training

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

Modeling Expected Behavior

expectmoreI often preach about how I expect more out of our young men, that nothing in life will be easy, and that there are no participation ribbons just for showing up in life.  When it comes to leadership, the Scouts in our Troop hear it over and over again that we all need to “Model Expected Behavior” and they all  should at least have an understanding of what that means. For the Scouts of our Troop that means that good is not good enough.  It means that we do things right, we learn from mistakes, and we hold one another to a higher standard.
So what does that mean?  Is is arrogant of us to act that way?  Well, to the outsider looking in, yep.. but for us we look at it this way.  The world around us is happy with mediocre leadership, results, and standards of living.  I’m not ok with that when it comes to our Scouts.
We are not a merit badge mill nor are we an Eagle factory.  We do not measure success in the amount of Scouts that earned awards or rank each year.  We measure success in the way our Scouts act.  We see direct results in watching older Scouts teach younger Scouts and hold each other accountable.  We measure our success in growth and sustained attendance.  Is our Troop for everyone.. nah.. but no troop is.  Even though we all work toward the Aims of Scouting, our programs are different in their delivery.  I could not be in a Troop that had more adult involvement than Scouts.  I could not be a unit that did merit badge classes each week.  I could not be in a Troop that produces Eagle Scouts that can not do the basics.  I could not be apart of a Troop that did not seek adventure and test the limits.
This weekend, our Troop camped at a local Scout camp.  There were not a lot of miles walked and the weather was great.  It got real cold, and that tested some of the boys in the troop.  Some Scouts pushed their boundaries by shooting Shot guns for the first time, while other Scouts increased their knowledge and leadership skills at Junior Leader Training.  A few Scouts were taken out of their comfort zones as they taught the Junior Leader Training.  No matter what level of the Scout there was challenge enough for everyone.
Our Junior Leader Training follows the National program, but we tend to focus heavily on communication skills, team development, Conflict resolution, and expectations of leaders.
We start the session with a talk about Modeling Expected Behavior and then everything that follows in the course of training maintains that theme.  We expect our Scouts to be and act the best.  Good is never good enough.  The team deserves that attitude from everyone.  If they all act their best.. they become the best.  A high performance team.
Now you may ask.. aren’t you expecting too much from these young men.  Nope.  If I don’t who will?  We see too much “getting by” in our world and I will not be party to it.  Do we exclude young men when we expect more from them?  NO.. we expect more and they give more… like it or not.. That I don’t care about.  Life is going to expect a lot from them.  Why treat them with kiddy gloves now.
Does this mean we are hard ass’s?  Not at all.  We stay within the Scout Oath and Law.  Teaching in a friendly, fun, challenging atmosphere.  But when things are not right, a leader (adult or youth) simply corrects the issue and we move on.  Un tied shoes, un tucked shirts, gear looking like a yard sale, bad attitudes, improper set up or use of gear, not living the vlaues of the Scout Oath and Law.  These are things that other Scout leaders just allow.  Kids will be kids… yeah.. but bad habits last forever.  Good attitudes, skills, and behavior does to and gets them a lot farther in life.
So modeling expected behavior is a cultural thing.  We don’t march, we don’t yell.. yelling is for ineffective bad leaders.. we just teach, coach, train, and mentor.. oh and we model expected behavior.  Adults don’t get a free pass on bad behavior either.  We are expected to model what we expect.
The proof is in the pudding.  Our Troop grows annually.  We lose Scouts too, and that’s ok, maybe we are not the fit for them.  Maybe XBox and lower expectations is what they are looking for in life.  And that’s ok.. just not in our Troop.
This morning a Scout was standing under a shelter pouting.  His hands were cold, after all, it was 24 degrees outside.  His Patrol leader had just instructed him to get his gloves on.  The Scout could not find them.  So the Patrol leader and the Scout went to his pack and dumped it out.  There were the gloves.  I then saw the Scout standing there not assisting with his Patrol in breaking camp and wrapping up the clean up.  I called him over to where I was standing watching.  I asked him if he was ok.  Yeah.. he said, but I’m cold.  I suggested that if he would get moving he would warm up.  If he would help his Patrol mates out.. he would start to feel a bit warmer.  I asked him why he was pouting earlier and he told me that his hands were cold.  I asked him what he did about it… fully knowing what had happened.  He said that he found his gloves and put them on.  Then I had him recite the Scout Law to me.  And asked to him to reflect on the meaning of being Trustworthy.  We talked a bit about making choices and how he was either going to develop good habits and skills, or he would develop bad ones.  The choice was his, not mine, the Patrol leaders, or his parents.  He would have to make a choice which path he wanted to take.  He turned and walked back to his patrol and pitched in.  You see, if we let it go, it won’t change.  If we expect little, that is what we get.  So we chose to expect more.  And not surprisingly we get more.
When our Youth leaders set good examples and model the behavior that we want out of our Troop.. that is what we get.
There is nothing wrong with winning and losing.  We can learn from both.  There is everything wrong with not learning and not trying to learn, to push, and to find success.
I had a talk with a Scoutmaster about this a while ago.  He said that “I bet they all march around and it’s all yes sir this and no sir that..”  On the contrary.. In fact the Scouts in my Troop call me Jerry and we call them by their names.  There is no marching, yelling, or military like behavior.. just a lot of fun and development.  It is an environment that is comfortable, friendly, and leaves them wanting to come back.
At the end of each camp out we close with lessons learned, Start, Stop, and Continue.  Today the Senior Patrol leader led the discussion with whole troop.  As the next two camp outs will be up on the mountain, this camp out was a great opportunity to learn and get ready for the up coming outings.  He had each Scout share one thing that needs to improve in the next 3 weeks.  I listened as the Scouts really gave some thought to their answers.  It was in some of the more experienced Scouts answers that I realized that they got it.. they are modeling expected behavior.  They were critical of themselves and how they prepared for this camp out.  The next one will be that much more successful.
Expect more.. get more.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, Backpacking, blog, Camping, Citizenship, comments, Competition, gear, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, respect, Scouting, Scoutmaster conference, Scoutmaster minute, Service, Skills, teamwork, training, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Treat them like you want them to be

Yep… that’s a lengthy title and I really do not want this to become a rant, BUT… it seems that I get in an inordinate amount of emails reminding me that we are working with boys and that these boys are not responsible enough to do this or that.  They are not responsible or skilled enough to participate in this or another thing.  Recently I was reminded that in my video that I talked about how I am carrying my fuel now that the G2SS suggests that fuel be carried in the original container or a container suitable for the use of carrying fuel.  And I agree that is what the G2SS says.  And here is the rub.
When you really look at most of the “Prohibitions” in Scouting they are place, not really for safety or to reinforce Scouting’s values.  They are in place for the lowest common denominator.  They are in place to protect, not the BSA, but ourselves.  And why do we need them?  Well, because people are not smart enough to know that coffee is hot and when it spills on you, you get burned.  Every McDonalds coffee cup tells you so… why?  Because people are not smart enough to figure it out.. the lowest common denominator.
The Boy Scouts of America has a certain level of protection that it must put in place so it does not get sued.. I get that.  But there are common practices in the Backpacking world and elsewhere that look at the BSA and shake their heads in disbelief at the “old School” ways it is stuck in.  That is but one example but to the point I am trying to make…
When are we going to treat our Scouts the way we want them to act in life.  After all, we are here to teach them to make ethical choices throughout their life times right?  We are here to impart some life skills and wisdom on them, right?  We are not here to shelter them from the world.. no… we are here to give them a set of values that will help them navigate the world we live in.
So why do we treat them with kiddy gloves?  Why not give them responsibility and let them learn.  Let them explore and develop good habits.. safe habits.
I can not tell you how many Scoutmasters I know that believe that liquid fuel is prohibited by the BSA.. or they just won’t let their Scouts use it because it is dangerous.  Hog wash!
It is that kind of thinking that prohibits other things in Scouting.  It is that old way of thinking that holds back Scouts from learning and exploring.  It is that kind of thinking that does not allow for change and new ideas, skills, and yep… gear.
I make it a point in our Troop to push the boundaries, to test the waters.  We stay legal rest assured, but I want our Scouts to explore and discover.  To learn and test new things.  First, it keeps them interested.  And second, they have fun.  They love to push themselves and have something cool that is common in the “real world” of backpacking.  They test themselves and how they are skilled.  They are better for it.
So when are you going to treat your Scouts like you want them to be?  Stop dumbing down the program and push the limits… get out on the edge and take a peak over.. the more we do it and the do it right and safe.. maybe Scouting will see what is beyond their limits and grow.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, comments, gear, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Methods, Motto, respect, Scouting, Skills, training, Values, Youth Protection | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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

More tips of shaving weight

scale_bigIn our last post we talked about getting weight down by looking at the pack you are carrying.  That is an important part of the process of getting your base weight down.. so now lets talk about ways that you can shave weight on the stuff you put in side.
1.  Make lists.  Make a spreadsheet or list of everything that you have.  Weigh every piece of gear.  Now, I am no gram weenie and the thought of looking that close at gear at first was just plain wrong, but then I noticed how quickly ounces add up.
2.  Prioritize your list of needs and wants.  What do you need and what do you just want to have out there.  Some folks think that they need something, but then learn that it really was just a want.  Look closely at your gear.  One thing that I do is after each outing I dump my pack, clean and dry everything and then lay it all out.  If I did not use a piece of gear I assess whether I want it in my pack or I need it my pack.  A first aid kit is a need even though it may never get used (hopefully).  I have found that in most cases if I did not use a piece of gear on one outing, I probably won’t use it on the next.
3.  Look at your seasonal gear.  I store my winter gear in a separate tub.  I pull it out when needed and put it back when the weather turns.  Don’t get in the habit of just keeping seasonal items in your pack.  Winter tent stakes or anchors are heavier than your regular stakes.  Gloves and other cold weather gear just adds un needed weight in the summer.
4.  Food.  Plan, Plan, Plan..  You can shave lots of weight in food.  The best part of food packing is that meal after meal your pack gets lighter.  Repackage your meals.  Do not take any boxes, cans, or heavy wrapping.  Zip lock bags work great and can reduce the size and weight of your meals.  Even if you use Mountain House of other Freeze dried meals.  Take them out of the original packaging.  Cook it in your pot instead of the bag.  Mountain House (and other brands) bags are heavy and bulky.
Plan your meals.  Just because you are in Scouts does not mean that you need to cook a 3 course meal every meal of the day.  Trail foods, Gorp, energy bars, breakfast bars, jerky, and peanut butter packets make a great trail lunch and will fit in 1 ziplock sandwich bag.  Eat hot meals in the morning and night, but repackage them and take out the stuff you are not going to eat anyway.
5.  Water.  Purification tablets like the Aquamira tablets or the Katadyn tablets work great and take up little or no space in your pack.  You don’t get the instant drink of water, but you do shave some significant weight.  Also, ditch the Nalgene bottle.  Go with a bladder or even an old Gatoraid bottle.  They both are lighter and now a days.. just as durable.
Just like everything when it comes to backpacking.. planning and preparation are the key to success.  You can shave weight instantly by being a better planner.  Have a critical eye and accept that you can live without that one piece of gear that was bright and shiny and just would not let you run out of REI without it.
Yep.. These are lessons that I learned the hard way.  I used to carry the kitchen sink because that is how I was taught.  But as gear gets lighter and my body gets older, its time for the old dogs to learn new tricks and lighten up the load.
Last thought on this.  After the last post, I received emails about shaving weight and some folks left comments.  I really appreciate the comments and tips and tricks you all use to shave weight and have a great time out in the woods.  What I do want to say, and I have said it before, that you need to hike your own hike.. you need to find what works for you and tinker with your set up.
When teaching the Scouts we give them the tips and tricks and then see what they come up with.  Some of them really take that critical eye and get their weight and volume down.  And those that do find they have a better time on the trail.  Their pack is not constantly kicking their butts and they are fresher when they get to camp.  Those that choose not to take a look at their gear..well, they do one of two things.  Struggle or suck it up.
Last tip.
Upgrade.  I know gear gets spendy.  Try to upgrade one item a year.  Your sleep system, your shelter, your pack, whatever.  If it’s not every year, set a goal and look at the one piece of gear that will give you the highest pay off in weight savings and volume reduction and get it when you can.  Then set a new goal for the next piece.  Spend a few hours at your favorite outfitter and test it all out.  Get in the sleeping bag, set up the tent, feel the weight and look it the item packed and set up.  See what will work for you and get what you like and what will best fit your kit.
Hike your own Hike and Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, High Adventure, planning, Skills, training | Leave a comment

Band-aids

The other night we had a spirited conversation with our Troop committee about, among other things, youth leadership and keeping older Scouts engaged.
One of the main ingredients of the Patrol method and effective youth leadership at the Troop level is that the youth run it.  Well, no duh.. right.  And sometimes that is not always a pretty process which in many cases parents are not happy seeing.  And in many cases it has an adverse effect on the Scouts in the troop also.  And there is the issue.
We can stand back and watch the Scouts struggle and bleed… or we can rush in and apply band-aids for every skinned knee.
Now if we are doing this right.  We teach and coach, we train and mentor, and we allow knees to get skinned on occasion and see if the Scouts apply their own band aids.  When the bleeding gets out of control.. there we are to assist in whatever the wound of the day is.
I presented that analogy to a parent the other night, I am pretty sure they got it, but I stressed that as a Scoutmaster we always try to find a good balance between the bleeding and the band-aids.
Scouts need to be in charge and allowed to make mistakes.. even fail.  They need to struggle through some really bad meetings and then challenged to see where the issues are and make attempts and fixing them.  We are always there with our first aid kits (figuratively speaking) to apply a band-aid when needed.  Sometimes that band-aid comes in the form of a complete shut down, sometimes it’s a gentle talk with and offering of advice.  But no matter what it is always the Scouts that come up with the solution, the right idea, and the plan to get out of the mess they are in.
Parents and Scouts alike do not like a disorganized  and non productive meeting.  I don’t mind them.. especially because they lead to teaching and learning opportunities…
But what of the Scouts (and parents) that decided that they are not patient enough to allow the process to work?
Well, they need to develop some patients, the Scouts need to be trained properly, and the program needs to be allowed to work.  When those happen, learning happens and the Scouts start to see more success over failure.
If a Scout says they are going to leave… well, try to explain to them that this is all a part of the process.  Ask them what they are doing to help.  If they insist on leaving.. invited them back.
I don’t know that you can convince them all, those that get it get it.  Those that don’t and refuse to be patient really don’t understand Scouting and what we are trying to accomplish here.
We are not a church club or a Cub Scout pack.  We are trying to play a game with a purpose that forces young men to make decisions and develop leadership skills.  We are asking that these same boys make ethical choices that will serve as the foundation of their decision-making for the rest of their lives.  We are trying to show them through the process that life is hard and those that work hard, handle adversity well, and can work with others on a team will be successful in life.  They will measure their success not in wealth, but in how they live a life of character.
So we can stand back and let them bleed a little, or we can rush in with the band-aids.
To be honest, I really don’t mind the sight of a little blood.  It means that they are learning.
Before I get emails and comments about letting Scouts get hurt.. that is NOT what I am suggesting.  It is just an analogy.  If it doesn’t work for you so be it.
Train ‘em..Trust ‘em.. and let ‘em lead!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, comments, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Patrol Method, Scoutmaster minute, Skills, teamwork, training, Values | 3 Comments

Why Wood Badge?

For those of you that have been to Wood Badge you understand the great training, the lasting friendships, and the spirit of Scouting that comes in every Wood Badge course.  You get idea that every Scout deserves a trained leader and that in Wood Badge you are participating in the Advanced Leadership Course of the Boy Scouts of America.  You understand the committment that it takes in time and money to seek out the best training and then follow-up that training by spending up to a year and half working a ticket designed to make Scouting better for the youth we serve.  You get all of that.
So why should a Scouter go to Wood Badge.  Yes, it’s all of the stuff previously stated but it’s a lot more than that.
Why Wood Badge?  Well for starters it is the best Scout leader training the BSA has.  No matter at which level you serve in Scouting, Wood Badge has something for you.  Whether you are the Chief Scout Executive or a Den Leader, Wood Badge will teach you how to provide a great program for our Scouts starting with why we do this thing called Scouting.  The Wood Badge experience gives you insight to the World of Scouting, not just your little piece.  It reinforces methods and Aims and gets all Scouters on the same sheet of music, and yep, you will be singing a lot!
Wood Badge allows you the much-needed opportunity to step back into the hiking boots of a Scout and be that Scout as he experiences Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, and is introduced to Venture Scouts.  You get to learn like a Scout learns and in doing so you become a better communicator and teacher.  You learn to train and lead using the EDGE method.  I think you will find that this method satisfies every learning style and will assist you in sharpening your leadership skills.
Wood Badge sends you back to you unit with a song in your heart, a smile on your face, and a mission to make Scouting better.
The training at Wood Badge will make you a better Scouter, a better Spouse, a better employee when you use the tools taught in the course.  It gives you perspective on everything in your life and a method to work you future plans in and out of Scouting.  The Wood Badge training is world-class and is used in corporate America and in organizations big and small.
So why Wood Badge?  Well, for one thing, it is our direct link to Baden Powell’s training of Scouters.  The methods may have been refined, the uniforms certainly are different, and Scouting has changed with the times, but the Wood Badge is the Wood Badge and our history and tradition in Scouting is brought full circle in the Wood Badge experience.
When Baden Powell held the first Scoutmaster Training at Gilwell, he organized the participants into Patrols.  This is the foundation of a Boy Scout Troop and BP understood that we learn by doing and do it with our Patrol.  During the Wood Badge course the instruction all leads to doing.  Within the Patrol, the participants work together to become a high performance team.  Once this is realized, the experience can be taken back and applied in the Scouters unit. 
Wood Badge has four specific objectives and as a result of attending Wood Badge, participants will be able to:
First, View Scouting globally, as a family of interrelated, values-based programs that provide age-appropriate activities for youth.
Second. Recognize the contemporary leadership concepts utilized in corporate America and leading government organizations that are relevant to our values-based movement.
Third,  Apply the skills they learn from their participation as a member of a successful working team.
And finally, Revitalize their commitment by sharing in an overall inspirational experience that helps provide Scouting with the leadership it needs to accomplish its mission on an ongoing basis.
So Why Wood Badge?  Back when I became a new Scouter helping out with my oldest son’s Pack I was invited to go to Wood Badge.  I did not give it too much thought, after all, I was just a Cub Scout Den Leader, why do I need more training?  Then I became a Cubmaster, and again, an invitation to Wood Badge was extended.  A group of Scouters that were (and still are) super active in the District kept encouraging me to go to Wood Badge.  They kept telling me that this “Mountain Top” Scouting experience was something that I really needed to attend.  And again, I blew it off thinking that everything was going great in the Pack and I really didn’t need more leadership training.  In 2004 I became a Scoutmaster, and again the same group of Scouters encouraged me to get to Wood Badge.  I went to a Wood Badge dinner in January of 2005.  It was a gathering to recognize Wood Badge participants that had completed their tickets and introduce Wood Badge to prospective participants.  My wife and I went and enjoyed the evening.  The room was filled with the most enthusiastic Scouters I have ever seen.  They were from every corner of the council and represented every level of Scouting.  Toward the end of the program a Scouter stood in front of the crowd and asked if “There were any Beavers in the house?”  At first I thought he was referring to the Oregon State Beavers.. but what happened next sealed the deal for me.  About a dozen Scouters stood up and broke out in song, when they were finished, the whole room (well those Scouters with beads on) stood and sang.  They all sat down and about another dozen different Scouters stood and sang a verse about Bobwhites.. and so it went till the whole room was singing.  The staffers closed out the song and everyone began hugging and shaking hands and there was nothing but smiles and laughter in the room.  I sat there with my wife with a big grin on my face.  My wife looked at me and said.. “Well… go sign up.”  And that night I registered for the next course. 
I participated in WE1-492-1-05 and was placed in the Beaver Patrol.  I did have a “Mountain Top” experience and took all I learned back to my Troop.  In 2009 I was asked to be on Staff.  I had to turn it down because I was over extended as not only the Scoutmaster of my Troop, but the Scoutmaster of a Troop heading to the National Jamboree.  In late 2010, I was asked again to be on staff for the 2011 course and I immediately said yes.  I served as a Troop guide for W1-492-11 and as I have shared with my fellow Troop guides and the mighty Buffalo Patrol, “I had a great experience when I went to Wood Badge, I fell in love with Wood Badge on staff.”  Early this year I was asked again to staff a Wood Badge course.  And again, I said yes. 
The people who attend Wood Badge and those that staff Wood Badge are the greatest Scouters out there.  Their dedication to Scouting and the youth we serve is second to none.  Their committment to training and making the Scouting organization better is beyond compare.
So Why Wood Badge?  Why Not?
If you have been invited to attend Wood Badge, please consider it.  You will not regret it.  If you are concerned about time and money.  Contact your local Wood Badge staff, ask at your next roundtable, there are ways to get you into the next course.  The benefits of Wood Badge outweigh the excuses not to go.  You are a dedicated Scouter, I know this, because you waste you time reading my blog.  SO if you have not been to Wood Badge..  GO!  And you will have a great experience.  I promise.
If you are a Wood Badger… What’s your Critter?  Leave a comment and share your Wood Badge story.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Ideals, Leadership, Leave no trace, Methods, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, planning, Scout Law, Service, Skills, teamwork, training, Wood Badge | 4 Comments

Be Prepared

“Be prepared for what?”  I always ask our Scouts.. “Anything” is the answer and they are correct.
This last weekend, the Scouts of my Troop went camping out at one of our favorite Scout properties, Royce Finel on the Oregon Coast.  Heading out to the coast in November is as the young guys say “Sketchy”.  You never know what kind of weather to expect, but for the most part you can expect to get wet.
The plan for weekend was to work some camp skills and have a cook off for the dinner meal.  The weeks leading up to the camp out I kept hearing the SPL announce to Be Prepared to be cold and wet.  The week leading into the camp out a couple of the older scouts brought in their packs to show how to pack for wet weather and gave some tips on staying dry.
Well, the proof is in the pudding as they say and Friday night arrived and it was time to go.  It started raining while we gathered in the parking lot at the church and got the packs loaded into my truck.  When we got to the trail head the rain had let up a little and we started our hike in to camp.  The heavy coastal rains from the last couple days made the trail interesting, especially when we got to a couple of areas where crossing swampy land was made difficult due to high water and some of the foot bridges being washed out.  But we arrived in camp and got things set up.
The first thing that I noted was that instead of jumping right into setting up tents, they had carried tarps in and set them up and got all the packs under the cover.  Then the older guys helped the newer Scouts get their tents set up and their gear put away.  The next morning after a night of heavy rain, everyone was dry and ready to have a great day.  The Troop cooked breakfast and got things cleaned up and we decided that since it was raining, and it looked like it would rain all day, that we would hike back out to the cars and head to Ft. Stevens and tour the museum there. 
After a couple of hours at Ft. Stevens we loaded up and headed back to camp.  The hike in this time was drier as it stopped raining.  Lunch was prepared and the Scouts started working on skills, namely getting a fire going.  There was nothing dry in the camp, but they managed to find some undergrowth beneath a fallen tree that would prove to be just the thing to get a fire going.  They gathered anything, wet or dry, lying around that would burn and they were successful in getting a fire going.  I checked on the guys sometime after the fire was roaring, the scouts were dry and having a great time.
The cook off went well, and everyone was thankful that the rain held out.  Around 6 PM it was dark and we all stood around the fire singing songs and telling jokes.  At 7:30 it started to rain, then came the thunder and lightning.  The guys decided it was time to head to their tents and we all went down for the night after the fire was put out.
Sunday morning we had a little drizzle, but the Scouts got packed up, ate breakfast, and we hiked back to the parking lot.  At the end of the parking lot is a dock going out into the lake, it was decided that the dock would be a good place for our Scouts own service.  At the conclusion of the service, the SPL went around the circle and had each Scout tell us what they learned over the weekend.  Some talked about how they learned to make fire in the rain, some talked about their gear, some talked about what they need to do better next time.  As I listened to them talk I heard one theme come out, and that was being prepared.
Knowledge, skills, learning from mistakes, the right gear used correctly.  All of these things lead to being prepared.  Prepared for anything.
As we arrived back in town for pick up, one of the parents made a comment about how clean everyone was.  Yeah, we had muddy boots, but uniform pants, and wet rain gear, were all clean.  One of the newer Scouts looked to his dad and said, that’s how you stay dry and warm and have a good time camping.  I smiled and said to the dad, “well I guess they do listen.”
Whether it is gear, skills, or knowledge, putting it together is the key to being prepared.  It is great when you see it put to the test and when the Scouts see themselves a success in being prepared.  It is a lesson that they will never forget and one that they will use more often in scouting and in life.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, gear, Just fun, Leadership, Motto, training | 4 Comments

One of those great Scouting Days

Yesterday I participated in a great Scouting Day.  Our Annual Program and Training Conference was held yesterday at the Scouthridge high School.  I am not sure how many Scouters participated, but there where many.  I got the feeling that there were more than last year.  There were classes ranging in topic from Songs and Skits to High Adventure.  There was a nice midway that hosted a booths from the Scout Shop to Pampered Chef.  For you Dutch Oven cooks out there, Pampered Chef has some real nice stuff.  Anyway, there was a lot to see and do and I was happy to see that Boy Scout leader participation was up.
You see we used to have a couple of opportunities for Scouters in the Council to gather and get some training and program ideas.  We used to have an Advancement extravaganza, this was primarily for the Boy Scout Program.  And we used to have a fun event called Pow Wow.  It was geared for Cub Scouters, but a real fun day of training and gathering of ideas.  Last year the two programs were combined into the Program and Training Conference.  I believe it was an idea borrowed from the Chief Seattle Council.  So last year was the first time that I was asked to teach and so I did.  I was invited back this year.  Scouter Adam and I held a couple of sessions on using Social media for your unit and I taught Scouters about the Scoutmaster Conference, one of my most favorite subjects in Scouting.
I did two sessions of the SM Conference and they seemed to be received well.  What I find interesting is the different views on BSA policy and the way in which Scouters interpret the BSA training.  You see this in the way people ask questions and share their opinion on one issue or another.  Now I am not saying this is always a bad thing, especially when they are looking for the right answer or the right way to do something, but it still drives home the point that Training and doing training right is important.
Mike Walton from the USSSP was a guest presenter this year.  He flew out from Minnesota to share some thoughts of up coming changes in the BSA and did a joint session with our Councils CFO.  It was an interesting session to say the least.  I say that in a real good way because Jason and Mike both told it straight yesterday, and for those of you that have read this blog for anytime, you know that’s what I like and that’s how I do it.   They shared thoughts of current issues, you know the homosexual thing, and they talked a lot about money in Scouting.  I loved the comments about how people tend to blame “Council” for many of the problems, issues with their units, and financial woes.  Jason asked “who is the council?”  You see the majority of Scouting volunteers equate the “Council” with the support desk, the DE’s, and the people who never seem to stop asking for money.  But, the answer is that WE Volunteers are “THE COUNCIL”.  Too many units, Scouters, and other volunteers fail to take matters into their own hands when problem solving for their units, yes there are times when we need the support of the DE or the support desk, but to blame Council for every problem we have in our Scouting world is laughable.  It was refreshing to hear it out loud yesterday by both the volunteer and the professional.
I spent a fair amount of time hanging out with the Wood Badge crowd yesterday.  Recruiting for the upcoming course and spreading the word about great Scouting training.  Again it was nice to see how many Scouters showed interest in Wood Badge and it looks like we are going to have another full class, just based on interest.  Registration opened yesterday too, so we will see how quick the class fill up.
Yesterday was a fun day of hanging out with Scouting friends, sharing ideas, and helping Scouters deliver the promise.
Like yesterday was for me, and bid you Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, blog, comments, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Scoutmaster conference, Service, training, Wood Badge | Tags: | 3 Comments

What kind of Scoutmaster are you?

In the last post, we got a pretty good feel for the general attitude toward the “Merit Badge Mill” for a lack of a better term.  It seems that there is not a lot of support for this style of merit badge earning.
Now, I did receive some emails that found that style the best practice in, as one guy put it “the world we live in”.  But those comments were far less than those opposed.  In all fairness… I did ‘accept’ any comment that was made on the blog.  I did not respond to all of the emails, especially the one that called me “Old fashioned and not in touch with today’s Scouts”.
Which led me to thinking this week… What kind of Scoutmaster are you?
It was brought to my attention that the 1998 Scout Handbook does not make mention of Baden-Powell.  I have not checked this out for myself, but if that is the case, it begs the question.. Why?
But back to the subject at hand.. What kind of Scoutmaster are you?
Baden-Powell said in “Aids to Scoutmastership” that we need not be “Know it all’s”
To be a Scoutmaster you need:

  • He must have the boy spirit in him; and must be able to place himself on a right plane with his boys as a first step.
  • He must realise the needs, outlooks and desires of the different ages of boy life.
  • He must deal with the individual boy rather than with the mass.
  • He then needs to promote a corporate spirit among his individuals to gain the best results

Now BP goes on to explain all these points in the book and I won’t just copy and paste the whole thing here.. Google search Aids to Scoutmastership and get your own copy and read it.  But I will say that if you do as BP says.. you may just be a good Scoutmaster.
Scoutmasters should be a friend to the Scouts.  He should remember that these are boys and not adults.  We ask a lot from these young men which is all a part of the program, but at the end of the day they are boys.  They have issues at home, school, sports teams, and the everyday life of a teen ager.  So for the Scoutmaster that places himself on the “right plane” with the Scouts does a better job understanding them and working with them as they grow and develop.
The Scoutmaster needs to understand where the Scouts are in life.  Once again, they are not men, they are boys and they all grow and develop at different rates.  Some 14 year olds are more mature that others.  Some 12 year olds mature faster than some 15 year olds.  So it is important that the Scoutmaster works with the Scouts individually and not paint broad strokes with his Scoutmaster brush.  At the same time, the Scoutmaster needs to build the team up as well as the individual.  The team (Troop and Patrol) is an important part of the Scouting program and a huge part in developing young men.
On the other hand.  And I know too many Scoutmasters like this, they are ‘roped’ into doing the job, they have no real desire to do the job but they do it because their son is in the troop, and they have no desire to learn the program or assist in running it right.
Now is that a subjective statement.  Not so much.  In the introduction to being a Scoutmaster in the Scoutmaster training program, the trainers introduce the new Scoutmasters to the 8 methods of Scouting.  And with few exceptions the methods have remained the same for 102 years.  Those same methods that BP himself outlined.
In both Aids to Scoutmastership and Scouting for Boys, you can find all of the methods that we currently use to achieve the Aims of Scouting.
The Patrol being the foundation for the Scout to start learning.   The ideals found in the Scout Oath and Law as well as the motto and slogan take that foundation and apply it to their daily lives and the attitudes that shape the Patrol as a group.  Scouting is done and should always be done in the outdoors with a Patrol.  The Outdoor program is fundamental in the Scouting program.  It is as BP said “our classroom”.  Advancement opportunities set challenges and goals for the Scout to meet.  The Advancement program tests the Scouts ability to manage his goal setting and give him a measurement of his own success.  Not the success of the unit, but himself.  The association with adults is a method that is often confused.  Confused, because it is a method for the Scout.. not the adult.  In associating with adults the Scout learns to manuever through the world.  It places the Scout in a position to learn to be comfortable in job settings as well as social settings.  The adults role in this method is to be a good example.  Personal Growth is perhaps one of the most important methods that is often overlooked by Scoutmasters that do not take a personal care for each of the Scouts in their Troop.  The Scoutmaster that does the job for a set amount of time or because no one else would take the job often look at Scouting as a camping club.  Merit badges just happen at Summer camp and it really doesn’t matter if there is personal growth in the individual Scouts.  I mean, after all you only have to care for them on Monday nights and one weekend a month… right?  The uniform is where I see most of the lack of care for methods.  Cost is always an excuse, but rarely a solution is given.  The uniform has been a part of Scouting since the very beginning and should remain a method as long as Scouting exists.  It is not a financial burden if the Scout believes and lives the part of the law that suggests that he is “Thrifty”.  Adults create the burden by not enforcing the standard.  To many parents fail to see the value in Scouting’s values and would rather take the easy way out and just say that it can’t be done.  Hog Wash!  And finally, when it comes to methods Leadership development.  Now, I do know that I put this one last and that is not how they are listed… but here is where I see a big gap in the ways in which Scoutmastership is practiced.
Leaders are made, not born and sometimes that trial and error called learning is not pretty.  The Patrol and Troop are the practice grounds for leadership development.  And to be honest.. it’s real ugly sometimes.. that is when the good Scoutmaster needs to allow it to be ugly.  Parents don’t like to see that.. but it is the best way for a Scout to learn.  Mistakes are opportunities to learn as long as the Scoutmaster is there to teach, coach, train, and mentor the Scout.  By applying “Guided Discovery” the Scout will develop into a leader.  He may not be the next Patton or [insert your favorite leader here], but the lessons he learns while discovering his leadership potential will serve him later in life.
In short.. What kind of Scoutmaster are you?  Are you one that embraces the lessons taught us by Baden-Powell or do we throw it all out the window for “modern thinking” and convenience.  “Old fashioned and not in touch with today’s Scout”.  I don’t know about you, but can you disagree with the Values of Scouting?  How about the methods?  These are time-tested and work well when applied by caring Scoutmasters.
If that makes me old-fashioned… so be it.. but if you do as BP suggests.. you can never be out of touch with today’s Scout.  They are the same as they always have been… they are boys looking for adventure.
I am curious to hear what you have to say about this.  What kind of Scoutmaster are you?
“What the Scoutmaster does, his boys will do. The Scoutmaster is reflected in his scouts. From the self-sacrifice and patriotism of their Scoutmaster, Scouts inherit the practice of voluntary self-sacrifice and patriotic service.” – BP in Aids to Scoutmastership

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, blog, Character, comments, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, Scoutmaster minute, teamwork, training, Values | 5 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

UltraLight Backpacking or Bust!

Cutting Pounds One Ounce at a Time

David's Passage

Outdoor Video Blog

QBQ!

Be Outstanding Through Personal Accountability

Girly Camping®

It's Not Just For Boys...

STORIES of TROOP 175

Camping and Events

Hanging On The Trail

Planning and completing a 2014 Appalachian Trail thru-hike

Mr. Harrison's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Leader Daze

Life, Camp, and Scouting

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,164 other followers

%d bloggers like this: