Lets talk about membership.
We all know that we need members to keep Scouting alive. There are many different angles and directions to answer the membership question. I am not going to solve this issue in this post, rather, I am opening up the dialogue to see what you all think.
Scouting in the United States if a bit different from the rest of the World Organization of the Scouting Movement (WOSM).
First, we are not Coed, until you get to the Venturing Program.
Second, our programs are not connected. Yes, Cub Scouts go to Boy Scout etc… but in most cases outside of the US, a Scout group is made up of youth from 7 to 21. The units are formed from a group. This allows for continuity in the program and allows for leadership and example to be promoted from within the group. Personally, I like this idea. I think it solves a few of the issues we have in Scouting in the US. Namely keeping youth in Scouting.
I have become pen pals of sorts with some Scouters from outside of the United States. While they do have their own issues it seems that young people stay in Scouting longer and have a great Scouting experience along the way.
Starting off as a young 7-year-old and staying in Scouting till they are in their young adulthood. I think this creates a better Scouting life for them.
Anyway, as stated, I am not going to answer the question, just start the discussion.
I think that the BSA will need to explore the COED option sooner than later. With declining membership and the Girl Scout program not what most girls want… I think that opening the doors to a COOED program may go along way to saving Scouting in America.
So how does that work? Will we lose our values and program? I don’t think so. I think we can move forward with the program we have. We need not tailor the program to girls, they will fit right in. Look at the Venturing program as it is? It would be much better if it were filled with young people and adventure.
OK, membership at the core.
I think that our professionals at the National and Council level have the very best of intentions when they talk membership. It is a simple equation. Get more youth in and membership will fix itself.
A few things that I know for sure.
You will never be able to out recruit your losses. You will never be able to keep Scouts in a program that is floundering.
When I was a young Scoutmaster I was told the three keys to a successful troop were Program, Program, and Program. If you build it they will come. Boys do not join Scouts for Monday night meetings. They join for cool programs and camp outs. Parents bring their sons to our program. Not to our meetings. They need to be able to see value in the program.
Program will drive membership. So I think sometimes we put the cart before the horse. The horse is our program, the cart is membership and money. Now, you can’t have one without the other, but if your priority is not program, you won’t get members. That, I know for sure.
So where is our effort more effective? Building programs or recruiting? I think we build programs and let them come.
There are more factors to this discussion to be sure. It is not always that simple I understand. At the unit level programs need to be the priority. Build it and they will come. Recruiting efforts need to be a part of the annual plan. Focusing on Cub Scouts is not the only answer. We need to sell Scouting to all eligible youth.
This is where I see other WOSM get it. They appeal to youth of all ages and keep them in longer. There is a coolness factor about hanging out with their peers and they longer they stay, so do their friends. I think this is an important part of our membership issue.
So.. lets take a few posts and explore this issue?
What do you think? Let’s discuss this.
Here is a little video I stumbled on that really got me thinking. It is from the Scouts in Germany. I would love to see our youth in American Scouting like this one day. I got to see Scouting like this when I was a kid in the Transatlantic Council as we did many International Scouting activities.
Also take a moment to check out the Kandersteg International Scout Center videos. See what they look like and lets see how we can implement some of this here.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Lets talk about membership.
Found this as I was bouncing around the internet. Tucker Prescott pretty much sums up my feelings for Philmont in this short video.
I WANNA GO BACK TO PHILMONT..
Enjoy.. And great job Tucker!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
I thought I would let it simmer for a bit before I weighed in.. and now I just can’t keep my blog silent on this.
So, at a risk of pissing a bunch of folks off.. here it goes.
By now, if you are an active Scouter, you are aware of the young man named James Hightower III. He was presented his Eagle award on the Steve Harvey show.
This ambitious Scout earned his Eagle award at age 12. (he is now 13) He earned 61 merit badges, the last of which, the ever so tough Fingerprinting on the Steve Harvey show.
He is a member of the Order of the Arrow and appears to rank among the young genius’ of our time. Band, Leadership in his Church, etc etc.
OK.. you all know that I am one that believes in maintain standards. First, there is no age limit other than 18 for earning the rank of Eagle Scout, I get that.. but let’s do the math.
He crosses over at a minimum of 10 1/2 years old. Earned his Eagle rank at 12. From First Class to Star the Scout must be active with his Troop for at least 4 months. During that 4 months, he needs to serve as a leader for that time period. Then from Star to Life, the Scout needs to serve as an active member of his Troop for 6 months. During that time, he needs to serve in a leadership position and do service. We are up to at least 10 months… not to mention the 30 days it takes to earn Tenderfoot and at least a few months to get to First Class. Since joining, he would have participated in 10 separate troop/patrol activities (other than troop/patrol meetings), three of which included camping overnight. In most Troops that would represent at least 3 months. So the simple math is 14 months. He is now 11 1/2 or 12 depending on when his birthday is.
Then he must serve for another 6 months as a Life Scout to earn Eagle. We are now 20 months into this young mans Scouting life.
Some one please tell me. Has he really practiced real leadership? How much leading has he done? Was he the Librarian and Historian for his leadership? I know they count, but really.. we are talking about an Eagle Scout here.
Yes I know that this wunderkind is active in many areas of his life. Which begs the question. When did his have all this time to lead, earn merit badges, rank, perform service projects etc? Band, Church, Junior National Honor Society, active in the Order of the Arrow, Top Teens Program… 20 months as a Scout. Just think about the Scouts in your Troop.
OK.. 20 months… Most Troops camp 11 times a year and go to Summer camp in that 11 months. He needs 20 nights camping for the Eagle Required Camping Merit badge. That’s 6 camp outs plus a 6 night summer camp. So that’s the first year. 12 of the 20 months got the basic nights out-of-the-way. I assume as a leader he attends most if not all camp outs.. after all, that is where leadership and the Patrol method are really practiced.
10 1/2 to 12 years old is one and a half years. That’s 18 months. Now we don’t know when his birthday is, but the numbers do not add up. From a math point of view and a practical point of view. What has this young man got out of the Eagle experience.
The article says he plans on staying in Scouting. That’s awesome. Maybe now he will become the Eagle that he is.
I am sorry if I seem to be bashing this young man. I am not. I am really bashing his Adult leadership for not ensuring that the process is producing Character, Citizenship, and Fitness.. not just Eagle Scouts.
I applaud this young man for his achievement… I don’t know how he did it… 61 merit badges alone takes time.. when did he find all that time in 18 months. I am sure he has friends, school, and eats and sleeps on occasion.
When people see the Eagle badge, they think leadership, accomplishment, self-reliance, the ability to serve and accomplish tasks. When I see a 12-year-old.. I think HOW? I wish I could applaud and not question. But I have been a Scoutmaster for a long time and just can not see how this works.
For me, it takes away from every person that has earned the award and has come through Scouting with Knowledge, experience, and the ability to lead as a servant.
Again, I am sorry if I question this young mans achievement. I just can’t see how this math works, which makes me believe that those standards are being manipulated some how. And that my friends, I can not tolerate. I never hold back a Scout, but I do make sure that he does it right. I make sure that he is completing the requirements without short cuts. I do not add to or take away any requirements and produce no false road blocks. As a Scoutmaster, I just make sure that the experience is more important than the badge.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
As you all know I am constantly tweaking my gear. I have been using basically the same cooking set up for a few years now. A little tweak here and there and I have to tell you I am really happy with the cook kit that I use.
There are no right or wrong set ups. When it comes to this kind of gear, I suggest you adopt the “Hike your own hike” philosophy. That is to say do what works for you. I have used everything from big pots and pans and green two burner Coleman stoves to the alcohol stove that I use now.
I have used heavy pots and light pots, sporks and full mess kits, but what I have developed now meets my needs and fits with our style of backpacking.
Using this set up I can cook everything, not just boil water. Right now I am really into the frozen dinner reheat. I like to buy the Smart Ones precooked meals and reheat them in my pot. It works great. I have also cooked them at home, dehydrated them and cooked them on the trail. They are perfectly portioned and taste great.
The elements of my cook kit are simple:
It starts with the Cuben Fiber stuff sack. I purchased this from zpacks.com.
I made my own Pot cozy from an old closed cell foam pad. The pot cozy is a big part of the kit, for holding the hot pot, to using it with the pot to re-hydrate a meal. This saves fuel.
I use the Imusa 12 cm pot or mug. These used to be available at Wal-Mart. I have not been able to find them lately, but there are places online that you can find the 12 cm (1.25 quart) and the 10 cm mug.
I have a custom lid for the mug the I got online. There are multiple online store that you can get your lids or you can easily make your own. There are a lot of lid options, but you will need a lid.
I covered my lid with Carbon felt. You can buy carbon felt by the sheet at Home Depot.
I added a zip lock container recently with a screw top lid. I had to add a strip of tape to the lid to get it out of the pot. I made a cozy for the bottom to keep things warm and make it easy to hold when there is a hot meal in there. It makes a great bowl. and way to store my stove and other cook kit items. I use the 16 oz size. It fits well in the kit and works for just about every meal I make.
Inside of the zip lock container is my stove, a scrub pad and an old rag that I I use to clean and grab hot things. Makes a good napkin too.
To eat with I use am REI long-handled spoon. This spoon allows me to cook without burning my hands or getting them in the food. They spoon does not get hot either, so you don’t burn yourself.
The whole kit weighs in at 10 oz.
Well that’s my cook kit. I really like it and it works super for me. I’m curious, what do you use?
Let me know. Leave a comment and share.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
I have received a bunch of emails recently asking about this “Hammock Thing” basically wondering why I hammock camp and what does it really involve.
Last summer I shot a video that answered some of those questions, so I thought I would drop it here on the blog from my YouTube channel.
The basics, kind of an extension of the post I did the other day on the Big 3. The hammock set up takes care of two of the three, the shelter and the sleep system. The third element would be my Pack, the hammock set up saves a lot of weight and space in my pack.
I have to be honest with you. One of the main reasons I love the hammock camping set up is all the tweaking and playing around with the set up. I suppose you don’t have to mess around with it. The system is great out of the box, but it is so fun to try new things and learn more about the system.
For example, I am currently trying out different ways to do a “Pole Mod” on my tarp, This is will be an alternate way of using the pull outs on the sides of my Warbonnet Super Fly Tarp. I will keep you posted on how that goes. I just got the poles yesterday, now it’s time to fiddle with it and try different techniques and set ups. I’ll let you know how it ends up.
So check out this video, let me know what you think and please feel free to ask all the questions you would like. I love to talk about hammocks and hammock camping.
I hope this video showed you a little about hammock camping and the hammock set up. If you are interested, let me know. If you already hammock camp, let me know that too.
Leave a comment, I love to know what you think.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Here is a short video talking about just sitting around. An often overlooked piece of gear that is in the category of a “Luxury item” is the camp stool. Go without it and you sacrifice a bit of comfort on your next outing.
Yes, you may have to take a weight penalty if you are keeping track of your pack weight, but in the end, having a stool or chair to hang around camp on will make the difference.
Sorry about the focus on the video… but you don’t need to see my forehead anyway… This video is all about your backside.
My go to seat right now is the Grand trunk Stool.
It is 22 oz made of aluminum with a nylon seat. It is compact and light and very comfortable to sit on. They added a little storage area, which I find real nice when cooking. A nice place to set things other than your lap. I highly recommend this stool. It will hold up to 250 lbs, not that I will ever get that heavy, but it’s nice to know that it will not break under me.
Let me know what you sit on while camping?
Have a Great Scouting Day!
This Scouting year sure seems to be getting off to a fantastic start. The Annual Plan is exciting and looks to be super fun and this year between the committee and the Patrol Leaders Council, there is a great plan in place to enhance the program en total..
We put in place a good plan to promote Order of the Arrow Activities in an effort to grow the participation of our Arrowmen Yes there is a bit of incentive as we can earn an award for that too. The Order of the Arrow Unit of Excellence Award. We have been moving to getting our Arrowmen more active through participation in the chapter and lodge events. We are well on our way, but with this concerted effort and plan, I am curious to see how it turns out.
One of the other plans that we have put in place is to promote Physical Fitness throughout the Troop. This includes the adults. We make a promise every Monday night to “Keep ourselves Physically Strong”. We plan to keep that promise. Establishing a good habit of physical fitness now will help our Scouts and Adults be more fit in the future.
Last night at our Troop meeting, the Scouts of the Troop made a commitment to be Scout Strong. Each Scout was given an activities log. As a troop we are going to track our progress for the first 6 weeks and then set new goals for the next 6. We are using the PALA (Presidents Active Lifestyle Award challenge) as our base for picking activities and will be incorporating activities into weekly meetings.
It is going to be a super fun year and adding these kind of kinds of programs to our annual plan is just what we need to round out the Scouts experience.
To Keep our promise to keep ourselves Physically Strong. Sounds like a great plan to me.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
It is that time of the year when we share our knowledge of camping with those youngsters that are preparing to cross over into our troops. For many of them, their camping experience has been family camping and not straying to far from the car.
For those scouts that will be entering backpacking style troops, or even those that are looking for gear that will last and work in different camping situations, we offer a bit of advice.
Lately, I have been asked by several Cub Scout Packs to come and pay them a visit to talk about camping gear. I know that for some, this discussion can become overwhelming, especially once we start talking about the cost.
We focus on the Big Three. This is the Shelter, the Sleep system, and the Backpack.
The big 3 is where most of the money is spent and where most of the money should be spent. Going cheap with the big 3 will cost you more in the long run. It is better to buy quality gear than cheap gear that needs to be replaced over and over.
Notice I did not say tent. The shelter could be a Bivy, a tarp, or a tent. Complicated for a new Scout? Not really. They just need to see the differences and pluses and minus’ of the gear.
First, what kind of camping do you do? Are you looking to keep your pack light? Do you live in an area that you need to worry a lot about bugs. Tents do not keep you warm, they keep you out of the elements, that in turn will retain the heat you produce along with your sleep system. So a tarp or bivy may be a great option for you.
When it comes to tents, make sure that you look at three things.
1. The rain fly. It needs to extend beyond the sewn floor seam. Look at the number of tie outs the rain fly has. This will make a huge difference in the winter or extreme weather conditions.
2. The Floor. Look a the floor and make sure you see a seam that extends up the wall of the tent. This is called a bath tub floor. This is an important feature for heavy rains and snow.
3. Vents and Vestibule. You will want a tent that is well ventilated. This will reduce the amount of condensation you have inside you tent. The vestibule is important to storage and space to remove wet or dirty clothing and boots. It is also a place that you can keep your pack and even cook in a pinch.
The Sleep System.
Again, note I did not just say sleeping bag. First rule, if your bag has Ducks or Sponge Bob in it.. it is not a good backpacking sleeping bag.
The sleep system is quiet possibly the most important gear in your pack. Without a good nights sleep you will not have a good camping experience. The sleep system is made up of the sleeping bag and the method of insulation.
There are essentially two types of sleeping bags. Down and Synthetic. Down is lighter and compacts tighter. When down gets wet though, it does not retain its insulation properties. Synthetic on the other, may be a bit heavier, but when wet will retain its insulation and keep you warm. Synthetics dry quickly also.
We recommend synthetic bags for our new Scouts. This way we know that in bad conditions they will remain safe and warm.
The sleeping pad, or insulation, is just as important as the bag itself. There are may options when it comes to pads for insulation.
Closed Cell Form (CCF). This is your most inexpensive option and had great benefits. CCF is great in the winter. While not the most comfortable, CCF pads work well and can be modified to meet the Scouts needs. It can be cut down to reduce weight and size. The extra can be cut to make a nice camp seat.
Air pads. There are different types of air-filled pads. Basically, insulated and no insulated. If you camp in the Northwest like I do, you need to have an insulated pad.
The air pads come in many shapes sizes and “R” values. It is best when shopping for a pad to lay it out and give it a test run in the store. The thicker the pad, the more comfortable, but also the more weight you will carry. Take those considerations into account when buying your pad.
Like sleeping pads, the backpack comes in many shapes, sizes, and styles. Essentially though when looking at a backpack you need to decide what style you are looking for, Internal Frame or External Frame. The difference, basically how the pack rides when packed. For the novice hiker, that has a lack of experience in packing his gear, the external frame pack will ride much better. Internal framed packs need a little more skill in packing, but the learning curve is not that steep. Modern packs are designed to give the hiker the best comfort while tailoring the load to meet the need of the outing.
We typically recommend that a 65 liter pack be the absolute maximum when looking at volume. The average Scout can get away with 55 to 60 liters. Personally, I do not carry anything bigger than 60 liters or 3950 cubic inches.
Keep in mind when buying a pack, what are you doing with it? The bigger the pack, the more you will put in it. Also think about how you load the pack. Lots of outside pockets are not always a great idea, while at times and with experience they can be a great feature on the pack. Simple is good.
Buying a pack should not be an off the shelf event. You need to shop around and do your homework. Try them on, load them up, walk with it. Try before you buy.
So, why the big three? This is the area that you are going to spend the most money on and it is also the three pieces of gear that will cost you the most weight. Try to keep the weight of the big 3 down to 9 pounds total. Think about total weight, you should be looking at 25% of the Scouts body weight. Keeping the big three down to 9 lbs is a good start at getting to that percentage.
When shopping for the big three, don’t rush. Do the research, ask lots of questions, see what others are using and make a sound choice. The big three should be those three pieces of gear that you keep the longest and will help you have the best backpacking or camping experience.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Here is a quick review of the AB-13 Max hybrid Alcohol stove by Tatogear.
I really like this stove for a couple of reasons. First, it’s small and light but produces the same energy to get your trail cooking done.
Second, I love the remote fuel feed. This is great when you are baking as you need longer cook times and with a traditional alcohol stove the fuel you start with is what you will use. The remote feed feature allows you to have a continuous flame for hours if needed. The remote feed is a safe way of adding fuel while in the process of cooking/baking.
The AB-13 weighs in at .8 oz. or 23 grams. The body of the stove is machined from aluminum with folding legs and pot stand. Folded – 2 1/4 X 1, Unfolded – 3 1/4 X 1.5. So it is compact and portable.
I figured you did not need to see water boil, so here is a short video showing the function of the stove.
Here is the nice feature of the stove as it applies to the nay sayers in Scouting of alcohol stoves. You can turn this one off!
Check out the stove and other products from Tatogear at Tatogear.com.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Before our youngest son left for college, he wanted to get a tattoo. I am not a big fan of “ink” even though I now have two tattoos. But that was something he wanted and to top it off, he wanted me to get one with him. I suppose you can call it a weird father son moment. To add to the deal, my Dad also went with us and so the three of us all got new tattoos.
When it came time for me to decide what I wanted to have permanently embedded into my body I had to think long and hard. Like I said, I’m not that big a fan of tattoo’s even though, like I said I have two.
So I decided on something that means a lot to me and upon further review the new tattoo developed more meaning.
First, the tattoo is the Vigil symbol of the Order of the Arrow, essentially, the triangle with three arrows in it.
Now I am not sure why the Order of the Arrow picked the triangle as its symbol for the Vigil honor, but it stands to reason that the triangle with its three sides and it’s three arrows represent the three W’s, Wimachtendienk, Wingolauchsik, Witahemui. We also know that E. Urner Goodman, one of the founders of the Order of the Arrow was active in the Masons. The triangle is a symbol that is prominent in the Freemason organization.
Be that as it may, I started thinking about it a little more and did some checking. This made my new tattoo a lot more meaningful.
At first, it was all about the Vigil Honor and what it means to me. Couple that with the three arrows, each representing one of my kids. Then I learned more about the triangle.
The triangle represents stability. It represents the Holy Trinity, it also represent Earth and Water. The triangle pointing upward represents masculine energy or fatherhood. As a three-sided polygon, the triangle represents the number three, which is meaningful to many groups. As such, triangles and other symbols made of three parts may be used to present such concepts as past, present, and future or spirit, mind and body.
I know that a lot of this is weird, and believe me, I have not spent too much time over thinking this, but I did find it interesting about what triangles represent. I am not into numerology or over use of symbols, but when I look at the symbols in Scouting and how much Scouting means in my life, it all comes together.
The Fleur de Lis is a universal symbol in Scouting. It represents the point of the compass, it is a flower that represents Mary the Mother of Christ. It has three distinct points that remind us of the three promises found in the Scout Oath. In Scouting history Baden-Powell first used the Fleur de Lis to recognize his reconnaissance scouts in the Army. He carried the symbol to Scouting. The stars that are attached to almost every Scouting organization on the Fleur d Lis represents Truth and Knowledge.
There is symbolism all around us in Scouting and by adding that symbol of the Vigil Honor to be a part of me forever I think that I have increased the meaning for me.
It’s certainly is not for everyone, and I do not promote or condemn tattoo’s. They are what they are. I think having this triangle on my chest where I have to see it every day is a great reminder of my Obligation and my life in Scouting.
Let me know what symbols impact your life? I know a couple of guys that have really cool Scouting tattoo’s.. do you?
Have a Great Scouting Day!