.  She was using her Oregon trial card (food stamps).  And everything she had in the basket was junk with the exception of milk.  I think that with every Oregon trail card should come a mandatory class on shopping for your family.  Healthy choices vs. junk.  And we wonder why we have overweight kids.  They claim that low income children have less access to sports and physical activity.  The schools all have programs that allow for student athletes that are on a ‘Free lunch’ program to participate at reduced or no cost.  How many of them take advantage of it?  There are free classes at the school that are geared to fitness.  How many parents encourage their child to take it?  Our high school offers a Zero period to students to come to the school before school and work out in the gym.  Who goes?  Just the football team… and they are all in shape.
I guess the message here is this.  We are quick to point out that our darling little boys are getting their feeling hurt because I want them to be healthy.  We are quick to take the easy way out and not encourage our boys to run and play and eat right.  We are quick to allow them to get fat and then wonder why.  But are we quick to do something about their weight?  Are we quick to feed them right and let them get active?  Are we quick to recognize the truth about childhood obesity?
It does not take the President of the United States to come up with a nifty program or the NFL to advertise and encourage kids to play 60 minutes a day to change this trend.  On my honor.. I will not let sit by and let it happen to the Scouts that I care for.
If a parent is not happy with the truth.. Let me remind them that a Scout is… Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Kind.. and always trying to do a good turn.  If we can help these young men get fit.. we are doing a great service beyond that of our schools, government, and yeah… even some families out there.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, fitness, Leadership, Risk Management | 7 Comments

New Tour and Activity Plan to Be Unveiled

From our Friends at the BSA Internal Communications via Scout Wire:
Dateline February 29, 2012

The new online tour and activity plan has been developed and will soon be ready for use.

When compared to the former tour permit process, the new plan will no longer require signatures or approvals. Rather, as the plan is completed online, the required prerequisites for that type of trip or activity will be displayed.

For any prerequisites that have not been met (for example, not having someone on a trip who has Hazardous Weather training where this training is required), and before being allowed to submit the form, the person completing the form will have to certify that all prerequisites will be met prior to conducting the trip or activity. Once submitted, an email notification will be sent to your council, chartered organization, committee chair, unit leader, and emergency contact to let them know that a plan has been submitted. Receivers of this notification can log in to MyScouting and review the plan.

Other tour and activity plan enhancements include the following:

  • Because email notifications will be sent once a plan has been submitted, it is important to maintain current leadership information in the system.
  • Links are provided to current program-required training and education.
  • System prompts and warnings are included.
  • You will be able to review and fix any deficiencies flagged by the system prior to submitting the plan.
  • You can store, retrieve, copy, and reuse completed tour and activity plans.
  • Files such as trekking plans and flight plans may be uploaded.
  • Unit volunteers who currently have access to the tour and activity plan will be able to view and update all plans submitted for their unit up to the day before the scheduled tour date.
  • There will be leader certification of the plan prior to submission.

For those who do not have Internet access or simply prefer paper over an electronic version, a PDF version can be found on the tour and activity plan FAQ page.

Tour and Activity Plan Demo

Before implementation to unit volunteers, we are providing a demo to familiarize you and your employees with this new tool. The demo will be accessible to councils on MyBSA until April 30. You will have the ability to create, edit, copy, or print a plan, but not submit one. On May 1, the new tour and activity plan will be activated for authorized unit volunteers to access in MyScouting. We encourage your employees to show the demo to key volunteers, but due to the need to protect the personal information of the membership, this must be done via MyBSA.

The demo may be accessed online. When the MyBSA login screen appears, enter your current MyBSA user name and password. It will take you to the tour and activity plan home page, where you can begin and create a new plan.

A training video has been developed that guides you through the application process and can also be shared with your unit volunteers.

Categories: Camping, comments, High Adventure, Journey to Excellence, planning, Risk Management, technology | Leave a comment

Skinned knees and bee stings

Now you all know that cliché’s drive me a little nuts and I really hate most sayings like.. “Boys will be boys”.. but in this case I want to write about boys not being able to be boys.
I am no expert in all things boy, but I know what right looks like.  I will not say that the my childhood represents the “Good ‘Ol days” either.. they were fun times and days that shaped the person I am today… but to say that they were better than any other time would be disingenuous.
And I am not going to jump right on the band wagon and say that all of our boys are growing up to soft.. well, I am sort of saying that and I agree with many of the popular arguments for the reasons why.
This last Saturday I was trapped in a car full of teen agers.  In that car was one young man coming into his Freshman year at our High School, he is also a Scout in my Troop.  Everyone else in the car plays a sport or two at the High School, so I asked if he was going to play Football this year.  His answer was” no.. are you kidding me!  I am going to play water polo.”  That’s great I said, water polo is a pretty tough sport.  I know this young man is a strong swimmer and he will do well.
He asked why I asked about Football.  Well, I told him it doesn’t really matter what sport you play, you should just play a sport in High School.
Sports in High School expand your social circles, they instill in the student athlete a pride in their school and in their fellow class mates.  It breaks down barriers between upper and lower classmen, it ensures that good grades are maintained, and finally it keeps the young person physically fit.  I told the young man that to play football, you don’t really have to be big and strong, you just need to be tough.  You need to be able to hit and take a hit.. the rest can be coached.
My point to him was that he should never shy away from something because he thinks its to hard.
I truly believe that every student should play a sport.  No matter what that sport is, Tennis, Rugby, Volleyball.. what ever, there are so many choices out there and they are all good.
Then last night at our Troop meeting a group of parents and I were talking about how kids are raised these days in that to a certain degree (and those degrees vary) they are over protected.  And to me this is terrible.  Now don’t get me wrong.. I don’t want anything to happen to my three kids, but at the same time a skinned knee is not going to kill them if they are out there playing football in the drive way.  We were joking about bee stings on camp outs one night.. it seemed that whenever our Troop found bees I would always get stung. 
We were backpacking one weekend up to a lake.  One of the Scouts disturbed a bee hive and the route was one.  Scouts took off running in every direction, screaming and shedding gear.  One Scout just fell to his belly and started crying as he got stung on the ankle.  I ran up to him and told him he needed to get out of there.. 9 stings later on me.. I grabbed the young man by the backpack, lifted him and forced him up the trail and out of the way of the stinging bees.  We all reached the lake and counted our stings.. then started laughing about how funny so in so was as he ran or how so in so was throwing his gear all over the place.  It made for a great laugh.  Having said that I know who the Scouts are that have bee sting reactions and none were effected.  The point is, a bee sting generally is not going to kill you and certainly not a reason to not play!  I think in total now my Troop has got me stung about 25 times.
I say all of this because of the reactions that we get from parents when we share the stories… “Oh my goodness.. you can’t get my little precious hurt” and we would never place a Scout in harms way, we are going to let them get dirty, skinned knees, and a few bee stings.  We are going to let them challenge themselves by getting out on the edge and pushing the limits a bit.
We always talk about getting out of our comfort zones.. then taking one more step.  I think that sums up my child hood a bit.
Our curfew was when the street lights came on.  We rode our bikes everywhere and did everything.  We played in the woods, we ran in the fields, and we threw mud clots at each other.  No one really got hurt and we all turned out ok.  We all played sports and did Scouting and we pushed each other to exceed our limits.  We did not know that at the time, but a good old fashioned dare was enough to make you jump off the swing set or ride your bike into a lake.
Boys need to be able to be boys.  They were designed to be rough and tumble and they were built with knees just waiting to be skinned.
I am not sure where this is all going, but it was a great topic last night at our Troop meeting while the Scouts were doing what ever they were doing.  I believe it was a class on Leave no Trace and then a game of capture the flag.

GO PLAY!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Just fun, Leave no trace, Methods, Patrol Method, Risk Management | Leave a comment

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