To serve

give“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”- John F. Kennedy
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
“The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others.” ― Robert Baden-Powell

Service.  Given with no expectation of something in return is how a Scout must live to hold up his end of the promise he makes in the Scout Oath and Law.  But the world we live in today dictates that something is gained when something is given.  It is how things work.  Except when we are talking about true leadership which of course is a dedicated life of service.
We see in the quotes above a call to service.  John F. Kennedy in his famous “ask not” inaugural speech instructed America and the World to be of service to one another.  To forgo expectation of getting, but rather to give.  It is when we collectively give and expect nothing in return that we truly serve.
Martin Luther King Jr. quoted from the Bible sharing the story of the Good Samaritan.  A perfect example of giving, of serving our fellow man, not just those that we like or we find in our circles.
And finally, our founder Baden Powell and his reminder that happiness comes from serving other.  These are not new concepts nor are they ground breaking discoveries.  They are simple truths that in our self absorbed world we in Scouting need to take back and show that service is not a thing of the past.
I saw on TV the other night a Coca Cola commercial.  A man buys a Coke ™ and sees a girl that could use it more than her.  She accepts the Coke and immediately sees someone else that needs it, so in turn gives it.. and so on until a meteor strikes the stand where the Coke was originally purchased.  The Coke is handed to the man working the stand.  A full circle of “paying forward”.  It is a nice message, but reality being what it is, I would venture to guess that Coke would never have made it around the circle.
Having discussions with our Scouts about service reinforces to me that we have a ways to go when it comes to driving home this point of service selflessly.
The discussions about service always result in “what do I get out of it”.  I get something signed in my book for rank.  I get service hours applied to this or that.  I get.. I get.. I get.
Talking with a recent Scout about the completion of his Eagle Project I reminded him that it did not matter what the project was.. it is not about the project it is about leadership and being a servant leader.  The project is the vehicle that allows for the leadership to be demonstrated.  “Yeah but..” the Scout started.. “I get credit for high School graduations community service points for this project”.  Yes you do, what then again, what is the point.  To serve or to get.
It has become a running joke that Scouts help old ladies across the street.  Values of days gone by when Scouts sought out those opportunities to be helpful have been replaced by opportunities to get something in return.  I will help that person when I get something whether that is credit, recognition, or something tangible like money, a free dinner, or yes even money.
In ancient times when a Roman Soldier was to become part of the Principales or a Centurion, he would have to stand watch all night long.  This was to demonstrate to his men that he was not beyond the duties of a soldier.  It also put his men’s welfare above his own allowing them to sleep while he kept watch.  As he kept watch those leaders above him would also demonstrate the model of selfless leadership (service) as they paid him visits throughout the night bringing him small tokens, food, drink, and other items that would make his watch a little more comfortable.  These acts of service modeled the expectation of this new leader.  He would see what it would take to be a leader in the Cohort.  Nothing was expected by the new leader, he was giving of himself and being trained in servant leadership.  This lead from the front attitude shaped the Roman Legions and made them strong.
We can learn a lot about our leadership and our service from these examples.  From the Roman Legions to John F.Kennedy we are called to serve.  We are called to bring happiness to others through our Service.
We make a promise to help other people at all times.  We should try to keep that promise.
Oh, I know its hard.  But think about that Coke ™ commercial.  If we all past along an attitude of service we can help the world… or at least our communities become better places to live.
You don’t have to be a Hero or wear a badge, you need only remember that we do make a promise to be helpful and that as Baden Powell said,  “The main question of life is not “what can I get?” but “what can I give?”
Something to think about when you have that next discussion about service with your Scouts.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Expectations

20150321_120648Like most units, our Troop has a new Scout Patrol that has started their Scouting adventure in earnest. They crossed over in February, like most Webelos and went on their first camp out with the Troop that following week.  The Troop went to Camp Meriwether to do some Shot Gun Shooting and start working their Trail to First Class.  The older guys shot and spent time either teaching the new Scouts or hanging out on the beach.
This last weekend, the new Scout Patrol (the Eagles) went on their second camp out as Boy Scouts.  A 10 mile backpacking trip down the historic Barlow Trail.  The trip was a perfect shake down trip getting these young Scouts ready for future adventures.  We had everything.  Rain, Snow, Sun, and perfect trail.  Great camp sites and lots of fun.
The Eagles did fantastic.  They were prepared and had a great time.
When we got home, I spoke with one of the parents of the new Scout patrol.  He asked how the weekend went and I told him that the boys did great.  He shared with me how excited his son is about being in the Troop and that this is what he wanted Boy Scouts to be like.  He has friends that joined other Troops and are not getting the same level of adventure.  I thanked him and told him that our Troop would have it no other way.
In our discussion we talked about why we can take first year Scouts out on these adventures immediately.  It’s about our expectations.  Scouts join our Troop expecting to go on great adventures and so we deliver on that expectation. There is also an expectation that the Scout participate and embrace the adventure.
We expect them to be prepared.  We expect them to want to be there and be engaged.  None of this is written down in a pamphlet or Code of Conduct.  It just is.
We wear the full uniform.  Again, not written down, just is.  A new boy paying the Troop a visit immediately see’s the team dressed alike, acting alike, and preparing alike.  It just is that way.
We have three rules in our Troop.  #1, Have Fun.  #2.  Be Safe.  And #3, Live the Scout Oath and Law.  Everything else takes care of itself when those three rules are meet.  It is expected.
Not every young man is willing to raise themselves to met these simple expectations.  Most however look for ways to be a part of our team.
We do not let money, time, or social status hinder our expectations.  Scouts are expected to pay their own way.  They don’t have to sell pop corn or candy… they can mow lawns, shovel snow, collect cans, or whatever.. but they are expected to pay their way.  There is no excuse not to go to Summer camp.  Money is not an issue when you earn your way.  Excuses do not get far in our troop.. just another expectation.
We expect the parents to be involved.  They don’t have to go camping or become merit badge counselors, but they do have to take an interest in their son.  We ask them to be drivers on occassion and show up to celebrate our Troops success.
Parents that are engaged in their Troop keep their sons engaged in the Troop and there is always help needed somewhere when you have an active Troop like ours.
So what of these expectations?  Why?
Simply put, Units that have high expectations are better performers.
They have a better product and do better in every measurable area of the unit.
Retention, Advancement, Participation, and developing Leaders.
I recently heard a conversation recorded with General (Retired) Stanley A. McChrystal.  Now, no matter how you feel about the military (which Scouting is not) you can not argue with Leadership and what makes an effective leader.  Stanley McChrystal is a dynamic leader and has proven that at multiple levels.  Now he owns a company that teaches leadership and develops corporate cultures to become high performance teams.
He states that raising the expectation level of an organization is key to building the High Performance team.
There was a study conducted by the US Army in the late 90’s.  They took a soldier from a Super High performing unit and placed him in a under performing unit.  The first couple months the soldier maintained his high level of performance, within 6 months, he began to adapt to the level of the unit.  Within a year, this soldier no longer wanted to be in the Army.  The opposite was also found to be true.  They placed a soldier from an under performing unit into a super high performance.  He had the basic skill sets and was qualified to be in that unit.  He was an average soldier upon entry.  Within months he had adapted to the rigorous physical training and skill level performance increased.  Within a year he was completely entrenched in the unit and a super soldier.
It all came down to the expectations of the unit.  In the Army a Ranger Battalion has the exact same configuration as any other Infantry Battalion.  Yet the Rangers are elite and other Infantry units are not.  Why?  Expectations.  They are indoctrinated in this culture of excellence from the day they arrive.   They are all volunteers and are expected to meet and exceed the norms of the unit.
So what makes one Boy Scout Troop different from any other Boy Scout Troop?  The Scout handbook and Field book are the same, the skills are the same, the configuration of Patrols, Committees, and Adult leaders are all the same.  The Training is the same (National Syllabus).   The Districts and Councils are all operating under the same rules and commitment to delivering the promise of Scouting.  So what is different?  Expectations.
We can see too why Scouts leave units.  Scouting in that particular unit fails to meet the expectations of the boy and the parent and so they leave.
Units that take Scouting serious and make a solid commitment to delivering the promise of Scouting do.  They do not make excuses and they do not compromise when it comes to delivering a great program.
They do not let money dictate their program.  They do not allow failure to stop them from getting back up and trying again.
They are youth led and use the Patrol method.  They do not make up their own rules, they use the program as designed.  They understand Scouting and what it is designed to do.  They have trained adults that care.
The new Scout Dad that I was talking with on Sunday asked what the little beads I was wearing meant.  I told them they are the Wood Badge and it is for completing Wood Badge training.  He asked if Wood Badge was mandatory in Scouting.  I told him no, but it should be.  He said that the reason he asked was because he noticed all of the Adult leaders in the Troop wear them.  I said it was because they believe in giving our Scouts the very best.
It is not mandatory, but clearly has become one of those unwritten expectations of our unit.  It is one of the things that makes us different, better, a High performance team.
What do you expect from Scouting?  What do your parents expect from the unit?  Do you have big expectations or is mediocre fine for you and your unit?
Just asking.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Find a Map

philmontmapWatching an old episode of Bonanza the other day and as with most of the stories, the guys with the white hats typically come out on top while the bad guys in their black hats seem to have the opportunity to listen to Mr. Cartwright give them a lesson in good livin’.
The lesson this time was about finding your way in life.  I don’t remember the particulars of the story, but Old Ben Cartwright shared some wisdom that I immediately felt a need to share.  He said “It’s alright to find your way in life, it’s a lot easier if you have a map.”  I could not help but think that this is a message that we often share with our Scouts.  The map, our Oath and Law.  There are many other maps out there also, The 10 Commandments, our laws, the Golden Rule.  All pretty much lead you in the same direction and certainly make your life a little easier and worth living.
Baden Powell left us a good road map to a successful life in that first Scout Handbook.  He shared with us the Values of Scouting, a good Oath to live by, and skills that help make a young boy a man.
It is important to find a good map to live well.  Whether that is through your faith, our laws, or in our Scout Oath and Law it is of value to you and others to live right.  I always go back to what BP said about Happiness in that true happiness comes from making others happy.  It takes a good map for good living to do this.  I think that there are many ways just as there are many maps to do this.  I grew up in the Church and it gave me a firm foundation of how to treat other people.  As the Golden rule says in essence to treat others as you want to be treated.  I thought as a grew up that this was a Christian thing, but as I got older I learned and came to realize that happiness is universal and so too is the Golden Rule.  This ethic of one good turn deserving another goes a long way in the happiness of the world.  The Golden Rule often called The Ethic of Reciprocity is found in 21 of the Worlds Religions.  Knowing that it is a wonder why we fight and how Religions the world over have caused so much pain in the world.
The Roman Pagan Religions taught “The law imprinted on the hearts of all men is to love the members of society as themselves.”  Native America teaching lead us in “Do not wrong or hate your neighbor. For it is not he who you wrong, but yourself.”  And hundreds of years before Christ walked our planet, “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow-man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary.” from the Jewish faith.
I think that this last quote speaks more to me in the world that we live in today as it relates to the Golden Rule and Happiness.
So what does all of this have to do with our map?  It’s simple.  The map does not have to be complicated.  It does not have to come with a degree in Social Science.  The map needs to be clear and easy to understand.  The map needs to have clear markings that lead us in the direction that we wish to go.
Our map in Scouting is the Scout Law.  It is simple, clear, and leads us in the right direction.  12 simple words that are the foundation of our happiness and the happiness of others.
So you can have the Bible, The Tora, The Koran, or any other of the sacred text, what matters in the end is that you use them to do find good and happiness… more importantly, you use them to give happiness to others.
If you don’t you are not using them right.  The same is the Oath and Law in Scouting.  Words are great, Actions are better.  Finding your way in life is a good venture… having a map certainly does make it easier.
Find and use your map.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Hitting the target

FoundersAwardOver the past two weeks we have had a wonderful Scouting experience learning about the fantastic people that we have in Scouting.  Our Council Court of Honor was held a few weeks back honoring those that received their Silver Beaver award this year.  As they read the bio’s of the recipients I sat listening and soon found myself in awe of the people that had the shiny new Blue and White ribbon around their neck holding on to that little beaver.  I leaned to the person next to me and mentioned how proud I am to be there among all these great people.  People that do so much for Scouting and the youth in our programs.  The hours of service they dedicate, the talents they have, and the love for Scouting made me feel that Scouting is in good hands with people like this.  He leaned over to me and pulled on my Silver Beaver… “yep” he said, “Make you feel good to call them your friends”.
Then the big Rendezvous weekend with the Order of the Arrow.  Our Lodges biggest event and when we have our annual Lodge Awards banquet.  The Rendezvous is always a great event, this year marked with the 100th Anniversary of the Order of the Arrow, needless to say it was going to be special.
Rendezvous is always fun and the annual gathering of the Liars Club.  A great group of Scout friends of mine, each year we take some time to just sit and chat,, liars club?  The first liar does not have a chance in that group.  Seriously, we have a great time together and the discussions typically result in fixing all the problems in Scouting and sharing best practices within our Troops.
Again it is one of those things that remind me of the great people that are in Scouting and all of the fantastic things that they do.  Saturday evenings events conclude with the awards banquet.  The Lodge Chief gives a state of the Lodge address sharing the members with the amazing things that the Lodge did last year.  Thousands hours of service, Journey to Excellence (Gold) Lodge, Thousands of dollars donated that help the council camps and other programs, a recap of the Lodge service project.  Really impressive to say the least.  And just when you think you have seen the best in Scouting they present the Founders Awards and the Lodge Service awards.
The Founder’s Award recognizes Arrowmen who have given outstanding service to their lodge. The award is reserved for an Arrowman who demonstrates that he or she personifies the spirit of selfless service, as advocated by founder E. Urner Goodman and co founder Carroll A. Edson.  I love this award in that every Scout or Scouter that I have seen that was awarded it truly exemplify that which I think is the very best of not only the Order of the Arrow, but Scouting.
This year was no exception.
The Lodge Service Award is also presented to those members of the Lodge that go above and beyond that which the average Arrowmen does in service to the Lodge and as a result the Council and Scouting.
The Lodge awarded 5 Lodge service awards this year, and again, they are 5 people that are so remarkably deserving that it leaves me thinking about how much I admire those recipients for the work that they do within Scouting and their communities.
The last recognition of the night is the call out of the Vigil Candidates for the year.  This is a special group of people that have proven themselves worthy of the Order of the Arrows highest honor.  From the Order of the Arrow’s website; Alertness to the needs of others is the mark of the Vigil Honor. It calls for an individual with an unusual awareness of the possibilities within each situation.  The Vigil Honor is the highest honor that the Order of the Arrow can bestow upon its members for service to lodge, council, and Scouting. Membership cannot be won by a person’s conscious endeavors. The Vigil Honor is a high mark of distinction and recognition reserved for those Arrowmen who, by reason of exceptional service, personal effort, and unselfish interest, have made distinguished contributions beyond the immediate responsibilities of their position of office to one or more of the following: Lodge, the Order of the Arrow, the Scouting community, and our Scout Camps.
After the banquet a group of us sat and talked about the evening.  I shared my thoughts and how impressed I am of everyone that received awards.  We talked about what motivates people to do as these recipients have done.  It takes a willingness to wake up every morning and look in the mirror and say “I am going to be great today”.
It takes a person that understands that if we aim at the bulls eye we will hit it more times than not.  This commitment to not being average, after all, any one can hit the target… but hitting the bulls eye takes practice, skill, and focus. We need to have that kind of focus when we talk about making a commitment to being a cheerful servant.  Again, not being willing to be average. Just like our Silver Beavers, Lodge Service award, and Founders Award recipients have been recognized for the service they have done, it is never done for the award but because they have been focused on being the very best that they can be.
I shared these thoughts with my Scouts the other night at our meeting.  I asked them to take that look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are willing to be their best.. not good.  Good in not good enough in the world today.  Every morning they need to make a commitment to being a great person.
I think that we can look to our Founder, Baden Powell when he said that “But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best.”  This thought has weighed on my mind lately as I watch all of the great things that are happening in Scouting.  All of this at the individual level.. and that is what drives Scouting. Being Great!  Great people doing Great things.  This helps our program, our Scouts, and the world.
I am happy to know these people and to be counted with them.. I wake up every morning and try me best to be one of those that do something great.  I don’t always hit that bulls eye.. but at least I am aiming to be my very best.
Are you hitting the target?  Are you aiming?  Think about it.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Gear Tweekin’

Today we took advantage of a nice sunny day to get some gear tweekin’ in.  Part of our addiction to camping gear is first recognizing that I have this addiction and second that I need to get out and play with it.  So Greg, Scott, Wade (all Assistant Scoutmasters in my Troop) and I got together today to set up our hammocks and tarps and do some modifications, improvements, and just plain getting out and having fun.
I have been wanting to change out my suspension system on the Blackbird.  Why?  Well, to be honest why not… Actually I have been wanting to have a system that I can pack up all the gear while under the tarp when its inclement weather.  I initially bought the Speed hook system from Dutchwaregear.com.  I love the Dutchware and have a lot of it on my set up.  The Speed Hook system was a light quick option for set up and take down and look real cool too.
Dutch recalled them after a few months and more testing.  I don’t really understand the reasoning other than he stated that there was a failure found after many hangs.  This means you will end up on the ground.  That was enough for me to swap them out.  While it may never happen, I did not want to out on the trail with no options if they did break.  So I ordered a new Whoopie Sling set up from Dutch.  This includes new straps, Dutch Clips, Whoopie Slings, Dutch Biners, and Dutch Buckles.  It is a super quick set up and strong.  All the while being light in weight.
For the tarp all I really wanted to get done was change out all the line.  I swapped out the Zing it line on the tie outs with MSR Reflective line and  CamRing™ Cord Tensioners.  I was not sold on the tensioners when I looked at them in the store, but once I got them on the tarp and played with them… yep.. they are a good fit.
I love playing with the gear, it is a great way for us to get out and mess around, have fun together, and get ready for camping.
Here is a little walk around video of the work we did today.
If you have any questions about it.. let me know.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, gear, Hammock, Just fun | 2 Comments

The Value of time

One of the most frequent excuses I hear from Scouters is that they do not have enough time. Time for family, work, sports, scouting, hobbies, church, volunteering, etc. There’s just not enough time. Well folks, there is plenty of timtimeclockse.. in fact no matter how you slice it, time never changes. There are 24 hours in a day, 168 hours a week, about 672 hours in a month etc.. etc..
Time is constant and extremely valuable. Because there are only 24 precious hours in a day and typically 6 to 8 of them are chewed up in sleep we need to value the time that we have.
So how do we value our time? Just like we value our money.. we make the most out of it. A Scout is Thrifty right? Thrifty is not restricted to dollars and cents, it is good stewardship practicing Leave No Trace, it is not wasting food, it is the idea that we value what we have and make the most of the opportunities that we get. And we get time each day.
How we value that time and make the most of it is important.
So when it comes to time, what do you value? What is important enough to spend time doing it? We do not compromise many of the things that we value. Our character is something never to sacrifice. What makes up that character is also non negotiable when it comes to managing our time. So what is important to you?
Faith, Family, Education, Scouting? Friends, time alone, hobbies? What is it that makes you get up each morning? How do want to spend your 18 or 19 hours a day that you have? Work obviously takes up 8 or so hours.. you need to work to support the rest of your goals, desires, and life style. So you still have 10 hours to do something important with your life? This is what is where your ability to manage time comes in.
The excuses that you don’t have enough time is false, we all have enough time, we just don’t use it well. We waste a lot of time doing what is not important to us. We allow other people to suck our time away.
The three biggest hurdles in time management are the lack of prioritizing, the inability to say “No”, and thriving on just being busy.
We get into a routine of being busy which by and large makes us feel like we are using our time well, but in fact it typically leads us to just being busy and not using time effectively.
I have not always been that great with time management and valuing my time. There have always been things that have been important to me, but using the time that I had was not a priority.
My family has always come first and they always were on the top of my time usage list. It is nice that we have been a Scouting family as it allowed for that time to be spent together.
As I started to learn more and get a deeper appreciation for the value of time I started learning how to get the most of that 672 hours a month. My career has given our family the means to have what we have and do what we have done. But that of the things that mean the most to me. As stated, family is number one and non negotiable.
I started to develop routines and habits to make the most of my time. First I started using lists. They helped my manage things in my life assigning priorities to each item on the list. It was at Wood Badge that I learned and started setting goals. Personal, Scouting, Family, and other parts of my life. Setting goals became a habit after Wood Badge and an important part of managing my time. Goal setting showed me the value of time. It clearly identifies those things in your life that you really want to happen. It clearly focuses how you are going to spend your 24/7.
Oh yeah.. and you get things done. You stop being busy and do the things that have value in your life.
So you get 24 hours in a day. How do you use it to get things done? How do you prioritize your time to do the things in your life that you value and feel important?
Set Goals, Prioritize those goals, make lists, and value your time.
The next time you go to make an excuse.. don’t.. just look at your list and know that you are in control of your time.
How do you use your time?
Have a Great Scouting Day?

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Green Bar Bill and Wood Badge

It’s Wood Badge Wednesday time again.  In this post I want to share a bit about my Scouting Hero William “Green Bar Bill”bill_pic Hillcourt.
Everyone knows that William Hillcourt wrote books for the Boy Scouts of America, but few are aware of all of the work that he did for Scouting in America, in fact there in no where in Scouting in America that we can not find Green Bar Bill’s fingerprints.

Green Bar Bill is responsible for Scout Handbooks, Field Books, and resurrecting Wood Badge in America after the Second World War.
You see. In 1948 the Chief Scout Executive Elbert K. Fretwell, commissioned 4 professional Scouters to to get Wood Badge underway as a national training standard. Bill Hillcourt was one of the four, BSA’s first Deputy Camp Chief and by then, also the national Director of Scoutcraft.
Once they created the course that would become the new Wood Badge they held two courses. One in New Jersey at the Schiff Scout reservation and the second at Philmont. They were respectively Course #1 and Course #2. Green Bar Bill was the Scoutmaster for both courses.
The Philmont course was held at Cimarroncito. Thirty-five men mostly from the Western parts of the U.S., assembled at Philmont’s “Big House” at noon on October 2, 1948, to launch BSA’s Wood Badge.
The course started tenuously with Professional Scouters pitted against Volunteer Scouters. SM Bill Hillcourt regrouped his Staff and broke an impasse. Patrol spirit soared and Participants overcame the obstacles of high altitude, physical and mental fatigue, slow and difficult supply deliveries, poor communications with the Philmont Ranch, and bad weather with rain, sleet, snow, and cold!
It was unquestionably a mountain-top experience. Tired Scouters returned home with strong, enthusiastic feelings; the future of Wood Badge in BSA was assured. (source http://www.woodbadge.com)
;As I prepare once again to staff Wood Badge for the 21st Century I look forward to that Mountain Top experience, albeit at the wonderful Oregon Coast!  I always learn something new about Scouting, the people I am associated with in Scouting, and of course myself.
Like I said, Green Bar Bill is one of my Scouting heroes.  His story from a young man that loved Scouting enough to get a job in the mail room of the National Office to creator of the new Wood Badge and countless contributions in writing the literature that shaped Scouting and Scouts for decades.  His impact is way beyond Wood Badge, but his involvement in Wood Badge is clearly one more reason for me to look to him as someone we should try to be.
I am looking forward to carrying on the Legacy of William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt, Wood Badge’s first Scoutmaster in America!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Backpacking Food

sdc10061A couple ways of thinking about backpacking food. First. Quick and easy.. boil water Second. Pre cook and reheat. And third, make it from scratch.

When we are talking about Quick and easy we throw freeze dried or dehydrated meals in to the mix.
Nice for quick meals that require very little skill and clean up. Boil water and add it to the meal.. wait 20 minutes and you are ready to eat.
In some cases these meals get easier when you just buy them pre made. Mountain House or Backpackers Pantry are very popular and can be found pretty much everywhere.
There are “higher end” freeze dried cook in bag meals that can be found online. They are better quality (in my opinion) and the price per serving is actually lower than going with some of the other store bought meals. Packit Gourmet and Hawk Vittles are two of my favorite.
You can also make your own, most of use however do not have the ability to freeze dry, but we do have the ability to dehydrate. Pretty much any meal that you can cook at home can be prepared for backpacking. Just cook it up and dehydrate the meal. Put it in a zip lock back or if you have a Food Saver, package your meal and you are ready for the trail.
Remember that fats do not dehydrate, so use reduced fat or the lowest fat meats you can. Also consider your serving sizes as you cook and dehydrate. Pack them in individual or two serving sizes. Anything more takes more water and time to prepare on the trail.
The second way of preparing meals is the precooked options. These are becoming a favorite option of mine. When we are talking precooked I am talking about meals that need only to be reheated to eat. Pretty much any meal that you can buy off the shelf (frozen or dry) that can be thrown in your microwave can be reheated and prepared to eat on the trail.
Bags of food that have a microwave option are perfect.
PF Changs, Bertollis, Marie Callendars, Stouffers, Birds Eye, Healthy Choice, and Jimmy Dean to name a few. For those of us that want to lose a pound or two, Lean Cuisine and Healthy choice make great meals that are portioned just right.
These meals are easy to repackage into zip lock bags, easy to reheat, and little prep work.
Finally, you can make your meals from scratch on the trail. This is a nice option when weight and resources are not a concern. I love fresh eggs on the trail, and when the distance is not too great and like I said resources are not limited making a nice steak and potatoes are a wonderful option while backpacking. In this case, anything goes as long as you can support it. For example keep items cold and from spoiling.
Fresh meals made from scratch may require more utensils, pots, pans etc. So planning is a consideration when exploring this option.
So here are some of my favorites, I tend to mix things up from month to month although there are certain meals that get into the rotation more often than others.
Breakfast.
Oatmeal
Jimmy Dean breakfast bowls
Eggs, Bacon (precooked)
Spam packets and eggs
Carnation Breakfast drink (instant breakfast mix)
Pop Tarts

Lunch
Tuna in foil pouch
Crackers
Summer sausage
Spam pouch
Chicken salad pouch
Noodles with pouch chicken (pre cooked)
Noodles with veggies and Jerky
Healthy Choice steamers

Dinner
Any of the Healthy choice or frozen meals
To get a good idea of what I am talking about Click here.

Snacks
I personally like to take cheese and crackers, some candy like Hot tamales and Gummy bears.
I take pudding, Snack pack pudding cups for after meals.
A York Peppermint patty is nice in the evening to settle the stomach before bed.
Hope that helps you enhance your meals out on the trail

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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The Great Non Negotiable

Adult Leader RolesI often talk about Character with our Scouts and on this blog.  To me Character is the Great Non Negotiable.  Character is that which once you give it away, you can not get it back.  Character can never be taken from you, but you can freely give it away.  We see examples of this daily, we need only to look to our Nations Politicians and how they compromise their integrity and Character when they fail to live the values that we all seem to hold true.  Being Trustworthy and Loyal, Brave and Obedient.  Our Governor here in Oregon seems to push the limits of integrity weekly.
When these “role models” give away their character while the public watches we know that they are willing to stretch their integrity to any limit.
They give it away and can never get it back.  We know what they are up to and nothing they can do will repair the damage done.
So it goes with our young men in Scouting.  Beginning at the early age when a Scout becomes a Tiger Cub we teach them Character Connections, themes that run through the entire program that set them on a course to develop Character and keep it.
“Character development should extend into every aspect of a boy’s life. Character development should also extend into every aspect of Cub Scouting.”   The core values that begin to make up a young man’s character in Cub Scouts are like a hand prepared for the glove that will be the Scout Law once he joins the Boy Scout program.  For this reason, I am happy with the change the Boy Scouts of America has put in place for all Scouts, no matter which program they participate will all learn and live the Scout Oath and Law.
In the Scoutmaster conferences I conduct with the Scouts of my Troop we often spend a great deal of time discussing character.  The skills portion of their advancement play a small role when compared to the way they act and grow.
Many times we direct a Scout away from certain behaviors during these discussions. Unfortunately, their school environment does not value the same character as we do.  I share the fact that Character is in fact a Non negotiable item in life.  Well, only if they want to have a good life that is full of meaning and value.
They have to understand that they can never negotiate their character away.  They need to know that the values that shape their character which we find in the Scout law are all good for their future and when lived will ensure character is kept. I find it disturbing that they are often willing at a young age to begin the compromise of these values.  It is not an issue of “cool” or even Scouting.  It is an issue of developing these young men.  I have said it before and will continue to say it… It is not my job as a Scoutmaster to produce Eagle Scouts, I am here to help develop men of Character.
There is an expectation that Eagle Scouts have Character, but in some cases the Scoutmaster valued the rank over the substance.  Their score card was compromised by the want to have Eagle Scouts and not good men.  The good news is that you can have both if you take the time to expect good character and never negotiate it away so a young man can feel good about getting rank.
If they are not ready.. they are not ready.  It is not for us to add to or take away from the requirements, but it is also up to the Scout and the Scoutmaster to agree on how he is “Living the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives.”  Now in that agreement my Scouts know that I will not negotiate when in comes to character.  I care less about how they feel and more about how they act.  Not a popular opinion in a day and age where every one gets a participation ribbon and trophy for having a pulse.  I want to see our Scouts go on and become successful, what ever that looks like in the future.  I never want to see them in the paper or the nightly news in hand cuffs or in a scandal.  I never want to see them negotiate away their character.  Selling their Eagle medal for higher pay or recognition, status or position.
Character is the Great Non Negotiable.  We need to teach that to our Scouts and expect it from them.. and yes, even if that means they develop a bit more before they are awarded the next rank.
If they don’t get it by the age of 18, we have more problems than merit badges and Eagle medals.
Just something to think about.. I do.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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The power of Why

Hey, it’s been a crazy week and now I am heading out of town for a little mini vacation with the wife.  So we will get back to blogging this weekend.
A couple things I am looking forward to this weekend (after our vacation),, We gave new Scouts crossing over on Saturday and then Sunday we have our annual Red and Green Celebration where we are not only celebrating our Troop’s achievements over the last year, but we are having our own Order of the Arrow 100th Anniversary celebration.
We will announce our Scout of the Year and recognize the hard work of our Scouts and some volunteers also.
So we are heading out of town.. a much needed break
To leave you this week at mid week with some good leadership content, take a few minutes and watch this video.  This is Simon Sinek, a great mind and speaker on leadership.  He talks about How Great leaders inspire Action.  Meaningful action that drives results.  I have said it many times as I teach our Scouts leadership.  Leaders provide three things, Purpose, Direction, and Motivation.  These three things can not happen unless the leader knows Why he or she should do those things.  Take a minute and enjoy some great leadership talk.
We will get back to the blog next week.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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