Posts Tagged With: camping skills

Why?

Last night at our Patrol Leaders Council meeting we discussed the most recent camp out, or I should say camp out attempt.  To recap, the weather got real bad, gear got wet, we assessed the risk and bailed out…in a nut shell.why
Part of each PLC meeting is a training portion.  I try to keep it to about 5 or 10 minutes, but last night was unique in that I sensed that the young leaders were not happy with the idea that we had to bail out of the camp out.  No one debated the fact that it was the right thing to do, but why did we get in the situation.
There is nothing we can do to change the weather.  But what is that we do to change or effect our desired outcome?  In talking with the leaders of the PLC I kept hearing that “We did not do this or that..” “We took short cuts” “We got lazy”.  And by and large they, although being very tough on themselves, were hitting the nail squarely on the head.
The problem I have was their use of the word “We”.  The way it was being used transferred the responsibility from “I or Me” to “We”.  You see, that makes it easier to assign blame or point fingers and the issues.
So we went around the table and each member of the PLC had an opportunity to reflect on a specific thing that could have been better.  And no.. no one was allowed to say the weather.  They also had to start their sentence with the words “I could have…”  The results were great.  We can not go back and change what happened this weekend.  We learned a lot about our Scouts and about the skills that we need to develop.  We.. I… learned that we have a fantastic group of young men that want to be successful and want to be leaders.  I was happy to hear them start answering the question… Why?
Why did I make that mistake?  Why didn’t I demonstrate good leadership by being a better example?  Why didn’t I check on my Patrol?  Why did I take short cuts?  Why was I lazy and not focused?
Now this may seem a tad bit harsh.. after all, these are just kids.  No.. These are kids that want to be leaders.  These are kids that understand that they are there to lead their friends.  These are young men that now understand that decisions that they make have an impact on not just them, but their patrol mates.  These are Scouts that desire to get it right and as a result will have more fun and adventure.
These are guys that are starting to get the concept that for every action there is a positive or negative reaction.  Each decision, each skill, each interaction within their patrols will result in success or failure.  They do not want to fail, but are willing to test themselves knowing that we are watching out for them and are there to teach them and coach them through the rough spots.  They feel safe knowing we care about them and are cheering them on to be better at leadership.
It was nice to listen in as they discussed the leadership principles that they did not practice.  This tells me two things.  First, they know what they are and second they know what they are supposed to look like.
We have a fun month coming up.  The Patrol Leaders Council along with the Troop Leadership Corps have a great plan… this month, they are sharing with the Troop the answer to WHY?
They are going to practice leadership by sharpening skills.  They listed the things that they see as their leadership challenges and are going to answer why these are challenges and how do we fix them.  It is going to be a fun month.  In light of this, they also asked to push our annual Junior Leader Training to February as it will serve as a great finale to this month of Leadership development.
I can’t tell you how proud I am of these young men.
I too am working on answering why?  Yep, there are things I should have done also this past camp out that I failed to do.  Why?  Well, I’m figuring that out.
Leadership starts with why?  Why do we lead?  Why do we care?  Why is it important?
Great start to a leadership discussion with your Troop.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

The Better part of valor…

discression“The better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have sav’d my life.” – Falstaff in the Henry IV, William Shakespeare.
It is not often that we get placed in situations in Scouting that call for serious decisions to be made, decisions that may be the difference between fun and adventure and getting someone hurt.
Rule #1. Have fun
Rule #2. Be Safe
Beyond that it comes down the Scout Oath and Law.. that is all the rules we have in our Troop. Before every outing we go through, albeit not a formal process of assessing risk. Typically there are measures that can put in place to reduce risk or minimize those risks so the outing is fun, meaningful, and achieves its goals.
It is not often, in fact in 10 years we have reacted to risk by moving locations, changing the dates, or changing the focus of our activity to meet the assessed risk, maintain the learning objectives, and achieve the desired outcomes of our Troops outings.
Today, for the first time in 10 years the risk could not be mitigated and the better part of valor was to walk away, literally hike out and call it a day.
This weekend was out monthly camp out. The plan was to camp up in the Zig Zag canyon on Mt. Hood. A great trek in that we have done in the past. For a month now, we have trained for the outing. Learning cold weather skills, first aid, and how to use the gear that would need up on the mountain in January. The Scouts learned the signs and symptoms of cold weather injuries and how to prevent them. They learned tips to use ordinary camping gear for winter such as adding guy lines to a 3 season tent that will add to the strength of tent, keep it dry, and equip it for harsh conditions.
So we practiced and shook the Scouts down nit-picking at gear choices, uses, and what they thought would be acceptable versus what we know to be worth taking on a mountain trip in January.
The Troop was ready.
Change #1. Location. Due to the lack of snow, we determined that it would not be possible to go into Zig Zag canyon. Getting in would be fine, getting out would be another story. With the lack of snow we would not be able to hike out on the rock in the conditions that currently are hitting the mountain. So we moved the location to another camp area familiar to the troop on the slope of Mt. Hood. It would afford us the ability to achieve our goals and get good practical experience in winter camping for the Scouts. We decided to hike into Devils Half Acre. A camp area on the Historic Barlow trail. It has a good snow park, good trail, and plenty of camping area.
This morning we departed our meeting hall. In the early morning hours we began our adventure. A light rain was falling and the forecast was calling for heavy rain in the valley, rain on the mountain with heavier rains coming over night as well dropping temperatures. It’s all good, we are prepared.
We arrived at the snow park to a light rain and moderately cool temperatures. The thermometer was hovering around 38 degrees.
As we hiked into the camp area, a steady drizzle accompanied us. We got camp set up, dinning flys, and water boiling for hot chocolate. Everything was going well. A little wet, but we have camped in the rain before.
The Troop ventured off on a hike stopping along the way to practice skills and learn about ways to make winter camping enjoyable.
While we hiked the rain increased. We arrived back at camp and checked the gear and started the process of getting lunch prepared.
I did a walk around camp with the Troop Leadership Corps. I wanted them to develop the critical eye on what right looks like. We discovered that many of the Scouts while setting up took some costly short cuts. In their haste to get set up and under the protection of a tarp, they neglected to think about their current location, situation, and consequence. They did not use the extra guy lines as we trained, they picked locations that we not optimal for the rainy weather and as a result we had wet tents.. on the inside. That also meant that we had several wet sleeping bags.
Not catastrophic at that point.. but then we started to put fixes in place. We reached a point were we knew that for some of the sleeping bags there was no way we could get them dry.
We began to reevaluate our risk and assess what our plans were going to be in the event that the temperatures dropped and the rain did not let up. Hypothermia kept creeping into the conversation. Pack and hike now or pack and hike in the middle of the night It really came down to our willingness to accept risk or not.
We decided the better part of valor was discretion. Ensure that learning objectives happened, find the teachable moment, and live to have fun another day.
We gathered the Scouts around and demonstrated what we were seeing versus what we expected. We talked about the desired outcomes of all the training and preparation and how we may have failed in the execution. Then we packed up and hiked out.
First. We talked about leadership. All of the issues we discovered came down to leadership.
Second. We reinforced our leadership principles and how they applied in this and most situations.
We focused on the first three. Become a Life Long learner, Learn to lead yourself, and Model Expected Behavior.
Learning and retaining things that make you better. Practicing what you learned so you can test and reevaluate what you have learned. Leading yourself so as to be that person that others are willing to follow. And of course, modeling the behavior that you want to see from those you lead. If you maintain those three principles in what you do.. you will not only effectively lead, but will have a great time doing it.
After those lessons were, pardon the pun, soaked in, we packed up ensuring it was done right and departed.
Even though it was a short outing relative to our normal camp outs, it became one that will live in the memories of our Scouts as a learning event. Everyone learned something today, and that made this “Camp out” a success.
Looking back now just hours from the event, I see great value in taking some risk. I also see a lot of value in evaluating and reevaluation of that risk. It is through that process that we learn and discover. It opens up opportunity to teach and reinforce key leadership and camping skills.
I don’t want to have to do this often, but when we have to.. we know we will do what is right. The better part of valor is discretion. And live to camp another day.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

The Hypo Wrap

The start of treatment for a person going into Hypothermia is the Hypo Wrap.
Hypothermia is an extremely dangerous condition where the victim or casualty’s core body temperature drops below 95 degrees (F). The persons condition can deteriorate rapidly so a prompt response is required.
The hypo wrap puts the person in a state where he can begin warming using insulation and his body heat.
It is important to note the end of this process will lead to the hospital and professional medical attention.
Here is a little video of a training session I did at our Boy Scout break out at Round table this month.  It is a demonstration of how to build the hypo wrap and conditions in which you use it.
I hope it is informative and instructional for you.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Cold Weather Camping 2015

>The harder the challengeCamping in the cold is adventurous and fun.  It poses challenges and requires more training to ensure a safe, fun time spent in the winter camping.
I love cold weather camping, it is perhaps some of my favorite camping.  Since becoming a Scoutmaster, I have taken pride in sharing that love of winter camping with the Scouts of my Troop.  On average, we camp about 3 times a year in a cold weather environment.  We have been very successful during these camp outs because of the training that we do before the outing.
So what do we do to make our winter outings successful? Training, accountability, and skills development.
Training.
Cold weather camping all starts with good training.  We have a rule, not a policy, that if a Scout does not attend all of the training he does not go on cold weather camp outs.
We do this simply for safety.  The safety of the scout and his buddies.  Any high risk activity requires training above and beyond your typical camping skills.
Cold weather injury prevention takes a good portion of the training.  We teach the Scouts first how to prevent cold weather injuries.
Developing the skills of the Scout to prepare for camping in the cold, identify those symptoms of cold weather injuries and then treatment.  It should be noted that as stated we average about three cold weather camp outs a year as a Troop, and when I refer to cold weather camp outs, I am talking about sub freezing temperatures.  For the past ten years we have been using this training plan and have never had a cold weather injury.  I suppose I should pay respect to my Scouting friends in Alaska and Minnesota.. we do not get the temps you all get and I would think you all have similar training programs.  Cold weather injuries are cold weather injuries no matter where you are.
Subjects under the topic of cold weather injuries include; Hypothermia, Frost Bite, Chill Blains, Frost nip, snow blindness, and immersion foot.
We move on from injuries to layering and proper wear of clothing.  We discuss how and when to layer up or down and the right clothing for the outing.  When it comes to clothing, we teach that it is easier to stay warm than to re-warm.  The idea that re-warming takes time and energy that you may want to save.
Clothing plays a major role in Cold weather camping.  Not just a lot of clothing, but the right clothing.  Moving from cotton shirts that keep moisture on the body thus cooling you, to synthetic shirts that wick the sweat away from you.  Jackets that insulate as well as protect from the elements.  A layering system that allows you to move as well as stand around.  Gloves that work for completing camp tasks as well as keeping your fingers, hands, and wrist warm.
Hats that warm and protect from wind while keeping your head dry.
There is a lot more that goes into developing your clothing list.  Keeping in mind that you still have to carry it in your pack, bulk plays a part in your packing list.  Extra socks are always a must, consideration needs to be made as to when you are going to change them, where you carry them, and how many do you need.  A thick pair of wool socks to sleep in may be packed in with your sleep system while your smart wool socks worn for hiking and moving around camp may be packed on top for easy access.
If you are like me, once your feet get cold, I am cold.  So maintaining warmth by frequent changing of socks is a must for me.
Part of the training program is a discussion of using existing gear.  Using a three season tent  to stand up to heavy snow and winds.  Adding a layer in a sleeping bag to give an additional ten degrees of warmth.  And how to make your stove the most efficient it can be in the cold.
A big area of our preparation for cold weather camping is the matter of accountability.  This is a touchy subject for some, but it is a matter of safety and therefore non negotiable.  A Scout must attend the four meetings leading to the first winter camp out.  This way he gets the training required and has an opportunity to work with the rest of the troop on the skills needed for winter outings.
Being accountable to one another is an important part of this process.  The Scouts are accountable to one another.  When they understand that they can not have a “me” attitude, they start to pay close attention to what their buddy is doing and how they are a member of that team.  We teach that cold weather injury prevention is a leaders responsibility.  Leadership and Discipline are the two key components in cold weather camping.  Leaders that care for their patrols will keep an eye on them.  They will watch for the signs of cold weather issues.  They will keep their patrol motivated an on task.  They start building that high performance team with the understanding that they are all in this together.  It takes the whole patrol watching out for each other, pitching in with camp chores, set up, take down, meal prep, etc. that makes the experience one they won’t forget.
When we talk about accountability we need to ensure that the Scout understands that he is an important part in the safety of his buddy and himself.  Most Scouts will go through their Scouting life following the leader.  Cold weather camping forces the issue of leadership on each Scout.
Accountability starts with the Scout being required to attend the meetings and training.  If the Scout fails to attend the required meetings and training the result is the Scout not being able to attend the outing.  When it comes to this we stand firm.  Training and developing the required skills are important, when a Scout does not get the training, he is setting himself up for a possible injury or at least increasing the risk of himself and his buddies.
The Scout is accountable for his attitude.  A lack of enthusiasm for the outing or having a negative attitude is not a good fit in the group dynamic in the cold weather environment.  Being able to keep that positive outlook is important.  You will need it when the conditions seem to be fighting you and you feel as though the task is out of hand.  Understanding that you can and will get through the conditions is mostly in your attitude.
We will leave this discussion right here for now… we will pick up with the skills discussion in our next post.
DSCN0315

Have a Great Scouting Day!

COLD WEATHER TIP

Warm up socks and boot insoles by keeping them in the sleeping bag next to you.

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Leadership, teamwork, training, Winter Camping | Tags: , | 5 Comments

My Fire kit

It is a requirement for all Scouts to build their own First Aid kit.  This gets them in tuned with what they need, have, and how to use it all.  Being a backpacking Troop, building the personal first aid kit is an important task and requires a little more thinking than just band aids and mole skin.  The nature of backpacking takes you away from the cars and so the Scout needs to develop a kit that is compact, light, and serves his first aid needs.
In our Troop we also require the Scouts to build a fire building kit.  It should be compact, light, and serve the Scouts need to make fire.  Simple requirements right?
The ability to make fire is an important skill.  Fire is a motivator, cooking option, and method of warmth and cheer.  I was asked once what ‘survival’ skills we teach our Scouts.  I answered none.  We teach them to be prepared.  With a kit designated to build fire there is no need to rub sticks together or wait for lightning to strike.  The Scout reaches into his pack and makes a fire.
I carry my fire kit with me every time I enter the woods.  On a day hike or a 50 miler, the fire kit is as much a part of my pack as my first aid kit.
My kit is simple, light, and works 100% of the time to start fire.
I am not a fan of flint and steel or primitive methods of making fire.  I do not pretend to be a bush crafter and am not fascinated with that whole life style.
I use what works and that is it.  Again, I need not know how to ‘survive’ I will survive because I am prepared.
Here is a short video on my Fire Kit.
Question or comments?  Please leave them here at the blog.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
**NOTE- my batteries died twice in the camera and a part of the video I thought I was shooting was lost.  The SOL Tinders somehow got cut out.

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, gear, High Adventure, Just fun, Leave no trace, Methods, Scouting, Scouts, Skills, technology, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Going Camping

Merit Badges or Fun?Heading out into the woods this weekend with the Troop.  New Scout Patrol will be stepping off on the Trail to First Class, but not until after a fun morning on the range shooting Shot Guns.  Then the older guys will get to shoot all afternoon, but not until they develop some leadership skills in camp.  Modeling the Expected Behavior will be their theme for the weekend.
Weather calls for sun tomorrow.. we hope for the best.
So, I will let you all know how it goes on Sunday!
What are you up to this weekend?
Please share!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: camp skills, Camping, gear, Hammock, Just fun, Leadership, Scouting, Scoutmaster minute, Scouts, Skills, training | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Saturday Quick Tip

TOWToday we are talking about controlling your guy lines.  Whether you are a tent camper or sleep under a tarp you will have lines to control.
I hate it when lines are tangled and become a mess.  This simple way of controlling your lines is a perfect fix.  You can do this with gloves too which makes this a great way to get packed in the winter also.
As long as you can make a figure 8 with your fingers and know how to make a slippery half hitch.. you are good to go.
This tip will make your packing easier and when you get home to dry things out you will not have a mess of tangled lines everywhere.
If you have a tip or a skill that you would like to see drop me a note.
Thanks for coming to the blog.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, comments, gear, Hammock, High Adventure, Just fun, Scoutmaster minute, Skills, training | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Saturday Quick Tip 2-1-14

TOWEvery Saturday, we are going to add a “Tip of the Week” to the Blog.  A tip that will be focused on Backpacking, camping, hiking, cooking, or other skills associated with the great outdoors.
This weeks tip is a simple one that will save wear and tear on your pack and keep your gear organized and clean.
Let me know if you have a tip you want to share.  Also, if you have ideas or tips that you have questions about or want to see.  Please let me know and I will do my best to put them up here.
In this tip I use a Marlin Spike hitch.. to learn how to tie the Marlin Spike, check this site out.  Animated Knots by Grog

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, gear, High Adventure, Just fun, Methods, reviews, Scoutmaster minute, Skills, technology, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 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

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