Posts Tagged With: be prepared

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!

Categories: blog | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Planning a Backpacking Trek pt. 3

bepreparedThe motto of the Boy Scouts of America is “Be Prepared”.  Prepared for what?  Well, any old thing said our founder.  Being prepared for your backpacking trek is an absolute must.  When planning your next trek you need to consider those things that can go wrong.  Preparedness will reduce the risk and make the trek a lot more fun.
Andrew Skurka, an Ultimate hiker, Adventurer, and Guide, shares on his website “When I embark on a trip, I always try to abide by the Boy Scout motto — “Be prepared” — by bringing three types of resources, either carried on my back or between my ears, to help me achieve my goals:  Gear, e.g. clothing, shelter, stove, etc.  Supplies, e.g. food, water, fuel, etc.  Skills, e.g. how to hike efficiently, select good campsites, purify water, start a fire, navigate on-trail and off-trail, ford snowmelt-fed rivers, stay warm when it’s cold and wet, etc.”
Training.
Being prepared for those things that can go wrong starts with training yourself and your group to do things right.  Practice packing, unpacking, setting up gear, looking at the individual gear and group gear that is on the trip.  Map reading, first aid, and an honest to goodness understanding of where you are going.
Before a trek learn about the conditions you are walking into and how to deal with them.  Trail conditions, weather, and the condition of your crew.
Planning.
You know the route and conditions but what can go wrong?  Plan for it.  Injuries?  How do we react if someone twists an ankle?  Big cuts?  Sickness?    What are your bail out plans and how have you communicated them?
There is a fine line between over packing for your plan and making sure you are prepared to react.  I have hiked with guys that carry 65 lb packs because they plan for every contingency.  You can build kits for every plan, but what about that great tool between your ears.
In our Troop we have very few rules.  Rule number 1 is always to Have fun.  Rule #2 is no one gets hurt, if you are hurt you are not having fun.  Rule #3 is refer to the Oath and Law.  That is it.  Not getting hurt and putting yourself in a position to get hurt is a person thing and starts between the ears.
I have heard the saying “stay low and slow” on the trail.  That means to keep a good pace that reduces chance of injury and to stay grounded on the trail.  Jumping, climbing, and choosing to venture on bad trail increases the chance of injury.  Assess the risk and then go if it is safe.
Look at what you carry to react to or mitigate risk and risky situations.  We all carry the 10 essentials and in a lot of cases we carry gadgets and neat tools to make our backpacking experience fun.  Do you know how to use it all and have you ever needed it.  If the answer is no to one or both, get it out of your pack.
So what can go wrong?
Injuries.  Probably the thing that we worry about the most, but the fact of the matter is that we rarely have injuries that can not walk themselves off the trail.
Getting lost.  This is a big one.  More people get lost because they rely on guide books, GPS, and the fact that because they shop at REI they think they can take their shiny Subaru to a trail head and go hiking.  Learn to read a map and use a compass.  Train yourself on terrain association and staying oriented on the trail.  Don’t wander or allow group members to wander off or away.  Have a plan to rally should something go wrong while on the trail.
When hiking with a group always stop at any trail intersection and wait for the group to catch up.  Stop and check the map every once in a while.  Make sure that lots of people in the crew have a map.
Weather.  We can not control the weather, but we can plan for it.  Rain is not a downer on the trail if you are prepared.  Know when the weather is going to change by monitoring the forecast in the area.  Know that it will get darker sooner if you have heavier cloud cover.
If you are not prepared to hike during hours of limited visibility, be prepared to start looking for good camp locations before it gets dark.
Water.
Have a plan for water.  Filtering, boiling, or carrying a lot of it.  You need water.  Plan your day around your water availability and resources.
Sit down and list all of the things that you think will go wrong on your trek.  Think of ways that you can reduce those risks and plan for how you are going to address them when and if they happen.
Planning prevents poor performance and when you are backpacking you need to be aware and be prepared.
Know all of the skills that will make your trek fun.  Make sure that you share that knowledge with the members of your group.
Skills, Gear, and Supplies will get you through the toughest times on the trail.  What you have between your ears will go along way to making it a fun trek.  Your skills and attitude will reduce the risks that come with backpacking.  In short.  Be Prepared.
In our next segment we will talk about preparation of gear and what to consider for your next long trek.
Have a Great Scouting Day.

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, fitness, gear, Leadership, Motto, Risk Management, Scouting, Skills, training | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Sharpen your Ax

Abraham Lincoln is a man often quoted, but not always in the context of Scouting.  I stumbled on a great quote that speaks directly to Scouts and Scouters.
“If you give me 6 hours to cut down a tree, I will take 4 hours sharpening my ax.”
Whats he saying here.. basically.. Be Prepared.  He is telling us that preparation is the key to success.  When we prepare for a task we can accomplish it with success.  Putting the time in to plan, train, and practice will make you better at the skill.
We are getting into the winter camping months.  The more we prepare, the more fun we will have.  The more we train, the safer we will be.  And the more we practice our skills the better experience we will have in our adventures.
We should always be looking at ways to keep our ax sharp.  We should always be thinking about that next tree and sharpen the ax to make the work easier and more effective.
I am always looking at ways to make my camping experiences better.  Toying with my gear, testing new stuff, learning and refining techniques to make my adventures fun and safe.
Are you sharpening your ax?

I was looking through an old external hard drive today and found this video.  Shot about 3 years ago when I was a “Tent Camper”.  Thought I would share it here.  It is a good example of Sunday routine.  Remember that we model expected behavior.  No yard sale here.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, High Adventure, Ideals, Just fun, Leadership, Leave no trace, Methods, Motto, planning, Scout, Scouting, Skills, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Being Prepared > Miserable

mt_st_helens_lrgThis Memorial Day a rather large group of us made an attempt at climbing Mt. Saint Helens.  You know that mountain here in the northwest that one morning in 1980 blew it’s top.
I stare at that mountain every day.  It sits about an hour and a half directly to the north of my house and beckons us to climb to its top and take a peak into the crater left by the eruption.
On 100 climbers a day are allowed on the mountain, so we got permits and started planning.  The good part of this story and the reason we had a happy ending is because three of my assistant Scoutmaster were part of the group, not to mention 4 Scouts who just happen to be the sons, and a daughter (Venturing Scout) .  And our wives went along, they are avid hikers and were up for the challenge.
I say happy ending, because what a lot of people fail to plan for is weather.  I talked with a climber at the camp site the morning of the climb.  He did not seem to think that “a little rain” would spoil the climb.  And he was right, a little rain would certainly not spoil the climb, but what he failed to recognize is that a little rain at camp was a lot of rain once you got to altitudes above the tree line.. or snow and wind.
We started our assent at 6:00 AM.  The hike through the lower section while still in the trees was a gradual climb and really nice trail.  The park service does a nice job of marking the trail and grooming, well I suppose with a 100 folks on it a day.. the trail is clearly visible.  Once we got out of the trees it is still clear which way to go and as I followed along with my map it was easy to track where we were.  Clearing the wood line you enter a lava flow and some rugged terrain.  Not that challenging, but the driving rain made for slippery rock and mud.  Mother Nature was having her way with us and most of the party was starting to feel the effects of condensation in their rain gear and it was already time to change out of the first pair of wet socks.
We climbed rather quickly and began slugging our way up through the snow.  This is where the climb starts becoming difficult.  The wet and the step climb really started to take its toll on some of our group.
We started passing groups that were on their way down.  They reported 0 visibility and super high winds above the 5000 foot mark.  We continued to climb.
When we reached 4800 it was time to make a decision.  We could see that the clouds were dropping and the winds were picking up.
A quick assessment of our group told us that Mother nature would win today and the mountain would have to be conquered some other time.
We turned and made a quick decent to the wood line.  Took stock of the group, had a snack, and headed back to camp.  After 5 hours of climbing we were finished.
Be prepared.
We were more prepared than most of the folks we saw on the slope.  We had backpacks with extra clothing, especially socks.  We were carrying 4 liters of water per person.  We had the right gear and did the necessary planning.  I know that we were ready.  For the Scouts that made the climb it was valuable lesson on knowing when to call it a day and that the right gear would assist in making the day less miserable and ultimately successful.
It was nice to see the motto played out this Memorial day.  It is a great lesson to put in that memory bank and know that it works for everything.  It certainly makes for a happier ending to what could have been a bad day.
Have a Great Scouting Day! 

Categories: blog | Tags: | 4 Comments

Be Prepared.. Please listen

In Oregon, when you approach a trail head that is a well used and highly frequented trail, there are signs that alert you of types of plants and animals in the area.  The signs remind you that you need to be prepared for the hike you are about to take.  Typically there is a map of the trail with significant landmarks and vistas pointed out.  These signs remind you to have the appropriate gear for the hike and in some cases ask that you register at the Kiosk.  In every case they let you know where you are and gives you information that assist you in having a great hike and not a terrible experience.  Oregon wants people to get out and enjoy this wonderful land we have, but it wants you to do it responsibly.
Yesterday a couple of ladies went for a winter stroll out in the Columbia Gorge and got lost or at least disoriented enough that they had to be “rescued”.  The Gorge is a wonderful place to hike, but like most places, the Gorge takes on new or at least different challenges in the winter.  Just getting there sometimes can be an adventure.  So if you are going to hike in the Gorge (or anywhere) in the winter.. You had better BE PREPARED.  These gals  wandered off picking up the trail and heading up to Nesmith Point.   The hike into Nesmith Point is challenging enough in the summer, but that is the hike they chose.  Now, it is fair to say that according to the News wire press release, “Both hikers have Intermediate experience climbing school training and Mountaineering First Aid and were prepared for the elements.”
The release goes on in the next update to state “The hiker’s actions and being prepared for the elements greatly assisted in their smooth and safe rescue from Nesmith Point.”  So all is well that ends well.  But the initial report stated that “the husband of one of the hikers reported he received a call from his wife who told him they were at the top of Nesmith Point and had lost the trail at some point while they were hiking.  Their footprints were covered with snow and they could not track their way back down or see the trail.”
I suppose the moral of the story is that it can and will happen to anyone.  So BE PREPARED.  I am making an assumption here that neither had a map or compass.. the reason I say that is because I have hiked that area and having a map and compass could have easily put them in the right direction and regardless of  snow and not finding the trail, they could have made their way back.  But I don’t want to beat up on them, I just want people to listen… I want our Scouts to listen and use these cases as an example of why we want them to be prepared.  It is fortunate that these two ladies were somewhat prepared and had the right attitude to make it out (with the help of SAR).
Baden Powell tells us to Be Prepared for any old thing.  When the signs remind and warn, take heed.  When the skills, attitudes, and gear is right, then proceed.  But always be prepared.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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

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