Yeah.. so I like to talk about gear… it’s what I do…
Hi, my name is Jerry… and I am a gear junky..
Hey folks, ever since I was a young Scout I was told to take care of your gear and it will take care of you.. I think that is very true and with that comes messin’ with your gear. Always looking for the ‘next best thing’ or a simple way or cooler way to do this or that.
Sometimes I am a bit apprehensive about showing gear or a way I do something because give it a week.. it may change.
As you know I am a hammock camper and use a tarp over the hammock. Real hard to get a hammock in a tent.. although I have seen it done. But I have not always been a hammock camper and enjoyed camping none the less. Hammock camping was introduced to me at the 2010 National Jamboree and I have been hooked since. I find it an extremely comfortable way to sleep and it gives me new opportunities to tweak gear. It seems that with hammock camping came a whole new way of camping. I started getting my gear lighter. I started to look at new ways to set up gear and find it challenging in the way modifications can be made and gear can be set up.
I am in no way shape or form trying to get anyone to convert to hammock camping. I could really care less how you camp… as long as you camp. You gotta get out there in the woods and enjoy nature. It is a must. I encourage… nay demand that you camp!
But yes I talk a bunch about hammock camping and show that style in my videos and gear tips and tricks.. why? Because it is what I do. What I know for sure is that I just like to talk gear and I like to share. The other thing that I know for sure is that I am not the ultimate authority on camping and everything associated with it.. but I do know a bunch, I have ideas, thoughts, and certainly opinions and once again… I like to share.
If hammock camping is not your thing than I can deal with that. Maybe you can find a tip here and there that you can work into tent camping or on the ground tarp camping. Maybe there is a tip out there that you can share with your Scouts to make their outdoor experience better. Maybe, just maybe, you will be intrigued enough to try something new or motivated just a bit to step outside of your comfort zone, what ever that looks like.
So here’s the deal. I’ll keep talking gear and changing my stuff every time the wind blows and I’ll keep sharing with you, my trusty reader. You know I love ya… right?
So here’s a couple of thoughts on gear.. lessons learned you might say.
***NOTE*** What I am about to write does not comply with the Guide to Safe Scouting!
Fuel. On the last camp out I noticed that my Denatured Alcohol took some time to warm up and light. It was nothing that would cause alarm and after a few minutes under my arm pit, the fuel was warm enough to light and get some water boiling. The fix. Today I went out and purchased a little 3 oz. squeeze bottle. It is a bottle recommended to carry fluids on an airplane, essentially to get through TSA. I wrote in RED Sharpie all over it FUEL! The plan (and I am going to test it tonight) is to keep it in my sleeping bag with me at night. Then in the morning, it will be warm and ready to use.
Now some of you are going to say.. well that is not setting a good example. Ok.. but then again, I am not afraid of teaching Scouts how to do things right and even if Denatured Alcohol leaked in their sleeping bag, there would be no harm. Fact is 3 ounces of alcohol would probably evaporate before they woke up. As long as they are not sleeping with a lit torch in their pants I am sure they would be just fine.
I am not going to rehash the comments I made about teaching Scouts and allowing them to act their age and skill level. Is that not setting a good example… well to some. One day the BSA will again allow skills to be tested. That day will come when we don’t teach to the lowest common denominator and lawyers leave us alone.
I have often said that I will never compromise Safety and Propriety.. A 3 ounce bottle of Denatured Alcohol does not compromise either… besides, what does it matter to some of the car campers out there? Enough said on that.
(Please know that part of me is joking here.. the other part of me is really pissed)
Next. Gear needs to be tested. This goes for Scouts and Scouters. You need to know your gear. You need to know the limits of the gear, the capabilities of the gear, and how to use it. There is no better place to do this that your backyard.
Tonight, I am testing some gear out in the backyard.
1. My new under quilt from Hammock gear. Hammockgear.com I got this for Christmas, but since they make to order, I just got it on Friday. Tonight I will be in it and my Big Agnes Encampment 15* bag. It’s supposed to get chilly tonight, so we will see how that goes. The best part is that if I get to cold.. my bed is about 50 feet away inside the house.
2. Dutch Clip on Tarp pull outs. They pull the walls of the tarp out to give you more room as well as keep the tarp off of you in the snow and heavy rain. I have them on the tarp tonight. Mainly because I wanted to see how easy they are to put on and take off… really easy as a matter of fact.
3. I am testing.. or more to the point playing with a stove that a fellow Youtuber sent me. It is an alcohol stove… looks a lot like the white box stove. I’m gonna fire it up and have some hot chocolate tonight and my coffee in the morning.
I also did some more tweaking on the tarp. I found that if I tied a bowline at the end of the guy line, then synched up the line using the prusik it was super easy especially with gloves on. There will be no need to until the bowline and will help in take down also.
So the tarp and hammock are up in the backyard and ready to be tested… now that’s the kind of testing I can get behind.
Today I took another look at my first aid kit and got it all in a small LOCSAK. This will make packing just a tad bit easier and I still have everything I need. Reworked my ‘toilet kit’ too. Added Wet Ones single packs to it. Feels nice on the tush when cleaning up in the woods.
Ok… so did you all get that I like to talk about gear?
That’s it for now.. should have a video out tomorrow. The Sunday Morning coffee will be built into the tweaking of the gear.
As always, I am curious to know what you think. Keep in my that the tag line of this blog is “Helping to Deliver the Promise of Scouting.” Do not forget what that promise is.. a large part of that promise is fun and adventure. I’m just sayin’.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Yeah.. so I like to talk about gear… it’s what I do…
This has been discussed before, but I received an email the other day from a Scouter in our area. This Scouter does not know me very well, nor does this Scouter know how our Troop runs, but none the less, this Scouter sent a nice email suggesting that we do not encourage the merit badge program in our Troop BECAUSE our Troop is a “Backpacking Troop”.
Well, hmmm… Let’s see… How do I respond to that?
There are what? 130 or so merit badges that I Scout can choose from right? And the Scout must have at least 21 to earn his Eagle Award, right? So there are lots of choices for the Scout to make when it comes to earning merit badges. At some point the Scout must come to the unit leader.. that’s me… and get the blue card signed to start working the merit badge, which ever merit badge that may be. When the Scout comes to me to get that blue card signed I sign it.
Now when it comes to encouraging. I encourage the Scout to earn merit badges. I have told the Scouts that while at Summer Camp, merit badges are not the reason to be there. Merit badges are a product of Summer camp and a means to and an opportunity to earn, learn, and have fun while at camp. So yeah, that may sound I like I don’t “encourage” the working of merit badges, but that’s really not the case at all.
I am a firm believer that advancement and merit badges are the Scouts responsibility to work. They need our help that’s true and at times they need some poking and prodding to get going on badges and rank. In that regard, we encourage and promote the merit badges that will get the Scout advanced.
The merit badge program is designed to do a couple of things.
1. Introduce the Scout to many subject areas that will open his eyes to his world, skills, hobbies and activities, and career fields.
2. Work the adult interaction method.
3. Spark interest in the Scout while working toward a goal (advancement).
When the Scout, and leaders understand why we have merit badges, it is easier to understand that they are not the end all, be all of the Scouting program.
When I am told that I do not encourage merit badges because we are a “Backpacking Troop” I look at the Scouter and ask if they know the methods of Scouting. Backpacking, Front Country car camping, or Troop’s that never leave the confines of a cabin all work the methods of Scouting. Advancement is one method and the Scout finds his pace and path to achieve his goals and work his way to Eagle.
We encourage the merit badge program but we do not spend valuable Troop time to work on them, with the exception of Camping, First Aid, and Cooking. Those merit badges, for a troop that camps 11 times a year are all being worked over the course of the program year and are tracked at the unit level.
If the fact that we are not a merit badge mill is not a way of encouraging… well, than guilty as charged.
Now, I am going to be totally honest with you… many of our Scouts only work the merit badges that they need to advance. That is not because we are a backpacking troop, nor is it because we do not encourage the merit badge program. Simply put, our Scouts are having fun. They spend time having fun at summer camp. You will always find our Scouts extremely active at camp. They love to compete and play games. They spend lots of time at the water front and the shooting ranges. If they don’t get the fingerprinting merit badge.. it’s no big deal.
We encourage every Scout to earn an Eagle required Merit Badge at summer camp.. don’t care which one… but at least one from the Eagle required list. Most Scouts work the Environmental Science Merit Badge at summer camp. That and First Aid seem to be the two most popular.
I don’t make a pitch for some of the merit badges that while for some Scouts are super interesting, knowing the boys of my troop are just ‘filler badges’. Like the afore mentioned Finger printing. Let’s face it.. that’s a 10 minute merit badge and the Scout really doesn’t learn much. A great one for the sash, but not getting him that much closer to Eagle Scout and life skills.
I would much rather see them earn Canoeing, Sailing, Emergency Prep or Wilderness survival while at Summer camp or pretty much any other time of the year. But that’s just me, I don’t get to force a Scout to earn a certain merit badge, nor do I get to forbid him from working one. Finger printing, Dog care, Painting, Skating, and Reading, while all great subjects and have a purpose in teaching responsibility on some level and encouraging an interest, I can do without them in the context of Scouting. I know that I will hear some opposing views on this and I suppose that’s why there are 100 + merit badges so there is something for everyone. I don’t discourage any Scout from earning any merit badge that he wants to earn. But when it comes to encouraging Scouts to earn merit badges, well, I just sign the blue card and let them go to work.
I don’t think we need to high-five every Scout that earns the Chess merit badge or the Backpacking merit badge for that matter. They work it, they earn it, they are presented the badge and they get a handshake and a “job well done”. We don’t have contests to see who can earn the most and we don’t look down on the Scout that earns the obligatory 21.
I am still not sure what being a “Backpacking Troop” has to do with anything. This Scouter said that this was “The Reason” we do not encourage the merit badge program.
In closing. The average number of merit badges that Scouts have earned at the time they were awarded their Eagle award is 35. Enough said.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
I have no comment on the results of the election. I hope that everyone voted and did their civic duty.
What I do think about the election and our election process is this. No matter who won there was a process that we the people agree is the best way to elect our leadership. It may not be perfect but it works for us. Not everyone is happy about the results.. about 49% of America is not to jazzed about the outcome, but that is how it works. If we want to change the way it works, we have the ability to do so through the process.
This is a great teaching opportunity for our Scouts, who I am sure have also had their collective fill of TV commercials, junk mail, and dinner table conversations about the election. Now is the time to answer those questions that they may not understand, encourage them to be a part of the process starting with their student government, but most importantly the fact that whether it is a school election or a national election, they must get out and vote and let their voice be heard. Even if that voice is a small oval on a ballot.
I am trying real hard to keep my political opinion to myself here. As we should when talking with our Scouts, but this is my blog and I suppose I can say what I want, but in the interest of being Loyal, Courteous, and kind… I will reserve comment on how I feel about the bad choice we American’s made… Again.
Have a Great Scouting Day
The Patrol is, like the ideals, the foundation of the Troop. The Patrol is where the Scout learns citizenship, it is where they practice democracy, leadership, and teamwork. It is where they find companionship, life long friendships, and a place where they belong. The Patrol is unit of Scouting. Whether for work or play, the Patrol is where Scouting happens!
In the Patrol you have democracy on the small-scale. The boys choose the leader they would like to follow, they plan their own activities and take part in activities planned at the Troop level. When they plan, they execute those activities together.
In a good Patrol, Scout spirit is steadily at work, prompting the participation of each Scout. The 1947 Handbook for Scoutmasters says, “The life in the Patrol creates in its Scouts a strong feeling of comradeship, of obedience to a common cause, and the willingness to help and share so necessary in life.”
The Patrol eats together, camps together, cheers together, and pulls together when the going gets tough. They share the joy of accomplishment, and put their heads together when they fail. They learn together and assist one another in their Scoutcraft and other skills.
The Patrol elects its own leadership. This is an important part of Patrol life. The decisions the Patrol makes in choosing its leadership is up to them and should not be influenced. The Patrol Leader grows as a leader and the rest of the Patrol develops strong skills at being good followers. Soon ever Scout gets his turn, and he will reap the benefits of good followers when he steps up to lead.
The Patrol leader is part of the Patrol Leaders Council (PLC). They run the Troop. Using the Patrol Method, the Patrol Leaders Council will make decisions that have the best interest in the Troop in mind. They will push the Patrols in directions of adventure, service, and committment to the Troop. The PLC along with help from the Scoutmaster is heart of the Patrol Method. When Baden Powell spoke of the Patrol Leaders Council he said, “… is not so much to save trouble for the Scoutmaster as to give responsibility to the boy- since this is the very best way of all means of developing character.”
I am a firm believer that the Patrol is the heart beat of the Troop. Patrols that demonstrate spirit and enthusiasm tend to be great Patrols and have a lot of fun getting the most out of Scouting.
A note on the Patrol method. There are NO ADULTS in Patrols. Adults do not participate with Patrols and aside from the Scoutmaster have no say in the Patrol Leaders Council. The Patrol method is not always pretty. It takes on many shapes and sizes and the level of struggle will vary from Patrol to Patrol. It is important for the Senior Patrol Leader to tackle as many of those struggles as possible. He, after all is the leader that Patrol Leaders look to for the answer.
I have a pet peeve about adults calling themselves a Patrol in the Troop setting (outside of Wood Badge of course). The Patrol method is to be led, practiced, and perfected by young men.
Give them a chance to run their Troop. This is an important method, with out the Patrol method you do not have Scouting.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
When we teach our Scouts about setting goals and accomplishing tasks, we always start with their vision. We ask them to take the time in their mind’s eye and see what the outcome is going to look like. What do they want to see in the end.
Imagine with me for a moment what the vision in Lord Baden Powell’s minds eye looked like for Scouting.
What a wonderful program BP founded. What an awesome movement, one unlike anything the world had seen, and one that stands the test of time, governments, wars, economic hardship, and prosperity.
Happy Founders Day to all of my Brothers and Sisters in Scouting!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
What do we mean when we talk about “Morally Straight”? How do we explain that to our Scouts when our Scouts come from many different backgrounds, family dynamics, and religious beliefs?
Simply put, a Scout is clean in thought, word, and deed.
We had a situation in my troop recently where a concerned parent approached us because her son had been Googling “Questionable” subjects. In the discussion, it became clear that this new Scout had heard some words and ideas from an older Scout and decided to ask google rather than mom and dad what it meant.
Now before we go on, it should be said that the older Scout has had a talking to and this is the message that not only he got, but a great opportunity for me to share “Morally Straight” with the Troop.
You see, as a Scout we make a promise to keep ourselves, among other things, Morally Straight.
That means that we do our very best to stay clean in our thoughts, our words, and our deeds. IF we think nasty thoughts, then we may want to take action on them. IF we say nasty things, then we violate the promises we make in the oath and law. And if we are nasty in our deeds or what we do, we chip away at our character.
Most of what we are talking about is how we act towards women. It is truly the mark of a good man to treat women with respect and dignity. Being morally straight drives how we treat the ladies of our lives. How a man loves and treats his wife is perhaps the most important lesson that he can ever teach his children. How men treat women in general is a real test to what the character is of that man. If we are thinking about women in a less than respectful way, then we will show that in our actions and our words. Women are not “Chicks”, they are not objects to be googled. They should be held in high regard and treated well.
So if you find yourself searching the internet with less than moral intentions, or find yourself telling jokes that paint a nasty picture of women, or if you find yourself acting on something that popular culture has deemed acceptable, but you know in your heart that it is not morally straight.. stop.
Never make yourself a liar. You make a promise when you say the Scout Oath. This promise is binding among men of character. You will lose that when you act without being morally straight.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Picked this up along the way.. it still rings true today.
The Scout Oath and Law are a system of principles, and the program of Scouting is the method of making these principles work in the lives of boys. Let your boys know that the Oath and Law are the rules of the Troop. Scouting is a great game. Boys want to know the rules. When the ideals of the Scout Oath and Law become practical guides for the games, they then become a code to live by.
Keep in mind as you go along that the purpose of Scouting is”‘…to promote,…the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in Scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues,…’ by placing emphasis upon the Scout Oath or Promise and Law for Character development, citizenship training, and physical fitness.”
Knowing the purpose of Scouting and the means of achieving it, you will have made a giant stride in the direction of building good men.
Finally, remember that as the first Scoutmaster Handbook put it- “Our purpose in this Boy Scout Movement is not to exploit methods, not to glorify organizations, not to honor Scoutmasters, but to lead boys into useful lives.”
- The New Scoutmaster, Boy Scouts of America, 1958
As much as we all have tried to say this in other words.. that pretty much sums it up.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
This weekend, our Troop conducted Junior Leader Training. Because we have so many young Scouts, we decided to do things a little different this year. This year, wanted to ensure that the leaders clearly understood what was to be expected as a leader. Instead of the typical classroom environment, we took the training out doors where we do the leading. An over night camping experience in which the Scouts attending the training committed to doing everything right. The committment of the Scouts that arrived on Friday evening at Camp Discovery was apparent from the word go.
We built a camp fire and pulled our chairs up close. The theme for the weekend was Modeling the Expected Behavior. What that means to the Scouts of our Troop is that as leaders they need to set the very best example that they can. As examples they model the behaviors that we expect to see from the rest of the Troop.
So this weekend, the leaders learned about the Teaching EDGE, Leading EDGE, Ethical decision-making, Communicating effectively, and Learning to teach. The leaders shared expectations and demonstrated to one another what “Right looks like”. This morning after teaching one another how to properly pack gear, leave no trace, and cook a meal, they spent some time on the C.O.P.E course working on team development.
At the end of the training it was time for reflection and reinforcing the theme of the weekend. Modeling the Expected Behavior.
This theme will be the driving force for the rest of the year. It is the hope of those that attended the training that they will affect a positive change in the Troop. They all understand that as they go, so will the rest of the Troop.
In my opinion this was the best Junior Leader Training session I have seen our Troop do. There was a clear understanding at the end of the training and I too feel that the Troop will better for it. With so many young Scouts in the Troop and more coming at the end of the month, Scouts that are willing to take responsibility and be the very best example by modeling the expected behavior, will be have a lasting impact on our unit.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
It has been 11 days since I last posted.. Announcing a winner to the SMMPhoto contest. 11 days since I have really sat at the computer and gave the time to jot something down of significance. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites are great ways to let the world know about our minute by minute world changing activities like loosing pounds, winning an online chess game, or showing off a wonderful sunrise, the Blog to me is not that forum and I reserve the time for the blog to share something I think worth sharing.
With that.. 11 days have gone by since anything of significance.. unless I count the great time that I have been enjoying over the last two weeks.
Spending time with the Patrol Leaders Council last week, preparing for a Kayak trip down the Deschutes River with the Troop this coming weekend, wrapping up the final details for our newest Eagle Scout, playing golf and shaving a few strokes off the long game.
Its Football season, and that absorbs lots of my attention. My youngest son stepped on the Football field on September 2nd under the lights of the stadium and made his starting debut as the Quarterback of the Reynolds High School Raiders.. he’s only a Sophomore and over the last two weeks he has made a name for himself on the field demonstrating that passion and hard work will pay huge rewards on the field.
School has started and now the house is once again full of friends, home work, and the drama of school life as 2 Seniors and a Sophomore kicked off yet another academic year. Eagle Projects, Band practice, Football, and conditioning for the upcoming Wrestling season have taken over the lazy days of summer.
Time spent with family and friends have kept me away from the computer and surfing the web, and you know it felt great.
This morning my two buddies and I played a great round of golf. We walked the course joking and making fun of each others game. It was a great time spent with friends. As we walked the course we talked a little about how life has changed since 2001. Our kids have grown up a lot, our jobs never changed, our families got bigger, and aside from an all expense paid trip to Iraq and the loss of some good people, our lives up here in the Northwest really just went on. We have really felt the impact of watching ground zero transform into a monument. Besides the visit to the Pentagon during the National Jamboree, the pain felt in Washington DC did not ripple its way out West.
This week there has been a lot of build up about the anniversary of September the 11th. A tragic day in the history of America but what are we supposed to do. I propose we never forget about what happened, but not just what happened, but who did it and why. We should never forget it and never forgive it. We should fight these distributors of terror, these cowards that have no honor, every day until they are all gone.
One of the ways we fight them is by not letting them disrupt our way of life and our will to be free. We when compromise and dismiss the fact that these terrible beasts are out there to hurt us we let them win. We need to fight and fight and fight. I will fight them every day. I will never forgive them and never forget what they have done to my country. And most of all.. I will not let them win.
If this offends you.. I am don’t know what to tell you… I am not sorry.
What these animals did to our Country is no different than what the Japanese did on December 7th, 1941. And we destroyed them. We won.
We have to make this 10th Anniversary of the 2001 Attack on America a resolution to win.
So remember where you where that day. Remember how you felt. Remember the lives lost, the damage done.. then resolve to get on with our lives and win this war on terror. I AM NOT AFRAID!
To make this Scout like.. a Scout is Brave.. a Scout is Loyal.. and a Scout makes a promise to do his duty to GOD and COUNTRY.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
I spent the better part of the weekend at Camp Pioneer. This weekend, among other things, the camp celebrated its 75th Anniversary. I received an invitation along with other Scoutmasters and folks throughout the Council, so I RSVP’d and attended. It was extra special as my oldest son is on Staff at Camp Pioneer this year, so it was an opportunity to see him. My Troop is heading up to Pioneer in a week, so it was also a real good chance to pick up some Blue cards, look at the program areas and just hang out in my favorite camp our Council has.
Friday night was the celebration for the Anniversary. They had a special dinner and then a program in the Dinning Hall. A slide show of the history of the camp and some “Then and Now” pictures. The 1974 Aquatics staff was there.. all of them. It was neat to hear their stories and meet them. They have all gone on to do good things with their lives and to hear them speak about the camp with such fondness really hit me.
Their collective love for this camp brought them back, not only as youth, (many had staffed at the camp for up to 7 years), but now to be a part of the 75th Anniversary. What really touched me was the strong tradition that they embodied. This was particularly special to see and as I watched today’s staff interact with them I saw light bulbs flash on. I saw the passing of the torch.
I brought our son home for the night and as we drove the 128 miles we talked about this tradition at Camp Pioneer. He said that up until he talked and heard the 1974 staff share their stories he did not understand where some of the stuff they did came from. Songs that are sung, ways that programs are introduced, skits, and camp traditions. It made the camp come alive for all us that love Camp Pioneer.
I have always loved Camp Pioneer and this weekend really increased that love. Yesterday before I left camp I sat and looked over the spectacular view. The lake and the over looking Mt. Jefferson called me. As I sat in the Chapel bowl I could hear the staff wrapping up the end of the week’s session with the Camp Song.
Camp Pioneer we’re loyal to your code, Together we will hike the eagle road, We love your lofty pines and lake so blue, Camp Pioneer our memories always turn to you, In love and friendship we will work and play, A helping hand to each upon his way, And may our faces shine, And spirits intertwine, Camp Pioneer, that’s why we’re here, Camp Pioneer.
Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray, Hooray, Hip Hip!!
It brought a smile to my face remembering the 1974 staff singing the song on Friday night along side the current staff.
Then as we walked out to the parking lot after dropping John off to head home the sound of Pioneer Vespers rang in my head. I could not help but feel that Scouting traditions are alive and well and summer camp is that place that really brings it out in all of us.
When this land was untamed and free, A few brave men built a great country, Fighting for freedom, Despite their fears, We know these men as Pioneers,
High in the mountains where the green meets blue, Camp Pioneer’s calling you.
Here in the Cascades, the spirit lives on, A brotherhood of love, our voices in song, Learning to be leaders, For Future years, We shall be known as the new Pioneers,
High in the mountains where the green meets blue, Camp Pioneer’s calling you. Camp Pioneer is calling you.”
Have a Great Scouting Day!